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Interview with Sheaf

Dutch synthwave producer Sheaf surprised us this year with his new album ¨Providence¨. A beautiful album for now and with a beautiful musical future ahead, we will certainly hear more from Sheaf. But first time for a nice and interesting interview.

You can also read the interview in Dutch.


Sheaf, can you give a brief introduction of yourself?
Sheaf is the name I use for my synth wave releases. During the day I work as a freelance programmer and in my spare time I often make music. From 2000 to 2008 I produced a lot of electronic music in different genres and in particular drum & bass. After that I hardly did anything in the musical field for a long time, but about two years ago I picked up the thread again with synthwave music.

Why did you choose to produce synthwave music?
At first I started making synthwave music because I wanted to create a virtual reality experience where the music is central. I also knew immediately that it had to be synth wave. At that time I had just discovered the genre through Mitch Murder. It immediately touched me.

What are the reactions to your latest album ¨Providence¨?
Although I don't have a large audience yet, the reactions I've had so far are very positive. That gives motivation to try to find more listeners and of course to make even more synthwave.

Can you tell something about the creation of this album?
While I was busy with the music for my VR project, I noticed that I also enjoyed synthwave music. I didn't have the frustrations I always had when making other genres. I could not stop when I actually had enough tracks and decided to make a full album. Eventually I had about 60 rough sketches for songs, 12 of which I developed into complete songs for the album.

Which software/hardware do you use in the studio?
I have no room for hardware, so I do everything with software. I put some things aside to put down a MIDI keyboard. I would like to be able to try out different chord progressions quickly and that is quite difficult with mouse clicks. In terms of software, I use Reaper as a DAW (digital audio workstation) with a collection of plug-ins that I have purchased over the past 2 years. For synth wave music I use FM8, SQL8, the KORG collection, Waves Element, and Valhalla VintageVerb a lot.

Which tip(s) can you give to (starting) synthwave producers?
1) While mixing, regularly compare your mix with that of other well-produced tracks. That helps you stay objective about your own mix and to keep a good balance. A tool like Magic AB can be useful here, but I usually just load a few references into the DAW and make sure that I can quickly switch back and forth using markers.
2) Produce music in different genres, not just synthwave. You regularly see interesting developments in a certain genre caused by influences from other genres.

Which synthwave artists inspire you when making music?
There are many synthwave artists who have inspired me to a certain extent and it is difficult to list them all. Some of my favorites are Timecop1983, Crockett, Mitch Murder, Duett, Compilerbau, OGRE and Lost Years.

What are your further musical plans for this year?
I will continue to produce even more synthwave music. There are a number of ideas for tracks floating through my mind that I definitely want to work out. Maybe a second album will be released next year. Otherwise certainly an EP.

Is there a possibility that you will perform live in the future?
No, there is no such possibility. About 15 years ago I performed as a drum & bass DJ, but in the end that wasn't something that made me very happy. I prefer rather to be in the hall than on stage, I think.

What is your favorite movie from the 80s and why?
Bloodsport, with Jean-Claude van Damme. As a child I have watched this film many times and I have good memories of it. Lots of nostalgia I think. The soundtrack is also fantastic!

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