PADDY: “If you wanna be good in something, practice. If you wanna do something properly, you have to practice 10,000 hours.”
MARK: Who does not prefer to see a cool show instead of staying all alone at home, bored to death?
Tim Waves, Brazilian illustrator, graphic designer, music producer (Miragem23) and associate of Wave TV and the Wave Cave had a chat with two of the members of one of the most unique and exciting groups to emerge from the scene: Mark and Paddy of POWERNERD. Together they mused about how synthwave is evolving and what sort of inspiration it takes to fuse rock and synthwave together. This is the fifth interview hosted by WAVE TV in a series of artist to artist interviews with talented, undiscovered artists.
Hi! Tim Waves here AKA (Miragem23) for Wave TV!
Synthwave is a movement in ascent, and this is not new for us that, in some level, are tuned on the scene. We are seeing, increasingly, the influence of this movement in the mainstream media. But today, the power of this scene is not in mainstream, but right here (where?) in the internet underground, place of the best (and worst) artists of the universe since 3082. Speaking of power, today you can check a talk that I had with Paddy, producer and songwriter on studio and bass player/singer on live performances of POWERNERD, one of the best synthwave bands (yes, band!) right now!
First of all, thanks for accept the invitation of Wave TV to talk with me. To start, tell me a bit about the name ‘POWERNERD’: It’s obviously directed to be coherent with the sound that you do and the scene that you are into, but, besides that, some special meaning?
PADDY: Hey! Thank you for this opportunity 🙂 Funnily, the name “POWERNERD” had nothing to do with this band in the beginning. One nerdy hobby of mine is building strange midi controllers and musical instruments…There was a time when I spent more time soldering and programming arduinos than actually making music… that was the time I thought about myself as a “Powernerd” haha. The name kinda stuck, because it was funny and a good fit for our music… (I hope!!)
MARK: Each one of us is merely a nerd at his instrument; with joined forces, however, we are like those Power Rangers; cumulated charges of power. Just POWERNERDS.
POWERNERD is a Synthwave band, and it is very interesting because almost all projects on the scene are managed by single producers. How did the idea come about and what obstacles did you face until reaching the current formation?
PADDY: I am and always was “the band guy”. I played regularly in bands since I was 16 years old. I even actually studied jazz guitar for a while, haha. So producing music and being interested in electronic music came after years of playing live all around the world. And I always wanted to do electronic music with a live band, so this feels really natural to me.
And actually, the process of producing the tracks is “classic” because I do it as a single producer, as you say. But I have the luck to have two brilliant musicians on my side who are making it all possible to go out on the stage and kick some serious ass!
I really enjoy being able to do that 🙂
MARK: Actually it’s the same with us, since Paddy produces most compositions on his own. But on top of that, we’re doing live shows. That was the idea.
And everyone who has ever played in a band would surely be aware of how long it takes until all the right persons find together who want to do the same things, ideas that match.
That is true for all genres, though. And most of the time you cannot pick your audience, so you have to be aware that your music might not be understood. Then you start seeking faults and flaws within yourself and your mates, and that’s what starts causing discontent and stress. But one just has to dust himself off after these kind of “defeats”, and crack on.
You have a massive base of fans on the internet. Do you intend to share more videos of your live performances? Or it is that not the plan for now?
PADDY: We have a video of our first single of our upcoming full length album “Nerd Power” in the pipeline, it will be released end of April, and the album is coming in May.
And we also sure will share some live footage in the future!
MARK: There’s an official clip, “Whitecars” for now; Wait for more surprises. However there will surely be more footage showing POWERNERDs “at work”, So that does not exclude live-performance shots.
Let’s to talk a bit about the synthwave scene. Tell us about how and when you met the scene and why you decided to make music in that genre?
MARK: My interest in music sparked during childhood in the 80ies, the era of legendary video game consoles, the Commodore 64 etc, “cool” series on the television like Knight Rider, Captain Future and so on; To be honest, for a musician it’s the greatest thing to play in front of an audience.
Who does not prefer to see a cool show instead of staying all alone at home, bored to death?
PADDY: My journey to synthwave was a development that felt really natural. I knew I
was “at home” when I finished my first synthwave track “Hot Nights”. The reception was wayyyy better than all the other electronic music I made previously.
And there was this a crucial thing that made it easy for me to go that route: I tried for years to incorporate guitar into electronic music… but it always sounded wrong or cheesy. But as soon as I discovered synthwave, the guitars became a trademark of POWERNERD: So for me synthwave is almost the only style of electronic music, where guitars are fitting. And of course, as a kid of the 80s I love the style in general. Show me another genre which has such a broad spectrum of sound. 🙂
Do you think that production style in the scene are changing? What possibilities do you see to make some difference? Is that a question that lingers in POWERNERD work?
MARK: These days you don’t exactly need to be an “active” musician to produce “music”. After all the musical quality suffers a lot when you lack a firm background in musicianship. Mostly there are single producers. One guy on his own can hardly outperform a team like a band. On the other hand, there’s an important aspect: networking.
For example, you can engage a singer if needed, without ever meeting in person. We worked the same way on our out-coming: LP NERDPOWER. Networking is in fact essential, because the scene is widespread around the globe, for this reason there are plenty of co-operations, compilations and online radio to reach the scene.
PADDY: Yeah! It’s definitely a crucial question; I don’t want to do an Outrun track where you have the feeling that you’ve already heard it 10 times. As I said before, POWERNERD has the guitars which are kind of trademark. I think the most interesting approach is to incorporate other styles like house or go the disco route. In the next EP I’m working on right now, it will go into a space disco sort of hybrid.
What artists in scene today do you appreciate? And what are the projects that inspire your music?
- Meteor, who does a great job with his composition skills, he released an awesome album!!
- 20SixHundred’s “the Witching” is a masterpiece.
- Robert Parker is doing very interesting stuff, going more into the house direction.
- Peter Zimmermann does a great Italo Disco blend, eagerly awaiting his upcoming Album.
- VHS Dreams last album was very strong too, he remixed one track on our first ep…he is pushing the boundaries of synthwave too.
- Irving Force is ace!
- Carpenter Brut….Waveshaper….
- And of course Neon Nox, which is a good friend and we chat a lot about synthwave.. I had the pleasure to be featured on two of his tracks and there is more to come 🙂
For me as a guitarist there are inspiring people like Eddi VanHalen, Dan Huff, Jason Becker, Steve Vai, Paul Gilbert, David Gilmour and so on. These guys especially their virtuous way to play the guitar impressed me a lot when I started to play as a kid.
And out of the scene, what you like to listen to?
PADDY: You never will guess that I like Daft Punk haha…for me they are the Beatles of electronic music..ahhh…I really like Beatles.
My favorite band ever is AC/DC…they are the reason I started playing guitar as a kid.
Oh man…..and now they are touring with Axl Rose as a singer…don’t know what to think about that..
What advice can you give for anyone who is starting to produce music, especially with synthwave in mind?
MARK: Never hesitate, just start off with it. Keep studying and analyzing. There are a lot forums and tutorials in the www, listen to loads of music of this genre.
PADDY: Hm… my approach to music or life in general is: If you wanna be good in something, practice. If you wanna do something properly, you have to practice 10,000 hours. I really believe that, and I see producing music as a craft you can learn…sorry, no Synthwave specific tips 😉
except: tempo 100 to 110… simple beat… use drum samples like Linndrum or Drumulator, the Snare should have a short gated reverb, maybe on the toms too…. Use the first bass preset from the Korg Polysix… program a bass-line in eights… put it all on the note A then play some chords like A Minor, G, F… haha… instant Synthwave!
We know that there exists some rift between the vaporwave and synthwave communities (and I am proud to know that Wave TV is open for both). But let’s put some fuel on the fire, maybe: What is your opinion about the vaporwave movement? Or, how it looks for you?
PADDY: Shame on me, I don’t have listened to enough Vaporwave to have an opinion…just noticed that its kind of a hot topic in the scene.
I always liked VHS Dreams statements about it being an open scene to everyone, which I strongly support.
MARK: For me personally every genre has its right to exist. There is of course music I dont like but who cares. There are people out there who do like it.
Now, to make the talk more interesting, I invited some friends to help me with some questions. Let’s go:
PZA: What was the hardest song you ever wrote mentally and technically?
PADDY: It feels right now like a really hard time to come up with something new. After writing a track
I am really proud of, it’s very hard to come up with something equally good.
Bubble Keiki: How do you start writing a song?
PADDY: It depends…sometimes I am taking a shower and inspiration hits me, sometimes I am sitting in front of my computer, program a beat and see what happens. Or I am playing something on my guitar and make a track out of it…it really depends 🙂
Dimi Kaye: What are the main instruments and VSTs are you using right now?
In hardware I reeeeeaaallly love my Mopho…you can hear the “Fusion Bass” preset in almost every track I made!
78 Greco Flying V, `87 Greco Les Paul Custom, Kitty Hawk Junior Head und Cabs, Line6 Pod Hd 500
Aka.me: Do you think that the productions that are today playing with this 80’s synth sonorities are most doing/trying to copy (reinforce) or simulate (disturb/parody) the model?
PADDY: I think sounds are used to generate an emotion, and in synthwave its often nostalgia… childhood memories… endless summer… things like that. Or the horror/science fiction approach… which also has to do with a certain feeling… There are artists who are trying to copy the 80s sound as exactly as possible (Mitch Murder for example) and artists who are going into new directions…
Thanks to POWERNERD, and to you for reading this nice talk.
Check out ‘Death and Gold’ – an exclusive track from Powernerd on our YouTube channel!
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