We had the pleasure to go one on one with one of the best in the synthwave biz, Timecop1983. He has an array of sultry synth tunes that have gained fans far and wide. We were lucky enough to find out the tools and gear he uses to make his magic in the studio as well as some personal details about his life. He’ll make his return to the US to join The Midnight for a special East Coast performance. Dark Beauty loves what he’s been doing musically and we’re excited to share it with our readers…
Interview Meikee Magnetic
Where were you born and where do you live now?
I was born in Eindhoven, The Netherlands. This is the 5th city of The Netherlands, best known as the home base of the worldwide electronics company Philips. It only has 220,000 inhabitants, so it’s tiny compared. All my life I lived in the towns surrounding Eindhoven and currently I live in Gemert, about 25 kilometers from Eindhoven. My girlfriend and I just bought a new house so we’re working hard on renovating the place. It’s a lot of work, but it’s going to be great.
What was it like to grow up in the Netherlands?
Growing up was pretty easy and relaxed. We lived in a small town and times were good. My friends and I hung out in the streets all the time and had a lot of fun. When it rained (and it does very often here) we played a lot of Nintendo 8-bit. My favorite games were Blades of Steel, Ski or Die and Micro Machines. When we weren’t playing video games we watched a lot of movies, like Ghostbusters and The Terminator.
If we were to visit there what would you suggest to see?
The Netherlands is much more than just Amsterdam. It’s not a huge country, you can drive from north to south in 3 hours, but we have a lot of history and nice cities. Of course you need to see Amsterdam, but I can also highly recommend Utrecht (only 30 minutes from Amsterdam) and Maastricht (1,5 hours from Amsterdam).
How did you start producing Synthwave music and what was your musical background before that time?
I started making Synthwave in 2013. At the time I was thinking about quitting music. I had been producing for years, but never finished or released anything. I had literally thousands of snippets and ideas on my computer, ranging from hiphop to gabberhouse. When my other hobby (XC mountainbiking) demanded a lot of time from me I realized I had to make a choice between cycling and music. Then I finally saw the movie Drive (2011) and that changed everything. I had been listening to the soundtrack a lot before, but when I finally saw it, all the pieces of the puzzle fell in the right place. I knew this was the style of music I wanted to make. So I decided to give it a go and the rest is history. When I started creating music I was 12 and I didn’t have a musical background. I could’t play an instrument and had no knowledge of music techniques. I had so much fun with Scream Tracker so I just kept playing with it and eventually I could come up with my own melodies. Maybe that’s why I never finished anything before 2013, because I didn’t know how, but I see that time as a valuable lesson and my basis in music.
What is the future for Synthwave in your opinion?
After years I still see growth in Synthwave. Especially after Stranger Things came out it has become more and more widespread. I hear a lot of Synthwave elements in pop music and there are Synthwave events in almost every major city in Europe and the US. Not a lot, but it’s out there for sure and it’s still growing. I think it’s a genre that hits a lot of people in the feels. Not only people in their thirties and fourties who grew up in the 80’s, but also more and more young people like it. Even though they never experienced the 80’s, they still identify with the feelings and emotions in Synthwave. This is a fundamental basis in my opinion and I think if more younger people (in their 20’s or even teens) will listen to it. it can become really popular.
Your sound mixes modern and vintage, could you share with us the programs and musical tools you use in the studio?
Yeah, I use a combination of modern techniques to create my music. For jamming I mostly use my hardware synths, but when I start creating and arranging I mostly switch to software synths and effects. Software has come a long way over the past years and it’s so much easier to work with than hardware. Workflow is more important to me than if something sounds analog or not. Especially in a mix most people will not hear the difference anyways or do not care. I think people need to lay off the analog vs digital discussion and should focus more on making music. It doesn’t matter what you use to make music. If you make shitty music on a $25,000 Schmidt synthesizer or a $100,000 vintage Moog modular, it’s still shitty music. Currently I still use FL Studio 7 for sequencing. I use a lot of the native FL Studio plugins and for my synth sounds I mostly rely on U-He’s Zebra 2 and Diva, ML-VST PG8x (which is free), Korg Polysix and Sonic Projects OP-X II.
If you could invent a synthesizer, tell us your vision on the building of it:
I think I would rebuild a classic vintage synth like the Roland Jupiter 8. There is no VSTi or modern synth that sounds anywhere near the original. I absolutely do not understand why Roland doesn’t reproduce this beast! There are many many people asking for it and all they do is release synths like the JP-08 and Jupiter-80, that rely on the Jupiter name, but have nothing in common with the original soundwise. They do sound good, but it’s not even close to the Jupiter 8. So if I could invent a synth I would make a revision of the Jupiter 8, with a sequencer, the classic Roland (Juno) chorus, USB with a good editor/librarian, in a smaller, less heavy body (so I can take it on the road).
Where has your music been featured, any movie soundtracks or video games?
My music has been featured in multiple movies and video games, but the ones I’m most proud of are the placements of my songs in the Netflix productions Coin Heist and You Get Me and the work I did for the soundtrack of Crossing Souls. I hope to do more soundtracking work in the future. I have been experimenting with it over the years and would love to do a soundtrack for a movie.
Tell us something no one may know about you:
When I was 12/13 years old I was a “gabber”. I only listened to gabberhouse/hardcore, wore Australian tracksuits, shaved the side of my head, but never went to a single houseparty!
I’m currently talking to various labels to release my latest album Night Drive on vinyl and I’m planning on creating a soundtrack for a movie that never existed. I just love the idea to create a soundtrack for a imaginary movie, so I’m going to give that a try when I find the time. I am coming back to the US! The Midnight asked me to join them for a gig at Brooklyn Steel in Brooklyn on October 10th! This is going to be epic.
What does Dark Beauty mean to you?
To me, it’s a pretty face with a dangerous personality. Somebody who can manipulate people for their own benefit. The perfect example for that is Ava in Ex-Machina, one of my favorite movies ever.