Interview: Patterns

What got you started playing music and what sparked the conception of Patterns?

When I was really young I loved playing Michael Jackson's and The Police's cassettes full volume (nagging neighbors loud) non-stop on my mom's and aunt's stereo. I could spend hours by myself listening back and forth these albums while my cousins spent their time playing soccer. That was the moment I realized that music was my life.

After several music projects in Costa Rica, of diverse genres, I realized that neither of those projects satisfied me 100% musically speaking and that's when I went back to my basic, my roots, and said to myself "my thing are the 80's". That's how I started experimenting some rhythms on my computer and planning the musical idea I had in my head.

I started playing music because of the brother of a school's friend, who had drums and he led me back then to play his drums. I have never played them back before and I felt like never because sitting on it, thrived! I ended up buying those drums for 20 bucks back then, after starving myself for several weeks because I saved my little allowance.

Patterns started in 2002 when I contacted Allan the former guitar boy and then Luigi the bassist and the three of us started looking for the right vocalist, back then Michelle. Today Romain is on guitars and the Guatemalan Estefani Brolo the vocalist.

Who was initially involved with the project and who are the current members?

Well, I think I went ahead lol. Luigi (bassist) and me (drums) are the founder members, because Allan left past May and Michelle past September. The current ones including myself: Mario Miranda, Luigi Jiménez, Romain Garrit (french) and Estefani Brolo (Guatemala). We like to call us a Central American Band since Teff joined us.

Can you tell us a bit about the decision to change the lineup?

Really, it was the former members decision. For example, Allan left the band for pursuing a career path in aviation. He was contacted by Avianca/Taca on May, a big airline, therefore his timings and efforts weren't compatible with a musician life.

With Michelle, she left because she got an offer to pursue a solo artist career. She moved to Sweden.

Your debut release 'Dangerous Intentions' was very successful; will you intend to replicate that winning formula or continue to experiment with your sound?

We don't think there is this "formula", simply it's what inspires us at that moment. Now, since the incorporation of the new members we definitely have a refreshened ear, I mean they now contribute as well with their inspirations, influences and production background, supporting the initial composition process and mending with our past music trends. However, there is a maturity in the music that the audience is going to be aware of, we have a more mature sound, let's say more "adult contemporary", obviously with our signature synths, drums and percussions. We are a more mature "tropical disco" band today and the new material reflects it.

Touring seems to be where you most enjoy connecting with your fans; do you have a couple stories that you might share with us about your experience at either a show or while "on the road"?

Mostly our stomach pain and bloating because of a tacos' overdose while touring in Mexico. It was like a domino effect, and imagine three guys sleeping in the same bedroom for weeks under a Mexican diet. Let's say we had to warn Teff before she entered the room... Almost bought her a gas mask.

"We Can Be The Fire" is just one track of your upcoming EP; what is the theme of this release and when will it be released next year?

Basically the theme is the reborn. Luigi and me spent few weeks trying to see the light after Allan and Michelle left, then everything seemed to fell from the sky and fit perfectly. Romain with his electronic music background, and Estefani with an artist personality almost custom made for Patterns, and both of them with an artistic maturity we definitely were looking for.

A more mature, well settled Patterns is what the new EP is about. We hope to release next March.

Can you tell us about any challenges that you have faced while putting together this EP?

First of all, it was the first time the four of us worked together in composition and production. In addition the four of us are sound freaks, and perfectionists. So, for sure the first challenge was assembling ourselves, getting to know each other under pressure and at our limits. The second challenge was relying on a third party to mix a single for the first time in our short history. I had always been the one in charge of the mixing. But this time, we confided in Robert L. Smith from Defy Recordings to mix "We can be the fire". We wanted an external ear for a change, so we spent few weeks looking for the right mixing engineer and then Robert appear by a contact I made with him through Soundbetter. He is an Oscar winning, Emmy and Grammy nominated producer, sound engineer and mixer engineer with a vast catalog of great music names of the music industry. He recently mixed the latest album of The Ting Tings. We are so pleased with his job, but definitely it was a challenge to.

And one last question for our synth fans! What synths and other equipment do you own and enjoy using the most when composing?

I use a Yamaha DX7, Dx100, a Korg Poly 800 and several Junos stand alone.


Interview: Phaserland

Having worked with various vocalists on this album; could you please list them? What is it like working with each vocalist and are there different challenges that you come across with each?

Yes! Three tracks with Nikki Dodds from the U.K. and one track with Heidi Gubbins from Portugal. 

Nikki and I have been writing since early 2014, and to be honest, the very first piece we wrote together, straight to you, started to feel like something special fast.  It was kind of immediately known that we were going to keep on writing.  She has this smoothness that I think blends well with my faster shifting beats and melodies.  An absolute gem to work with.  She let me make most of the calls, yet her ideas were almost 100% of the time kept on board.  I would say the only challenge was getting the time to write.  She was usually busy with numerous other music projects, photography, and acting as a project manager for special events.  All in all, when we did have time, we were rather productive.

I first heard Heidi on Bixby Snyder's song Moon and Back, and I was immediately drawn to her sassy singing style.  It had some power and emotion that flowed wonderfully, and I reached out right away to see if we could write a song together.  I think that Midnight Steps is a great showcase for her singing style, and I imagine we will be seeing a lot more of her in the 80s inspired community. 

Were the lyrics decided upon by yourself, each vocalist, or was it a complete collaboration?

Ahh yes, who wrote what.... well, I let Heidi write all the lyrics for Midnight Steps and I just worked on a few phrasing ideas.  Niiki and I had more collaborative-lyrical ping pong sessions.  I actually recorded some melodies and lyric ideas and sent them to her, and she would come back with a super boost.  It's like un-burning a cake and adding delicious frosting.  She's a pro!

A fan favorite question that I must as is what equipment do you own and what are your favorite to use?

Well I use a homemade Gaming PC to record all the music.  After many hours of Skyrim, all the money I pumped into Ram came in handy!  You should see all the virtual synths and effects I can layer on the sucker.  My DAW of choice at the moment is Reaper, and I have a Novation 49SL compact for a midi controller.  For guitar recording, I run a Les Paul Studio into a Boss GT-3, and run stereo out into to my Firestudio interface.  I really like to play out my drums beats on the keys, and I rarely click in the Midi notes... perhaps on some tom fills!

What percentage of your composition of this 'Electric Atlantic' album would you say is hardware and how much would be software?

For synths, I would say 95% Software and 5% DX7. Just within the past month I acquired a Yamaha DX7 and I knew I had to jam it!  I was happy to use that sweet puppy on the track that I collaborated with Timecop 1983.  All the guitars are 100% real, as well as my attempt at Saxophone on the Vapor-esque tune Kissing In Berlin. 

This album doesn't just include collaborations with vocalist but you have also worked with other talented people in the synthwave scene; can you tell us a bit about these tracks?

Let me just take a moment, and digitally raise my glass to each artist that put in their time and creative energy to be on Electric Atlantic.  Much to my delight, everyone that I asked to help collaborate with me, not only accepted my offer, but also helped me take songs further than I could have imagined.  They would be Sunglasses Kid, Timecop 1983, Starforce, Sebastian Gampl, and Farfletched.  Funny story about Pool Lights, the Gampl collab, we wrote the track during the worst flooding in Detroit's history(Aug 2014).  He sent over the final solo and piano tracks during the pinnacle of my basement flood time.  I would run over to the computer and hit play for 1 minute, and literally run back to the shop vac and take in water.  I think his additions gave me hope.  It truly was a Shit day, but the track lives on now is the most played track on my Soundcloud page. 

You have had track featured in the film Broken Gardenias which is a big deal! How did that come about?

I was approached by Kai the the producer and Director of the film back in early 2014.  He sent me a message asking if he could use some of my material for the song, and then also asked if I would like a stab at scoring it as well.  That was a bit too much for me to break off at the time, but the track Stagelight Dusk  was chosen for an important scene in the film, and plays for about 2 minutes straight.  The film is currently showing around the U.S., Canada, and France and doing quite well.

What would you suggest to other musicians who are interested in getting their music out there and a part of soundtracks?  

There are a lot of independent film makers out there that just don't know about the music we make.  Just keep asking, writing and don't give up.

Some of the tracks on the album have previously been released ; how much of this album was inspired by their theme or was the 'Electric Atlantic' album theme concocted and then those songs just seemed to fit in nicely?

I guess the concept grew when I was originally making music with Nikki.  During the early phase of writing , the idea was to make a Nikki-Phaserland EP, and then make a second solo EP.  I decided to make one big happy LP with guests from all over the globe.  You could say that each song was written with the 'Electric Atlantic' theme in mind, except for Your Move. I had thoughts of BMX racing and Leopard Leotards(wife's idea)!

Can you tell us a bit about the 'Electric Atlantic' theme and what synths you used to bring it to life?

 In the back of my mind, I had thoughts of teleportation, and "speed of light" rail cars across the Atlantic Ocean.  In a way we can live out these ideas though the internet without going anywhere.  I have to admit, I am still amazed that I can simultaneously talk to someone in Finland, send music files to England, all while I drink a nice cold chocolate milk in Michigan.  The album is about the connections we make for ourselves, and the fun and creative ways we can shape and produce art.  I would say this album has a generally positive and exploratory vibe.  You will find songs about movement, transportation, space travel, and romance. 

Is there anything else you would like to share with us?

I will certainly be playing live shows in 2015, and I can't wait to start!  I would love to hop a plane to the U.K. and play as set with my friend Kalax.  I think it's a great goal to have.  I also think great positive things are in store for the Synthwave community.  My father just was just telling me a story of how he described to one of his co-workers, about what kind of music I make.  He casually mentioned 'Sythwave', and the gentlemen went on saying how much "he loved that genre", and "it's the future of music."  I think that says a lot about the reach of our style of music, and the age of it's fans.  I really think great music has no age, race, or gender limit.