After five days he still hadn’t woken up yet and we were getting nervous. On day six he awoke and it started a very long road to recovery. He was in the hospital until Dec. 31st when they shipped him to a rehab facility. The rehab ended up being his best days. Luckily the rehab was only about 15 minutes from my house too. He started walking again and shockingly had zero memory loss. He was recalling things from my childhood I couldn’t even remember! Also, he had a steady stream of visitors. My dad was a teacher for 37 years and a community leader for longer than that. The amount of lives he impacted was enormous. He received so many cards and visitors, he was really happy and appreciative. But, while his spirits were high, he was on so many different medicines, some of them were just to counteract side effects from other medicines. Finally on Jan. 26th 2013 he came home! He was so relieved to finally be back in his own house. My mom cooked his favorite meal, he sat in his recliner and got to sleep in his own bed. We all thought everything was going to go back to normal. That this was all just a big 2 ½ month long road block. But, after being home only a few days, on Jan. 29th he had a massive watershed stroke. The stroke ended up sending him back to Reading, who sent him back to Jefferson where he stayed until he ultimately passed on Feb. 8th, 2013. To say the roller coaster of emotions was too much to handle would be an understatement. The entire family’s emotions ran the gamut over that time period and just when we thought normalcy would return we ended up in a tail spin. So, as I said before, my dad was loved. We ended up having his memorial service in the High School auditorium and over 1500 people attended. It was amazing. It was unbelievably sad, but, also comforting that so many people had cared for him. He was the greatest man I had ever known and I lost him well before I was ready to. I was devastated, but, also grateful that he got a chance to see so many people check in on him during his recovery. I called it his “victory lap”. People always show up for the funeral, but, then it’s too late. My dad got to see how many people cared about him while he was still alive. That is rare and something I’m eternally grateful for even if the outcome isn’t what any of us had wanted.
-Obviously this event in your life pushed you forward musically as it was therapeutic to write this album. Has that passion stayed with you? What drives you to compose?
So, I retreated into my home studio and started writing music. My wife Natalia was great throughout the process and she let me deal with my grief via music. I’d hole up in there for days at a time and just compose. I cried through a lot of it. So musically, it ended up being a wide range of emotions. Sometimes I was trying to cheer myself up with it, other times I just let the sadness through to the music. It was all done via synth and it was all very much in the moment. Looking back I didn’t try and write a song to sound like anything or with any preconceived notion of what it should be. I just made music.
The passion has definitely stayed with me but the source of it has changed. After the whole ordeal with my dad that brought about Dearly Departed, I discovered that Synthwave is a thing! I hadn’t realized it was a genre but I feel like I secretly willed it into existence after 10 years of hoping for it. I had often said to myself “Why can't I just make 80’s music? All the equipment still exists, I can just make music that sounds like it was from the 80s!” and finally other people were on the same page. I tried it before in 1998, 2004, 2008 & 2010. And I’d show all my music friends and they’d be like, “ok… but it sounds dated.” I felt like saying “No shit! That’s the point!”. So upon finding synthwave as an emerging genre, I felt compelled and dare I say it, for the first time in many years, excited to be writing new music.
-Tell us about 'Sincerely Yours'. Your music has been a reflection of real life events so can you talk about this?
Sincerely Yours is my love letter to synthwave/retro-synth music. I still put my own personal spin on it. My music doesn’t sound exactly like Miami Nights 1984 or Sunglasses Kid who managed to create songs that sound like they were just discovered in a time capsule. I love their music, I just can’t mimic it. My stuff tends to be very strongly 80’s influenced but also includes all the influences I’ve heard throughout my life. It’s hard to push those influences out of my mind when making music. They permeate my being. My love for Depeche Mode and The Wolfgang Press and PWEI and EMF and NIN and She Wants Revenge and Alphaville and Alkaline Trio and The Killers and The Notorious B.I.G. and Army Of The Pharaohs and so many others. I can’t just turn those influences off when I sit down. They also inspire me to want to make great music. The jury is still out as to whether or not I have or ever will achieve that. But, here’s to hoping.
-Where can we get the album? Tell us about the cassettes and artwork as well...
OK! So the album is currently available via Bandcamp. So, head on over to http://vonhertzog.bandcamp.com and get it! (shameless plug #1!). But, starting May 19th, it will also be available everywhere else too. iTunes, Amazon, Google Music, Spotify, XBox, etc. Digitally Branded makes sure it ends up everywhere! For Dearly Departed I did CDs and Vinyl for physical copies (also available on Bandcamp & Amazon! Shameless plug #2!). But, for this album I wanted to just do cassettes. I thought of doing vinyl too, but it’s so cost prohibitive. The album will need a great response before Digitally Branded opens up the pocket book for vinyl production! So if you want a Sincerely Yours vinyl, start lobbying @digibranded on Twitter (shameless plug #3!). The artwork was something different for the synthwave scene.