Interview: Cody Carpenter

By Massimo Usai

Cody Carpenter is the son of director and composer John Carpenter. A third generation musician who was introduced to instruments around the age of three years old, he has contributed music for two of his father's films, Vampires (1998) and Ghosts of Mars (2001), and also composed and performed the full length score for two episodes featured in Masters of Horror - "Cigarette Burns" and "Pro-Life" (2005). Along with Daniel Davies - John Carpenter's godson - Cody has co-composed, co-performed and co-produced his father's first solo album, LOST THEMES, a "family affair" that jumped straight to number one on the electronic charts worldwide upon its release on February 2015.
Cody has been creating music for his project LUDRIUM since 2008, and has been collaborating with an international array of musicians to bring his original creations to the live stage. After listening to his solo efforts, I promptly decided to get in touch with him for an interview. Cody graciously agreed to answer my questions and we couldn't be happier to have him featured here on NEONVICE.com!


You're an accomplished multi instrumentalist, competent on drums, bass, guitars, piano, and you're also a singer. When did you first start playing music, and what would you consider to be your main instrument? did you take any lessons, or are you self taught on all of these?

As a child I was introduced to a variety of different instruments. At my dad's house there were always guitars and synths for me to mess around with. I had guitar lessons at one point, but for whatever reason I always preferred the keyboard, which I would consider my main instrument. I am self-taught on the drums.

Left to Right: John Carpenter, Daniel Davies, Cody Carpenter during the LOST THEMES sessions in L.A. (Photo by Sophie Davies)

What gear do you use? Is there any instrument you record and play with that you're particularly attached to?

For the heavy duty recording stuff I generally use my dad's gear. He uses Logic with a massive amount of plugins, pretty much anything and everything one might need! He also has some amazing vintage guitars and basses.
For my personal stuff there are a few synth lead sounds that I tweaked slightly which I basically use all the time. I also am very fond of the classic Hammond organ. (I used to own a Hammond C3 but sold it many years ago).

Which was your very first album ever, and what were your early influences starting on? Did you have any composer or musician you particularly admired? was there any film, soundtrack or visual artist that inspired you along the way?

I'm not sure if it was my first album, but The Transformers: The Movie soundtrack from 1986 was without a doubt my biggest influence, and I think continues to be my biggest influence even today. I've probably ripped off moments of that soundtrack a million times unconsciously, (or perhaps consciously). Vince DiCola is an amazing composer and musician. Other than the Transformers, I listened to a lot of stuff growing up, from Devo to Jesus Christ Superstar, but without question, the music from the video games I played as a child had a massive influence on me.

You've released a full length LP for your LUDRIUM project titled ZEAL that came out in 2012. Those tracks feature a very particular sound that could probably defined as a crossover between progressive rock and soundtrack music: layers of piano and synths dueling with lead guitars, intricate structures, perfectly executed vocals coupled with some very interesting lyric work. Would you agree with that definition? What is the concept behind the album, and how long did it take to put it all together?

Exactly!! Progressive rock and soundtrack combined. You described it perfectly. I had actually recorded those songs in 2008 after another project from 2003-2006 which never came to fruition. I was heavily into groups like Genesis and Emerson, Lake, and Palmer at the time, and I think it shows! I recorded the drums at Tin Drum Music, which is the studio of awesome Burleigh Drummond. I had written the songs over a number of years, but I think it took about 2 weeks or so to record everything. There really wasn't an overarching concept I had in mind, though some themes seem to reappear frequently in the lyrics.

An amazing F-ZERO - Big Blue 'rock medley' from Cody's YOUTUBE page

The more recent works featured on your SOUNDCLOUD profile for LUDRIUM are a clear evolution of the sound developed on ZEAL, leaning towards a more electronic sound with some elements that reminded me of videogame soundtracks from the early 90s. where those an influence at all? Did you play videogames growing up, do you play now and if so, what type of games are you into? ...And while we're on the subject, have you ever heard of a game called SPLATTERHOUSE?

Yes! The game soundtracks of the late 80s and early 90s have a huge influence on me. They always have. I played way too many games growing up! NES, SNES, Genesis, arcade games, computer games...Everything. Nowadays I don't play as much, although I do play when I go over to my dad's house. He's more into games now than I am! It's a funny story about SPLATTERHOUSE - for whatever reason I owned the TurboGrafx-16 port of the game, but I never had a TurboGrafx-16 console to play it on! So I could only stare at the cool art on the box.

Left to Right: Cody Carpenter, John Carpenter, Daniel Davies during the LOST THEMES sessions in L.A. (Photo by Sophie Davies)

Left to Right: Cody Carpenter, John Carpenter, Daniel Davies during the LOST THEMES sessions in L.A. (Photo by Sophie Davies)

That is awesome! You should check it out one day, I'm sure you'd love that SPLATTERHOUSE soundtrack! Moving on, you've worked with you father and his godson Daniel Davies on his first solo album, LOST THEMES, which recently came out and has been peaking on #1 in the electronic charts around the world. Congratulations! How do you feel about the album? Can you describe how the recording process unfolded and what was your role into it? Was it a relaxed atmosphere? How much did it take to get it all done? Did anything funny or particularly trippy happen while working on it? Also, was it easy for you to be working on music with your dad?

I'm surprised and happy that people are enjoying the album so much. It never started out as something we took seriously, as we were just sort of having fun with my dad's recording gear. We recorded quite a bit of music over a good deal of time, but then I moved to Tokyo for work. Sometime later my dad e-mailed me saying they were going to release the music. Yes, it's a very relaxed atmosphere when I do music with my dad and Daniel. It's a family project. My dad and I also have a very similar work method/style, so it's very easy to work together.
After my dad knew that the music was going to be released, he asked me via e-mail to send him some more music, as I was still working in Tokyo. I wrote some new stuff, but the gear I was recording on, and the way I had to transfer it into my computer, was so old and outdated, that you can actually hear a hiss on one or two of the tracks! See if you can hear it! I won't tell which tracks though...

Do you have a favorite track off of LOST THEMES?
Either Abyss or Vortex.

VORTEX from LOST THEMES

Is there any track from your father's scores that you're particularly attached to? and while we're on the subject, is there any movie from his body of work that you're particularly fond of?

I'm particularly fond of the score for Big Trouble in Little China. The way it moves gives the movie such a great feel! Likewise, I think Big Trouble is my favorite movie that my dad has done. I love the fantasy, love the action, and the dialogue is so much fun! After Big Trouble, I would say The Thing and They Live are my other favorites.

Did you ever think about shooting a movie, and eventually, do you think you ever will? Eventually, what type of story would you bring to the screen if you had the chance to do it?

To be honest I never did, and I'm not sure why. I never really had any desire to be a director like my father. I've always been more focused on music for whatever reason.

WRAITH from LOST THEMES

Are you familiar with the synthwave phenomenon and, if so, what do you think of it all? What is your current playlist, what is currently inspiring you, and what are some of your most recent musical finds?

It's funny, both myself and my father were completely unaware that this sort of stuff was having a resurgence in popularity. I think it's great! I have a great love of 80's synth sounds. I also get very nostalgic about my youth so it's a wonderful thing.
I've been listening to a lot of the Dixie Dregs recently. Steve Morse is just mind-blowingly amazing. I've also been listening to the English group Level 42 a lot these days.

Left to right: Daniel Davies, John Carpenter, Cody Carpenter during the LOST THEMES sessions in L.A. (Photo by Sophie Davies)

Left to right: Daniel Davies, John Carpenter, Cody Carpenter during the LOST THEMES sessions in L.A. (Photo by Sophie Davies)

Are you aware of the influence of your father's works on the synthwave scene, and on several generations of music makers? How do you feel about it? In what ways would you like to influence listeners and in what ways would you like to, eventually, influence producers or music makers around the world?

I am more or less aware of my father's influence, but I have a feeling that he doesn't really know how much his music has had an impact on so many other people who make music. Of course I think it's great! I have since seen many bios of musicians who list my dad as a major influence. I personally would just love to find people that enjoy the kind of music that I make. I know it's not something everyone can take pleasure from, so it's always nice to hear someone that connects with it.

TRACKER, from LUDRIUM's SOUNDCLOUD page

I personally think there's a whole lot of people out there who's going to really enjoy your works! What are your current plans for the future? Any collaboration in sight? Are you going to play more live shows with LUDRIUM, or are you going to focus on the studio work?

I'm back doing more music with my dad and Daniel, jamming out and recording it. We'll see what happens with it. I am also going to put up an album's worth of Ludrium material sometime in the next few months or so on Bandcamp. Keep an eye and an ear out for that! Additionally, there might be some scoring opportunities for me in the near future.
I would love to play more live shows with the Ludrium guys! Unfortunately, my comrades are in Tokyo, and I'm in LA, at least for the time being. I'd also love to get a band together with my dad and Daniel to perform the Lost Themes stuff!

The live LOST THEMES line up sounds like an amazing plan, please keep us posted! Have you been spending a lot of time in Tokyo? How do you like it over there? Who else played in LUDRIUM while you were there?

Yes, I have lived over there off and on for about 5 years in total. I love it over there! I'm hoping to go back when I can.
The rest of the Ludrium band was: David Rambeau on guitar, Jason Cho on bass, and Shuntaro Innami on drums. With David being from France, Jason from Canada, myself from America, and Shuntaro from Japan, we were truly an international outfit!

Do you think your travels to Japan have had some sort of an influence on your compositions? 

I wish I could say that living in Japan influenced my music, but honestly I was so tired from work that, if anything, it weakened my musical creativity. I also didn't have any good recording gear over there, so I would just jam out on the guitar to get my creative fix.

While we're on the subject.... playing keytar live: yay or nay?

I've never actually held a keytar before but it looks like it would be a little difficult to walk around and play vertical at the same time. I would say go for it though!

Left to right: Cody Carpenter, John Carpenter, Daniel Davies during the LOST THEMES sessions in L.A. (Photo by Sophie Davies)

Left to right: Cody Carpenter, John Carpenter, Daniel Davies during the LOST THEMES sessions in L.A. (Photo by Sophie Davies)

You have been creating music for quite a long while, do you have any advice for upcoming & aspiring songwriters & producers that might be reading this?

Hah, I'm not the guy to ask for advice! I should be asking them!

Cody, thank you very much for taking the time to do this. Much appreciated! Let us know what's on your mind as we say goodbye!

I'm pondering what I'm going to have for lunch... Thanks much!!!!

LUDRIUM on FB: https://www.facebook.com/ludrium
BANDCAMP: https://ludrium.bandcamp.com/
SOUNDCLOUD: https://soundcloud.com/john-cody-carpenter
YOUTUBE: https://www.youtube.com/user/muirdul

t e l e p a t h テレパシー能力者 - 永遠の愛

By Axel Ricks
Source: https://telepathtelepath.bandcamp.com/albu...

EXCLUSIVE: Cluster Buster - Knee-Deep In The Dead

By Niccolo Mach

Get ready to kick some undead butt! Cluster Buster, who is better known for his dark synth album Total Terror, is back with his newest work, a zombie-themed album called Knee-Deep In The Dead! The Norwegian producer continues the dark sound that defined him in his previous works, while adding a twist of orchestral and soundtrack influences; it is the soundtrack of a future (or past) zombie apocalypse!

We secured an exclusive inside look on this upcoming album and we're featuring a track that you won't find anywhere else. Regiment Of The Undead is a dark synthwave banger, that lacks nothing in melodies or rhythm. A pulsating bass and beat are set under melodic scores and samples of an undead army marching in the dark. The album, which features a variety of tracks, included a collaboration with a well-known guitarist from the Synthwave scene.

Knee-Deep In The Dead by Cluster Buster is set to be released in April 4th 2015 by Future 80's Records, and the pre-release will begin on this Saturday, 28th March. Make sure to get this.. before the dead get you!


Find Cluster Buster on:
facebook.com/clusterbustermusic
soundcloud.com/clusterbuster

Source: http://future80srecords.com/

Mini-Review: MNLTH - Flektro

By Lucy Black

Just out last week is another great album by the famed electronic musician, Dave Monolith (aka MNLTH). This album is available for purchase digitally for £5 and comes with a DIY CD Case pdf. The album was also available to purchase on vinyl, but has already sold out. Hopefully there will be future re-issues in the near future for fans that want one! As is usually the case with Monolith, this vinyl sounds great played at 45 rpm (as intended) or at 33 rpm (the slowed down, chill-out version haha).

The first three tracks will be easily recognizable by fans that follow Monolith on Soundcloud as they have been around for the past year or two. They have now been given a proper release for fans to enjoy in a higher quality sound format. Also, fans have been given two new songs, "Traffic" and "Gemswon". "Traffic" is a personal favorite of mine as it has a really fun "computer solo" (what I like to call it) that starts at 3:30. I also found the ending with the more natural sounding male voice to be a unique way to end as most of the song contained synthesized or altered vocals.

If you enjoy fast-paced electronic/computer music or retro futuristic music, then I think you will really enjoy this album! Go have a listen! ☺

Source: http://shop.cpurecords.net/album/flektro

Interview: VHS Dreams (UNCENSORED)

By Karate Kid

Karate King, music producer and owner of the successful YouTube channel of the same name, had a virtual sit down with popular Synthwave artist VHS Dreams, asking him questions nobody else would dare to ask. What you always wanted to know about Soundcloud, money, and Synthwave fame!

Tell me one reason why Ridley Scott should still be allowed to make movies.

He's a great screenwriter and director! While he might not deliver anymore as highly as he once did, he's still on a higher level that George Lucas. And he still has more to give than most Hollywood directors. So he's a good aspect of that industry.

If your dad has a yacht, why do you have to sell records on Bandcamp?

Hahaha! My dad doesn't own a yacht, he works on a yacht as a navigator. We're actually a very poor family and while in the recent years finances are getting better and better, there's still a lot for my dad to pay every month. But this is why I learned to enjoy life with only a few simple things and to disdain fancy material possessions!

Is there money in Synthwave?

Definitely! And there's also a lot of potential for much more money. As long as some producers push forward for more activities like DJing, gigs and other things like more physical releases there's something concrete to be had; not just as a scene, but financially concrete too. One thing leads to the other.

How much money did your last album make?

I still haven't released any full album. My latest EP was North Point Mall, a vaporwave EP and it made around 200$. Amazingly well considering that it was my first Vaporwave venture. Thanks to the community cause they do spend their bucks on tapes.

Do you ever think about the Bandcamp sales of other producers?

Always and in fact I try to keep an eye on other people's sales as much as it's visible (through Bandcamp support icons etc). It's mostly to see how people with Synthwave sounds that are similar to mine compare with my own sales, it gives a good idea about if this direction is moving forward or not, and how well the general sound performs financially.

Are you mad at VHS Glitch because you almost have the same name but he can score games now?

I'm mad at him for every success he's got hahaha. It's good to mention that I'm a painter, and in that world being competitive is the definite fuel for your artistic ventures. That doesn't mean that I don't like VHS Glitch, in fact I respect him cause he's got quality work and also the wits to do business with it, and that's what the scene needs now, people like him (and me of course, let's not forget about me right?). But that's how it goes, the more I admire you the more I feel antagonistic towards you. I need some sense of "hey, that guy's selling more than I do" to feel fueled to put more effort and climb up the ladder. Maybe it's my painter mentality here after all. But I'd love to make one track with VHS Glitch. Just one smash hit, for the cult shake of it! People have been asking me for that.

Do you think your label keeps too much profit?

No, for what they do for me they keep their fair share. If it wasn't like that I wouldn't be with them in the first place. We had lots of negotiations before signing on, and also they're flexible in future contracts (regarding shares and all) which matters for me since I live from my art and I don't play around with the money I make.

Do you think you would be less popular in Synthwave if you were ugly?

Not really, cause it doesn't matter in our scene and most of the time we don't even get to see the artists' faces at all. But the fact that I am very handsome will play a positive role in my later widespread career.

Name one person in this scene who is justifiably unsuccessful.

"Justifiably".. That's a tough one cause nobody specifically comes in my mind but in general all those new artists that we see popping up in the scene through Maniac Synth and Luigi Donatello's channels, and they never show up again are unsuccessful cause they don't know how to promote themselves (or they do it very badly). So anyone who doesn't learn how to move up that ladder is justifiably not moving up that ladder, that's what I'd say.

Do you think your remix of Renz Wilde's "Home Computer" trivializes the original track?

It does on purpose, it's an extended edit in the vein of 80's 12 Inch remixes. It is deliberately more repetitive and longer than the original, but I think it does justice to the original by bringing up secondary elements in the foreground. that was the purpose of it.

What’s your own favorite song by VHS Dreams?

That's a hard choice, but I'd say "Sandino Nights". It was written during a very hard time in my life, where I got through it only with the support of friends. Those friends were there when I came up with it and started producing it. One of them played the saxophone there too. That riff and the whole track were spontaneous and also it was the track that gave me the idea to make my first ever Synthwave EP. All this happened on a wonderful night in Sandino Hostel in Berlin, the place I lived for 4 months while essentially homeless, hence the title. It'll always have a place in my heart.

What were you trying to achieve with that logo update? Do you really like triangles or are you conforming?

I just did it for fun. The triangle was cause I saw a tutorial on how to dress T-Shirt logos in Photoshop, and there was a triangle, so I tried it out since I've never used the triangle tool, and it looked good. Then I thought it looks better than the simple logo, and there you go.

Is Vaporwave just a stupid fad like Dubstep?

Not for me. I treat Vaporwave the same way I treat my Surrealist painting. I view it with as much respect as I view Dadaist art or Pop Art. But what Vaporwave is, depends on the artist. If the artist wants to make a meme, then his work is a meme. If he/she wants to make an avant-garde conceptual parody/critique of our modern nihilistic capitalist world (as I do) then it's that. All in all it's definitely avant-garde and I like that. I only wish that people worked more on their sample material, so it has some skill in there too besides concept. Dubstep isn't a stupid fad either, it's the commercialization of it that led to the modern sound of Dubstep which is hated by many including me, former Dubstep fans, and the rest of the world.

How did you reach 2000 followers on Soundcloud? How long did it take you? And why didn’t you follow me back?

I don't know how! I never tried to promote my Soundcloud beyond posting it on Facebook. It took me around 6 months, and I'm so happy that people find me all the time. Can't wait to reach 3.000 now! Also, I AM following you haha!

Do you think your music will ever be good enough for New Retro Wave?

It's good enough already, as many other people's who aren't in that channel. New Retro Wave promotes only artists they agree with. It's not like Maniac Synth or Neros77 or Luigi Donatello who scout for tracks and upload them. It works specifically with a "team" of artists. It's been said that it monetizes on their tracks too. Not my way, not my cup of tea, and that's my take on that.

Do you think Greece should be more economical with Germany’s money?

That's something I can't answer in one sentence cause it's more complicated than that. Let's briefly say that it's not Germany's money, and it's not "Greece" or "Germany" either, it's their governments and both are involved in corrupt scandals. I'll leave the matter by saying that E.U is not democratic but bank-o-cratic! But don't ask me about politics in general, I'm an anarchist.

What is your professional opinion of Perturbator?

He's productions are top notch and his imagery and themes are great. I think he is a good asset for the scene like I think about GosT, Dance With The Dead, and Miami Nights 1984. I just wish they were all more involved with endeavors such as NeonVice's interviews on Patreon campaign, or other small campaigns like this in general. It helps the scene grow, artists like me and in the end artists like Perturbator. But all in all he's important for the scene.

If Synthwave was in the charts, would you still listen to it?

If it was quality stuff, why not? Being on the charts doesn't equal bad music, there's a lot of it sure but occasionally good stuff break in the charts. I'd definitely support a good Synthwave track that breaks in the Top40. What I don't support is cheap tracks that insult our intelligence and artistic integrity.

Exactly HOW 80’s are you, on a scale from 1 to 10?

I don't know. I love the music, I love the imagery, I love the movies, I love the fashion. But I don't wear 80's stuff and that. I'd say 6/10.

Do you think the success of “Bodywork” overshadows the artistically more important work you have done?

Maybe a little. I'm proud of "Bodywork" but sometimes I feel it overshadows tracks like "Sandino Nights" and "She" which I felt closer to as a producer when I made them.

Do you think your second aerobics track will be a similar success to “Bodywork”?

Yes, it's a follow up to "Bodywork," it is more well worked, a little less 80's, and it marks the tone of my next Synthwave release which will have more dancable and modern tones, and less "80's-obsessed" vibes.

Do you think using grid art is a way of acknowledging your own insignificance as an artist?

Could be a way of unintentionally pushing myself into insignificance perhaps! Time to change!

Who’s more overrated: Joy Division or The Beatles?

The Beatles. John Lennon himself isn't overrated, but The Beatles yes. Don't get me wrong, I love them and I got so many CD's at home, but the good stuff happened later in the band's history and under John's direction mostly. You know the psychedelic stuff. After that they disbanded, so they'll always remain mostly the One Direction of their times in my mind. If only they've stayed together and moved towards the direction they took in their later years then I could talk about them as I talk about Pink Floyd or The Doors. But at the time those later bands sung about philosophy and anti-comformism the Beatles sung about how they had a crush on the next door girl. You get what I'm sayin'? But I like all their stuff nevertheless and John and Paul were great songwriters. As for Joy Division, they're a good band and they're recognized as such, so, that's it!

If you could travel back in time and spend one night in the 80s, where would you be and with whom?

Lita Ford. Wherever she was!

If somebody wants you to do a remix for them, how much do they have to pay you?

Depends on a lot of factors like how successful they are, how many units are they gonna sell, if there's physical involved in the release etc etc. From new artists I usually take nothing. For 12 Inch edits it's free for all. (Yes, even if you're VHS Glitch.) For a good remix I prefer to take a small percentage of sales. How much, depends on the aforementioned such as the number of units pressed and all, for example if an album is sold for 10$ and it's got 9 originals and my remix then I'd take 0.70 -1$ per sale or so. I'm not a money grabber so don't worry!

Do you think Synthwavers should donate what little money they have to charity?

No, they should donate it back to the scene, like Patreon campaigns that aim to push forward, or other campaigns that will somehow benefit Synthwave artists.

What's more important if you wanna have success: Making good music or promoting yourself?

Both are super important but making good music comes first, no doubts. You can achieve fame and success with promotion, but you will be fondly remembered and admired for your art only with good music.

Are you afraid a casual listener will notice a difference between your music and Lazerhawk's, quality-wise?

A casual listener no, an expert yes. But I got faith in my production quality and I don't feel I got anything to be jealous about Lazerhawk's productions. They're different. I learn from them and from others'.

What label would you rather be on: Rosso Corsa or Future 80's?

I'm already on Future 80's. I feel Rosso Corsa doesn't really promote their artists anymore, or doesn't bother as much to be involved into things. If you asked me about it 7-8 months ago I'd say Rosso Corsa. It's got the name, and you get to be close to MN1984 and those artists who could really propel you, but then I get to see new names that signed on there but never got forward and others that actually have potential but never got far. I don't know if I'm wrong, I'd expect from a label like that to be able to efficiently promote and stuff, it just all feels "tired" or so. So I think Future 80's and other "small" labels in the scene, such as Retro Promenade and Sunlover Records have a bright future ahead of them and currently I'd put my money on them.

Do you ever think your song titles don’t do the music justice or vice-versa?

I wouldn't say so, I think they're alright and they describe exactly what a track is about.

Do you ever wish you'd be a real musician instead of a Synthwave producer?

No! Synthwave is real. Electronic music is real.

Click here for more Karate King and here for more VHS Dreams.