Synthwave Sunday / Interview with Volkor X
Synthwave has a lot of artists that are well known...names that almost everyone knows of or enjoys. Then there is a much smaller list, a list of artists who are not only well known but are also a strong positive influence on the scene. Volkor X is one such artist, a musician that is universally liked and appreciated. That's no easy feat, especially when petty in-fighting, genre squabbles, and fame shaming runs rampant throughout the music industry as a whole.
Needless to say, but Echosynthetic is thrilled to play host to a special Volkor X edition of Synthwave Sunday this week. We get to talk to the man, the myth, and the legend, who just so happens to be as cool as you'd think he would be. I hope you enjoy the interview as much as we enjoy presenting it to you!
You hardly need an introduction, but for those who don't know already, who exactly is Volkor X?
I am the tenth son of Raklar VII. Yet, my name is pronounced Volkor X, not "Volkor the tenth". We are a family of world enders from father to son. I've been watching Earth for a a couple of years now, but my biggest regret is that I found your planet a bit too late. Looks like mankind has already destroyed most of it before my arrival.
You've collaborated with a staggering number of artists. Do you get a lot of submissions and how do you decide what you're going to work on?
Yes, I do get a lot of collab and remix requests. Even if I wanted to, there's no way I can work with everybody. In 2017, 95% of the time I spent Volkoring was on other people's music. It was fun, but I'm gonna try to slow down in 2018, because I need to produce new music for myself. So, unless I get a request from an artist I truly admire, I'm probably going to decline. It doesn't look too good though, as I already accepted 2 remix request in 2018. The first one was for Irving Force's "Violence Suppressor" that should be released anytime now, and another one for a death metal band I love. This is going to be soooo cool! I've also done a bit of mastering for other artists, like the latest Electric Dragon album "Communion" and the new Hollywood Burns to be released in a few weeks through Blood Music.
You've been in the game awhile. How have you seen synthwave change for the good and the bad?
To be honest, I don't think I've been around long enough to notice any real change. Synthwave is a small portion of the music I'm listening to, I'm not sure I have enough insight to analyse the genre. There seems to be a lot more producers now than there was when I started. And I already thought the genre was overcrowded then. Not trying to disrespect anyone, but there's a lot of forgettable music being released every day. Many composers are focusing so much on sounding 80s or trying to copycat their favorite artists that their music feels empty and meaningless to me. And it makes it harder to find the good music in the middle of all this. So I kind of stopped looking. But then again, I don't think it has really changed. It's just that there are more people now than 2-3 years ago. Some people are claiming synthwave is dead, but as far as I remember, they have been saying that since I got interested in the genre. So nothing new here... But to be honest, I don't really care if synthwave changes, dies, or explodes. It won't stop me from doing what I'm doing.
What is your recording setup?
I have a very simple setup. I'm not a hardware nut. I have a Novation Ultranova synth, and a bunch of virtual instruments I always come back to, namely the Arturia V Collection, Synth1 or Massive. I think the debate over hardware VS virtual instruments is pointless. As long as one or the other allows me to produce the music I want to produce, I'm good. I also use a couple of guitars with too many strings and a few basses, which I expect to use more often in my music from now on. Everything I produce is composed, recorded, mixed and mastered in Reaper. I'm working on my and other people's music in an acoustically treated part of my ship, with outstanding monitors powered by bi-atomic warp drives.
How do you go about writing your music? Is there a structure to it or does it just flow? Do you handle remixes differently?
It pretty much flows. I never have a song structure in mind when I start composing. So it can as well be a 4 minutes song when I think it's done, or a 13 minutes epic like This Means War. That said, I'm a sucker for long and evolving (progressive?) tracks, so I tend to do that a lot. I love songs that build up to something big and emotional. I don't like harmless music, so when a track I'm working on doesn't make me feel something strong, I just toss it out and don't look back.
It's different for remixes. Remixes are pretty new for me. I had never done any before the birth of Volkor X, and that's not even something I've been wanting to do, because I'll be honest, I don't like remixes... MUHAHAHA!! Most of the time, remixes stray too far from the original songs for my taste, and it's very rare I enjoy a remix of a song I like. So I'm trying to do covers instead of remixes. I'm asking myself "how would this song sound if I had composed it ?". This is why I generally stay quite faithful to the original song structure and rhythm, and try to make it sound like one of my own tracks. Of course, sometimes I just make something completely different, like I did on Stilz' "Don't Look Back". It sounds more like a new song inspired by parts of Stilz', but I was very proud of this one. Still love it. I think my favorite remix is the one I did for The Algorithm's "userspace". It clicked instantly. I remember when I listened to the original song for the first time, I thought that it could have been something I had composed. So it was very easy for me to Volkorify it. Everything was already in my head before I started working on it. I knew exactly what I had to do because I felt so much at home...
What can we expect from Volkor X in 2018?
I just finished working on a video game soundtrack, but I can't speak about it yet. The soundtrack should be released in the next few months digitally, and probably on vinyl a bit later. There should be another couple of vinyl releases of some of my older works as well. I've also been working with some streamers lately. Last year, I composed "Enclave" as an official theme for DejaVu Darkmist's mixer.com channel, and I've just done a track for Maximus Raeke's channel, on mixer.com as well. In addition, I have started working on a new album. I really like the direction it is taking so far, but I have absolutely no idea when it will be finished. And last but not least, I'm working on bringing Volkor X to the stage by the end of the year.
What are you listening to currently?
Unfortunately, I have a hard time finding time to hunt for new music, so I keep coming back to the music that inspires me, especially now that I'm working on the new album. So it's mainly Pink Floyd, Meshuggah, Carpenter Brut (completely hooked on Leather Teeth), Opeth, Yes... Lately I've been enjoying Cody Carpenter's "Interdependence", Mac Quayle soundtrack to Mr Robot, Cult of Luna's "Mariner", Sons of Apollo's "Psychotic Symphony"...
Any parting words before we go?
Well, many thanks to you and Echosynthetic for having me. Hello to my friends and supporters, too many to make a list without forgetting someone, so I won't take the risk!