Image credit: Joakim Reimer
I can’t believe I get to say, but today we’re premiering a Waveshaper track! Waveshaper is one of my favorite synthwave artists and, arguably, one of the most important voices in the decade plus change that the genre has been around. His sound usually dallies with the brighter aspects of the genre, as can be heard on the excellent Artificer from 2019, and is always surrounded by great science fiction concepts and some of the most consistently amazing cover art in the game. It’s also just damn good music, drawing on the thrilling beats, redolent synths, and sprawling soundscapes that synthwave can generate while eschewing much of the repetition and the staleness that the genre can sometimes suffer from. And “The Phantom Machine”, coming hot off of Waveshaper’s upcoming release, Mainframe (dropping tomorrow and which you can pre-save here), is that and a little bit more. Head on down below to get a taste of it yourself as well as some Q&A with Waveshaper himself!
What a great track! It sports a slightly darker vibe than most of Waveshaper’s work, perhaps reminding us more of 2020’s more melancholic EP, Disk Hunter, with its creeping main beat and the thick but shadow-covered main synths. But “The Phantom Machine” is also Waveshaper through and through, in the way that it grows and breathes, the little touches that make it unfurl before our ears and conjure the machines, cities, and aesthetics that synthwave lives and breathes. I especially adore the very Vangelis inspired outro, with its epic-sized synths rising out of the silence to paint skyscrapers against a darkly lit sky before the track runs it course.
It’s fascinating that at this point in his career, Waveshaper keeps pushing his sound forward and trying new things while still being able to stay true to his trademark sound. I asked him as much during our brief interview, which you can find below! Before you read it, another reminder that Mainframe drops tomorrow and you can pre-save the album right here. Without further ado, here’s Waveshaper:
Greetings Waveshaper! I am a huge fan of your work so I appreciate you taking the time to chat with me.
Thank you very much!
First things first: you’ve been working in the synthwave spaces for a while now. How do you keep yourself fresh? Do you find that it’s been challenging to keep pushing forward with your style and finding new ideas?
This is a good question. The most important thing is to make sure that you have fun while producing the music. Too much pressure will lead to a poor result. I often approach my upcoming releases with some different themes and directions. Planning is an important part of my production journey these day. It is also important for me to explore new ideas and directions for every release.
Speaking of synthwave, what’s your take on the genre today? I think it’s safe to say that the massive hype that surrounded it a few years ago is dying down. Is there a future for the genre at large?
I enjoy seeing that many artists are making their own direction in the genre. The good thing with synthwave is that if you step out of the generic centre there are quite many different styles to explore. And with being an underground genre that mostly live on the internet will lead to that such a genre can live and evolve longer. Sure mainstream has picked up it recently with acts like The Weekend and such but up there we have probably seen the spotlight now. Trends in electronic music comes and goes it is important for you as an artist to dare to take steps that will make the sound journey interesting.
Tell us more about Mainframe. Artifact dropped two years and those two years have been quite a ride. What’s new in how you approach your music if anything has changed at all?
Initially I didn´t really plan for completing an album. the intention was an EP but during the cold winter here in Sweden I hit a creative spot that made eager to make some more tracks. It was also important for me in this album to bring in new elements as well. Mainly for me to get a challenge & a fun journey during the production.
Thanks for taking the time. One last question: The Disk Hunter featured your first major remix line, if I remember correctly. Are you planning on offering up multiple tracks for remix in the future as well? Who’s on your shortlist for artists you’d like to remix your work?
Yeah that is correct :) Remixes are fun. Both to do the remix or having your music remixed. For Disk Hunter, I was extremely satisfied with the artists involved. We have already initiated a similar remix project for Mainframe. Some great artists onboard. As for a remixer. It would be very cool to have some of the pioneers of synths onboard. Like Jean Michel Jarre, Vangelis or Moroder. Then the circle would be fully closed.