We had the privilege to receive the answers of some questions addressed to the undisputed master of ‘Dreamwave’, the composer from the Netherlands called ‘Timecop1983’. You’ll know more about the origins of his name, the software witch he uses to make music, his choice to belong to this musical category with his main influences, his point of view about the marketing aspect of this environment, some valuable tips that can bring a lot to young musicians, its various projects into video games world and much more. Take pleasure in reading this really interesting interview with a good mind. Enjoy!
Retro Synthwave: Can you introduce yourself to our community for Synthwave lovers who don’t know you yet?
Timecop1983: My name is Jordy and I produce music under my alias Timecop1983. As the name suggests I was born in 1983 and I live in The Netherlands. I started making Synthwave in 2013 after finally seeing Drive.
I already discover the genre around 2011 when I heard a Kavinsky track on some Ed Banger mixtape and that’s where I fell in love with it. I didn’t know the movie or the visual style, so after seeing it and hearing how the soundtrack worked with the visuals of the film I knew I had to give it a try myself. And 4 years later I’m still in love with it!
About your artist name, you said that ‘Timecop’ didn’t come from the movie with JCVD (‘1983’ being your year of birth) but from what you imagined when you created your Soundcloud account. If you had a time machine, how would you rename your artist project and why?
Haha, yeah I didn’t know Timecop was a Jean Claud van Damme movie at the time. I only found out about a year and a half after I created the project. I still haven’t seen the movie, but judging by JCVD’s acting skills I can only imagine the quality of the movie… I did play the SNES game though, but that one is awful!
I wish I picked a different name back then, but I seriously don’t know what name I would choose now… Whatever name I would pick I would probably hate it after a while. But I don’t want to be like Prince and change my name every 2 hours.
At the age of 12 you discovered electronic music and now you’re an expert of the ‘Fruity Loops’ software. Since then, did you have any musical training or are you a perfect self-taught musician? What do you think about FL haters?
I started making music with Scream Tracker on MS-DOS when I was 12. I didn’t have a musical background, so I had to do a lot of experimenting and re-creating songs. But I didn’t give up trying and in the end I I could make my own music. After some years of working with various software and hardware (Yamaha RM1x and Akai MPC) sequencers I got FL Studio 7, which I still use to date.
Some say it’s not a “professional” DAW, but to me that’s nonsense. It’s the cook, not the kitchen. I can make music with FL Studio 7, which I know inside out. Why would I change to Cubase or Pro Tools? Because it’s more professional? I wouldn’t even know where to begin… People should focus on making music themselves and not focus on judging what others do.
Sure FL Studio has some flaws, especially version 7, but I’ve learned to work around them.
Is it difficult to make this music called ‘Synthwave’ in a country that doesn’t have the culture of this musical style, like the USA for example?
I don’t think it’s difficult at all. Because the most important thing should always be that you create music YOU love the most. If you make a kind of music for the likes and fame you’re doing it wrong. Of course it’s great if people actually like your music and listen to it, but that should not be your main goal.
The Synthwave scene isn’t as big here in The Netherlands as it is in America, but there is definitely a scene here. More and more people are creating it these days and the Night Arcade parties are getting bigger and better. People are coming from all around the world to party with us.
« the most important thing should always be that you create music YOU love the most »
You said that you don’t have any particular attachment to the 80’s movies. We have this impression that composers of Synthwave music are first influenced by the soundtracks of films/series/cartoon from this period. What do you think about that? Why did you choose this style of music rather than Hip Hop, Metal or Rock?
No, that’s right. Unlike many others in the scene I can’t say I am very much influenced by 80’s movie scores. Of course I have seen the classics of the 80’s, but I wasn’t particularly interested in the music in them.
I did listen (or my parents made me listen) to a lot of music when growing up. My parents always played music or had the radio on. That’s where my love for music is born.
When I first heard Synthwave there was a wave of nostalgia that made me instantly like it. That’s the main reason why I like it so much.
Can you say a few words about Drive, Kung Fury or Stranger Things that are our biggest references of the new generation of film/series inspired by the 80s universe? Would you like to participate to a similar project?
Oh, I would love to be a part of a project like that!
It’s great projects like that are done. They introduce younger people to our genre, which is great.
What are your favorite instruments to compose your music with and why?
My favorite instruments are software synthesizers. I use a lot of virtual synthesizers that emulate sounds of oldschool synths and although they are not the real thing they sound so good these days.
A lot of people hate softsynths, but I bet 99% of them can’t even tell if a synth is real analog or a softsynth when hearing them in the mix. They have become so great over the last years that I rather choose to work with softsynths than with hardware synths. It’s so much faster to work with software.
But I do have a decent collection of hardware synthesizers in my studio. Both modern and vintage and both analog and digital. I love them all, but recently I bought a Behringer Deepmind 6 and I’m totally in love with. I felt wary of buying Behringer, but this synth is out of this world.
What are your main musical influences besides the musicians of the DRIVE soundtrack, the VALERIE Collective and Ed Banger Records teams?
I am influenced by all music I hear. Especially when I hear it in a film or get strong images (in my head) from hearing it. I listen to music all the time and I think I am being influenced by everything I hear. Not only by Synthwave, but by everything.
With which singer would you dream to collaborate with for one song or more? Why?
There’s so many many great people to work with. Not only in the Synthwave scene, but also in other scenes. In the scene I would love to work with so many people, like LeBrock, Michael Oakley, more with The Midnight, etc. Outside the scene I think it would be great to work with a big name like Taylor Swift, but that’s just a dream.
My plan is to work more with people outside the Synthwave scene as well. The ones in the scene are absolutely great, but I feel like the genre can grow further and by working with people outside of the scene I think we can attract their audience too.
You said that ‘New Retro Wave’ (the famous Youtube channel) helped you a lot to get noticed in the Synthwave scene. Marketing is now as important the track itself if you really want to become famous. What do you think about this, and what advice could you give to young composers?
Yeah, marketing is for sure very very important these days. I always tell people marketing is at least 50% of the work. You can make a number 1 hit, but when nobody hears it you have nothing.
My best advice for beginners in any scene is to have a solid catalog and social media pages BEFORE you send your music to any platform that can share your music. Once that platform shares your music people that are interested in you will try to find you. When they can’t find any information about you they will easily forget you. If you have a catalog of at least a few songs that are in equal quality of the shared song it’s much more likely they will follow you.
Also, don’t worry about it too much that one “dream” channel or website doesn’t post your music. Once you keep making great music they will find you and post your music in the end.
« marketing is for sure very very important these days. I always tell people marketing is at least 50% of the work »
You have composed more than 4 EP’s and 3 LP’s, can you tell us what are your favorite tracks and why?
I like my vocal songs the best. I find it amazing to hear what the people I work with do with my music. When producing I hear my instrumentals all the time and to hear those instrumentals with vocals is great! I don’t have a favorite track, but i’m really happy with my collab with The Midnight which was released on their Nocturnal EP recently and with Let’s Talk featuring Josh Dally.
What can you say about your side-project named ‘Division’?
Division is the « darker » side of me. The 2083 EP is a evolution of my Timecop1983 project: it’s 100 years later and mankind is struggling after a all out nuclear war. The world has become dark and what’s left of mankind has moved underground, because of the radiation levels on the surface. So Division is a bit darker than my usual dreamy sound. It’s inspired by guys like Dan Terminus, Dynatron and the Blade Runner soundtrack. My plan was to finish a Division album this year, but i am so busy with TC83 that i just can’t find the time to work on the project. I do have have about 65 track ideas lying around in that style, so once i find the time it should not be too hard to turn those into a album. I can’t make any promises, but i hope to finish a full Division album in 2018…
You said that you didn’t have time to play games except ‘Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon’ that had caught your eye for its soundtrack (by Power Glove). Have you ever worked for a video game company? For you, what’s the ultimate game to the which you could link your music?
Yeah, unfortunately I don’t have much time to play games, but I do love them! Especially oldschool NES and SNES games which I play on my Retropie. And lately I have been playing Trackmania a lot, when I need a little break when in the studio.
I have been very fortunate to create a part of the soundtrack of Crossing Souls by Fourattic. I worked on the soundtrack with the very talented Chris Köbke. I did the synth score and he did the more traditional “classical” side of the score. The game will come out later this year and is published by Devolver Digital (who also published Hotline Miami).
About your live tour, can you tell us your best story? More dates soon?
I have been playing live since march, 2016 and have been very lucky to have played in many places in Europe so far.
The first, at Microwaves in The Hague (NL), was a crazy experience for me which I will never forget. I didn’t have any stage experience at all. It’s not that I was very nervous, but the moment I got on stage and started playing I forgot the world around me. I was so focused I didn’t know at what time I started and stopped. At one point there were people dancing directly behind me on stage, but I was so focused on playing I didn’t see them at all.
My live shows are not my main goal, I rather spend my time in the studio. I still feel pretty uncomfortable on stage and don’t knpw how to react to an applause, but it’s great to see how people react to my music and to be able to talk with my fans in real life. I really enjoy seeing people enjoying my music.
I am in the process of buying a new house and if all goes well there’s a LOT of renovating to do, so I might have to take it easy with my liveshows in 2018. But there’s a few great things in the pipeline anyway…
A few words about your next projects? What are you preparing and when will it be ready?
At the moment I am working on the soundtrack for a documentary. It’s not going to be an all Synthwave soundtrack, but it will be a combination of my usual work with some ambient influences. This is currently being finalized and should be ready this year.
I’m also working on a new album, which I hope to finish this year. There’s a few songs done already (some cool collabs too) and there will be the usual dreamy sounds, but this time combined with more uptempo songs.
Next to that I’m working with Urban Road Records to have an older album of mine mastered for a certain physical format!
« a new album, which I hope to finish this year. There’s a few songs done already (some cool collabs too) »