To celebrate the release of his new album named « Trinity », here is the interview of DJ Ten from New York. Behind the talented musician who can easily compose some quality Retrowave music as heavy and powerful Hip Hop sounds, lies the founder of NewRetroWave, the famous Synthwave Youtube channel, but also NRW Records and NRW Gaming. Despite his busy schedule, the artist had time to release a LP of 14 tracks (deluxe version) but also to answer to our many questions. Good reading!
Retro Synthwave: Hi DJ Ten, can you introduce yourself?
DJ Ten: I go by Ten. I am a musician who founded NewRetroWave. I have been making music since I was 12 and I have spanned many different sounds/genres before finding a special home in the Retrowave movement.
Could you tell us what your musical background is?
I grew up in the UK and listened to many different sounds. From 80’s freestyle, 80s rock, 80’s pop and power ballads, to UK Garage, UK house, acid house, Eurobeat, to hip-hop and indie rock. I have had a vast array of sounds that penetrated my ears from young. This has had a profound affect on the way I sculpt my own sounds. I love to experiment and add/ mix different sounds together when I compose.
What are your greatest musical influences, from the 80’s to now?
In terms of genres, definitely 80’s freestyle, power ballads, 90s house, hip-hop and UK garage and Grime. I love so many elements that these genres have given us, but especially the drums from these genres. I am huge on drums and they are a very important focus when I put together a song.
« I am huge on drums and they are a very important focus when I put together a song »
Your favorite instruments to produce music with, and why? ?
I don’t have a favorite instrument to be honest. I use whatever tools I have at my disposal. Every instrument has something special it can add to a composition, so I try not to use the same ones over and over again.
Can you explain when did you find yourself loving the 80’s?
I love the optimism the 80’s had. Yes it was rough back then, but the music really evoked great feelings. The style, and way of life seemed a lot simpler back then. But my real love for the 80’s is really connected through the music. I didn’t grow up in the 80’s, but I can feel a connection when I hear songs released from that time. It is truly a wonderful feeling.
There are two big musical worlds that are close to your heart. Some ‘Synthwave’ music (necessarily) but also some ‘Hip Hop’ (or rather ‘Trap’). What can you say about these genre-crossings?
To be, adding new sounds to ones musical palette is essential to growth and discovering new sounds. As an artist, I always strive to make sounds that will captivate and leave the listener wanting to replay. Trap has amazing energy in its drums. Not too concerned for its lyrics, lol, but the sound itself has a lot to offer. I was very excited experimenting with synth and trap sounds. I feel it is a match that will have many ears perked.
Why work again with ‘Trevor Something’ for ‘’Trinity’’? How do you choose your guests?
Trevor is a beast and we work well together. I had a track that I finished in the studio, and as soon as I listened to the finished product, I knew only Trevor could take the track to the next level of sound that I wanted. In terms of how I choose my guests, it really stems from the feel I get in my composition. Since I know a vast list of artists, I can fine tune who I feel will suit my track the best. Lots of amazing talent out there and I am very blessed to be working with everyone who featured on this album.
It took you four years to come back with some new music, can you tell us the story of « Trinity »?
Trinity is the final installment to the Retrological series. It is my darkest piece of work yet. It delves into conspiracy and how we see the world, out place in it. The covers I have tell a huge story to how perception can alter our reality.
For ‘Skin’, you invited the charming ‘Mecha Maiko’, what can you say about this singer?
Mecha Maiko is a pleasure to work with. I have worked with her in the past, and had to work with her again for this album.
The beautiful ‘Synthpop’ song named « Senses » in collaboration with ‘By An Ion’ reminds us what ‘GUNSHIP’ does. What do you think about that?
I was not expecting to hear that. Lol. But each person can hear/ feel something very different from another person, so it is quite interesting. As long as you enjoy the vibes, that’s the most important thing to me.
Let’s talk about « GLOW » with LeBrock’s voice and Ultraboss’ guitar. After listening to it, we automatically think of the Rocky saga with this rock’n’roll reminding us Surviror, Europe, Scorpion or AC / DC. Was that your intention?
I certainly wanted to make a motivational, inspirational track that would get the masses going. Whatever similarities you hear are a blessing for me and shows that I executed to meet my aim. LeBrock’s vocals and the Ultraboss shred was an essential to see this vision through.
With George Ergemlidze’s voice, « Falling Awake » gives us an incredible sensation, it’s a big HIT for sure. What were your inspirations to compose this magical track?
Definitely new wave, post punk, hi-nrg influences were a shaping factor here. I love those sounds and find them very captivating. I wanted to translate such feels into Falling Awake and implemented a bit of all those genres in this song to do so.
With its captivating voice of ‘HUMAN’, « Secrets » takes us very far into cyberspace. We would see it in a sequel of « Blade Runner 2049 ». What can you tell us about this track, mid-Synthpop, mid-TRAP?
Secret’s was one of those tracks that just came together effortlessly. I had many ideas when I started composing this tune, and as it progressed, I focused the sound on the synthscape and a hard drum palette. lol. I definitely wanted to keep some DRIVE vibes in there, but also add some modern flare to it. Mid-synth both or Mid-trap, I really don’t mind what you call it. It is essentially a sound that I felt resonated well with HUMAN’s style and they delivered an awesome vocal. My aim is always to surprise the listener.
« I definitely wanted to keep some DRIVE vibes in there, but also add some modern flare to it »
Regarding the powerful ‘Genesis’, ‘O.B.E.Y’, ‘Triplicants’, ‘The Law of Light’, ‘The End’ & ‘D.W.T.W’, we see that those excellent TRAP-like tracks could perfectly marry with couplets of rappers. Why didn’t you invite some ‘Hip Hop’ stars, like ‘Kaytranada’ did with his album?
Lol. ‘Kaytranada’ isn’t easy to get a hold of. But, for this album, my main focus was the vision. I have had rappers on all my other releases, but decided to forgo it for this release. Wanted the instrumentation to speak for itself for many of the tracks on here that have no vocals.
Would going on tour for the release of « Trinity » would interest you?
No tours for the time being. I am too busy with NRW. Lol
Let’s talk about your website ‘NewRetroWave’ which is the most popular Youtube channel in the world regarding Synthwave music. You also manage an excellent website, a ‘NRW Rec’ music Label and even a media for retro video games ‘NRW Gaming’. What can you tell us about these great projects?
It’s how you explained it. NRW Youtube is catered to promote new and wonderful sounds in the scene, and NRW Records is an expansion of that, but to give specific artists more attention and help them grow in the careers. NRW Gaming is mainly run by Bryan Eddy who is doing an amazing job. I focus more on the videos for that. It is a joy to run these all and give musicians a change to be heard, and to provide content for the fans o enjoy.
You know that many young ‘Synthwave’ producers would dream to be broadcasted on your channel. What are your selection criteria?
Very strict! Lol. Only because I get so many submissions that I have to be. Looking for original sounds with synth implementation that immediately connect with my and my other song reviewers ears.
Of all styles related to the world of ‘Synthwave’… Which ones interest you the most?
No real preference here. Again, so many sub genres have a lot to offer, and I love to listen to them all.
Since you created ‘NewRetroWave’ with your team, do you think that the Synthwave universe has evolved and became most popular since « DRIVE »?
The scene has certainly evolved at lot since DRIVE. The amount of sub-genres pouring through is amazing. Also a lot more Retrowave influence in TV shows, movies and now adverts. It’s crazy, but is showing the power of the movement. I predict the next 2-3 years will show even more growth in the scene in ways we cannot imagine.
« I predict the next 2-3 years will show even more growth in the scene in ways we cannot imagine »
You’re a gamer, of course, as you created « NRW Gaming ». What are your favorite games?
Definitely a lover of Street Fighter, Contra, Sonic, Doom, Pac-Man, TMNT, and MK. So Many games to mention, but these are a few I wanted to mention.
What are your future projects?
Focused on Trinity and NRW for a while.
What do you think about our young website?
It’s a lovely site! Keep going and spread the word of the synth!!