Synthwave newcomers Siamese Youth have been keeping themselves busy as they are ready to release their first album Electric Dreams. Here at Retro Synthwave we have an exclusive interview to get to know a little bit more about them given as the internet provides so little, until now.

Matthew: Here’s a generic question; what was the first thing that got you guys into synthwave?

Hadl: For me it was quite a while ago. It must have been 2012 or 2013 when a friend showed me Tesla Boy. The song “Spirit Of The Night” just blew my mind away and I still love it. That was the start for me.

Mark: For me it was a total mystery. Somehow I started writing synthwave songs before discovering the genre. I sent some demos to a friend of mine who is a big fan of the genre and he replied something like “Nice tunes, almost synthwave”. Only then I decided to dive deeper and absolutely fell in love with it. I got very much into Futurecop!, timecop1983, The Midnight, FM-84, Trevor Something. I felt like I found a perfect way to express my artistic vision at that moment. Then it was just a matter of a few tweaks here and there for those early demos and it also inspired me to write a lot of new stuff which ended up on Electric Dreams.

How strong is the scene in Berlin? Is it the most popular place in Germany for synthwave?

There is a scene and it’s constantly growing. When our friends from Tech Noir set up parties or concerts many, many people show up – dressed and ready for a perfect 80ies night. We cannot really tell if it’s the biggest one. We know there are other communities in Germany that are very active like the ones in Darmstadt, Cologne or the Ruhrgebiet area. It’s growing everywhere!

What is the best album of the 80s decade in your eyes? And does it compare to your favourite synthwave album?

Hadl: To me it’s Forever Young from Alphaville. I just love that album. So many emotions come up when I hear it. I didn’t listen to it for quite a while, and after years I checked out the vinyl version again and it just brought tears to my eyes. “Sounds like a melody” is a killer song. “Summer In Berlin” is amazing, “Fallen Angel” is more than great and then there are two more world hits on it “Big in Japan” and “Forever Young”. And it was their debut album – unbelievable. “Big in Japan” was the second song that Marian ever wrote. Can you believe it? Such talent, such energy and musically so interesting, inspired, free and still catchy – to me it’s absolutely flawless. My favourite synthwave album is Endless Summer by The Midnight. You can totally compare it mood wise. The magic about both – 80ies and Synthwave – to me is melancholia. It is that special force that would open a sore you didn’t know about and that would gently close it in the same moment. The duality is hard to describe but easy to feel if you’re into it.

Mark: I would say Technique by New Order is the one that totally blew my mind. To me it’s a summary of the 80s, but with a view on the 90s already. It still sounds so fresh and forward-looking to this day. With synthwave I have my own ultimate Top-3: 1. “Reflections” by timecop1983 2. “Fairy Tales” by Futurecop! 3. “Kids” by The Midnight. No direct comparison with New Order, but what’s similar about them is this flirting with pop music, but it’s much more edgy and human than any current pop record.”

What did you expect when you remixed Nariyeh Thanei by Futurecop! ? Did you think you had a winning remix?

Mark: Oh, that was a totally spontaneous thing and no expectations at all. I stumbled upon this competition 3 days before the deadline, so my time to produce a finished track was very limited. I even thought of not submitting it in the end as I wasn’t fully satisfied with the result. But then I thought damn it, I’m submitting anyway. Then there was a long silence and I was pretty sure they selected someone else. One day I came out of my studio and saw a message from NRW that we got the 1st place. It was surreal! It really jump started everything for us, so I’m super glad it worked out like that and the version coming on our album is an improved mix and master treated by Hadl, so now I’m also very happy with the sound.

Would you ever cover other songs like All The Small Things?

Yes, why not? We feel a lot of freedom in what we do, so we could go for other covers as well. We just need to get the inspiration to do it.

Your album has been highly anticipated, what inspired you to write songs?

Mark: I went through some really tough times and a depression in 2017. I was at my lowest towards the end of the year, but then a spiritual experience happened to me that helped me to get out of that hole and also somehow opened a stream of inspiration and creative juices. It led to Siamese Youth formation as well. I think one can hear that this record has a very uplifting, hopeful vibe and that’s a direct reaction to overcoming depression and finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. And of course winning the NRW competition, label support, collaborating with Futurecop! and seeing how warm the audience reception is, gave us a big boost and motivation to write as much and as good as we can.

Hadl: I guess for everyone who writes a big part is that you reflect about life – the world around you, your personal life, down to your true feelings. In our songs the most vulnerable and dreamy side of the personality is reflected. Dreams, wishes, desires. Coping with the here and now, with the history behind you. Echoes of the past, prospects for the future and all of these feelings melting in your head to one emotion.

« In our songs the most vulnerable and dreamy side of the personality is reflected. Dreams, wishes, desires. »

What does your album cover represent?

Well, we’re big fans of Mizucat’s style, so we gave her a lot of freedom and just asked to come up with her own interpretation of our music. Luckily, she really liked the album and listened to it a lot while making the cover. We’re big fans of covers that have a lot of symbols and hidden messages. Maybe the girl on the cover is Coco (title for a lead single from the album), maybe she’s more of a lyrical hero of all these songs or maybe it’s Mizucat herself, haha. The city outside the window could be Berlin or Tokyo or even a place in a parallel 80s synthwave universe. These are just some hints, but the best is you bring up your own ideas and let them sink in.

What song has the most personal meaning to you guys on Electric Dreams?

Hadl: For me it’s “Coco”. I have the deepest personal connection to this song. It was the first track I wrote in that style and it has quite a journey behind it. It was written back in 2012 on an instrumental I got from my friend Recep. When I wrote it, I couldn’t get the verse melody quite right. Then my approach was to think “how the hell would Morten from A-ha sing it?”. Haha… Then I came up with another, higher melody and everything fell in place for me. Over the years the song went through different stages and variations – a more rock version, a more dance adaption, an edit that Mark was singing on. I always loved the song and knew it was special to me, but I was never 100% satisfied. When Mark said I should sing it, I tried it again and together we worked on the final production. After years it was nearly like in the beginning, very close to me again and it was finally the track it always should have been.

Mark: To me it’s “Dream On”. It was the last song we wrote for the album so it kind of sums it up and has a very positive, soothing message. It’s about following your dreams, not giving up even though sometimes life is very challenging. In the end it all works out. I felt like a total failure right before Siamese Youth started and was ready to give up on music and everything, but I went through this and came out even stronger. If I could do that, you can do that too. That’s what this song is about.

What makes you stand out compared to other musicians in the synthwave scene?

We’re both coming from rock and even emo backgrounds and it of course reflects very much in the way we write songs. There’s a bunch of guitars on this record and in many cases the song ideas start with just voice and guitar. Then we layer it up with synths and drum machines, but the essence of the band is we’re rock’n’roll guys with a love for the 80ies.

Were you approached by New retro wave after you won the competition?

We were staying in touch with NewRetroWave after the competition. We were working on an EP and our plan was to send it to NRW as soon as it was ready. So yeah – we had a whole EP done, including a different artwork, masters and so on. We sent it to NRW and they said they really liked it, but want to go with an album release instantly! We were positively shocked 🙂 So we went back to the studio to write more tracks. We were super inspired and motivated at that time, so we came back to them with the full length record pretty fast.

Mark: Actually right after winning the remix competition I’ve sent myself an imaginary email with an “offer” from NRW to release an album. I believe in the law of attraction but it seemed like such an unreal dream for a new band. Can you imagine how I felt when they indeed offered us a record deal!

What places around the world would you love to play or are there any big festivals in mind?

We would like to play all around the world! Playing live is the best part of it all, so we cannot wait to share our songs with people everywhere. It would be a dream to play in New York once. But there are so many great synthwave communities and people who set up shows, we would love to come over everywhere – Scandinavia, US, UK, France, … Invitations accepted! 🙂

« Playing live is the best part of it all, so we cannot wait to share our songs with people everywhere. »

How did you both meet and come up with Siamese Youth? Where did the band name come from?

We knew each other and collaborated for about 4 years before forming Siamese Youth. It’s an embarrassingly modern way we met – on Facebook. We first collaborated on some soundtracks, then Hadl became a member of Mark’s previous band. But by 2018 our personal and creative bond became strong enough to start writing songs together and this led to forming Siamese Youth. Mark had this name idea for a few years and it was supposed to be an EP title for his previous band.

Who has been your biggest supporter throughout your musical journey so far?

First of all it’s our manager Rich, who is with us from the beginning and has always been incredibly supportive. Also we owe a lot to Futurecop!, he’s the first established artist who believed in us and opened so many doors for us. And of course NRW Records – in particular Ten. The label is incredibly artist-friendly and we feel very lucky to be working with them.

What was the moment you both clicked and realised you can make music together?

Actually we knew it from the very start. We’re from very different cultural backgrounds (Mark is Ukrainian and Hadl is German), but we knew instantly that we have the same musical heart.

What was the moment you both clicked and realised you can make music together?

Actually we knew it from the very start. We’re from very different cultural backgrounds (Mark is Ukrainian and Hadl is German), but we knew instantly that we have the same musical heart.

What would be the next musical release for Siamese Youth? An EP? A single? Are there other tracks you could have released?

We are very excited for the release of Electric Dreams now. We worked on it for a long time and put all our heart in it. So we actually didn’t think about any releases beyond that so far. It could be anything – EP, single, Album or a 10-DVD collection. Get surprised!

– Interview by Matthew Clewley
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