An Interview with Earmake
With an incredible album that dropped a week ago through NRW Records and music on HBO, Earmake has had a pretty incredible 2019 and the year is only half done. We got a chance to speak with the cosmic synthwave producer from Ukraine and picked
With an incredible album that dropped a week ago through NRW Records and music on HBO, Earmake has had a pretty incredible 2019 and the year is only half done. We got a chance to speak with the cosmic synthwave producer from Ukraine and picked his brain about influences and future plans. Check it out!
NRW: What got you interested in making music in the first place? Did you always make synthwave?
Earmake: My process of becoming a musician began thanks to a Swedish DJ and musician Basshunter (Jonas Altberg). I loved the genre of music like Dancecore and Hands-Up, and sub-genre branches. I listened to artists such as Manian, Dj Splash, Cascada, Dj Gollum, Italobrothers, and so on. Once I heard the music of Basshunter, and came across a YouTube video of how Jonas was making this music. When I like a certain film or artist, I go to Wikipedia and read about it. In the biography of Basshunter, I read that this is an ordinary guy who played Dota and wrote music in FL Studio, and now (at that time) already has a contract with Warner Music. I decided to try, downloaded the program, and repeated (like many home producers). In general, my father was a DJ and collected imported music (Italo Disco). By the way, this music was quite difficult to get in the USSR. So probably my childhood was associated with music. I discovered Synthwave very funny. I don’t remember exactly if I heard this genre of music before I came across it. I will ask a counter question to all old school lovers: where did you hear Nightcall? I am sure that almost everyone will answer “in the movie “Drive”. But I heard this track in the Gameloft mobile game Gangstar Vegas. (yes, I still have not watched Drive, and I will not do it). There are radio stations, I was driving a car and playing Kavinsky. I was surprised that there was a very strange vocal, got into Google, read the artist’s biography, and then listened to his other works. His music, his visual style, his style of clothes won me over. Then I started slowly, no – very quickly, to enter this culture.
NRW: Who are you biggest musical influences?
Earmake: Like many people, my tastes depended on the time in which a particular genre was popular. I went through Russian rap, through punk rock, through eurodance. All this (fortunately) is over. I listened to this as a teenager. As I said earlier, the first artist that inspired me is Basshunter. Then – Kavinsky. I love the visual style of Outrun music, but I never tried to write it, and did not want to. I am romantic. I like cinematic music, space music, dreamwave music.I really like the ambient and Berlin school music. I was most influenced by Tangerine Dream, Global Communication, Stellardrone and Carbon Based Lifeforms. I am also very inspired by the work of Dynatron, with which we have a collaboration, by the way.
NRW: Your music is described as “cosmic”. Do you intentionally write with that kind of vibe in mind?
Earmake: No. This is a state of mind. I am romantic and in love with space ambient, sci-fi music and dreamwave. The combination of these worlds has borne myself. I don’t always write cosmic music. But I always want to write it. Sometimes I can start doing for example Dreamwave, but it turns out Space. Perhaps this is my vocation.
NRW: I saw a video on Instagram of you jamming on an Alesis MIDI Controller. Do all of your songs start off as jams? What’s your writing process like?
Earmake: I very rarely finish my jams. I usually write them down for Instagram. Sometimes it happens that they give birth to full-fledged compositions. Like for example with “Sensual” track. By the way, I’m flattered that The Midnight really liked this track. When I first started writing music, I had a lot of enthusiasm, inspiration. I have the track “Nightly Flights”( https://soundcloud.com/earmake/the-nightly-flights) from the album “WANA” which was released on Future City Records. By the way, this track played in the eighth episode of the second season of the series from HBO – Vice Principals(https://vk.com/video-48154466_456239046).
So this is how I wrote this track: I went out at night, looked at the stars, felt the cool breeze of the wind, returned home and wrote a demo. The second night I finished this track. Enthusiasm, zeal, inspiration. I never know in advance what happened at the end. I can be inspired by nature and orders, as well as references of other artists.
NRW: What is your current recording set-up?
Earmake: Haha. Don’t laugh but I even don’t have my own laptop. All I have is a Midi Controller Alesis QX 25 and my PC at home. No analog synths, no soundcard.
NRW: A lot of musicians/producers have certain production techniques that they are fond of using multiple times. What is your favorite production technique?
Earmake: First of all – I do not like to use ready-made loop samples. Secondly, I still have not made my own library of my own sounds, I have not saved my own presets. Every time I write a new track, I wind up the sound in a new way. Sometimes I go into old projects, of which I want a certain sound, and repeat it from there. This is a laborious process, but I’m used to it.
NRW: What was it like to compose the music to the mobile games Lowriders Comeback 2, Wild Contest, and others?
Earmake: I am not proud of Wild Contest as the game was canceled, and track for Lowriders was not added to the game because of delays in development. Other soundtracks I’ve done were for PC games Battle On the Moon and Neon Glide. In the first one, I created my best darksynth track called “Hyperion”. Great experience.
NRW: It’s the dream of a lot of artists in the scene to have their music featured in a film or television series. What was it like to have a track of yours on an episode of Vice Principals?
Earmake: I was in a pleasant shock. I did not even know that my track was used there. A fan from Serbia (I don’t remember exactly where it came from), wrote me and thanked for the cool music on the show. I asked, “Which episode?” Then I saw and it was nice. Especially nice, as they did the simultaneous clap from my track under the claps of the actor.
NRW: I know you have an album that just dropped, but are you currently working on any other projects? What does the future hold for Earmake?
Earmake: I now have two collaboration tracks with top artists from Russia in the Psybient genre. We are planning to release these works in a single Ep on Microcosmos Records. It will be a new part of me, in a new genre, but under the same name. I brought our retrowave to their ambient. I am also writing a psytrance track. There are no plans in the Synthwave scene yet. I will enjoy the result of work and release on NRW.
NRW: If you could collaborate with any artist right now, who would it be?
Earmake: I guess I want more collabs with Dynatron. We have the same atmosphere in our works and same tastes of Sci-Fi music. Also I want to collaborate with Nina (it was almost done but we canceled it) and Le Cassette. They are my favorite voices in synth scene. Andy Fox – because for me he’s the best Italo project in Synthwave. I love his groove. If we talking about my idols, I want to make work with Carbon Based Lifeforms, Stellardrone.
NRW: Which Earmake song are you most proud of?
Earmake: The Mystery of Betelgeuse, Last Hope, I’m the Law, Hyperion, and remix of Tangerine Dream.
NRW: You’ve been active with live gigs in the past year. What’s the electronic music scene like in Ukraine?
Earmake: There is a lot o Techno music here. But anyway there is a lot who like synthwave music. We need to improve our synth scene. Now it is just an underground music, because synthwave music is for 80s lovers, not for the masses.
NRW: What’s one last thing you’d like our readers to know about Earmake?
Earmake: Every listener is valuable to me. Every supporter is important to me. It adds strength to continue to engage in creativity. I do not know how long I will stay in Synthwave, but damn I do not want to leave this genre. I want to improve my skills, make people dream with my music. When you see a positive result of your work, it inspires you to even greater gains of heights. Thanks to everyone who listen to me. I am proud to be a part of such a wonderful genre of music.