An Interview with Futurecop!

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Whereas some artists keep the label at an arms distance, Futurecop! stands tall and proud in its indulgence in all things “retro”. Hailing from the UK, the duo is currently celebrating its tenth anniversary as a band, a ten year run still spearheaded by the same sense of playful wonder and nostalgia that brought each and every Futurecop! record to life. Following up on the recent The Lost Tapes : Compilation Album, the band is currently preparing to unveil their newest full-length album, titled Return to Alvograth, a sonic voyage filled with sweet-sparkly synth melodies and catchy hooks, delivered once more by a cast of talented guest vocalists and familiar collaborators. We caught up with group leader Manzur Iqbal to get a bit more intel on the new record.

So here you are, returning with your latest record, Return to Alvograth. What can fans expect?
Fans can expect some uplifting, heartfelt soundtrack-esque musique. The music has definitely matured but the soul of FutureCop! is still there.

The title of this record hints back to your first EP The Unicorn & the Lost City of Alvograth. How does the album tie in with with this release?
I don’t want to spoil anything by saying too much about the ideas behind the album. I think that the listeners will get a hang of the concept pretty easily and they’re also free to come up with their own ideas and interpretations. With that being said, we released the The Unicorn & the Lost City of Alvograth back in 2008/09. We were young and innocent. A lot has changed since then. We’ve matured and we’ve been through a lot, we’ve come to uncover some of the deeper aspects of life, love and cultures. Return to Alvograth basically stems from these awakenings as well as from an internal process of stripping away these years of experience, identity and knowledge and reaching back to our humble beginnings. It’s more of a return to a particular feeling rather than a particular sound, it’s going back with a mindful, wiser perspective. Alvograth is a metaphor for that place inside of us.

Whether it be through on the album artwork or the song titles, this current album seems to carry a “spiritual” touch to it. Can you explain where this influence stems from?

I’ve just been really interested in discovering various types of spirituality, consciousness, mysticism and ancient history, it really does fascinate me. I am currently heavily into Eastern philosophies, like Yoga, Taoism, Sufism and Zen. It all actually started when I fell in love, a few years ago, I just feel there is more to life than what meets the eye now. I like the inner discovery element to it too. You know, it’s that the feeling you get when you finally get your hands on that one book you’ve been hunting down a book for so long, the anticipation, knowing how much reading it will open your mind and heart to the wonders of life, life a secret from the universe. I wanted to convey these feelings on this album. No pressure (laugh)

Could you maybe explain the albums' final song title "Nariyeh Thanei"?

It translates to "Roots Pull" in Bengali. It's something my late Grandmother used to say when someone felt lost, as though finding out your roots will always show you the way.

How do you typically work together with Peter as a duo?
Live-wise, we obviously work together, but on studio productions, it is mostly myself who is involved in the beginning, with the concepts and music production. Peter comes in right at the beginning and then when it’s nearly finished. The biggest help and the most important help he gives, is being a friend, giving me courage and sharing the ideas we have. We both have gone through a lot growing up (I’ve know him since I was in my late teens) but nothing has ever come between our friendship. So sharing this journey with him is a precious gift.

Has the creative dynamic changed over the years?
Not much changed in terms of how we produce, I did find new samples, VSTs, but still using Ableton Live. I guess tour perspective of life has changed a lot and that is the real change.)

Once again, your record comes with an impressive artwork. Can you tell us a little about the artist who designs these artworks?
Oh well, he is none other than Alexander Burkhart from the Zonders. He is amazing and really 'gets’ our style. He did a lot in the the late 2000s synth pop era. He was the graphic designer for the blog Discodust (which we used to love) and that is where we found him, he grabbed out attention when did a design for us, for a post on the blog. He did the artwork for our first EP The Unicorn & the Lost City of Alvograth in 2008 and since this new album is a nod to that EP, we thought it would be awesome if he came back to do this one too.

Over the years you’ve also collaborated with a number of vocalists. Do you collaborate in the songwriting or are these typically session performers?
Some songwriting, but mostly session performers, where we give an overall idea behind the themes of the track and album. 

Being an internet-based subculture, the retrowave scene is a particularly scattered yet highly connected one. How much do you keep up with the synthwave/retrowave scene? Do you have local friends or connections overseas?   
The honest way to answer is I don’t really keep up. It just comes to me, it is a big scene and it’s always being emailed or forwarded to me on social media. You’re right, the scene is very scattered, I’m glad you spotted that and I think what is special and unique to this scene compared to other scenes is the larger emphasis on the connectivity, as the music styles are so different. We’ve made many friends through it too, long-time friends like Anoraak, lifelike and College or the likes of Kristine, DWNTWN, Timecop1983, Highway Superstar. It's an extended family.

What is next in line for Futurecop! the album release? Any upcoming tours or music videos planned?
Theres is a gig we are doing in London on July 28th Highbury Garage. and talks of more in London, Germany and USA. There will be a single released very soon and we are currently shooting the music video for it right now in Montana, really excited about that, directed by Konrad Fiedler who did the short film, Running Eagle. Back in the day we used to be in a rush to do it all, but this time around we just taking it easy and enjoying the moments.