The Creative Process #26 The Neon Syndicate

When did you start making music and what was the contributor factor that made you to do so?

I had my first piano lesson at 7, my mother having played the piano for many years was instrumental in that happening, plus I really spent a lot of time listening to music anyways.

How hard was it for you to create, record and release your first material?

Not much: I had always enjoyed writing songs anyways (though listening back to those first experiments now, they do objectively sound awful for the most part lol), as far as recording and mixing, I developed a passion for it later on (again, creating many embarrassingly bad mixes in the process). At the time, my idea of releasing was to simply upload stuff on Soundcloud, so nothing particularly difficult there either – nor effective, though.

What is the main art form that influenced you in creating? Was it only music or did movies and other forms of art influence your creative process?

As far as visual arts, mostly movies and photographs I’d say. Everything that contributes to creating a specific atmosphere, music still being the biggest factor though.

What are the steps that an idea takes before becoming a fully fledged song? And how does that idea affect the way you build an album from the ground up?

In my case, that initial idea would more often than not be some kind of synth riff; once I have that, I usually want to take care of the bass line and rhythm section, then fill out the arrangement with more pads and leads as I deem necessary, all the while starting to think about what should come next in the song in terms of structure. Effects and sound-design have a very important role at this stage already, I want those patches to sound cool and professional early on, as this way they become inspiring and make working on the song much easier and way more fun than constantly having to remind myself that “yeah, sounds like shit right now, but I’ll fix it later” – that kills the mood for me. In terms of how much that influences an album, I guess it does in that it limits choices: it’s very unlikely that if I start off with a purely synth based idea that then turns into a purely synth based song, the next track will be doom metal, although, never say never!

What do you consider the most important traits that a song and an album must have before you consider it to be completed?

To me, a song needs to have variety and different energy levels within it, if it’s always more or less on the same level, than it still needs work, because it gets boring after a while – to me anyways. Same goes for the album, you can’t just have a singles collections, there have to be different moods and levels of energy, I like it when an album takes you on a journey, with all the different emotions that entails. Once that’s there, I can move on to mixing and mastering.

What are the actual steps that you take when you are creating? Do you need to enter or go to a certain setting in order to get creative?

It always starts with me playing around with virtual knobs and buttons on software synthesizers: since I need some sound to work on, I’ll play some random notes with my left hand while my right hand’s on the mouse. Sooner or later, an interesting riff will originate, both in terms of the actual notes it’s made of and soundwise. That’s the basis upon which I then start building the rest of the song.

Except art are there any other external or internal factors that influence you when you create, if so what are they?

It’s all about a certain mood or atmosphere. Art can be a part of that, but virtually anything that makes you feel a certain way can be a source of inspiration. For instance, I really enjoy reading the manual when I get myself a new soft synth, that makes me want to play around with it even more, so I guess that makes it a source of inspiration lol.

What is your main motivation to create and be creative?

Creating music is no different than listening to music, it just makes you feel better about the world. When I listen to the right track, it energizes me up, I suddenly feel like I can master whatever challenge the future holds for me, when maybe I was feeling anxious and pessimistic before pressing play. Creating music is exactly the same: when I get the right sound out of a synth, that same feeling of power and awesomeness fills me up, it’s like drugs I guess.

How long does it take to go from a song to an album from scratch to the fully recorded version?

It’s not a quick process actually. Worked on writing and recording the songs for my debut album “Ignorance Raw Power” for all of 2018, and it took another couple months for mixing and mastering to be completed. I’d say a month/month and a half per song on average. That being said, the more you do, the better/quicker you get, so I think my next album won’t take as long to be ready – hopefully at least!

Do you take multiple takes of the songs before settling on the final version or do you go with the flow and just do one take?

Well,, working completely in the box, my recordings are basically just MIDi files where I can edit every single parameter after the fact, from the pitch to the timing to the velocity… Eh eh…

During live shows what do you like to do more, experiment and improvise on the basis of the existing album and songs or you are more likely to recreate the recorded material as faithfully as possible?

I’ve only ever once performed a song live to be honest, but I definitely plan to do more of that! My approach would be to be as flexible as I can possibly be, considering it’s just me and a 25-key MIDI controller. I want to be able to alter the song structure on the fly depending on how I feel and how the crowd is reacting: maybe I’m feeling epic that night, so I want that final solo to be 16 bars long instead of 8. I have to use pre-recorded sequences of course, no point in denying that, but I want to at least launch them myself, decide when to move on to the next one, all the while playing some parts myself. Make it as live as it can possibly get.

What are the main ingredients that makes a live show special for you?

Much attention needs to be put into getting the best possible sound, and in general to preparing everything so that the crowd is in the best possible situation to enjoy the music. If they then like it or not, that’s not something you can control really, but you can try and create the best possible environment for them to do.

Do new ideas appear during live performances? If so how to do you proceed in order to materialize them?

Don’t have enough experience to answer that, but I guess I’d always have a sticky note or something ready to write everything down!

What is the perfect time of day and weather that makes you creative?

Regardless of the weather, I find I’m more creative during the afternoon or at night.

What are your future plans and what advice do you have for people that want to get into creating music?

I’ll keep on pushing my music out there to YouTubers, Spotify playlist curators, blogs, radios, what have you, all the while getting ready to play my songs live! I want to do all I can to create the best possible environment for connections to be established and things to happen. My advice for people who want to get into creating music is: don’t invest in gear, invest in educating yourself. It’s not an investment in terms of money necessarily, there’s so many excellent free resources online, it’s more of a time investment.

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