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An Interview with Australian Synthwave Creator LWTHR

Karl is a longtime freelancer who's passionate about music, art, and writing.

LWTHR is a synthwave producer from Australia. He creates layered, textured and rich synthwave music that washes over the ears. In an email, he told me about his creative process, his sources of inspiration and where he wants to take his music in the future.

Interview with LWTHR

Karl Magi: How did you first start making music?

LWTHR: I’ve always been a geek/nerd and have been gaming and playing with PC’s since I was a kid. This will show my age, but I got started with some software called eJay. Essentially it was a sample CD with some software to make an arrangement of the loops. I also got hooked on the PlayStation game Music 2000 for a while. From there I progressed to Acid Pro, started sampling and then moved onto Ableton Live and have used that ever since.

KM:What was it about synthwave music that piqued your interest in making it?
L: I hadn’t made any music for about seven years after moving from England to Australia and starting a family. I realised I missed it and started buying some up-to-date software and a microKORG synth. I messed around with ideas for a while and didn’t really have a direction, but then I saw the movie Drive. Apart from being a fucking great movie, the soundtrack was amazing. I have been a fan of electronic music my whole life and as I’d listened to a lot of French house over the years, I think I’d heard Nightcall already because one of the Daft Punk guys was involved in the production, but that College track blew me away and the rest of the soundtrack was perfect. I now had a direction I wanted to take my music in

KM: Who are some of the most influential artists for you and why did they make such an impact?

Basement Jaxx, Madonna, The Chemical Brothers, The Prodigy, Fatboy Slim, Queen, Daft Punk, LCD Soundsystem, Cut Copy, Chromeo (the list is endless). Madonna and Queen were blasted into my ears as a kid by my parents, but the rest I discovered myself as I started buying music. All of the artists I loved showed how you could mix electronic music with pop/rock or pretty much anything else! Basement Jaxx’s live shows were always amazing and those shows have stuck with me. I’m pretty sure I’ve still got partial hearing loss from when I saw The Chemical Brothers play in 2008 and seeing Daft Punk’s Alive pyramid show was awesome.

Lately it’s been Trevor Something, The Midnight, FM-84 and Timecop1983 showing me how amazing music can be made all around the world with tiny, tiny budgets.

KM: Tell me more about how you go about creating new music.

L: Normally I start by hearing another track I love and wanting to make something in that style. I’ll then start browsing through my synths and presets to get the right vibe. Next I start going through samples for drum sounds or effects that fit, and it kind of just takes off from there. Otherwise I’ll just be messing around, throwing samples in from Splice or my hard drive, chopping them up, replaying them and see what happens. I have a hard drive full of unfinished loops!

KM: What are some of the projects that you're currently working on?

L: I’ve just released an EP so have started working on the next one, but that is at the early stage of ideas and loops at the moment. The other project I’m working on is a collaboration project with another producer and a producer/singer/songwriter to release a single. We are in the US, the UK and Australia and doing everything via Discord so it will be interesting to see how it turns out!

KM: Where do you want to take your music in the future?

L: I really love the album format and would love to write a full album and get it released on physical media. I miss the days of browsing through record shops! Also I want to try and work with some vocalists as I love pop music, and great pop music is nothing without an amazing vocal performance.

KM: How do you think the synthwave scene is doing right now?

L: Honestly, I’m not sure. I work full time and have a family so I spend a lot more time writing music than listening to it or being involved in any communities (I haven’t seen a live show in about six years!). I do love the fact that artists like The Midnight and FM-84 are showing how far you can go with this style of music though.

KM: What are the ways in which you recharge your creative batteries?

L: I just stop trying to write music and do something else. I’ve always got a mental list of other things I want to do so I go and work on those for a few weeks instead. I’m currently building a bartop arcade cabinet with a Raspberry Pi, playing Final Fantasy XV and watching Parks & Recreation for the fifth time!

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