Interview with Robert Parker

-So, give the audience a little background about yourself.

I'm a musician from Stockholm, Sweden. Working as a doctor by day, making music by night.

-What first influenced you into making Synthwave tunes?

I've always had a soft spot for 80s Synth music because I grew up with it through the eighties. My older brother and sister had a lot of vinyl records such as: Moroder, Hardcastle, Yello, Depeche Mode, and so on. The music was all around me during my childhood. I remember when the Nintendo 8-bit system was released. The tunes on Mega Man and other Nintendo games were so cool! The kid next door had a Commodore 64 in his basement, and so I used to sneak out a lot to play Giana Sisters and other games which all had a huge impact on me.

-Have you had experience making music before?

Since the age of six I took piano lessons. To begin with I received a more classical education, but in the later years I played more jazz and funk. I also played the church organ for a while. During the 1990s I made a lot of music with tracker programs such as Fasttracker, and ReBirth. Due to a money shortage during my college years in the 2000's I didn't make much music. Once I started working and got in touch with Roland Koch from Germany--who is a great musician, especially [of] computer game music--he inspired me to make music again. I tried a lot of genres to begin with, some of which were: softer Electronica, Techno, and Ambient tunes. The recent retro Synthwave scene really grew on me. I bought a Korg Polysix and a Roland Juno 106 two years ago and was blown away with what they could sound like. From that point on it was impossible to stop!

-What equipment and programs do you prefer using?

I'm a sucker for hardware. The backbone is my Roland Juno 106 which I basically use in every track I make. Apart from that and the Korg Polysix I also use a Minimoog Model D, Roland SH-101 and the Roland Re-201 Space Echo a lot. Lately I've acquired a rare Italian string synthesizer, a Godwin String Symphony 849. Great for lush retro string sounds. But I'm not an analog purist in any way. I use a lot of VSTs and drum samples. My philosophy is: If it sounds good, and is easy to work with, it doesn't matter if it's hardware or not. I really like the FM8 and even though I have the real Polysix I actually use the Polysix VST a lot as well. It's all about creativity, work-flow, and having fun

-Besides the Synth genre what other music do you enjoy?

I listen to a lot of jazz music, especially from the 1930s pre-WWII era. I also just love Electro funk and related genres such as Paul Hardcastle and mixes by Greg Wilson on SoundCloud. I have also actually played in an Irish folk band a few years back!

-What inspired your recent album?

It's a combination of childhood memories from the music, computer games, TV series, and movies from the 1980s. I also get a lot of inspiration from the modern Synthwave artists on SoundCloud. There is a lot of creativity going on right now and I feel the genre is still on the rise. Sweden has a really good and inspirational environment in the genre. We actually have a lot of great Synthwave artists here, besides Waveshaper there is ShyGuys, Dana's Vision, Miami Beach Force, Riddlis, Mitch Murder, and Lost Years just to mention a few.

-How did you and Waveshaper start working together and how was the experience?

We found each other on SoundCloud, started enjoying each others' music. From the start I had no idea he was from Sweden and just by chance it turned out we lived just a few kilometers from each other! During the same period we were contacted by fashion photographer Joakim Reimer who was doing a photo project about Synthwave artists. From there we decided to team up for a photo and music collaboration. Real fun! The band Shyguys, who also makes great Synthwave tunes, did the artwork for the single. There will be many more photos, music, and artworks coming from these guys this spring.

-How was the photo shoot?

I was actually nervous because I had never been photographed like this before, but during the session it was just great fun. (And really cold!) Sweden in December is not to play with. After a few hours with just summer clothes on I couldn't feel my hands and feet. But the photographer Joakim Reimer made the whole experience worth while with a lot of positive energy, he even played great background music from different Synthwave artist to set the mood. So it was definitely worth while! It was actually also the first time I met Waveshaper in person; he's a really cool guy.

-Have any big plans or releases for 2014?

Yes! Several! I have another collaboration coming up with Waveshaper real soon. I'm also working on music for two film projects, a computer game, and I have teamed up with two great singers for an upcoming EP to explore the retro Synth romance genre. I'm also right now looking for a label. So 2014 will be great!

Photographer: Joakin Reimer
Graphic Design: Shy Guys
Robert Parker: Soundcloud, Bandcamp, Twitter, Facebook

About The Author

Axel Ricks

Axel is the owner and founder of NeonVice. Besides science, technology, and Synthwave music, his interests include foreign films and tasty food. Originally from the East Coast, he now resides in Northern California.