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Artist Interview: Strike Eagle

Updated: May 7, 2020

Synthroncity: Overwhelmed by a veritable Tsunami of Artists and Tracks as we supposed "Influencers" sometimes are its refreshing to hear someone of such talent carving his place in the game. Forged are excited to bring you this candid interview from the man himself Mr. Strike on.

Tell us a little about you, where you’re from and how you got started in Music?

Well, I am Graham “G-man” Waller aka Soundbeard, a record producer by trade and a synth/ music nerd. I’m from Gillingham in Kent, UK. Music all started for me when my mum inherited a piano back when I was 6 or 7 (around that age, I can’t 100% remember) and made me take lessons. Admittedly, I didn’t really enjoy that at first but I am now very grateful that I carried it on, as its not only given me a career in music. It’s opened so many doors for me. Cut to many years later, I had to make a choice in career. I wanted to join the RAF for the longest time but when it came to the crunch, something said to me “don’t do it” in the back of my mind and I pursued a career in music. I assisted at a studio where my first band “Fusion” recorded their first album. Making tea, setting up mics, patching equipment in etc. That was an analogue or tape studio so the perfect grounding for a recording engineer and it taught me a lot about old school techniques which have carried over into the music I make. 17 years later, I’m still recording, making music for a living and wouldn’t change it for the world.

In terms of the synth scene, I started in 2017 when I was part of GlitterWølf. Releasing several singles, collabs and a debut album which was met with a great reception and I thank the synthfam for embracing it and making us feel so welcome. It was totally alien to have such a universally supportive scene with a love of music that is unparalleled. When I left GlitterWølf in Dec 2019, I missed it that. So, I started out on my own and launched Strike Eagle. Now, there is a debut single out in the world and I’m certainly feeling the love. I’m always humbled by that.

How would you describe the music you make?

I would say its an eclectic mix of everything I love about the 80s. Funk, Pop, Rock, Metal, R&B etc. I don’t like to tie myself down to one thing really. I enjoy the craft and the challenge of writing in a few styles and getting as close as I can to the original sounds. But, then again, I do enjoy throwing in some modern flavours too now and again. I would say I lean more towards the pop side of things purely as it just makes me happy. But who doesn’t love a good head-bang every now and again right?

How has your 2020 been? With the Gig situation how have you managed to stay reasonably sane?

Well, I think we can all agree that 2020 has been a trash fire but I try to stay positive. With the current situation, the recording side of my life has stopped for other bands but I can continue to mix and master music in my home studio as well as focus on my own music. So, between that, watching YouTube and playing video games, I’ve kept reasonably sane. But then again, I was always a bit mad to begin with! I think you have to be to work in music. Gig wise, I freaking love concerts. I don’t get to go to many or I end up behind the mixing console so find it hard to enjoy the show as it’s work. But when I do, it’s all about the friends you can catch up with and the vibe. With the virus and lock-down etc, we have seen a rise in live streamed gigs and for the most part they have been fantastic! The vibe is oddly still there, you can meet and chat with friends, have a drink or two and enjoy some unique live sets that are way more heartfelt and passionate as I think the musicians are way ore comfortable at home.

The only weird thing is when the song finishes hearing nothing, it’s an odd vibe but you look at the chat section and see all the clap emojis. Totally surreal.

Who are your influences in music today? Who did you listen to when you were growing up?

OK, well in terms of modern music that influences what I write, I would say artists like Ollie Wride, Gunship, FM84, Bruno Mars, Lady Gaga, The Weeknd, Billie Eilish & Carly Rae Jepsen. Other artists that influence me are Haken, Steven Wilson, City and Colour and Opeth.

In terms of what I grew up listening to, I blame my dad entirely for my taste in 80s music for his love of Duran Duran, Wham!, Eurythmics, Queen, Simply Red and Wet Wet Wet. I then gravitated to rock and metal pretty quickly as a teenager falling in love with bands like Metallica, Iron Maiden, Linkin Park, Limp Bizkit, Korn, Slipknot, Funeral for a Friend and the Foo Fighters among many many others. As soon as I joined a band I was introduced to Depeche Mode and started again on the synth journey and started getting into more cinematic and soundtrack styles of synth music as well as prog rock. So, its pretty varied.

Is there anything new you’re working on currently that you’d like to share a little bit about? I am working on the debut EP which will be 5 tracks and hopefully will have that out in the world by July but I don’t want to rush these things. So, watch this space on that one! Aside from that, I seem to be getting a lot of requests for covers. I presume that’s because while in GlitterWølf we covered Run With Us from The Racoons and that was by far our most popular track. So, there are a few of those in the works which I will either release as and when or do another EP later this year or early next of a few synthy covers but for now, I’m not going to say what those tracks are, you will have to wait and see.

Do you have a day job? How do you balance this with the passion for creating the great music that you do? As I mentioned above, I’m a record producer for a living and it’s certainly not for everyone. I would say its less of a job and more of a lifestyle as musicians want to work at weird hours and communication is much the same so work/ life balance can be a little tricky. Having the time to create my own music has to come second to my customers but, with all the lock-down measures in place, its afforded me some precious time to work on Strike Eagle so it’s a blessing in disguise!

I won’t lie, sitting down to write when music is also your job is quite hard at times as it still feels like “work” but that’s a double edged sword. I think treating it like that keeps me focused and I treat myself how I would treat my clients, well…. OK I’m a little harder on myself than my clients ha-ha. But, that helps me produce music in a timely way and makes me make decisions which is so important, otherwise the creative process just drags on and on.

What’s next for you as an artist? Continue to write and create. I would love to gig too but right now it’s not a priority. When I do, I would love to put on a great show and that takes time to plan properly, rehearse properly and more importantly, a lot of funds ha-ha. So for now, it’s creating more tracks for you awesome folks to listen to! I would love a full length record out early to mid next year. If you could collaborate with anyone else on the scene who would it be and why? Very good question, there are so many! I would love to work with Neon Arcadia as I love those guys and feel we could make something awesome. I would also love to work with Roxi Drive, Oceanside85 and Primo the Alien as their voices are all incredible. Swayze would be fun to collab with as he is a funk don as well as Opus Science Collective because that guy just makes me grin from ear to ear like an idiot when I hear his music, so so good. Bucket list collab would be some sort of wet wet wet style duet with Ollie Wride. Think “Wishing I Was Lucky” that would be incredible.

Who or what got you into the Synth scene initially? It is all Gunships fault, they were my gateway drug. Love at first listen and I felt compelled to write similar stuff after hearing their debut album and the 80s influenced Haken album Affinity. Then after a year of battling my own brain and confidence issues on actually doing it, I got cracking and the rest is history.

What type of Hardware/Software to you use, do you have a preference? Well, I’m lucky enough to have a decent home studio thanks to what I do for a living. (Nerdy info incoming) I run a 2012 Mac Pro running Pro Tools and a reasonably restrained amount of software synths. For doing Strike Eagle, software wise I use the stock Xpand!2 synth as it does the job beautifully, also the stock Vacuum mono synth. I use Kontact Analog Dreams and occasionally the Gforce Mtron pro for those Mellotron vibes. Then I use a smattering of East West instruments for added flavour like Ghost Writer and The Dark Side. Hardware wise, I freaking love the Roland Boutique series. I am running the JU-06 (Juno 106), JX-03 (JX-3P) and SE02 modules which between that and my Roland D-50 and Korg Micro Korg give me most of what I need.

Vocal effects wise I use a Rocktron Banshee for the talkbox and the Micro Korg for the vocoder and providing the synth patches for the talkbox.

I do prefer using hardware where I can as I like the tactile feel and easy control of sounds but, my motto is “Nobody has ever not bought a record just because you didn’t use that particular piece of gear”. So, as long as it makes the right noise and gets the job done, that’s what I am going to use!

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