Tell us a little about the label, where you’re from and how you got started in the genre?
Hi, I'm Cole, one of the founders of Retro Reverb Records. I'm from London originally, but I am currently living and working in Sicily. Thanks for having me. Alex Vecchietti and I started RRR about two years ago. He approached me when I moved to Sicily, because he knew I had previously been involved with Timeslave recordings, but had to stop when I moved. He asked me if I wanted to do my own thing. I obviously said yes. We started out with a plan to represent artists in a fair way, because we had both been involved in music ourselves in the past and Alex in particular had been treated pretty roughly. This inspired us to write a core values section in the contract we drew up for artists, which we adhere to and is the basis of everything we do.( I can add these if you like) It was also the inspiration for our slogan "Welcome to the family".
The name Retro Reverb Records was inspired by a funny little cartoon I saw, where the punch line was “you should have added more reverb". Always good advice, lol. Recently we have also added Jason to the management team, AKA Elixirnine. He has been helping us with content creation and does a lot of video creation on Youtube. The reason I got involved with the scene was because of Vincent of Timeslave recordings. He rang me one day and said ‘’Cole, have you heard of Synthwave’’ Vincent and I are best mates, we used to play football together and DJ Drum and Bass. So, from that phone call we started Timeslave recordings with his brother Jay, AKA Kid Neon.
How has the company’s sound developed over the years & has the current market been of any influence in that?
I think it has naturally developed as we the owners have. At first, we tried a little bit of everything, but some sounds just do better than others and that is probably a reflection on the current market. Trying to stay objective is always something I am reminding myself and others of. But to answer the question, I think we are now moving towards Synthpop or acts with Vox or instruments played but not exclusively.
How would you describe the music you promote and sign?
Good, 80’s inspired!
How has your 2020 been? With the market situation how have you all managed at the label to stay reasonably sane?
A few things have been put on hold, for example the Le Groupe Fantastique, Vinyl release. I think we must realise that money is tight for a lot of people right now. However, we have released one hard copy in 2020 ‘’The Antipope Resurrection’’ by Dark Smoke Signal, but this was planned before the coronavirus Pandemic. For now, I think we will stick to digital releases. Don’t quote me on that, ha. We will play it by ear with respect to the situation. In terms of staying sane, I have actually had more time for label-related work. We have focused on bringing people music for free and did an online music event a few weeks ago. We teamed up with Nightride FM who carried the live stream for us along with Forever Synth. It was received very well and because of this we have decided to do another one on the 9th of May. This time we are also collaborating with Timeslave Recordings, who will be providing some of their own acts. We are also featuring a few acts outside of RRR, which will provide a nice mix of sounds and talented artists.
Who are your personal influences in music today? Who did you listen to when you were growing up?
When I was growing up, I listened to: Eurythmics, Guns and Roses, Peter Gabriel, David Bowie, Tears for Fears, Bob Marley, Drum and Bass and countless others. Nowadays I take most of my influences from artists in the scene and the people I work with. I still listen to a lot of non-Synthwave music and there are always ideas and sounds from other genres that can be used or adapted.
From your Roster of artists have you any best and worse gig experiences to share?
Live gig performances are something we are growing into as a label but want to get into more, for sure. This year we had a few planned that are obviously unsure right now. Travelling to all our artists gigs would be very costly, as they are scattered all over the world. I am intent on getting to more in the future. The scene here in Sicily is slow to catch up to Europe and the rest of the world. Alex and I have played a couple of ok gigs, but one or two pretty dead affairs as well. But in terms of things going wrong, that is about as bad as it gets.
Is there anything or anyone on your radar? Any new releases or someone we should watch closely?
There are a few talented acts out there. I am trying to sign some of them, but I am keeping that close to my chest 😊. No hang on that’s not fair. Ok two to look out for are, Darfoulds from the UK, actually just down the road from where my family are from and John Cao, both look exciting to me. As for our existing artists, Eden Future, Delta Wave 82 and Level 86 have releases coming fairly soon. As mentioned above, we are planning to release hard copies for Honey beard and Le Groupe Fantastique. If anyone reading this wants to submit, please do so by writing to firstname.lastname@example.org, heading the email label music submission. Thanks in advance.
If you couldn’t promote or develop the music you do today what would you be doing? Do you have any hobbies?
I’d probably run my own English school as I enjoy management and have been working in the industry for over ten years. I am also interested in health, as I studied this at University. I would love to do an acupuncture course or maybe speech therapy. My dream job would be to own a bar on a beach that plays Synthwave and serves amazing cocktails. My hobbies are sports. I love football, but knee issues restrict that. I run and do Yoga. I also like cooking, playing chess and reading.
Who would you like to play you in a movie of your life?
Someone dashing, charismatic and funny. I actually had no idea, so I did an online quiz. I am actually ashamed to say the answer was Zac Efron and in my opinion, he is none of the adjectives I used, but then again neither am I and he is at least attractive and rich. I’m holding my virtual head in shame. I know I would not have picked him personally but there you go.
What sound do you love the most?
Do you have a day job? How do you balance this with the passion for bringing the best there is on the scene out there?
I am an English teacher and examiner for students learning English as a foreign language. The short answer is with difficulty. That is why we took on Jason and he has been a great support so far. I hope to do this as my full-time job at some point.
If you’re having a bad day what do you do to make yourself feel better?
Running helps me clear my head, but also getting things done helps or a large glass or three of wine. If those fail, I like jumping up and down in muddy puddles, I am a bit of an expert at it.
Who is your celebrity crush?
Why you of course, Ashley 😊. I like Scarlett Johansson, I mean she is obviously pretty but has a sexy voice too. I find the character Phoebe Waller-Bridge plays in flea bag attractive. There are quite a few, but I’ll also add Mila Kunis and Sophie Turner from Game of Thrones.
What’s next for you as a label?
So next on the list is the Flashback event, May 9th. Then we plan to release a Synthwave chart voted on by fans. It will be supportive of artists in a few ways: They can share links and artwork with their fans. There will be a chat section, meaning they can interact with fans. Finally, the top three spots will receive a review of their singles. It's singles only at the moment. We can't handle the workload for anything else. We will be starting artist interviews on our YouTube and our podcast as well. Finally, we will also be involved in a Neon RetroFest online event at some point.
Again, artists or anyone involved in the scene wishing to be interviewed for You Tube or our podcast, write to the email address provided above. Chart submissions are at www.retroreverbrecords.com
If you could collaborate with anyone else on the scene who would it be and why?
I’d like to work with a female artist for a couple of reasons. I’d like to add a female vox to some tracks I’m working on to give them a different feel from what I’ve done so far. Also, I feel there should be more female artists involved in the scene. So, a new up and coming female artist would be amazing, but current artists maybe: Dana Jean Phoenix, Roxi Drive, Oceanside 85, NINA. A couple of artists that might compliment my sound (Whatever that is) could be Vinyl Glitchy or Iwthr. RRR artists are always interested in collabs as well.
Favourite Movies and why?
This is really hard, there are really too many to choose from. I think it would have to be a film I can just sit down and enjoy at any time. Predator maybe.
How do you feel about the popularity of the Synth Genre as a whole and the new Generation of Producers who keep evolving?
This is a good and also hard question to answer. The pessimistic side of me fears for the future of Synthwave at times, but the positive side realises it is down to people involved in the scene to make sure we keep it fresh and interesting, if we do it will prosper. One concern I have is, it seems the scene may have more producers than fans and that is a little bit worrying, if the scene wants to evolve and hold larger live events for example. It also means that there are a lot of releases and I am certain some of those releases are just people making music at home and hitting upload release, without going through a thorough process before release. Don’t get me wrong, I have the upmost respect for anyone trying to create something and there is nothing wrong with being on a path and learning. In fact, we often take on start-up artists we feel we can grow and develop in line with our core values. I do get it that taste is subjective and what might seem like an overdone sound to me might be music to someone else’s ears. But even if you don’t like the music personally, you can tell if it’s well produced and the artist has bothered to think about artwork, maybe produced a video and given the release the respect it deserves.
So, maybe I would like to see fewer releases altogether and for the releases that are made to be of a slightly higher standard. To clarify I am not saying there are not very high standard releases out there or that all releases are bad. Just that with such a high volume of releases artist in general might benefit from taking a tad longer to consider whether the release is as good as it could be before release.
I also think it is important that people don’t get too fixated on what a Synthwave sound should be and compare current sounds to successful acts from the past. If they do that, we would never get new sounds. Shameless plug here, listen to The Subtheory’s new EP ‘’Ventura Blvd’’ for a good example of an exciting new sound. I feel accepting that the sound needs to progress and change, or the scene will become stale is a good mindset to have. I think we are seeing a lot of artists trying to do just that and we should appreciate their efforts, as long as they take the time to do it properly lol.
A few shout outs to people doing good work for the scene if I may...
Karl Mangi, reviews Synthwave Redneck Forever Synth, Radio show, London Nightride FM Neon Retrofest Events Timeslave Recordings Revivalsynth
There are loads more but thanks to all that helped create and keep the scene alive. Last but not least, thank you Ashley of course.