DROID BISHOP - 'To love a Synthwaver' | An Interview
Updated: Sep 13, 2020
In this veritable world of trope laden idiosyncratic neon nether regions and palm lined super highways stands a Droid like no other. In fact it would be hard to fathom a neon world without him in it.
Picture Credit: Danny Garcia
Enter James Bowen Falson, an accomplished musician who hails from Australia and lives in California, USA. Professionally known as 'Droid Bishop' he has been delighting us with some truly epic tracks for over 7 years since his first releases 'Electric Love' & 'Galaxy Unknown' back in 2013.
With an innate love of 70's funk and 80's disco he infuses his knowledge of these beloved genres to carve a unique Synthwave sound unlike no other. In the years spanning his formation into becoming Droid Bishop he's been a touring guitar player for Grammy nominated artists like Mike Posner and his brother Sam Sparro amongst others. With one foot planted firmly in the past whilst always looking to the future we cut to 2020 with the release on the 8th September of his new album 'Music'. We where very lucky to catch a moment of Droids time to chat about many things...read on....
You’ve probably answered this question a lot but for the benefit of any new fans how did you arrive at the stage name ‘Droid Bishop’?
The name comes from a character in the James Cameron movie “Aliens”. Actually, with a friend, I made a song called “Android Bishop” years before and recalled the title while naming this project!
Anyone who knows your sound and aesthetic will easily understand that you’re very much influenced by the 80's did you know at the time starting out which direction you were headed in sound? Did Synthwave as a genre happen organically for you in that sense?
I grew up on a lot of music and movies/tv from the 70's and 80's, so it did happen organically. Although, from the age of 14 to 22, I was passionately playing and pursuing a career in Metal/Hard Rock which was heavily influenced by the 80’s with bands such as Metallica, Van Halen, and Iron Maiden (to name a few). After (and during) being a touring guitar player throughout my 20’s, I was drawn more to creating electronic/synthed out music with nods to retro disco and cinematic elements.
Who or what first got you into creating music?
I come from a family tree of musicians, so I started playing/creating very young. I was exposed to lots of music and art as a child so I always draw from a lot of inspiration. Other than a brief detour in wanting to be a professional skateboarder, I’ve always walked the natural path of being an artist/musician.
How would you describe the music you typically create?
My sound is scattered with purpose. I listen to and want to create a lot of musical vibes, therefor, I feel my music is suited for the eclectic mind. Don’t get me wrong, I do love bands/artists that have 10 slamming songs in a row that have a super consistent sound, but I also love acts like Queen, Michael Jackson, Steely Dan that treat each song as its own entity with freedom to follow its heart.
If there was one thing you would change about the music industry, what would it be? Why?
The perception of what “Great” and “Amazing” music is today is pretty broken. I think a lot of mediocre art is labeled as Genius these days and I think its accepted because the majority have just been fed so much shit over the years that they now believe that an average catchy tune is solid gold. I don’t know how to change it other than put my money where my mouth is and work my ass off trying to make good tunes. Good tunes, like the ones that changed my life and put me on this path to begin with.
Tell us more about your creative processes, how long would it take you to lay down a track?
I don’t have a set procedure or formula because every song sits in its own galaxy of space and time. Sometimes I have an idea or vibe I want to try and that sparks the birth of a song. Other times I’ll sit down and go through sounds while improvising on the keys until something feels right. A huge issue for me is choosing whether or not a song should be instrumental or have vocals. I like instrumental music a lot and I like vocals a lot , so really I start by making a song or album that’s going to please me.
What is your favourite sound?
It used to be the sound of a beer can opening ha. Don’t know if I have a favorite sound. I always enjoy hearing the distant sound of a street musician playing something beautiful.
Of your entire discography which track are you most proud of? Why?
I don’t really have a definitive song I would pick. Any time that question is asked to me, it will usually be something recent that I’ve made. A track like “The Cosmic Infinite” from my new album could be a candidate. I love cinematic and orchestral music and even hope to score for film, so this track is one that keeps me heading in that exploration.
You have a new album just dropped called ‘Music’, how long did it take to pull that album together?
It took about a year. I started writing the day my last album was released. If you were wondering, that first song didn't make the album ha. I wrote about 25 songs and 14 made the cut. I wasn’t planning on putting out another full length so soon, but Covid 19 hit and I just wanted to work hard and fast to put out a full record that would honestly represent my artistry in this time of 2020. This was all in case I got ill or died from the virus, which sounds a bit out there but in reality, Life is short regardless and we need to make our days count.
You’ve been on this beloved scene of ours since approx. 2013 with ‘Galaxy: Unknown’ – How do you feel your sound has developed over time?
I definitely feel that my sound is more honest as time goes on. When I started making synth based music, I was emulating a lot of other Synthwave/Retrowave acts. I think it’s totally normal and natural to do this when you are figuring out your sound (in any genre), but a lot of the “Scenes” music began to sound the same. I knew that if I wanted to stand a part at all, I’d have to truly follow my heart and make the music that I wanted to make. This means not being afraid to experiment with different instruments or sounds and living outside the overly constricting limitations that “Genre” places on artists.
How do you like to relax when you’re not working on music?
A few times a week, I like to drive my car around Los Angeles and escape with some classical music or some Tangerine Dream vibes. I also like to cook and experiment in the kitchen. I watch a lot of movies and play a solid amount of FIFA on PS4.
If you could collaborate with anyone on the scene right now who would it be? Why?
Powerglove. They were and are the best in “Synthwave” and have been a huge influence on me getting into this world.
What has been the most cherished memory of your career to date?
Going on tour with Magic Sword was a great experience and memory in my Droid Bishop career. I’ve been blessed to have toured with major artists as a guitar player but this was my first tour with my own project and it was a positive culmination of many years on the road. Fans + Live Show = A Magical Moment
Tell us a little more about your current projects and what we can expect from Droid Bishop in 2021?
I’ve got 4 remixes coming out over the next few months. One for Waveshaper , One for Magic Sword and 2 other cool artists. I’ve already started working on new songs and will probably be releasing singles over time rather than another album(for now). I’ve got some new merch designs in the works, so stay tuned. I’ve been hustling in 2020 and will be bringing that energy into 2021.
Any message for your fans?
Fans are Number 1! Artists are nothing without the people who listen to and support the music. With that, I Thank You. XO
Please consider supporting Droid Bishop via the following link: https://linktr.ee/droidbishop