Painted in Dark Fantasy we have the unmistakable sounds of 'Electric Dragon'. A no nonsense Dark Electronic musician from the UK who's vibe is firmly routed in metal at its core. Since blasting a hole in the synth scene back in 2016 he has given us a veritable banquet of dark tasty treats and has worked with current masters of the genre such as Volkor X & GOST amongst others.
By coincidence a new darkness descended today in the form of his new album 'Cataclysm' which is sure to do a good turn for those who love their Synth with a little shade. Forged caught up with the guy fresh from his latest release to learn more about the Dragon himself..read on...
Tell us a little about you, where you’re from and how you got started in Music?
I’m from darkest Yorkshire, England. I was born not too far from Sean Bean. It’s the home of the Game of Thrones accents, ha ha ha. I think my interest in music got started back in the mid 80's when I was a kid, playing with synthesis software on a Commodore 64. That sound chip was amazing, I’m sure a lot of readers will agree! When I was 13 I picked up a guitar, and being a metal-head I tasked myself with learning Metallica’s ‘…And Justice For All’ LP from start to finish. I learned so much from that. As a paperboy in the late 80's I almost deafened myself with this LP every day, people used to comment how they could hear my walkman through their double glazed windows!
In the 90's I played around making tracks on an Amiga 1200, running ‘Octamed’ which was a sample/midi tracker program. I was almost constantly pumping out weird techno, house, drum n bass, you name it, I tried it. Then around 2009/2010 I was having some beers with Paradise Lost’s Greg Mackintosh, who lives in my town, and he announced he was putting together a side project: Vallenfyre. This was a death/doom metal band, as dark as fuck, and he asked me to join on rhythm guitar. Of course, I did! We had a lot of fun playing at some amazing places - Helsinki, Netherlands, Party San and Summer Breeze festivals in Germany, Brutal Assault in Czech, and a couple of UK festivals.
Unfortunately with day job commitments I couldn’t continue with the band, that was a sad time, but I decided I’d go back to electronic music. I’m very happy doing this now though, having complete control over the creative process. I’m still friends with the guys from Vallenfyre, a really good bunch of dudes.
How has your sound developed over the years? & has the current market been of any influence in that?
This is an interesting one - because back in the mid-2000s I was listening to a lot of French electronic music, and a lot of this, like Alan Braxe’s project ‘Rubicon’ and the early Kavinsky EPs, and a lot of the French house stuff at the time, had a lot of 80's influence. I’d say these were ‘synthwave’ records. I later stumbled across Carpenter Brut, Perturbator etc and liked what I heard. I’d been writing stuff like this for a few years without even realising there was a scene!
So I started the ‘Covenant’ LP. There’s a lot of 80s influence there especially in ‘Dark City’ (which got a killer Volkor X remix). I didn’t exactly follow genre expectations though. Didn’t want to. I just made music I liked, to hell with genre expectations. I didn’t expect the amazing response ‘Covenant’ received, the title track I think had over a million streams and is my most popular track even now.
Things got much darker with the next LP ‘Communion’ which was a more personal record, it’s a weird fucking album for sure, but I think the title track is one of my best compositions.
On the next LP ‘Dark Water’ I kinda wanted to get more upbeat. A lot of this is down to the mood I was in when writing - I was really enjoying making stuff like ‘Black Knight’ and ‘The Maiden’ and for me, it was my most cohesive album. It’s also a lot more synthwave than ‘Communion’. The British Film Institute allowed me to use the Donald Pleasence sample from the old TV infomercial ‘Dark and Lonely Water’ - some of you may remember the spine chilling ad that scared the shit out of every UK kid back in the 80's. The concept of the LP grew from that.
After that came ‘Beasts’ - a really fucking angry EP that certainly reflects the dark mood I was in at the time. It was deliberately abrasive and nasty, but I had fun with the monster movie vibe of it. Back in May I released ‘The Night School’ with my drummer Nick, his wife Jessica (soprano), Volkor X playing all the bass guitar, some vocal appearances from Kriistal Ann and Becca Starr, always a pleasure to work with. It’s basically a progressive synth rock album, I wouldn’t call it Synthwave. Yeah it’s a gamble - but it’s something I wanted to do since I first saw a Dario Argento movie. It’s like how I fell into this scene - a melting pot of horror movie lovers, gamers, and electronic music - the perfect home for a nerd like me, ha ha ha
How would you describe the music you make?
For me, my stuff is dark electronic music. I’m not particularly interested in genres, beyond putting tags on my stuff on Bandcamp etc. So many people have described my stuff like, “Dude, this sounds like Castlevania” or “that Splatterhouse vibe”. I’m very happy with these comparisons, ha ha
I’d say I make dark fantasy music, I want the listener to imagine their own journey. I never really did the ‘this LP follows a story’ thing. It follows the listener’s own story, I hope. I’m deliberately non-specific in that sense.
How has your 2020 been? With the Gig situation how have you managed to stay reasonably sane?
This year…. man where to start. On a personal note I was having some issues, ended up back on the antidepressants (aren’t all musicians?) but that’s certainly helped. I’m feeling like myself again, and more inspired than ever. With this shitty virus situation, I’ve actually found the lockdown a big help. Because I’m not travelling to work every day, I’m working from home, I can stay up late gaming and making music, productivity is through the roof, hahaha. I’m keeping busy! What does suck though, is the live situation. I hooked up last year with drummer friend Nick Pymm, who is an absolute whirlwind, technically amazing, and we started to prepare our setup for live shows. That’s something I’m eager to get going with, it’ll bring a lot more energy to the shows, instead of just me, a laptop, a couple of synths and some projected horror imagery. Let’s see what the situation is next year, we just don’t know.
Who are your influences in music today? Who did you listen to when you were growing up?
When I was a kid I was totally obsessed with the music Rob Hubbard made for Commodore 64 game soundtracks. The otherworldly sounds he got out of that old sound chip were just amazing. As a total nerd I used to record tapes of these soundtracks and listen to them on my old Walkman! I met Hubbard a few years ago, along with other chip tune legend Ben Daglish, both were super nice guys. Rob signed a few C64 cassette games for me, he was a super humble guy. His influence is still present in my music.
I can’t answer this question without mentioning Claudio Simonetti, Goblin, and Fabio Frizzi. These Italian horror composers are probably the biggest influence on my music, so much so that I just finished an LP, The Night School, which is a homage to the old Italian slasher/giallo films and their awesome soundtracks. It’s not a totally electronic album, but it’s a more direct love letter to these influences.
Tell us your best and worse gig experience?
Aaaaaaargh my first show, supporting Carpenter Brut - a promoter friend booked me for this, I had done no live shows with this project, didn’t have much in the way of live gear, and had a week to prepare. One minute into the opening track the laptop froze. And I had to restart it, in front of a packed room. Fucking mortifying! But I held my shit together and by the end, after closing track ‘Covenant’ ended, the applause was amazing. I was so happy. I met Franck and the guys and talked music, in the pub next to the venue, they were great, we knew a few of the same people from the metal scene. But the taint of that awful moment hung over me. I didn’t really wanna do live shows after that! Neither did I ever want to be just a ‘laptop dj’ again, ha ha ha
Fortunately I was later booked (after getting my live gear together and using hardware synths) for a synth festival in Glasgow. A great turnout, great crowd, the roof came off and it was the best feeling. The feedback from people there, it was just immense. This convinced me to continue doing live shows, though I’ve only done a handful.
Is there anything new you’re working on currently that you’d like to share a little bit about?
‘The Night School’ is a departure, being a kinda ‘full band’ release. No idea if the Synthwave crowd will like it but the responses have been awesome so far. I always wanted to make something like The Night School, more of a soundtrack, still dark, very creepy, with some (I think) beautiful moments…I’m extremely proud of it.
If that’s not your thing, I have another Darksynth LP out today (Sept 4th) called ‘Cataclysm’, I think it’s some of my very best work. It’s very dark, very heavy, and production-wise I’m very happy so far. I can’t wait to share it with everyone.
What sound do you love the most?
The sound of one of my curries bubbling away in the cauldron!
Do you have a day job? How do you balance this with the passion for creating the great music that you do?
Yeah I have a day job. Day jobs for musicians are obstacles, of course, and that was the reason I left the metal band I was in. That sucked. But if it wasn’t for that, I wouldn't have started this project! Before the COVID-19 situation, travelling to work etc meant I had less time to work on the project, and I was basically only working on music on Saturdays. Not ideal. I do get requests for remixes and stuff, but because I have so little time I usually have to turn them down. I feel bad about that, some good people have asked me for remixes and collaborations but I just don’t get the time.
If you’re having a bad day what do you do to make yourself feel better?
I play Dark Souls, or Bloodborne. My happy place. One man’s hell is another’s heaven, ha ha ha ha
What’s next for you as an artist?
Right now with the global situation I’m not really focused on doing live shows and stuff like that. What I’m really interested in at the moment, is working on visuals, in particular I want to get at least one promo video made. Expensive though, right?
Horror movie/game soundtrack work is probably my ideal thing right now. Definitely something I wanna get into.
If you could collaborate with anyone else on the scene who would it be and why?
Maybe not so much people from this scene but my dream would be to work with Claudio Simonetti. His music is one of my biggest inspirations. I have a photo of us together at a horror con I went to. Huge grins all round.
Favourite Movie and why?
Suspiria. Dario Argento’s masterpiece. The colours, the murder set-pieces, the terrifying soundtrack, mind blowing stuff. I’ve seen it hundreds of times, and it never gets old.
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