Undoubtedly one of the pioneers who helped drive the Synthwave movement forward, FM Attack is never far from the minds & radios of any discerning wave rider.
A Vancouver native, Shawn Ward's project 'FM Attack' has seen some great successes and even name dropped by Ryan Gosling during press junkets for his by now infamous film and a gateway for most on the scene 'Drive'. Since his debut album 'Dreamatic' in 2009 which is marinated in Synth his career in the industry has seen some benchmarks having signed a publishing deal with Chrysalis Music which lead to being commissioned to do some stellar remixes for the likes of Tesla Boy & Richard Marx amongst others.
His sophomore album 'Deja Vu' that dropped in 2013 featured the vocals of another well known Synth marvel KRISTINE and was acclaimed by Critics and fans alike as a dreamwave classic.
His latest releases up to and including 'New World' feature more New Wave and early 80's influences. New World is already a classic, steeped in nostalgia utilising the talents of the great Darkwave master of vocals Vandal Moon and the effervescent Mecha Maiko. Well received by the masses across event spaces throughout the world FM Attack seems comfortable in pushing the boundaries of sound to deliver an experience to the listener each and every single time.
With new releases coming, a record label 'Starfield Music' which is the haus of Betamaxx & Vandal Moon, some exciting news about his music being featured in a movie upcoming and much more besides, it's a brave new FM Attack world and we just get to live in it!
Forged were delighted he took some time out to chat, this is a great one. Take a look!
Thank you so much for your time today for Forged in Neon & congratulations on the upcoming release of ‘My Life’ on Vinyl. How had 2020 been for you all things considered?
Thanks for having me Ashley!
The My Life 12” single with a Marvel83 remix is finally going to ship really soon if not by the time you read this. 2020 was a tough one but luckily I have been able to bunker up in my studio and make music during the lockdowns so its been a productive year with the label and creating.
Word on the grapevine suggests you have an “epic collab” coming this year featuring a special edition FM Attack Skateboard...Tell us more
Yes! that is going to happen sometime this year with a friend’s skateboard company based out of Mexico called Mercava. There is actually another exciting thing happening before that but I cant announce it quite yet! Feb 10th is the day.
Some know of course that you started your career way back in 2001 releasing your first EP under your own name starting FM Attack a little later. How do you feel your sound has developed over time?
Back in the 2000s I used to put out jazzy and deep house records, in 2008 I wrote my first album Dreamatic and released it under FM Attack in 2009. It was definitely a big change from house music but I was already using synths and collecting them. I've always been a big fan of Synthpop, Italo disco and New Wave so it was a natural progression.
Of course, I can’t interview you and not talk about the stellar ‘New World’ album release back in 2019. Everything about that album was pure gold. How did it come together? What was the inspiration behind it?
I wrote New World while I was living in Mexico the winter of 2018/2019. It was a fun album to make and had a lot of meaning and so many different sources of inspiration I had Blake Voss (Vandal Moon) come visit me while I was writing it. We became good friends from the year before when I produced his album Wild Insane and it led to him singing some incredible vocals on 3 of the songs with New World. He really influenced my song-writing on those and other things I have done also including remixes for Vandal Moon.
I also connected with Hayley (Mecha Maiko) and loved her avant garde talent and she did an awesome job singing on Stranger. Even more epic was when we got to perform it live together in Toronto at the Outland festival in 2019. Such great memories. She's a totally awesome and sweet person too. I stayed with her and her boyfriend Zack in Toronto while I was there and they treated me like gold.
You also run Starfield Music Record Label which has an enviable selection of talent to include Vandal Moon & Betamaxx, with that and your own fantastic career do you find it difficult to juggle that with family life?
The label is an outlet for us to get our music out there and all 3 of us are very good friends as well as like minded artists. I cant give those guys enough praise for their talent and hard work with music. Luckily I have them on board with Starfield.
I like to think of us as family, friends and passionate souls who share the same vision. We also have some amazing design artists who work with us, Ricardo, Charlie and Neil aka Phonoghost.
Its definitely challenging to balance time in the studio with family but I'm lucky I've created a way to make it work!
Possibly putting you on the spot here but in your entire discography what one track would you say defines who you are as a musician? What track(s) are you most proud of?
Hmm that’s a tough one, I really enjoyed writing 'Images of You'. It has that dreamy and haunting kind of Indie New Wave vibe I've always wanted to do.
Who have been your musical inspirations growing up? I’d imagine this may have changed somewhat over time?
Yes I loved all the 70's soft rock my Dad was into as well as the 80's stuff my mom would listen to and she had all the top new wave and Synthpop albums, Eurythmics, Alphaville, Pet Shop Boys etc. I was also really influenced by 90s house music, especially French house and also disco music.
Correct me if I’m wrong but I think I remember reading that you want to leave the Synthwave scene to pursue other styles, is this still the case?
I use a lot of synths on my music but I'm getting a little tired of the same sound being done over and over and that’s why its refreshing to explore other styles, I love Postpunk and Shoe Gaze, Drum & Bass, Chillout ambient and cinematic soundscapes also. I've been getting back into guitar again lately and it’s a great feeling.
Can you tell us a little about any current or future projects in the pipeline? Maybe a little spoiler as to what feature film one of your tracks has landed in?
I'm actually working on finishing up the new album that will be released in May of this year 2021 and it will likely be the last FM Attack album as I'm probably going to be getting into some film soundtrack composing and also producing other artists in the future.
I have my 5 year old daughter Stella singing on one of the songs too, so stay tuned for that!
The film the song is featured in is still top secret as I had to sign a confidentiality agreement but its going to be incredibly exciting and I should be able to announce it by spring.
What do you enjoy most about being a musician?
It would definitely be jamming with other musicians and teaching my daughter how to play too!
I’ve been pretty lucky to catch you at various events up and down the land over the past number of years. How’s the gig scape looking for you in 2021?
Yes it was fun to meet you both in Toronto and in your hometown Dublin! I had a blast that night with Honey Beard, they are such awesome dudes. That’s a great question, I don’t think there will be many gigs or shows happening this year considering the ongoing pandemic situation but I hope I'm wrong!
A message to your fans…
I am eternally grateful to to all for the endless support I have received, its been one hell of an epic journey.
Be good to each other and cherish everyday and everyone.
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