MAETHELVIN | 'WAVEFORMS' - An Interview
The learned amongst us Synth fans would never dispute the logic that France was indeed the birthplace of the earliest form of what came to be known as Synthwave. In fact this Retro-sapient generation felt the genus behind this movement were none other than unified group of super talented musicians from Nantes, later titled the 'Valerie Collective'.
Whether you regard them as the neon trailblazers or not the fact remains that they embedded themselves in popular culture and all Synth life essentially flowed from them.
The Valerie Collective were founded as a musical cooperation in Nantes, France in 2007. The collective itself included the likes of Anoraak, Minitel Rose, Electric Youth and the man himself Maethelvin of whom we interview today. This blend of 80's inspired electro spoke to the hearts of many but none could have foreseen its incredible rise in popularity or it's propensity of late to permeate into current cultural framework where even the likes of Artists who include The Weeknd & Muse have taken a bite of the neon cherry.
Maethelvin continues unabated delivering some incredible sounds most recently with his latest release 'Lost Tapes of Hardware Memories' which was dropped on the masses to great critical acclaim.
Forged in Neon sat down with this pioneering Gent to talk all things Maethelvin, take a look!
Firstly, thank you so much for giving your time to Forged in Neon, you’re the dream person to interview given that I’ve been a fan for a long time, thank you so much.
You’re welcome! Thanks to you for all this great support, Ashley. =)
Let me take this opportunity to congratulate you on the somewhat recent release of ‘Lost Tapes of Hardware Memories’ EP which received high praise on its release how do you feel the launch went?
And once again thank you so much. This EP is a bit special, as I decided to launch it as it is. I mean, I didn’t plan to release something at this moment. I had kind of a break from making music stuff for some months, due to covid and personal life. And during this period, I also took time to use some hardware gear I own (Like the octatrack and MP-7, notes for geeks around here) and record a bunch of “live” performances that made this new EP. I wanted to break all the pressure you can have as a musician, making promo, planning things, and getting back to something more instinctive or organic.
Obviously, there’s a huge amount of sentiment attached to you as an Artist and the music you have created over the past while and of course being part of ‘The Valerie Collective’. Would you say your sound has grown over the years? what do you think is most distinctive aspect about the music you create now?
I don’t know if my sound has grown, but it has changed for sure. I’m not feeling very comfortable with the Synthwave genre, as I think I am more attached to a lot of different retro genres (like early dance music, early techno, etc.). And I love old synths, and that’s why it sounds so 80s. :) And it’s a bit pretentious saying my sound is distinct from others, as it is very inspired by some retro music and musicians as well.
You have an undeniable knack for creating soundscapes with your music, tell us about your creative processes, how long would it take for you to lay down a track on average?
Well, it really depends on a lot of parameters. But I really like when things are very obvious, and ironically when I spend very little time making a track. I like when things are a bit raw, and when I get stuck for hours or days finalizing a track, it means it’s wrong. Most of my inspiration comes to sounds I program on the synths, and magic happens when it connects to a tone memory in my head, reminds me of a track of my childhood for example.
What would you regard is the most cherished memory of your career to date?
I would say all touring memories in general, in France and abroad. Especially when we went to Japan with College. Only 3 days in Tokyo, but it was so fun and unexpected!
Of course, all of us Synth nerds would have caught you being interviewed with College in the documentary ‘Rise of the Synths’ what was that like to film?
It was a great moment, meeting Ivan (Castell) and all the production team. They are lovely, and passionate about their work. Ivan went through a very long process to achieve this documentary, and I think the result is great: It’s not only a documentary, but he also tries to tell a story, with a lot of references from his own childhood.
You’re on record as listing the likes of Giorgio Moroder & John Carpenter as early influences in your career, as you reflect on Synthwave as a genre do you feel there’s more to come from it? What do you think of how the scene has evolved?
It’s quite obvious for every Synths nerd to like these two geniuses!! As I said earlier, I don’t think I am a total part of the synthwave scene. I sometimes get the feeling the synthwave scene has a hard time evolving, and keeps in close circuit, making all over again the same sounds, same rhythmic routines and gimmick, and perhaps too produced. And with a bit of the same graphics and aesthetic. I like it, but have the feeling sometimes it’s too much, or too sterile on a creative point of view.
Of your entire discography to date, what is the one track you’re most proud of? Why?
Strangely, I would say one collaborative track I have made with my mate Stephen Falken, some years before, under pseudonym “Supervision”. Track is called “Turquoise 101”, and was only made with a SH101, multitrack recording, and some effects. And I love the result!
Of course, those knowledgeable enough about the scene will understand you’re a part of the hugely renowned ‘Valerie Collective’ as mentioned earlier who of course are responsible for some of the best original synth electronic music there ever was, do you find being part of this collective comes with its own set of pressures for what you create? Do you find there’s a huge expectation?
Not at all! And that’s because David (College) never told us to apply some strict rules to follow. Valerie Collective is basically a group of friends, reunited because they like the same kind of music and because we share the same inspirations.
Who are you listening to at the moment?
A lot of Legowelt, DMX Krew, and also IM Kellar and Kendal. I am also listening to a lot of Telex and early acid techno.
Of course, you’ve just finished a stint with the Night Arcade Radio Show, how was that to do? Did you enjoy the experience?
Joel (Devereaux 85, promoter for the night arcade) is a true friend and best promoter I have worked with. I always enjoy doing projects with him, as I think he truly understands the Valerie spirit. The Radio Show for Studio Pandora was so fun to do. I also had the chance to meet Niels aka Space Operator, who is a great connaisseur of Italo Disco and retro synth production! A lot of good music and fun moments.