'Mining the Mind' of Phaserland | An Interview
It’s always a treat for me to be interviewing people I most admire in the scene and today is very much one of those days.
Step forward ‘Phaserland’. A Synth project by Ross Trinkaus.
This Detroit based Rochester born Retro Futuristic Musician emerged onto the Synth scene way back in 2013 and since then had served us some absolute treats such as his Album ‘Flip the Switch’ & more recently the curiously titled ‘Inside Architecture’ released in April of this year. A library inspired, Synth rich sounding album which was well received by Critics and fans alike.
Drawing on such eclectic influences from Depeche Mode to Rush and Mitch Murder to Herbie Hancock it’s safe to say that Phaserland imbibes his inspirations from sounds that were very popular in the 80's and infusing that with his own unique style he carves out his own intrinsic soundscapes which are some of the best in the game.
Forged were delighted he took time out to do this interview, it’s a great read…take a look!
'Phaserland' is an interesting stage name how did the name come about?
There was a childhood laser tag place in the early 90’s called 'Phazer Land', and I used to frequent the place for birthday parties and school activities. It no longer exists now , but I had some great times there. Fast forward to 2013 and I had to come up with a new name for my music project. I really wanted Lazer (insert word here) , but something told me to use Phaser - and the place popped in my head. People seemed to remember the name when I told them, and the imagery works.
Congratulations on all your success thus far especially with the last album interestingly titled ‘Inside Architecture - Library Vol I’ which had received such warm praise on its release. How did you happen upon the concept?
Thank you! It’s a different venture from my previous release for sure. I have always been into Library music from the 70s and 80s and this was my homage to the now small subgenre of music. Library music was used quite frequently in the 60s 70s and 80s for TV, films and broadcast. The musicians were usually quite talented but mostly unknown and they had many freedoms to create expressive sections. It wasn’t until my Friend Matt Kwid (who is also in my side project TEK, with Pengus) showed me his amazing library playlists until I really fell in love with those magical moments of pure creativity. Check out the playlist here! -
What would you say is distinctive about the music that you now create?
I have been told that I have a “phaserland sound” and I attribute that to all the ways I absorbed music throughout my years. Growing up I loved all the phat synths I heard from groups like Billy Ocean and Depeche mode, but I also really loved prog bands like Rush and Dream Theater, Yes and Gentle Giant. I practiced many hours a day on my guitar and honestly it’s helped me now in the present time to compose melodies or chords that I hear in my head. Now, add in all the Jazz colors and expressions that I picked up in College from the likes of Herbie Hancock, Bob James and Pat Metheny and you get the Phaserland Sound that lives in the Synthwave world today.
I like to imagine a giant VR world where all the bands have doors that lead to their music. You have the larger known Synthwave artists with huge neon grids where crowds congregate. I'm just down the alley, closer to the vaporwave side of town, but still in the Synthwave world. I like to think that the musical flavors that I am offering are slightly more complex, yet grounded with heartfelt melodies. My Jazzier colors blend in with the reflected pools of Hot Magenta on the ground to still satisfy the retroness we all crave. The fans that have done a little exploring and found my door are really special to me and I am so grateful for their support.
What do you enjoy most about being a musician?
I can make shit up and people like it! - honestly , the ability to create music out of thin air is something special. Knowing that I can express myself musically , AND others want to listen is just a wonderful thing. It took me a while to find the right “brand” if you will, but I’m so blessed to have the 'Phaserland' project.
If you could change anything about the music industry what would it be? Why?
Pay artists more for streams!
Who where your musical inspirations growing up? Have they changed a little as time wore on?
I have lost some interest in the Prog groups that I listened to growing up (Rush , Dream theater etc) but I still like to put on the records from time to time. I would like to mention that I was also a fan of Hair Metal bands like Ratt and Dokken, but also into Jazz and Jazz fusion like Chick Corea, Al Demeola, Michael Franks, The Rippingtons and Herbie Hancock. After I
discovered Synthwave though Mitch Murder and Tesla Boy, I had to immerse myself and join that world. It’s the best!
In your entire discography what track are you most proud and why?
It’s hard to pick out one track in particular but If I had to, the track Pool Lights Feat Sebastial Gampl comes to mind. There were bad floods in Michigan back in 2014, and I remember my basement started to take on some water. I was running back and forth between using a shop vac and finishing our collab and mixing Sebastian’s Keys. It was one of those strange creative moments that you will never forget. The song really caught on and it’s currently the second most played track on my Soundcloud page. I’m also proud of the Track Nomad City -
due to it’s sheer volume of streams : )
Are there any Artists that on the scene currently that you wouldn’t mind collaborating with?
Oh I wouldn’t mind collabing with Mitch Murder, Highway Superstar, Volt age, Jessie Frye, Ollie Wride and more..
Can you tell us anything about your current and future projects?
Oh Boy do I have new music in the Pipeline. I am currently writing my new LP, and I have a bunch of fantastic guest collaborators working with me. Not since my 2014 album “Electric Atlantic” have I had so many talented guest artists on a record. So excited to share with you who they are soon! I’m also working on a Wave race 64 cover with the one and only System Glow.
We'd all obviously would love to see you gig at some point soon are there any plans to do that in 2021 pandemic permitted of course!?
As soon as it’s good to go, I plan on booking a ton of local Detroit shows - and of
course take any offers to travel as well. I miss playing at San Franciso’s TURBO
DRIVE events at the DNA LOUNGE.
What is the best advice you’ve ever been given?
"Practice what you love, and when you go for something give it 110%" - thanks Dad
What is the creative process for Phaserland like?
In no particular order…
- Find some cool patches on one of my many VST’s in Reaper.
- Lay down some chords or a melody, get a beat going in Addictive Drums - or vice
- Clear your mind, and TIME for the next 2-3 hours, have something to drink(water, tea, booze or coffee)
-Prepare your DAW for easy plug and play writing, there will be time for mixing later!
-also … mix on the fly if it makes you feel better.
- listen over and over and make it better (but not too much cause it might ruin it !)
- sometimes admit that the song is ok, and start a new one.
- acknowledge the special songs that are magical and FINISH THEM
- open the DAW and stare at it and watch You tube videos on random subjects all
What has been your most cherished memory of your Phaserland career?
Here are a few!
-playing my very first show WITH Marko Maric in town from Australia. It was a
packed house at Detroit’s Offworld Arcade
-Shooting the music video for FLIP THE SWITCH last summer with Brad’s DYMC
team here in Michigan
-Traveling with my partner IVY to San Francisco to play a show together with
TimeCop 1983 for the Turbo Drive 5 year Anniversary
- Going on a 3 City Australia Tour in 2017 - what memories I will cherish!
What’s your favourite 80’s film?
Blade Runner! Yup : ) that’s the one
If you couldn’t make the brilliant music you do now what would you be doing?
Some might know that I have my BFA in Painting and Graphic Design and I love to 3D model and Render in programs like Blender. I would most likely be doing that! Also maybe building Furniture : )
A Message for your fans?
Thank you, thank you for listening to my art! I am humbled that there are
PhaserFANS and honestly you bring a smile to my face. I will never settle and
plateau just to align with popular trends. I give you my authenticity and my word
to keep growing as an artist. Peace and love!
Feel free to support the fantastic Phaserland in ways you can: