This weeks spotlight falls on the Swedish Synth Supremo that is NeverMann.
I first fell in love with NeverMann's sound back when 'Cherry Baby' shimmied into our collective neon consciousness back in March 2018 and I have very much enjoyed his journey to date with some absolute must haves for your playlists like 'All for u' and 'The sun keeps shining' which was an awesome collaborative effort with JJ Mist released on the amazing album 'All 4 U' last year.
NeverMann is the musical alter-ego of Swedish composer David Clausson in collaboration with Rickard Bonde Truumeel & the mighty OSC on the last Album. They all have one common goal and that's to set out and make music based on the major influences from the 80's and 90's and fuse it with a modern production, in fact their influences are counted anywhere from George Michael to The Midnight so its not hard to understand where they get such an infectious sound.
I was thrilled to get a chance to interview David Clausson aka 'NeverMann' - Hope you enjoy reading it as much as I had putting it together...let's get into it!
Thank you so much for your time with Forged in Neon today, we’re thrilled to have you. We’ve been enjoying your music for quite a while now so it’s great to be able to get a chance to chat with you....
.....Congratulations on all your success so far and indeed for your latest releases 808 sessions and the album Vallmostigen 6, they’ve definitely gone down well in the Forged camp. How do you think they’ve been received over all?
Thank you so much! It's been a weird year or two, but the musical projects I've done have given me a lot of energy. I've gotten a few positive comments from people I really respect and adore and that makes me very happy. There is so much talent and ambition among a lot of the artist making retro-music and to be getting positive feedback from just a few of them means a lot.
The 808-sessions was a way for me to get out of the comfort zone a bit and play the songs more scaled down and “naked” and I'm really happy with it. Both projects was a way to try something different and clear the pallet so to speak going into the next real vocal album, the follow up to the GentleMann album.
Who or what inspired you to explore the genre of Synthwave?
Growing up in the 80's and early 90's, the sounds and aesthetic never really left me.
Whenever those sounds, synths and beats appeared in pop culture I ate it up. Playing
GTA:Vice City got me re-watching Miami Vice from start to finish in the early 00s, for
example. I never stopped watching Manhunter or Blade Runner, listening to 80's music etc.
When Drive came out, it hit just at the right time. I was floored by that movie like everyone
else in the scene, but haven't actually watched it again strangely. I'm afraid it won't hold up.
Maybe I should watch it this weekend. Ha ha ha!
Anyway, it got me listening to all the artists on that soundtrack and dig deeper into those sounds. Regarding my own music, I remember making 80's sounding music during the the late 90's and early 00's, but it's not something that could be released at all today... I made some weak attempts at chip tune, but really didn't get into it that deep. My heart has always been with R&B from the 80's and early 90's so that always popped up whenever I tried writing music. I listened a lot to Chromeo back in the day also. When I started the project of NeverMann it was much more of a wider concept, making music that had all of my influences in it. Not just 80s synth music, but R&B, Spaghetti Western soundtracks, Swedish folk songs, Jazz, pop, everything!
But while writing the first EP I found a lot of other Synthwave artists and got deep into it. I found that Synthwave or Retrowave was the closest to what I was doing! I found my listeners through Synthwave and the retro community so I'm very happy about that.
Can you tell us a little bit about the instrumental Album ‘Vallmostigen 6’. I’m guessing it may
have been a home address in the 80’s. Seems very nostalgia driven and full of emotion...
Yeah, it is the address of my childhood home. I lived there from birth until I was about 20 so it
was a big part of me, of course. My parents recently moved from the house, having lived
there for 45 years and it had an interesting impact on me, not being able to help them
empty the house, help them move etc because of Covid. I felt I had to process it somehow
and that is why the EP came about. I had some songs and sketches that I reworked and
added some interludes that showed how a day after school could be for me growing up. The
cover is a picture of the house and there was not a lot of grids, palm trees and neon lights in
the south of Sweden in the 80s, that's for sure...
My mother actually felt the EP sounded a bit sad and wondered if I felt my childhood had
been sad, but not at all. I had a great childhood, but I was kind of shy and introverted and I
think that shines through on the EP. I drew a lot, listened to music and watched a lot of
movies. I guess the “sad” sound on the EP mostly is because nostalgia always does that. Even though there is fantastic, happy memories. The reminiscing in itself makes it “sad”, in a way.
You’ve been making music as Nevermann since 2017, how do you think your sound has
developed over time?
Like I said before, the project was always meant to reflect a lot of styles and sounds. Thus far
I've mostly embraced the sounds of the 80s and early 90s. On the first EP it was me and
Rickard Bonde Truumeel who shaped the sound and we both have the swedish pop
mentality in our DNA. We always want to keep it simple and “get to the chorus”. When OSC
came aboard for the GentleMann album, he brought more soul to the songs and lifted the
sound even higher. I feel we three balance each other very well when we write and produce
songs and I guess we grow together. OSC has done more city pop sounding stuff and that is
starting to show now when we work on the next album for example. Rickard has a
backround in writing songs for the ESC and he is more focused in getting to the hit-chorus, I
think. I always say that Rickard is my Max Martin and OSC is my Quincy Jones.
The Music Industry has changed immeasurably over the years, being on the scene for the length of time you have if you had the power to change one thing what would it be? Why?
Of course, I think more people should be able to make a living from their music. I work full
time at a regular job, this is just “on the side”, so to speak. At the same time, we live in an
age where most of the audience grew up downloading on napster and then subscribing to
Spotify so getting paid through streams is not really an option right now, I think. I don't
think we'll ever go back to getting the money made by musicians in the late 1900s. It's hard.
At the same time, without Spotify I probably wouldn't have that big an audience or would
have found all the other great songs and bands I've found in the last 5 years. I'm torn. The
technology has made it possible for artists all over the world to work together and make
amazing music that never could have been made 20 years ago. I would love to have a
mansion in Beverly Hills after releasing my first album, but we'll see after the second
I'm just so glad that TimeSlave Recordings took me in and released my album on physical
format. That really made the album “real” in some way, strangely. Now I've released an
album for real and I have it in my hand to prove it. They have been really supportive and I
think what they do for the scene, both for Synthwave and Vaporwave, is amazing. A lot of
the other labels as well do great work and most of it is done out of passion, not out of
financial gain and that makes the work a lot more inspired too. If I would make a lot of
money making the “right kind” of song and my label wanted me to make chart topping hits it
wouldn't be as fun, maybe. The duality of the business, I guess.
Tell us a little about your creative processes, who or what do you draw inspiration from?
Life, relationships, movies and music. Usually I build on feelings felt ages ago or just last
night and then expand upon them. All my lyrics are autobiographical in some way, but always
tweaked and exaggerated.
Mostly though, the songs start from the music. A beat, a melody. And I hardly ever get
inspired without being in the studio. It's while playing around in the studio, either by myself
or with Rickard or with an instrumental OSC has sent me. When me and Rickard write
together it often starts with a tempo. When we wrote All 4 U for example, we wanted to do
a song in the Boys of Summer tempo. Then he starts playing some chords, I play or sing a
melody in fake English and the I often hum the song melody and write the lyrics later. Verse
2 or the bridge is always the last thing done for a song...
Can you tell us a little about your current and future projects?
We are hard at work with the next album, we have most of the songs in place in different stages of completion. I'm very happy how it shapes up, we'll see where it ends up. Then I always have other projects going, collaborations etc, but nothing I really can disclose here. Let's just say you'll hear from me during the coming year!
As an Artist where do you see yourself in 5 years’ time?
Hopefully still doing music and still making what I wanna make. If it is Synthwave or Folk
music doesn't matter. I listen to all kinds of music and have played most of it too during my
life so the important thing is that I'm inspired and have fun! I would love to play live with a
full band though. To bring in all the great musicians that are playing on my album and just
bring the house down! Anyone putting on a festival, call me!
Of your discography to date what is the one track you are most proud of and why?
That is a really hard one. It's always the next one, I guess. I'm proud of the whole
GentleMann album from start to finish. I think we succeeded in making album that'll hold up
20 years from now. If some hipster in 2045 finds the vinyl in a crate somewhere, I'm sure
they will buy it and enjoy. Hopefully, I'm right. Ha ha ha!
What’s your favourite 80’s film?
It really depends on the day, my favourite films are so many. I'm a movie collector and
doesn't discriminate any genre. Ha ha ha!
One of the films I always come back to is Maniac Cop 2. It might sound strange, but it's
something about that film that captures a lot of the things I like about 80's movies. The
horror aspect, the action, the lighting, the music... I watched it for the first time at the right
age probably. Sometimes you find these movies that you feel are “yours” that you later
realise someone else loves as well, kinda like Synthwave. I later read that Nicolas Winding
Refn (Director of Drive) is remaking Maniac Cop, so I guess it's right up the Synthwave ally.
Ha ha ha!
As the live scene slowly kicks into gear are their any events on the Nevermann horizon?
I certainly hope so! I would love to play some shows either locally in Sweden or at some
venue abroad, but ever since I released my album the pandemic has put a stop to that. I
would love to bring the amazing musicians who played on my songs with me to do a proper
live set, I don't really want to do the one man band thing. I need the energy of other artists
on stage. Since I've played the drums in a few bands during the last 25 years, I know what
brings energy to the stage. Just look at Ollies show that he did. He's got stage presence on a
level I never could have, but he understood why a proper band and musicians is needed to
bring it to the next level.
What’s the one piece of advice you’ve been given in life that has always stuck with you?
Just do what you heart tells you and don't care about what other people think, when it isn't
hurting anyone. For example, I waited years making music I really wanted to because it was
considered corny or bad by my closest circle of friends. When I finally decided that it's now
or never, I found this great community online that like the same stuff I do and are supportive. Just do it!
A message to your fans?
Hopefully you are all coming out of the Covid-mist soon and come to live shows! My next album is in the works, and when that is out, I'm ready to go live! And yeah, support your local NeverMann!