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OUTLAND SYNTH - 'Dream Warriors' | An Interview

Updated: Apr 8, 2021

The clear and distinct craving for all things retro-futuristic après the success of 'Stranger Things' and the lightning rods that were the movie 'DRIVE' and the eternally brilliant featurette directed by David Sandberg 'Kung Fury' attracted a dominant audience that could no longer be ignored.

This neon army in Flamingo Shirts, Pit Viper Sunglasses & natty Leather Jackets began in unison to swallow whole everything 80's orientated and suddenly those artists on the 'My Space' fringes became celebrated and revered for their unassailable talent in emotionally connecting us to a decade that only few actually experienced. The advent of these defining moments birthed a micro-genre 'Synthwave' (also called Retrowave, or Future-Synth).

Cultural origins aside there was an inherent burning desire for live events, where like-minded souls could gather and bathe in the Neon light as their favourite artist swept them up and carried them on waves pure emotion. 2017 was to be our year.

Step forward Stuart McLaren & Brett Simpson. With their finger on the pulse akin to the best of Synthwave Drum Patterns they began their journey to becoming an indomitable force on this beloved scene. And thus Outland Synth was created. Having had experience in organising live events to a degree this company is at it's heart ran by fans for fans of the retro-futuristic genre and this truth is self evident in every flex of their now legendary live events with experiences ranging from Synthwave Cruises on the London Thames to events with the crème de la crème of Synth Artists from all over the world with their live series being held in Glasgow, London & the still being talked out festival they organised in Toronto, Canada in July 2019.

It'll come as a surprise to no one that I've been championing Stu and Brett's journey from the very start. Their foray into managing artists and thus creating a Synthwave label seemed a natural progression for the guys being such a revered presence on the Scene.

I was super-excited to catch up with them for this Spotlight Series, chatting about all things Outland and their visions for the scene, take a look...


Thank you for being a part of the Forged in Neon Spotlight series, so happy to have you guys

on board. As a label how do you feel 2020 has gone for you?

Stu - Thanks for having us Ashley and it's wonderful what you're doing with Forged in Neon. It's only our second year running the label and the end of 2019 consisted mainly of pushing our first signing and the album that went with that. Then Christmas came and by the time the music industry machine start moving again, it was March and we all went into lockdown and the surreal limitations around that. Having said that, if we didn't take the leap in starting the record label, Outland would have nothing positive to say about much this year other than continual event postponements.

We feel the Outland brand on the whole has been given a new lease of life considering the live events have all but fizzled away. We didn't plan for a pandemic so we're very lucky we took the leap with the label when we did.

Brett - Hi Ash, thanks for having us… Delving into the label was an inspired idea, and a necessary one. With Stu’s background in the industry it almost seems on retrospect, to have been inevitable. But yes, we are very lucky. We really do believe the genre has vast potential and we still want to see Synthwave take over the world!

Can you give us a little introduction to what Outland Recordings is and what you’re all about?

Brett - Outland’s mission has always been to showcase the music/genre. Outland Recordings as a label was born out of Outland Synthwave Events, which was itself born out of a love for all things Synthwave and Retrowave. Outland’s live events, artiste management and recordings arms, all form a cohesive platform, which seeks to represent and showcase, not only the music, but the artists themselves. It’s all about the music and the artists.

Without a shadow of a doubt Outland have become a shining beacon on our beloved Synth

Scene. What is the Outland ethos and philosophy when it comes to running the label itself?

Brett - Outland has always been about showcasing the music. First and foremost, we are both Synthwave fans. So, think like a fan… What do the fans want? Start there. And then the artists, we know about the passion and also about the hard work it takes to create. Stu’s been on the other side himself, and so therefore we understand and try and do right by our artists. We’re constantly looking for new ways and new avenues to support and promote our artists, and expose the genre to a wider audience where possible, for example, the recent Retro Drive game collaboration.

Available on iOS and Android FREE - 'Key Word: Retro Drive'

Stu - Thanks Ash. We appreciate that assessment and continue to try support and champion the scene as much as we can, though likes and social vanity stats aren’t any measure of success in my opinion. I think the three pillars of what we built the brand on in the first place has helped forge the labels path. Support, honesty and good work ethic is foremost. There has to be a trust between artist and label else things can quickly turn to shit. Artists need support but there should always be sense of mutual respect of the time and effort each party is putting into the project. I'm a firm believer in the old adage that hard work pays off and it's no different here.

We appreciate every new follow and every new press article on the brand, because it only helps the artists we're essentially working for and represent.

Tell us a little of who you have signed to your label and have you your eye on any other


Stu/Brett: We jumped into the deep end with New Arcades in 2019 and we're exceptionally proud of working with them through the entire process of their debut Returning Home.

Morgan Willis was our second signing for a single album and Dreamer is a true opus. We had a small world tour pencilled for him this year to support the album but COVID put pay to that.

We have the amazing Dana Jean Phoenix and Powernerd with their album Megawave, as well as two album deals with UK acts Lost Outrider and Taurus 1984. Sadly we have had to put any Polychrome releases and content on hold due to Covid-related pressures, but we have signed two very exciting ‘discovery’ acts - pure synthwave if you will. Both The Future Kids and The Last Concorde are really exciting and it's telling already as the The

Last Concorde’s first single Last Call hit NewRetroWave’s Top 25 Spotify playlist.

There’s also cyberpunk synth act Kodachrome Cowboy waiting in the wings. Then, a most exciting brand-new signing awaits in Laura Dre. It may not come as a surprise to some, but we're always on the lookout for artists with exceptional production quality and song writing with mainstream appeal. With one foot in synth and the other out there in the more contemporary side of modern synth pop, Laura ticks all those boxes. It's a kind of female lead Trevor Something-esque Synthwave that we think anyone can get into, and which should keep those who wish to see some sort of evolution of the genre in a happy space. Her first single Moving Spaces releases in January 2021.