You can say what you like about the saturation of Synth but every now and then a diamond shines amongst the grains of sand.
Step forward Syst3m Glitch, a relative newbie when pitched against the other players on the grid but has already made a notable name for himself with his stellar collaborations and a record contract with the powerhouse that is Aztec Records.
Syst3m Glitch is Bobby Vickery, an American Vocalist, Producer and Remixologist from Daytona Beach. He has spent his last 20 years as a producer, engineer and session player for several studios in Central Florida. His highest honour was serving at KDS studios, home at that time to Christina Aguilera and R Kelly.
He came to the Synthwave scene via Sonic Academy's Michael Oakley “Control” Remix contest, where he secured a win with his first track in the genre. During a recent interview with Riverside Radio in London, he shared, “I guess being an 80's baby and having that style of music etched into me at an early age just flipped a switch I didn't know I had when I found Synthwave.”
He has gone on to win the title of “Best Newcomer” from the Forever Synth radio show and podcast. 100% of his released material to-date has found its way into radio shows, Twitch livestreams, or noteworthy YouTube mixes so....
...it's fair to say that his future is shining brighter than ever even in a year that saw so many twists and turns for Artists, it was a year where he honed his craft and gave us some amazing hits like 'Maverick' alongside Runaway Droid and the newest drop 'Stars Shine Bright' alongside Van Derand.
Forged couldn't wait to chat with him to see how he's doing and what's coming up in the near future for Monsieur Glitch, take a look!
Thank you so much for your time with Forged today and Congratulations on your success to date, how had 2020 been for you all things considered?
You're SO welcome. Thanks for having me! 2020 and 2021 have been a wild ride so far. “All things considered” is a pretty good way to put the question. It's been interesting breaking into a genre during a pandemic. There's not yet been a time where Syst3m Glitch has existed outside of worldwide lockdowns, fear and hardship. I hope I'm doing enough to brighten someone's day as they try to forget about all the madness and connect to the arts. The work on the upcoming album began late in 2020 and I'm certain when I say that it's been just as much of a beautiful escape for me as it will be for fans.
Of course, you are now signed to the brilliant Aztec Records family, what are they like to work with?
Well, brilliant? Haha. Extremely cooperative, encouraging, and dedicated to doing the work that needs to be done to allow me to focus on my craft as I enter this next season. I think as with any artist who signs for the first time, I've learned a lot about all of the great body of work that goes into preparing an album for a successful launch. I started out a little unsure.
I remember having a great conversation with Laura (LAU) where I wanted to present my album to them with 50% vocal material and 50% instrumental material, and she told me no. I was surprised for about 30 seconds, and then I had some tears when those 30 seconds were over. “I'm not really a vocalist”, I told her. “I just like to sing on some songs here and there”. To which she responded “What are you talking about? Of COURSE a vocalist, let's get to work.” I don't think that's verbatim, but that moment was a significant turn for me and I started really coming alive as a singer, took the album back to formula, and wrote more songs. It was just the push I needed. I'm forever grateful. Since then, they've been all about allowing me to have creative freedoms in how we present the brand, collaborating on future projects, etc. I'm a very impatient person, so I think their biggest challenge with me is getting me to relax and understand that a career is just that, not a burst of energy and nothing to follow, but a lifelong relationship with your fanbase. All in all, very much a relationship worth signing up for!
You’re relatively new to the scene but with that said, what started you on your journey on the grid? When and how did it all begin?
The honour of starting off with a New Retrowave Records contest win, and Michael Oakley's support and friendship even now is nothing short of a gift. I was in pop as a producer/background vocalist for a number of years, and that career turned south with a really bad studio breakup. If you're familiar with all of the fallout in the music scene in Orlando in the early 2000's, this probably makes more sense.
I was JUST beginning to get my feet wet with some big stars and almost every studio that touched the “Transcon” brand went down at the same time. I ended up going into a hole and starting a commercial audio company. For the past 10 years, I've been doing car commercials, jingles, podcast theme songs, some video game work, and the like. I hadn't produced a piece of “art” until the NRW remix competition happened. I didn't expect a win, but I got one, and I thought to myself what a waste it would be to have that moment in the sun without any other material for listeners to discover. So, “Young and Wild and Free” (the original version, the album has a new one!) and “Raining in Tokyo” were both born in about a month. I had a chance to meet Dimi Kaye because we competed against one another in that contest. I congratulated him for a killer song with Yoru and we started building a friendship. The rest sort of just fell into place. The genre fits me extremely well as I'm an 80's baby and it's always just sort of been my vocal and playstyle, but electronica was also a big part of my life before. The fusion of the two lands me here on both feet. I love it!
Who do you rate as your influences in terms of making music?
Over the past few years I'd say that's changed. Lately, I'm listening to Oliver a lot, but some of my biggest influences are some of my peers. I enjoy me a good Turbo Knight, Shikimo or Shadowrunner track as much as I enjoy anyone else. Some of the influences that have never left though are Richard Marx, Don Henley, Chicago, and of the King himself, Michael Jackson. I do also have a lot of pop influences. I'd say Bruno Mars and The Weeknd are good examples of styles that are timeless and worth learning from.
What would you say is the most distinctive aspect of the music you create?
Haha, I don't know HOW to answer this for myself. People tell me I have a sound. I have no idea what they're talking about! I think the comment I get the most is that it's 'authentic' 80's. I'm not really a cyber-surfing net-grid laser master-blaster. I stick with a blend of noises that are unapologetically 'current' but then I smash them into vintage guitar, drums, vocals and fx. I'm pretty interested in telling stories though, so if I have a story to tell about a cyborg from neo-Moscow in 2076 who's on a revenge mission to find his creator in an alternate future, maybe I'll bust one out!
To date you have been doing some pretty awesome work on the collab front most notably with Dimi Kaye and Neon Arcadia, how did they come about? Have you any more collab work with them or others on the horizon?
I think Dimi is my guitarist for the rest of my known life, and it's his combination of kindness, flexibility and skill that makes him priceless! We have a saying we use together that helps us put pride aside when we work together “We serve the song.” This just simply means, what the song calls for it gets. All honest, no ego, no offense. He's the best collaborator I've ever worked with.
Neon Arcadia came about because I was a huge fan of Chemicals (them and Xennon) and I was fan-boying with Benny one day and he made mention of the fact that he was a fan of my vocal work too. Given how much I like Tom's vocals I was a little surprised but we got together, he told me a story of loss he was trying to capture, and a few days later “Gray” was born! I'd be remiss not to add Michael Oakley, Jacket, Turbo Knight, Yoru, Sunesis, Morphoice, Van Derand, Runaway Droid, GeoVoc, and Citro to this list! I've been real busy,
So the rest of my answer might be less of a surprise. I'm trying (emphasis on trying) to take it easy on collabs for a season so I can actually set some walls up around my own sound. This all happened in reverse for me with the way I hit the scene. My first work was almost exclusively remixes and guest vocals, so I've had to back-pedal hard to find time to craft my own product. You can look forward to collabs on my album though. Turbo Knight, Shadowrunner, Dimi Kaye, and Van Derand are all present there. I'm also appearing (twice!) on Morphoice's upcoming album “Vinyl City” and tracks for Maxx Parker and Best Korea.
If you could change just one thing about the music industry what would it be? Why?
I'd literally put people in a court of law for stealing other artists material, EVERY time. That includes visual art. A newer friend of mine, Icarus, just had a very difficult time with a very good song, and plenty of proof that he was an original copyright owner. If you steal a car, it's probably prison. That car may be worth $5,000 USD. If you steal someone's music, you can likewise be thieving thousands of dollars of earnings potential from them. Why this is not considered equally criminal I'll never know. Picture a judge in a courtroom “OK now, you can only steal 2 more cars before we tell you you can't steal cars anymore”. This is how DMCA works, and it's absurd.
“Smashing sub-genres with blatant dis-regard” is the bio line you’ve written on your Bandcamp page, flesh that out for us a little, would you? In terms of your sound how would you categorise yourself?
Totally can. I love the 80's but I am remorseless about making good music that draws on whatever sources make sense at the time. I used to try to stuff my work into a box so it would be undeniably one thing or another (i.e “I can't do X because that's not Y enough.”) These days, I just make it and people can call it whatever they want! I'm glad Synthwave is a broad genre. It's a very big sandbox to play in, and when I throw African drums into electronica, people don't usually bat an eye. It's very freeing.
Do you see any Merch in the Syst3m Glitch horizon?
One word. Yes. The team over at Aztec is invaluable in this area, and that time will come. Another thing I think is important though is that I give you enough good music for you to CARE about merch, right? I might make some enemies saying this, but releasing your first single isn't the qualifying event for a merch store. I want merch sales to be deserved when they happen.
We can essentially write off 2021 except for maybe the last quarter with everything physically crossed which is a pity but expected. Have you any ambitions to do a gig or two in 2022?
I'm on the road as soon as I'm allowed to be, my friend. Zero hesitation about hopping the pond either to spend some time in the UK.
What do you enjoy most about being a musician?
It's a whole other life that those who don't make music don't get to live. This much opportunity to pour into a creative outlet is a blessing. I'm grateful for that blessing. I can sort out a bad day at the piano in about ten minutes. How amazing it is that I have that privilege. I love telling stories, too. Lyrics used to be the bane of my existence, but lately as the album was drawing to a close, I found that it's extremely satisfying and gives a whole other dimension to the joy of creation.
Can you tell us anything about current or future projects in the pipeline?
As far as the current pipeline goes, hopefully people are starting to get a taste of it as the “Beyond Stars” album starts leaking into Bandcamp and streaming services this summer. “Stars Shine Bright” was released at the beginning of April. The Midnight's Jesse Molloy SCORCHES the saxophone work on the remade “Young and Wild and Free” at the beginning of May, and the album as a whole drops during the first week of June.
This upcoming album is nothing like I've done before because I have the chance to sit at the helm and set direction for the project top-to-bottom. I'm really proud of it, and Aztec picked it up in less than 24 hours after being sent the preview. I have high hopes it will touch a lot of folks. There is a story being told start-to-finish, but unlike most concept albums, each track can stand as a single without the help of those around it.
It took a long time to design, but the payoff is really something. As far as a look into the future more than 2 months out goes, you may not know Van Derand, but you've probably heard him in hundreds of tracks. SO many producers buy his samples, presets, MIDI packs etc. He works for Roland and is responsible for many of the noises you hear in Roland synth instruments. He's a master sound designer, and I have the honour of calling him a friend. We are taking aim at a joint 5-song EP this winter.
Anyone on the scene at the moment that you enjoy listening to?
I'm so guilty of moving all over the place with this. It might be easier this way! Here's a couple tracks: “Sunrise” by Shadowrunner & Primo, “Golden Age” by Rogue VHS, “Don't Wanna Kiss You” by Friday Night Firefight, and “Surrender” by Mondmann feat. Anny Where.
What is the one guilty pleasure you cannot live without?
One word. Sushi.
What would you say is the best advice you have ever been given as a musician?
I have to say it's probably the quote that Dimi and I share from what I was saying earlier, but if I had to nail one more piece of advice down it's actually a quote from Miles Davis “It's not the notes you play; it's the notes you don't play.” This always reminds me to keep my tracks nice and clear and let themes have space to breathe.
A message to your fans?
Definitely. A leader that nobody follows is just a man taking a walk. I don't feel like a man just taking a walk anymore and it's thanks to you, your support, constant engagement and love. I spent 15 years of my music career as a producer for other acts. I'm completely driven to my knees with gratitude that you've allowed ME a place in YOUR car, YOUR home, on YOUR walk, wherever you're listening. I hope I'm telling you stories you love to hear and I'll work hard to do more for you in time. Thanks for pulling me out in the open and celebrating the journey with me. We will do great things together in the future!
Thank you so much for your time Ashley! It was a pleasure to share with you today.
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