Updated: May 27, 2020
Synthronicity: Roundly known as the nicest guy in Synthwave I couldn't have been more pleased when I was approached by Scott from Elevate the Sky to do this interview. For some time now from across the oceans I've watched his career progress and evolve into something worthy of any discerning Synthwave artist. 'Elevate the Sky' is a curious name for a musician but in his own words "In a world full of darkness, the only escape is through sound. A journey through headphones, elevating our spirits up to the sky" and it makes perfect sense when you hear his music! Read on ....
Tell us a little about you, where you’re from and how you got started in Music?
Hey Ashley! Thanks for having me. I currently reside in Los Angeles California but I am originally from Bremen Kentucky. A very small town that you’d pretty much read about in a Stephen King novel lol. There was like literally nothing to do there. I grew up in a family of 2 sisters and a brother, all whom loved music. There was always music playing in the house. Whether it was disco, heavy metal, pop, country, or progressive rock. Everyone in my family
I fell in love with music right away. I use to sing along to everything with one of those cheap microphones from Radio Shack. I use to also sit around listening to Vangelis and Tangerine Dream with my brother. There was just something about the synth sounds that reeled me in. I use to watch Blade Runner over and over, and a big part of that was just to hear the music with those amazing visuals. I was also obsessed with Michael Jackson. He made me want to be a pop star but it wasn’t until my sister took me to my first concert, KISS, that I knew what I wanted to do with my life. I picked up the guitar and started learning by ear. I later met a good friend of mine who was a guitar virtuoso and he taught me a lot. So it all began with the guitar.
How has your sound developed over the years? & has the current market been of any influence in that?
I started out playing in a glam rock band in High School with my best friend. We played in numerous rock and metal bands. At one point I even played in a rock band named U-Turn. We toured the east coast and had a record deal. That later fell through and I left the band to pursue what I truly desired. Although I love metal music, I always would write more progressive rock or synth music on the side. I realized that I found more pleasure in this kind of music. Something about it was so liberating. It made me feel good and seemed to flow more natural for me. So when I went solo I started to venture into the electronic rock territory. Little by little my music became more synth oriented and less guitar driven. by 2013 I was all synth with maybe a guitar solo here and there. I would say the current market had somewhat of an influence on my music. Bands like Zedd, M83, Nero, and even Skrillex inspired
me. I think what I go for is a retro songwriting vibe with a modern production or mix.
How would you describe the music you make?
I would say my music is very cinematic in nature but pop and rock inspired. I approach the synths with the idea to paint a grand or epic landscape and then use my pop and rock influences to inspire melody or vocal ideas. If I could describe my sound by using bands I would say it would be like combining elements from Journey, Def Leppard,
M83, Nero, Tangerine Dream, and Vangelis.
How has your 2020 been? With the Gig situation how have you managed to stay reasonably sane?
To be honest, aside from all the negatives it has created, it has been productive for me. It has allowed me time to finish my album and even give me clarity to think about my future plans. I think what is happening is very unfortunate and it breaks my heart to even think about what many are going through right now. But, It is a good time for us to reflect on many things such as how we do things as a whole, how we allocate our time, how we treat each
other, take in consideration how important family and friends are, and what value really means and what that value is to us? I mean I do miss playing out. I love it. There’s nothing like performing for people. There is this circle of love and sharing happening. It’s a moment that we all can share something together peacefully, regardless of political and
religious beliefs or lack thereof. I do hope we can get back to a place where we can go back to a healthy society and have shows again, be able to go out to eat, go to the movies, take walks in the park etc…
Who are your influences in music today? Who did you listen to when you were growing up?
Hmm so many. I would say some of my biggest influences currently would be Electric Youth, Nero, M83, Zedd, Michael Oakley, and The Midnight. When I was growing up there was so much stuff I was into. Michael Jackson was my first major influence. I had the glove, jacket, his doll, you name it. I was constantly trying out his dance moves and doing the moonwalk lol. I then got into bands and artists like Vangelis, Tangerine Dream, Alan Parsons Project, Journey, KISS, Asia, Prince, Steve Vai, Joe Satriani, Madonna, Def Leppard, TNT, Savatage, Winger, Metallica, Pantera, Dream Theater, Rush, Marillion, Kansas. The list goes on and on.
Tell us your best and worse gig experience?
One of my favorite music gig experiences was NEO LA’s Outrun The Sun back in 2018. That show was an amazing experience. I made so many friends and discovered some amazing bands and artists. I would say around 80 people or so were there and the energy at the venue was out of this world. One of the worst was at a gig in North Hollywood. The venue didn’t have enough inputs for my guitar so i had to improvise. I ended up plugging into my interface that went into my laptop. Silly me forgot to do a guitar soundcheck. So when it came time for my guitar solo…I am basically just playing with no sound. It was so
embarrassing. So you can see me playing and no guitar sound or at least the volume was so low it was like no sound was coming out of the speakers.
Is there anything new you’re working on currently that you’d like to share a little bit about?
I’m already working on album number 2. The first album is somewhat of a concept album and the 2nd one picks up from there and is going to be a full blown concept album. I wish it were finished so I could release that but I haven’t even released the first album lol. I am also working on a soundtrack for a fake horror movie. I love horror soundtracks and from time to time I write horror movie ideas. Perhaps one day I will get lucky enough to have
someone make this horror movie a reality. But i might end up releasing the soundtrack even if the movie never manifests.
If you couldn’t make the great music you are making today what would you be doing?
Probably making horror or sci-fi movies. Movies are my 2nd love. Being involved with anything creative would make me happy.
Who would you like to play you in a movie of your life? I would say Steven Yeun from The Walking Dead.
What sound do you love the most?
Oh that is a tough question. Genre wise I am a big fan of Progressive Rock and 80s rock. Overall, I love movie soundtracks and scores. The sound of strings weaving in and out of melody. But if i were to choose one sound. The piano. The sound of even one note of a piano is bliss.
Do you have a day job? How do you balance this with the passion for creating the great music that you do?
I drive for Uber/Ubereats. Balancing the two worlds actually isn’t that difficult. However, it is difficult to keep a consistent schedule. The freedom to drive whenever you want makes it hard to stay disciplined. At least for me.
If you’re having a bad day what do you do to make yourself feel better?
I will usually sit down and try to write. but if that isn’t working I will usually find a good inspiring movie to watch. And if all else fails…sleep lol.
Who is your celebrity crush?
Oh by far Judy Garland.......
But for someone alive…I’d say Chloe Grace Moretz.
What’s next for you as an artist?
After releasing my upcoming album called “Ascend” I want to start finishing album 2. I would also like to throw together some online live performances. Actually I would probably focus on putting together some live performances first.
If you could collaborate with anyone else on the scene who would it be and why?
Either M83 (Anthony Gonzalez) or The Midnight. I would choose one of them because they are extremely good at writing memorable melodies. I am a very melody driven guy. I would say melody is the first thing that grabs me about music. Lyrics and the beat would be secondary for me.
Favourite Movie and why?
The Wizard Of Oz. To me it encapsulates everything that moves me. The fantasy element and the visuals, the meaning of finding oneself, expressing that home and family are important, learning how to liberate your mind, and the power of belief and action. Oh and of course because Judy Garland is in it.
Who or what got you into the Synth scene initially?
It all started with Vangelis and Blade Runner as a kid. But what got me into the Synthwave scene was Tron Legacy and Electric Youth. After seeing Tron Legacy back in 2011, it just changed my perspective on how I wanted to write music. I discovered synthwave by searching for the Tron Legacy Soundtrack back in the summer of 2011.
I found Redline by Lazerhawk. Although I thought it was rad I already had my first music project finished and was promoting it (electronic rock). But at that point I had already made up my mind that my next album was going to be more synth driven. So it was an easy transition going from what I was doing to what you hear now. In 2013 I saw the movie Oblivion. I was blown away by the soundtrack because I had already written a few songs
for my next album and it was very similar to that soundtrack. Actually one of the first songs I have already released called “These Walls feat. Dana Jean Phoenix” , was one of those early songs. At the time it was called Hope and had different lyrics and melodies. In 2014 I discovered Electric Youth and that is what got me to dive into the Synthwave scene head on. I haven’t looked back since.
How do you feel about the popularity of the Synth Genre as a whole and the new Generation of Producers who keep evolving?
I love it. I think the best thing to happen to Synthwave is the versatile artists bringing something new to the Synthwave world. Don’t get me wrong, I love the cliche outrun type of Synthwave and I even still use it in my music as a major blueprint…but it was time for something new. I think it keeps the scene more interesting. There’s only so many times you can hear the same sound over and over. I think Synthwave has a very good chance of going
mainstream. i guess it already has to an extent. It’s more than just about celebrating the music from the 70s, 80s, 90s. It’s about the aesthetic, the games, comic books, the movies and tv shows, and so much more.
What type of Hardware/Software to you use, do you have a preference?
I use a Behringer Deepmind 12 for live situations. I love it. it gets really close to a Roland Juno 106. Is it a Juno 106? No, but it captures enough of that analog spirit to satisfy me. When recording I use software though. My go to VST synths are U-He Diva, U-He Zebra II, Spectrasonics Omnisphere, Tal Uno LX, and Reveal Sound Spire. I also use Sylenth1, NI Massive, and Serum. Whatever can bring out the creativity. The advantage we have with software synths is unbelievable. Pretty much anything is possible with them. I don’t necessarily have a preference but if I could afford it and have the space I would definitely love to own more hardware synths. There’s just something so satisfying about them tangiblely and musically. Also there is a bit more depth and warmth if that is what you wanna
call it. But when it is in the mix….you probably couldn’t tell the difference between hardware and software by the time you EQ everything.
That was fun! thank you Ashley for this opportunity and for all your ongoing love and
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