Interviews

Interview with Lyndon Holland

One of my favourite soundtracks, and a recent obsession of mine, has been the soundtrack to the game Virginia by Lyndon Holland. His soundtrack has had such a great affect on me, and no doubt many others.

Lyndon recently agreed to answer some questions of mine so that we can get more of an understanding of the man behind the music.

The Interview

Please tell us about yourself in as many or as little words as you like.
I’m a pretty normal guy with geeky interests and a strange job, working out of my bedroom in West London.
Growing up, who were your heroes in music?
John Williams, Danny Elfman, Alan Silvestri, Jerry Goldsmith, Nobuo Uematsu
Growing up, who were your heroes outside of music?
Not sure I really had many ‘heroes’ to be honest, but I remember Spielberg movies having a huge affect on me.
What was the first album you remember buying?
Ha, I distinctively remember it being Metallica – …And Justice for All
Was there any defining moment in your life when you knew that you wanted to write music?
I remember being in love with the music to Final Fantasy VIII as a 13 year old. As a result, I started playing around with midi in a basic software package called Noteworthy composer.
Who is your biggest influence in how you approach what you do today?
The way I think about music in relation to narrative developed a lot whilst I attended The National Film and Television School. I couldn’t choose a single individual, but the process of working with like minded people in such a heightened and condensed way for 2 years was as influential as anything else.
What is the proudest moment of your career so far?
Probably all the positive the feedback I have received from people after playing Virginia.
What is your favourite Book?
To Kill a Mockingbird
What is your favourite Album?
Tough one. In terms of music that I keep coming back to, I suppose it could be something like The Beatles – Abbey Road. But ask me another day and it would probably be something different.
What is your favourite Film?
Again, very difficult. I could pick something obscure and meaningful, but instead I will choose something I have watched a million times and never fails to work it’s magic; E.T.
What is your favourite TV Show?
Something like Breaking Bad or House of Cards probably deserves this, but for all it’s faults, I still have a huge place in my heart for Lost.
Do you have a favourite film/tv/game/musical soundtrack?
For the way it works with the picture, I love stuff like Howard Shore’s score to Crash or Jonny Greenwood’s score to There will be blood. But then for listening purposes outside of the film, I dunno, I love The Lion King, and the recent arrangements of Final Fantasy VII in the Final Symphony album.
Are there any new albums you are binge listening to at the moment?
For no real reason in particular, I’ve been listening to The Nightmare Before Christmas a lot recently, ha.
You’re walking somewhere and your mp3 player has only a little battery left; You’ve only got time for one more song. What song do you play?
Pink Floyd – Comfortably Numb
What advice would you give to your younger self?
I’d tell younger self to concentrate on understanding form and structure before attempting any complex orchestration.
If you could ask any person – living or passed – any question, who would it be and what would you ask them?
I’m definitely throwing this question away, but I’d ask Stanley Kubrick if Eyes Wide Shut was his final cut
Do you have any exciting new projects you are working on that you can tell us about?
There are some things in the pipeline, but it’s too early to say anything at this time!
Could you tell us a joke?
“I’ve decided to sell my Hoover… well, it was just collecting dust.”

A big thank you to Lyndon

Thank you, Lyndon for taking the time to answer these questions.

If any of you need convincing to listen to his awesome music, then please do read my write up of the Virginia soundtrack. Or just go and buy it right now.

Games

Bring home the bacon – A review of the game Virginia

One of the marks of a great game is its ability to stay with you long after you’ve finished playing it. Even more so is it’s ability to imprint specific memorable scenes into your mind – surrounding them with feelings that help to bind that scene to your memory. Usually these memorable games are pretty long in length, having time to build up into those moments, however this is not the case with Virginia.

A small game with great depth

Virginia is probably the shortest game I’ve ever played in terms of start to finish, but it’s also one of the games to stay with me the longest after finishing it. One of the many things that Virginia does so well is it’s ability to contain so many iconic scenes compacted into its relatively short time span. And please don’t think I’m mentioning the time span of Virginia as being a negative thing – quite the opposite. The way you need to think of this game is as an interactive film / novel. The story is set and 99% of the actions are inevitable, however giving you full control over performing those actions puts you completely in the mind of the main character.

I have previously praised the music of Virginia, expertly written by Lyndon Holland, so I wont go too much into that again here. All I will say is that the music of Virginia is the game’s heartbeat; it’s skeleton; its very being…

…It kind of has to be when there are no words spoken in the whole game. That’s right, no words are spoken throughout the whole game! The story is driven forward, and the characters thoughts and feelings implied, by the aforementioned music coupled with the unique animation style used.

Sojourners Truth
Sojourners Truth scene from Virginia

Virginia’s Exceptional Style

The artwork for Virginia is just as beautiful as the music that scores it. As you can see from the image above, the game’s scenes are very vibrant-looking with an almost painted aesthetic. It didn’t take much playing until I was wanting real life to look like this – simply put, it is gorgeous. Even the dark dream sequences are full of colour. The use of the photographer’s dark room red is exceptional in one of the games first dream sequences.

The story itself gets trippy and quite cryptic towards the end, in fact most of the game contains cryptic imagery, but it feels cohesive through it’s confusion. Like Twin Peaks, from which Virginia has lovingly taken much inspiration, so too does the story of Virginia not have to be completely understood first time round. Instead it is more than enough to simply soak up the dream-like atmosphere and let the game conjure up whatever feelings it does within you.

Virginia is a unique offering and a great accomplishment for the developers at Variable State, and I eagerly await their next offering.

Songs

Halloween Theme Rework by Perturbator

Growing up, one of my scariest moments was seeing Halloween 3: Season of the Witch. Halloween has turned out to be a big influence on my now-grown-up tastes. I mean, I don’t have urges to kill anybody, but I do have urges to listen to awesome dark synth music and watch the occasion film that will scare the crap out of me.

Today’s Synthwave song is “Halloween Theme Rework” by Perturbator. Enjoy.

Songs

We’re The Same by Priest

Priest are a duo from the U.S. of America and together make some of the most accessible and interesting electronic music at the moment. They not only have a unique sound, but also pop sensibilities that could make them big in the future. “We’re the same” is a song they put out for free a few months back and it’s great! You should also check out their debut album which I wrote about here.

Interviews

Interview with Bad Electric

One of my favourite synth artists of recent times is Bad Electric. His E.P. LUX, which I wrote about previously, is still in my regular circulation.

I reached out to him this week on SoundCloud about answering some of my questions. Below you can read the answers to those questions and get to know him a bit more.

The Interview

Please tell us about yourself in as many or as little words as you like.
I’m a grumpy guy who grew up in rural Pennsylvania during the 1980s . I work in contemporary art galleries in NYC and make music out of my home studio in Brooklyn.
Growing up, who were your heroes in music?
No one in my family was into music when I was a kid. My dad sort-of liked Phil Collins and made a point of it whenever Phil or a Genesis song came on the radio. My Mum had a weird thing for Michael Bolton. My older sisters were jamming Tiffany and Debbie Gibson. I wouldn’t be exposed to good music until junior high when my friend lent me a Pink Floyd mix tape his older brother had made. Later, my goth uncle got me started on the whole 80’s goth kick I’m still on. I was a huge fan of The Cure so Robert Smith would’ve been my biggest hero.
Growing up, who were your heroes outside of music?
I don’t remember having any heroes that were real. Pee-Wee Herman was someone I looked up to.
What was the first album you remember buying?
If I remember correctly, it was a cassette single of The Safety Dance by Men Without Hats
Was there any defining moment in your life when you knew that you wanted to write, record and perform music?
It was while I was at art school. I realized music was way more interesting than art. Even easier in a way. I dropped out and moved to New Orleans in search of my soul.
Who is your biggest influence in how you approach what you do today?
I like to think that I’ve reach a point where I have found my own voice and I’m doing my own thing my own way. David Bowie was my biggest influence most of my adult life. I’ve always felt that Bowie was a catalyst for thousands of musicians. People try to emulate him and his songwriting approach, his eclecticism, his vocal technique, his look, his moves. They’d always come away with their own voice in the end. Anyways, he’s dead now.
What is the proudest moment of your career so far?
Probably my short-lived collaboration with the artist Rita Ackermann. We recorded a few tracks last year that will find their way onto my next EP.
What is your favourite Book?
Phillip K. Dick – The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch
What is your favourite Album?
Iggy Pop – The Idiot
What is your favourite Film?
Withnail & I
What is your favourite TV Show?
The original Twilight Zone
Do you have a favourite film/tv/musical soundtrack?
Anything by John Carpenter.
Are there any new albums you are binge listening to at the moment?
I don’t listen to much new stuff. It’s all rehashed old stuff anymore. Sometimes done very well but unoriginal all the same. That goes for my music too as far as I’m concerned. Alien Sex Fiend has been on heavy rotation ’round here lately.
You’re walking somewhere and your mp3 player has only a little battery left; You’’e only got time for one more song. What song do you play?
Howard Jones – “What is Love?”
What advice would you give to your younger self?
Don’t spend so much time worrying about everything. It always works out. Also, be more confident. Chin-up, buddy.
If you could ask any person – living or passed – any question, who would it be and what would you ask them?
I’d ask someone passed about what happens when we die.
Do you have any upcoming projects you’d like to mention?
I’d like to get another EP out early next year.
Could you tell us a joke?
Dyslexic man walks into a bra.

Thanks

A big thank you to Bad Electric for taking the time to answer those questions. I really can not wait to hear his next E.P. that he mentions above, so you should go and buy his current one now on bandcamp, and help make it happen.

E.Ps

LUX e.p. by BAD ELECTRIC

I set sail a quarter after midnight
Then the ocean dragged me down
I believe I’m beginning to see the light

A_QUARTER_AFTER_MIDNIGHT by BAD ELECTRIC

The LUX E.P. by Bad Electric was my first taste of their music with the opening song, “TON_UP”, grabbing my interest immediately. It has a super catchy and deep synth bass line that I just couldn’t help but love. The vocals too are fantastic. The guy’s voice is very reminiscent of Edwyn Collins mixed with a little bit of Lou Reed and David Bowie.

The next two songs, “MON_NO_AWARE” and “COLLISON” continue the synth sauciness. The former being an instrumental, and the latter having a vocal sound closer to Bowie than the opening.

I love how with some of his songs’ endings, he adds in a surprise little twist too. The fresh synth sound at the end of the hypnotic “MONO_NO_AWARE”; The acoustic guitar that finishes “TON_UP”.

The biggest curve ball however is the E.P.’s closing song, “A_QUARTER_AFTER_MIDNIGHT”. This one is a pretty powerful acoustic song after an otherwise mostly synth collection.

This is definitely an artist I’ll be keeping on my radar. If he can make an E.P. as full and great as this, then a full-length album would be off the charts.

You really should buy the LUX e.p. now from Bandcamp.

Journal

How to make a Pinhead Hellraiser Pumpkin

This year I decided to be a bit more creative with my pumpkin, and tried to emulate an idea I’d seen earlier. The idea was to make my pumpkin look like Pinhead from the film Hellraiser.

Once you’ve de-scalped the pumpkin and removed the insides, as you normally would, cut ‘V-shaped’ channels that follow the pumpkin ridges top to bottom.

Following that, cut similar ridges but this time across the pumpkin to give squares. Then cut the eyes, nose and mouth out as you see fit – get creative.

The penultimate step is to carefully hammer nails in at the cross sections of the ‘V-shaped’ channels, before finally putting your candle inside and lighting it.

Enjoy!