AMA with Arcade High
ABeautifulLife95: Who is and what is your biggest inspiration in both the synthwave genre and other influences ?
Arcade High [Ryan]: Tons of stuff…for a while there we were listening to straight Yacht Rock. No joke. But for our latest album we we’re grooving to some Futurebass stuff, especially on Monstercat. Love those guys. In terms of Synthwave — I’m a big fan of Mitch, The Midnight, my buddy Perturbator, Billboard, Chromeo, Kavinsky and College of course…for me personally, there’s so many artists that got me into this stuff.
Arcade High [Patrick]: Proooobably should’ve seen this question coming and had it prepared. First off, thank you very much for the kind words! Funky is always a positive.
It’s hard for me to tighten my inspiration down to just the synthwave genre, so I’ll say that it’s an awkward mix of Chromeo, Betty Who, The Knocks, BETABLOCK3R, Madeon, Porter Robinson, Billboard, The Midnight… When I can think of more, I may update this.
SquidTheSid: How did you guys and Perturbator meet?
Arcade High [Ryan]: Perturbator used to be the co-owner of Aphasia Records along with Lueur Verte. Aphasia was the net label that picked me up when I was just getting started, so I used to chat with James (Perturbator) all the time when I was just starting out. That was back in the Nocturne City EP days. Super cool dude.
SquidTheSid: Wow, didn’t know that Perturbator co-owned Aphasia, especially considering that he works for Blood Music now.
Arcade High [Ryan]: Yeah! If I understand it correctly, Perturbator started that label with Leuer Verte. We are currently with Telefuture Records and have been for a couple years now. We aren’t against moving to a new label, but Telefuture has been amazing to us. Also, no one else has approached us otherwise!
SquidTheSid: Any up-and-coming artists that you think are worth paying attention to?
Arcade High [Ryan]: The Midnight has been doing some amazing things. I’ve been rocking out to Billboard lately, and I never seem to see him anywhere. Satchmode is another artist I love, but isn’t necessarily in the scene per se. To be completely honest, there’s a lot of repetition in the scene, so when I hear an artist that stands out to me, I really take notice. I detached myself from Synthetix a few years back due to a lot of drama going on there, so I haven’t been keeping super up to date with new stuff.
Arcade High [Patrick]: Hard to say, as it’s hard for me to give new music a chance, and I’ve had my nose up against a DAW for the past 18 months. I’d say The Doobie Brothers have something good going for them, should be uphill from here.
My jokes are so bad.
HarbingersRequiem: If you could work with any artist (living or dead, and not strictly music), who would you go to? Or would you have like a “super team”?
Arcade High [Ryan]: Toto, Doobie Brothers, and Michael Jackson
Arcade High [Patrick]: If it had to be related to Arcade High work, I’d create some frustratingly clustered supergroup involving Starcadian, Bit Shifter, HOME, Maybe Haywyre or Lemaitre.
If it could be any genre, I’d create some kind of Prog Rock group with Jon Theodore drumming, Jordan Rudess on keys, Devin Townsend on Guitar, and I’d take the bass. And they would question what they’re doing with a hack bassist like myself.
DynamitePotato: I recently started listening to your music and i wanted to ask you how would you define exactly your music, and if you want to you guys could tell me what are your favourites videogames of your childhood.
Arcade High [Ryan]: I always just called it Synthwave, but some like to call us Chiptune as well which isn’t 100% accurate since we don’t circuit bend…Synthwave always seemed like a fair catch-all due to the retro influence. Sega Genesis was my first system, but I love all of them. Zelda 64, Sonic (of course), Toe Jam and Earl, Quack Shot, Metal Gear Solid…I don’t even know where to begin. I grew up with a lot of PC games — Doom, Quake, Duke Nukem. I still remember being about 6 years old and my dad taking me out of a musical that was boring me and popped open his laptop and showed me Doom for the first time. Changed my life.
Arcade High [Patrick]: You should hear me try to explain it to the uninformed. “Uhhh.. So, it’s like this 80’s electronic revival…dance…funk thing, interlaced with sounds that remind us of the videogames that filled our childhoods.”
But my better answer would have to be “It’s music for people that want to dance and be happy.”
Favorite videogames of my childhood? Super-Punch Out, anything Mario, Uniracers, Donkey Kong Country trilogy. The SNES is when I really started to play, I suppose.
HarbingersRequiem: What is each of your favorite/preferred approach to making songs?
Arcade High [Patrick]: Simultaneously beat box and sing horrid sounds into Ryan’s ear.
It was a little weird for us to learn how to write together. For a while, we would just start with a scratch percussion track and lay chords over it. Then, we’d just mutate that over and over with different embellishments until it took on something completely new. Sometimes, the song would write itself once something clicked. Other times, we’d suddenly find the track had no structure and we’d kill it off for being too weird.
Arcade High [Ryan]: We can’t even begin to count how many tracks we’ve killed that way…
Arcade High [Ryan]: We are constantly evolving that process. Pat and I have been working together for about a year and a half now and it’s always changing. Typically we sit down and start with an influence track, I’ll usually lay down a basic drum beat, Pat then drops some bass onto it, then we go back and forth adding different synths. For this latest album, we’ve been really focusing on finding the hook of our song, something for the listener to attach to.
PullapartBoy: Any plans for a vinyl release?
Arcade High [Ryan]: We want to! Super bad… we spoke with our label manager about it at length, and it’s apparently a 6 month turn around time. Maybe if our newest album is popular enough we can do a vinyl release. 🙂 The album art, created by a buddy of mine, Derek Rudy, was made with vinyl in mind.
Arcade High [Patrick]: We thought about it, but if I recall correctly, there’s about a 6 month turnaround time. As time went on, I think we both felt that we just needed to get the album out. It’s our first as a duo, so we had to fight the urge not to drag our feet.
JSchirmacher: Do you guys have any plans on doing another song with the female who sang in Heat Wave?
Arcade High [Ryan]: It’s definitely not off the table! Morrisa was a student at the University I attended. I do know she would love to collab again. We like to try to change it up and work with different artists with each release. She has an amazing voice and we were able to use the recording studio at the school to record her vocal which was awesome.
Arcade High [Patrick]: Could be fun! By chance, she was performing in Brooklyn the same time we were after it’s release, and she was able to tag up with us and perform it! That was Low-Level 2014. They recently announced Low-Level 2016, I kinda really want to be there one way or another.
Arcade High [Ryan]: To that I say hard work and persistence. Literally doing something over and over again, even when you know it might not be that good. The thought of knowing what you do next will be better should drive you to move forward. I feel a lot of people who end up in that rut are people who don’t have the patience and drive to actually practice something until they get good at it.
A lot of people over the years would look at me or Patrick and think, look how talented they are (lolz) and how much they’ve accomplished (which really isn’t that much haha), but Pat and I have been doing music in one way or another since we were young kids. Honestly, we just found something that we loved and put our hearts and souls into it. As I’ve always said, if you build it, they will come. Eventually…
Arcade High [Patrick]: It feels good to be done, it feels great knowing that we’ll be playing Phoenix and New York before summer even hits, it will feel amazing if our music helps somebody to enjoy their lives, if even for a moment.
KingOfTheGutter: Do you have Pabst Blue Ribbon on your mind Ryan?
Arcade High [Ryan]: Always! Lol
Arcade High [Patrick]: Im about to have some in my hand.
HarbingersRequiem: Are YOU bad enough?
Arcade High [Ryan]: Yeah, we’re pretty bad at Bubble Bobble.
Arcade High [Patrick]: I feel like I am. Depends on the day, really.
s1l1c0n3: Hi Ryan I’ll see you at work tomorrow
Arcade High [Ryan]: I don’t know who you are, but if this is Bobby, I <3 you.
Arcade High [Patrick]: I dont work with you?!
Wait, I’m not Ryan. 🙁