AMA with Tommy ’86
SinnieOnFire: Why Night Vibes is so underrated despite being a collab with James? Really, really love this track and it feels like no one knows about it.
Tommy ’86: I think it’s due to the fact that this track is pretty old – it was made in 2012 – and when this track was made, Perturbator was not as well known as today. But it’s wrong to say no one knows “Night Vibes”. This track has got a small success when it was released, and I’m sure a few people still remembers/listens to the track.
OS1967: I was curious about the transition you seem to be making from more ethereal music (like Aurora) to darker music (like your upcoming album Transhumanism). What brought this shift about? And when you’re composing these different kinds of music, do you have different inspirations for them?
Tommy ’86: I know the transition between Aurora and Transhumanism may seem a bit brutal, ha ha! When I start working on a new album, I want it to sound differently from the previous ones. I’m always looking to experiment new things, to evolve my style. “Transhumanism” unveils a new side of myself, much darker! I listen to a lot of different kinds of music, such as synthwave, darksynth, 90’s classic house, pop rock, etc, and my inspiration comes from (almost) all of these kinds. Before doing “Transhumanism”, I listened to a lot of darksynth stuffs and a bit of heavy metal. It gave me a lot of ideas, which brought me to work on a darker album.
Ouroboros_BlackFlag: There is such a strong Italo Disco vibe in your music, do you have some favorite Italo songs?
Tommy ’86: Yes, you’re right! I was influenced a lot by Italo-Disco in my previous work. That mix of disco/Synth-pop/new wave is something I love, more than Synthwave in general. If I should make an Italo-Disco playlist, I would choose some tracks of Kano (“Cosmic Voyager” or “Another Life” for example), and the instrumental version of “A Dog In The Night” by Mr. Master. This is one of my favorites tracks, all genres included!
Ouroboros_BlackFlag: in a previous Interview, Perturbator was talking about some consanguinity between the Outrun artists and the similarities between their music. How do you cope with this situation?
Tommy ’86: Interesting question! I fully agree with Perturbator. Today, there are many artists in this synthwave scene which are stuck in the 80’s. They always trying to get something that sounds 80’s as much as possible and always use the same clichés: Miami beaches, cars, palm trees, girls, etc. All too often, albums sounds the same! It was never my vision of the 80’s and I always tried to make the difference. I’m no longer consider myself as part of this scene. An artist must always evolve his style. If tomorrow, synthwave disappears, I don’t want to fall with the scene.
acdcfanbill: What kinds of music do you listen to? Has working with Blood Music gotten you into heavier stuff?
Tommy ’86: I listen to a lot of different kinds of music: synthwave, darksynth, 80’s pop, disco, funk, 90’s classic house (and even acid house), nu-disco, pop rock (french or international), alternative or electro-rock. I don’t listen to heavy metal in general. It’s not really my favorite kind of music, even if there are a few bands I like, Ghost B.C. and Metallica for example. And nope, I started working on heavier stuff before working with Blood Music. When I joined the label, “Transhumanism” was already well advanced.
oozingmachismo: Have you ever thought of working with more singers, or even rappers?
Tommy ’86: Not really. I always liked doing instrumental tracks. But it does not mean I won’t work anymore with singers. Working with Sally Shapiro was great and we did a really good track together. However, I never thought of working with rappers, probably because I don’t really like (french) rap. But I’ll be curious to hear a rap version of one of my tracks 🙂
BreakfastWithReddit: What made you get into darksynth for your latest album?
Tommy ’86: As an artist, I’m always trying to evolve my style, by experimenting new things. I already did a few dark tracks on my first album (“Outer Space Adventurer”), and I wanted to try to make an album entirely dark. I experimented with distortion. I took me one year to make “Transhumanism”. For the next albums, I’ll continue to try new things.
BreakfastWithReddit: How do you like working with Blood Music?
Tommy ’86: Well, that was not easy in the beginnings, but I recognize Blood Music helped me a lot on “Transhumanism”. Today, I don’t regret my choice to join this great label. I’m also very happy to be on the same label than GosT, Perturbator and Dan Terminus! It’s such an honor!
BreakfastWithReddit: What are your influences/inspirations for your music?
Tommy ’86: Influences and inspirations are very large! I listen to a lot of different kinds of music and I took my inspirations in these kinds. I can mention some artists that are influential for me: Jean-Michel Jarre, Kraftwerk, College, Maethelvin, Kano, Lifelike, Daft Punk, Phoenix. Of course, Perturbator, Dan Terminus, GosT or Carpenter Brut starts to influence me a bit.
Bender411: Soon you will be part of gig with Perturbator, GosT and Dynatron. Would you like to go on tour? What countries/cities would you like to play live?
Tommy ’86: Going on tour is very exciting. But, first, I want to focus on some dates in France and Europe before touring. I don’t have any preference about countries or city where I could play. Maybe Montréal… 🙂
Bender411: What you listening lately? Any bands to check out(any genre)?
Tommy ’86: Lately, I listened to the latest GosT album. I think this album is one of the best retro synth albums of the year, with “The Uncanny Valley”. I’ve also listened to the latest single of Justice. It’s more disco/funk oriented, but I like it anyway. And the clip is amazing! If you’re curious to hear some of the bands I listen to, here is a list: – Phoenix, a famous French electro/rock/alternative band. Their latest album “Bankrupt!” is pure gold; – New Musik, one of my favorites bands. It was a British electronic-oriented pop music band in the early 80’s. They only released 3 great albums, which perfectly mixes the typical British 70’s rock sound with electronic; – Autumn, a belgian synthpop band. It is thanks to them that I discovered something I call “Minimal synth”. This band (and many others related bands) is characterized by the minimalism of their sound: a drum machine, a bassline, some pads or strings and the magic happens! You can also check “Deux” or “Linear Movement”.
Bender411: What was your first album you bought/get?
Tommy ’86: The first album I’ve got was “Homework” by Daft Punk. This album represents almost all of my musical roots. It’s still my favorite album from the duo, even if I love the next 3 albums.
smacksaw: I swear this is totally serious: Were you listening to cats when you did Back to Basics?
Tommy ’86: I love cats too but no, I was not listening to cats when I did “Back To Basics”. For the remix, I leave that to someone else to make one 🙂
sordidson: What are some of your favorite artists? What artists do I really need to check out?
Tommy ’86: I have many favorite artists. Perturbator, Carpenter Brut, Dan Terminus, and GosT, of course 🙂 But I also like College, Maethelvin, Daft Punk, Lifelike, Sferro, Jean-Michel Jarre, Kraftwerk, Perturbator, Carpenter Brut, GosT, Dan Terminus, and many more. If you want to waste time checking out some other artists/bands I like, here is a small list: Phoenix, New Musik, Autumn, Linear Movement, Dallas Campbell, Space (not the english indie band), Rockets, Stereo.
LameRobot: Sonuvagun and Aurora are among my favorite songs! You were one of the first artists I found in the synthwave genre. What led you to synthwave and what did you do before?
Tommy ’86: The Tommy ’86 project started in 2011. Before doing synthwave, I just did electronic music and there was no specific genre. Sometimes it was ambient, sometimes it was house, etc. I started doing synthwave in 2012 after discovering College and his “Secret Diary”. For me, it was a musical snap. I was very impressed by his work. He can do so much with very little: a bassline, drums, some leads here and there, and the magic happens! Then I made “Flyin'”, “Somewhere” and others cool tracks. I quickly made a name for myself in the synthwave scene. And today, I’m entering upon a new chapter in my career by joining the darkside of synthwave 🙂 And all I can say is that the best is yet to come for me!
NekomimiNinja: What are your favourite synthy tracks from back in the days, and are there any artists or specific tracks you feel have been especially influential on your own style?
Tommy ’86: ManVSGame contributed a bit to my success! He was a big fan of my previous label “Girlfriend Records” and he’s also one of my biggest fans. Since I listen to a lot of different kinds of music, the list of my favorites tracks would be huge! But I can mention: – “My Secret Romance” and “The Scarlett Empress” by College; – the instrumental version of “A Dog In The Night” by Mr Master; – “Cosmic Voyager” by Kano; – “En Route Vers De Nouvelles Aventures” by Telex; – “Synthesize” by Autumn; – “The Last Escape” by Maethelvin; – “There’s No Love Highway” by the one and only Perturbator; There’s a lot of artists that influenced me (and still influences me) a lot: Jean-Michel Jarre, Kraftwerk, College, Maethelvin, Daft Punk, Phoenix, Sferro, Tangerine Dream, Telex, Kano, New Musik, Lifelike and Kris Menace. The list is not exhaustive, it’s possible that I forgot some others artists 🙂
BlueSummit: What hardware do you use if any? Also what programs do you use for mixing and mastering?
Tommy ’86: I use mostly hardware synth now. I mainly use a Novation Mininova, which was the only synth I’ve used to make “Transhumanism”. I’m also using some VST effects and Ableton Live for both making tracks and doing live sets. I will say no more! 🙂
ArbitraryAlex: What is the best way to get into making music? What equipment do you use?
Tommy ’86: Well, it’s not an easy task. You need a lot of patience, motivation, inspiration and, or course, imagination. First, choose a DAW and learn how to use it. I won’t tell you which DAW is the best, try them all. There are tons of tutorials on the web for each DAW. Choose the one you’re the most comfortable with. Experiment it, play with it, and try to make your first tracks! I suggest first to take your inspirations from the artists you like. Then try to make your own style! Try to sound different from the others! For information, I use Ableton Live on a MacBook Pro with some hardware synths and an external audio interface.
TYLER_NORWOOD: What type of DAW you use? FL Studio like many other synthwave producers or is it something different?
Tommy ’86: Nope, I don’t use FL Studio at all, but Ableton Live. I tried FL many times but I was never able to produce something. It’s said here and there that FL has the most intuitive user interface and is perfect for beginners. It’s probably true when FL Studio is your first DAW. It was not my case, mine was Synapse Orion. When I used FL Studio for the first time, I felt that its UI was a mess (it was my personal opinion, of course). I said the same thing for Ableton BTW 😀