Synthwave is a nostalgic, largely instrumental genre of electronic music. We provided a three-part guide to synthwave here. In a new weekly series, we look at songs that have defined the genre and interview the creators behind them.
Michael Elliot is a swiss electronic musician and producer. The founder of June 87 Recordings, his record label named after the month and year of his birth, Michael’s track ‘June 87’ is our focus this week.
Part long-form synthwave track, part techno, ‘June 87’ is a epic sprawling dance tune. We spoke to the man behind the song.
1. What initially got you into synth music?
“A long time ago when I was 7 or 8 years old I met some older kids with a ghetto blaster. It was in the deep 90’s and they listened to some kind of Techno. They were rebels to me, because everyone in the neighbourhood seemed to hate this music.”
“I’d never heard sounds like this before and it’s kinda goofy but I was fascinated. When I was back at my home I tried to find this music on the radio, but back in those days they didn’t play Techno on the radio in Switzerland.”
“In the end my father finally bought me some CD’s, because I was spending hours in front of that radio. My father liked this music too, but he also listened to some artists from the 80’s like Phil Collins, Genesis, Harold Faltermeyer and Rick Astley. Synthetic or electronic music was always around me and it feels natural to me.”
2. How did you come to write ‘June 87’?
“’June 87′ has two meanings for me. Firstly it’s the month and the year I was born. The second meaning is that it’s the name of my own label. I wanted to make a theme song for my label. ‘June 87’ has all the elements that I think is typical for the Michael Elliot sound. It’s a 50/50 combination between Progressive House and Synthwave. I actually come from the Progressive House scene and always had 80’s inspired elements, but in the last years my style changed so much that people labelled it as Synthwave.”
“When I make a new track I usually have like one to two months for one track, because I change so many things and sometimes I start to get bored of the track. My tracks are always in progress. Sometime I delete complete elements like drums and then totally replace them. Before I started ‘June 87’ I wanted to challenge myself and produce the track in two weeks.”
“After ten days my deadline seems to get closer and closer, but something was missing. I was listening to older tracks which I never released, just to get some inspiration. I found a track called ‘Starfox’ and used the lead synth from this track which fitted perfectly in my new track. It’s the lead synth which drops in at the break of ‘June 87’.”
3. This feels like a journey from the late 80s synth music to early 90s dance music – was that your intention?
“I hope not to disappoint, but there’s no real intention. Maybe it’s the fact I really liked these sounds of the older years and it reminds me of my childhood. I love the vibes of the 80’s and I just make the music that I would love to hear.”
4. Is that a dial-up modem I hear?
“Yes it’s a modem from a sample library. It reminded me of the days where you had to connect the internet via the telephone cable. CHHHHHH TUUU BLING BLING. The old days when you had to wait hours to download one track.”
5. If this song could be the soundtrack to any 80’s movie, which one would it be?
“Hmm. Good Question. I really love 80’s movies. It would probably be Back To The Future 2.”
Read our previous Secrets of Synth with Jordan F here.