Secrets of Synth: ‘City of Ghosts’ by Crockett

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By Jack

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.

Crockett hails from Boston (not Miami) and has been producing sublime synth music for a little while now. His album City of Ghosts caught my attention earlier this year.

City of Ghosts is a fantastic album, an exercise in mood and ambience, produced with a sophistication rarely found in the synth scene. Here keytar solos, stomping drum machines and chugging bass are thrown out in favour of a lithe, smoky electronic sound.

This week we focus on the title track from the album and ask Crockett how it came to be.

1. How did you get into synth music?

“I had been messing around with different genres for a few years before I discovered synthwave. I bounced around from trance to house to DNB and drumstep just trying to improve my production skills. I came across Timecop1983 one day randomly and I was hooked.”

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“I had heard some “retro” sounding music before, like Lenno’s ‘Rebirth’, but I had no idea there was a whole genre and scene devoted to the 80s. Once I discovered Timecop and some of the other artists, I was hooked and wanted to start creating it myself.”

2. How did you come to write the track City of Ghosts?

“The title track came from me messing around with different samples/synths trying to get that slap bass sound. I love that pop noise of a slap bass, so I was trying to develop a bassline that I could incorporate it into.”

“The original bassline was much more simple, but I used that as a base and started adding more notes here and there and messing with the groove. It got me bobbing my head when I added the drums, and it just made me think of someone walking down a street alone at night. That’s when I knew I had something that would set the tone for the rest of the album.”

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3. Was it a difficult track to record or did it come together easily?

“Once I got the bassline down, it came together very easily. The e-piano fit really well in the mix with the bass and I knew I wanted a “noir-ish” type horn sound, so I created the little lead patch in a synth. In the background there is a pad sound very low in the mix, but with a ton of reverb to add to the ambience. I feel like the title track sets the mood for what’s coming.”

4. I love how restrained and moody this album is. Was that your intention?

“Absolutely. There is a story…but it’s less linear than The Heist (Crockett’s first album). With The Heist you could follow along with the songs and track titles almost like it was a movie, at least that was my intention. City of Ghosts is a sequel to that. The main character was double-crossed and was able to get away to this remote city, but he is far away from his family and working through everything that happened.”
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“I wanted to convey this feeling of loneliness and introspection, as the character is in hiding. The Heist was more in your face…City of Ghosts was meant to be more subdued and somber. In the end he decides it’s not worth hiding anymore, and so ‘Out of the Shadows’ is kind of a lead up to part 3, where he goes to get some payback…”

5. If this could be the soundtrack to any 80’s movie, which one would it be?

City of Ghosts of course, the greatest 80’s movie ever made.

Crockett’s album City of Ghosts is streaming on New Retro Wave and is available to download here.

Read our previous Secrets of Synth with Michael Elliot here.

 

 

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