Shane Keizer is a synthwave musician from Enschede in the Netherlands. His new EP, Plug and Play, is just out today and is free to download. He spoke to me about how he creates his music, his influences and what he thinks about the progression of music from the ‘80s to today.
Hi Shane! What are you working on currently?
I’m currently working on a synthwave EP. This EP will be very special for me because it will be the first synthwave EP I release. But not only that, I have spent months in my studio making short tunes and experimenting with a lot of different sounds to create the sound that best fits me. Besides synthwave I’ve also spent some time composing hybrid orchestral action music, with string pianos, voices and the list goes on!
I used to start my music with a massive blank preset and work from there… The thing with orchestral music is that you have all the sounds already so it’s more about composing. That’s something I needed to work on to get my music to the next level. Once I got that under my belt I started creating synthwave music.
Besides music I’m also working on marketing myself and getting my music out there. Me being on this blog is a result of that, for which I am grateful!
How did you first get into synth music?
When I was a kid, I went to one of my friend’s houses who owned a PlayStation. He had a game called Music 2000… This wasn’t really a game, more a music sequencer but I was hooked the moment I had my hands on the controller. After a while I completely forgot about it… And it went out of my mind completely until I saw Fruity Loops (which is now known as FL Studio).
I’ve always been fascinated by how producers made music and I wanted to learn it myself as well. At that moment I didn’t see all the possibilities Fruity Loops had to offer and I was really bad at it. But, my excitement for creating music never left me. I wanted to learn more and more, I started creating my own sounds and made a lot of dubstep. After a while I experimented with other genres and synthwave is the one that stuck with me.
What’s the music scene like in the Netherlands? Is it a good place to be hearing and making synthwave music?
There are a lot of opportunities for a producer in the Netherlands. There are many schools teaching sound design, mixing and whatever you like. I never went to such a school so I learned everything myself, in my own time. I think that because of this, I have my own unique sound not shaped by outside opinions.
In my eyes, and I may be wrong, synthwave isn’t that big here in the Netherlands. There are a lot of underground dubstep and drum and bass scenes here though. The only Dutch guy that I know who has a big foot in the synthwave world is known as Luigi Donatello, but he’s not a producer. Any place is a good place to hear synthwave though, whether you live in the Netherlands or America, haha.
I’m genuinely obsessed with your song Transmission, it’s incredibly catchy and I feel it also has a kind of dark mood to it. Could you tell me a bit about the thought process that went into making that track?
Transmission was one of the first official synthwave tracks that I created. After experimenting with the style a lot I decided to put all my gathered knowledge in a full-length track. I wanted the track to have a serious yet catchy feel, like something intense is about to happen, something special and unique.
I can’t really describe what goes through me when I create music, usually I just do something and it flows from there… I remember when I was working on this track and I started messing around with the guitars, that I was so happy about how it all came together that I started cheering like a monkey who just discovered an infinite amount of bananas. Music is what I create when I want to forget about everything that goes on around me. Sometimes it leads to crazy moments of happiness, excitement and fulfilment.
Do you have any opinions on how music has developed from the ‘80s to now? Is it better, worse?
That is a really tough question… The music from the ‘80s was really cool, not because of the sounds that they used or the arrangements they chose, but because almost every track had a theme and everything in the music was based around this theme.
The whole essence of storytelling is lost a little bit, not only through vocals but through the music itself. A lot of producers just copy and paste other producers. And the amount of the same presets that I hear in music nowadays is making me a little bit sad. Where has the whole expression of oneself gone? Not saying that it’s lost completely, it’s just that you will have to search harder for it now.
Famous producers and artists get milked by the music industry as well, hearing the same thing over and over gets boring after a while. Anyway, in short, music has developed in a better way, but also worse. The amount of music has increased exponentially over the past few decades.
There is a lot of competition and if you want to stand out you will have to market yourself a lot and create something unique that doesn’t sound like complete garbage. But, that is just my humble opinion. There are way more options now than that they had in the ‘80s. Nowadays you can have full-blown orchestras on your computer… They probably dreamt of stuff like that back in the ‘80s.
Do you have any main influences in your work, whether other music, films, games, etc.?
Everything is my influence, just today my stomach was making weird noises… I thought, “Hey, how would I go about creating that in my DAW?” Haha. Other than that, I search music that fits my mood. Sometimes I just want to relax, play some video games and have music on in the background. Other times I grab a tune I really like and I listen to all the sounds that were used and how I would go about re-creating them.
Besides that I really like how Current Value produces his sounds, Seamlessr was also a huge influence for me at one stage. Also the UK TV show Utopia has a really awesome soundtrack (by Cristobal Tapia de Veer). A couple of years ago I went to see the movie Sinister, a horror flick, and the music in it was what made that movie work in my eyes.
JunkieXL also made a brilliant soundtrack for the movie Mad Max: Fury Road. The sound design was also top notch in that one. Seriously, if you search for all of these I’ve mentioned, you will see how diverse my main influences are.
In the synthwave world, I don’t really listen to full-length albums of producers. Usually there’s one track I find really cool and I save that one to my playlist on YouTube. For me, it all depends on the music and not on the person making it.
Oh, I completely forgot about Timecop1983, he is also a synthwave producer from the Netherlands! Haven’t had the chance to meet him yet but he is also an influence to me… His track Let’s Talk (feat. Josh Dalley) is awesome, can’t get enough of that one!
Also Arcade Summer is an influence for me, awesome original music and he makes his synthwave on a DAW that is out-dated by five years. He’s an awesome guy who helped me out with marketing a lot in the past. He’s not from the Netherlands though but shout outs to him anyway!
Awesome! Last question: Do you have a favourite memory from your music career so far?
Hmm, honestly, I’m thinking about it… And no, I don’t really have a favourite memory of my music career so far. I think that’s because my music career is still in the early stages. What I want to do in the future is create music for movies/games… My goal has always been to see my name at the end of a movie in the credits at the cinema.
I am thankful for everyone who is supporting me in my journey so far and you for wanting me in your music blog! I spent a great amount of time thinking of the answers to these questions and I am honoured you asked me to be in your blog!
Thank you so much, Shane! It’s been wonderful hearing about your process and influences.