Think of the 1970s. Perhaps what comes to mind is a home adorned with lacquered furniture and the soft beat of a disco track creating an unmistakable ambience. For me, nothing says ’70s like prog rock and, towards the end of the decade, synthwave music. These are the two styles that come together and sparkle in VA7’s music.
You mention being pretty new to making synthwave music but it looks like you already have a lot of listeners on SoundCloud! How has your experience been so far?
It’s been a great experience so far. Ever since I started making synthwave music, I have gained a lot of new followers on SoundCloud and most of them seem to be synthwave artists and general fans of the genre. I can tell by their logos, generic ‘80s-inspired images with triangles, gradients, etc. As a side note, I have noticed many of them are from France, as I guess the scene is big over there.
What are you working on right now? I believe you also have a rock project alongside VA7?
Yes, I have a lot on my plate as always. I just finished an album with my Toronto-based prog rock band Centrifuge, but the album is in the mixing process, so it may be a while before it gets finished. I also have an online collaboration band called The ID. We make neo progressive music mostly inspired by Genesis and IQ. I am very proud of the music I do with them, however the production quality could be improved. Here is the Bandcamp for that project.
Mixing synthwave and prog rock is an interesting blend, I love how your music is very guitar-led. What would you say attracts you to those classic sounds in particular?
I am a guitarist first, and keyboard player second I guess. So, I always try to put in hooky guitar leads and riffs when I can. I always try to blend guitar and synth on every song I do. Only guitar or only synth would be a bit boring for me. I like that contrast of different tones. I personally love the sound of late ‘70s classic and prog rock, that era when polyphonic keyboards were brand new. I try to capture a lot of that retro flavour in my music.
That was definitely an exciting time for music. Toronto must also be a very exciting place to be making any kind of music. Do you think it’s easy to find your niche there?
I think it’s like any other city. Lately, it’s getting better as Toronto has grown in size, and many exciting acts have been touring here. I always thought London, England would be better for me because of all the progressive bands based there, but now with the internet, I guess I can reach anybody with my music. As a side note, I also lived in Tokyo, Japan for around 10 years off and on. There is a great music scene over there too.
London definitely has a lot of interesting niches! Would you say you have any particular ambitions with your music in the future?
I would love it if one of my rock bands took off to the point where we could tour. Also, it would be exciting to tour with my synthwave project, but I wonder if it would be more DJ-based instrumentation, or more of a live band thing. Anyway, that would be exciting in any form.
What do you like to do outside of making music?
I love being in nature, camping, and enjoy riding off-road motorcycles, and ATVs. Also, with my kids, I have gotten back into radio-controlled vehicles.
Finally, could you tell me a bit about the sources you draw on to make music? Are there particular artists, games, films or anything else that inspire you?
Well, that’s easy. On the rock side, my favourite bands in order as of now are IQ, Genesis, Rush, Marillion, Camel, and countless other prog and neo progressive bands. On the synthwave side, in no particular order as I am new to the scene, I like Carpenter Brut, Dynatron, Lazerhawk, Mitch Murder, and on and on.
Also, I must say I love Vangelis, and his brilliant work on Blade Runner, my number one inspiration for getting into synthwave music in the first place.
You can find VA7 on SoundCloud.