Mellow Fields is an electronic/synthwave producer based out of Montreal, Canada who writes moody music with retro, outrun and vaporwave influences. Check out the interview.
Headphones For Robots: Who is Mellow Fields?
Mellow Fields: Mellow Fields is just my artist name for my synthwave project. There’s no real meaning behind it besides the fact that it was influenced by a classic movie called Brazil.
HFR: How did you start making music? What are your main influences? What were you doing before Mellow Fields?
MF: I’ve been writing and playing music since a very young age. I studied classical piano for about 10 years and began learning other instruments and listening to other genres of music. I’ve played in multiple bands since about the age of 14, but it wasn’t until I was 22 when I decided to buy my very first interface and synthesizer. I’m not really sure what pushed me to start recording, but I liked the idea that I could plug in my instruments at home and record. I think initially it was to get ideas out and collaborate with other musicians and like minded people. I kept recording and learning how to use certain DAWS and downloaded some VST’s, which I think at that point I realized I really enjoyed writing electronic music.
In terms of influences I listen to all sorts of music ranging from progressive metal to pop, some electronic. I guess in terms of specific artists, my top influences would be Justice, Lucy In Disguise, Tonebox, Pertubator, Beach House, The Contortionist, Tycho, Pink Floyd, Chromatics, Kavinsky and Com Truise. I think I can go on forever but those are some artists I can’t stop listening too.
Before Mellow Fields I played in a few progressive math rock and metal bands and mainly just played guitar and piano. I had a lot of fun learning very technical songs, but I think my passion is composing and creating electronic music. I would love to start a project where I play guitar but it has to be with the right people, so until then I’m going to keep writing recording.
HFR: How is the synthwave scene in Canada? Do you have some contacts?
MF: In terms of the scene here, I still am relatively new to the genre and the world of synthwave, but I think there is a decent following. Based on the cities I’ve lived in (Toronto and Montreal), the music scene in general is very diverse. I think when it comes to electronic music synthwave is still a very niche genre, so usually either only really big artists from other cities play here or it’s just a weekly event hosted by clubs. I have more contacts in Toronto than I do in Montreal and there are certain bars/clubs that host electronic nights. I think it’s still growing.
HFR: What is your approach on writing music? Which are the steps you make when songwriting?
MF: This is kind of a hard question to answer because most of the time the inspiration I get is spontaneous. Sometimes I get random inspiration when I’m walking somewhere and I’m nowhere near my studio and equipment and I just have to sing it over and over in my head until I get home. Other times I just play around with different sounds. Most of the stuff I do is analog, so I begin by experimenting and tweaking the sounds on my synths before I move onto VSTs. Usually, I find it’s easiest to build on a song when I have a solid bass line or melody. There was a point where I was writing a song almost a day just to get ideas out, but in the end, I truly only liked a few songs, (which ended up on my E.P). For the most part, it’s just trial and error, getting ideas out until I come up with an entire song. There’s times where I write a melody or only one part, and I come back to the idea a few weeks later and finish that song, and there are other times where I finish writing an entire song in a few hours and leave it. I think the hardest part is to know when to stop working on a song or when it’s finished.
HFR: Could you tell us a bit about your “go to” equipment? What do you use when writing a song and which are your favorite instruments?
MF: Well, my go to equipment are the two main synthesizers I used for my debut E.P, the Novation Basstation 2 and the Novation Ultranova. I love both those synths and they are such powerful machines and at this point, I don’t think I need anything more. I use certain VSTs like Massive, but I just love the sound of analog instruments. It has such a warm sound, but I think VSTS sometimes are a very useful tool to get ideas out. I also own a Roland JP8000, and although I did not use it to record anything on my E.P it was for sure a good instrument/tool to use when trying to get ideas out.
HFR: Can you tell us about your debut EP? When did you start working on it?
MF: I guess to answer this I’ve been writing music for quite some time and released material under a different name. I haven’t released anything for a couple years as I had writers block that really prevented me from being creative. It got frustrating and I think around December 2016 is when I started writing again. I originally wrote a 3 song E.P that took me about a month to write and decided to only share it with close friends and family. I wasn’t fully satisfied with it and I think I was overthinking the final outcome so I decided not to release it. I think I really started writing this debut E.P in February and I finished it by the end of May, so it took me a solid 4 months. I just locked myself in my room and hardly did anything besides work as a bartender and then go home and write until sunrise. It was great and I had so many ideas. I think I wrote like 15 songs in those months and I was only truly happy with the 5 that ended up on the E.P.
This E.P means quite a bit to me because I think I’ve reached an important milestone as a producer and musician. I stopped overthinking and just wrote. I was listening to a lot of different artists at this time and I would analyze every detail from the rhythm section to the melodies, whether it was simple or complex and try to apply that to what I was writing. I think the most important thing I had to overcome was getting over the thought about what other people will think of my music and just write for myself. I guess I stopped caring. I was also going through quite a hard time in my life, with lots of drastic changes and things I’ve never dealt with before, and I guess it really forced me to sit down and create something I could truly be happy with. I wanted to create work that was an extension of my physical self, and I think I did that through this release. I’m using the same attitude now for any future releases because I was truly happy when I was writing this E.P. I’m really glad to hear other people enjoying it, but I was just excited that I’m finally writing again.
HFR: What can you tell us about the illustration of your EP? (its meaning and the creation process)
MF: In terms of the illustration I just had a concept in my mind and I reached out to Derek Rudy (check out his work because he’s awesome), and pretty much he had the creative control over the process. Basically the meaning of the E.P was about someone who was looking for purpose in their life and they seemed to be living in a world where they couldn’t tell whether they were living in a dream, or whether their life was reality until they found “God” and what I mean by ‘god” is that I think the concept of god is different for everyone and it has no specific connection to a religion. But anyway that’s pretty much what I wrote to Derek, and I sent him some music as a reference and we just kept in touch for the next few months with the process.
HFR: Mellow Fields in a near future? Are there any shows coming up within 2017?
MF: Currently I have one show coming up in 2017, which is in Toronto at Handlebar with a bunch of awesome acts, and I’m very excited to play this. I haven’t played a show in a while and I’m excited to work on getting my live setup together. I’m hoping to travel to other parts of Canada/U.S but I think my main focus is just writing and growing as a musician and producer. I’m hoping to release another E.P by the end of the year and start writing an album. I’m hoping to collaborate with other musicians and vocalists and see where things go. What I can tell you for now is that the newer stuff I’m writing is a lot slower than this release. I’m not going to give myself a strict deadline so if I don’t feel like it’s right to release more music by the end of this year, then so be it.
HFR: Last words?
MF: Yeah!!! This E.P was mixed and mastered by Tonebox, who honestly writes awesome music himself and without his help, I don’t think my E.P would have been sounding this good. If you want awesome cover art done, contact Derek Rudy and visit his website http://derekrudy.com. Thanks!
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