Sportello has just released his first proper EP “Vigilante”.
We had the chance to chat with the German producer.
Check out the interview.
Headphones For Robots: Who is Sportello? Where does that name come from?
Sportello: Hi there and first of all thanks for having me on your site and doing this interview.
“Doc” Sportello is the main character of Thomas Pynchon’s novel “Inherent Vice”. I am a fan of Pynchon’s works in general and though “Inherent Vice” is rather atypical for him (pretty straightforward story, not that many characters) it is my favorite work by him. And one of my favorite books ever. It is the noir kind of atmosphere, the LA beach setting, the end of the psychedelic era and his weird kind of humor. And to me, it perfectly matches with synthwave.
HFR: What’s the earliest memory you have of music? How did you end up making music yourself?
S: That “earliest memory” question is a tough one. I think it was some kind of tape my parents bought me, on which kids were doing cover-songs of pop-songs of the time. With different lyrics, dealing with children topics. It is a cloudy memory though. Could not tell a specific song.
Back when I was around 12 or 13 I had a tape with synth-music (there were those cheap compilations around, compiling only synth music of the time) that I really liked so my parents got me a simple keyboard and I started to take piano lessons. But soon after I began playing the piano heavy-metal hit me really hard and it was all about guitars from then on. Started to play in a band with friends from school in the mid 90ies and been playing in hardcore, metal and rock bands since then.
HFR: What are a few major musical influences on Vigilante, your first EP that would surprise people? What about non-musical influences, like films or books?
S: “Inherent Vice”, the book, is a huge influence for the whole project. Musically there is a lot of 80ies metal inspiration. Just like in the pop music of the time there is a lot of finesse to be found in the songwriting. It may sound simple but on closer inspection, it is really fine crafted. Movies like Raw Deal, Commando, Cobra, Blue Thunder … all those 80ies action movies are a huge inspiration too. Not that much of surprise though.
HFR: What is your approach on writing music? Which are the steps you make when songwriting?
S: Neil Young said something like you cannot force the muse to bless you with her appearance. She decides for herself when to appear and when not. That may sound like some new-age stuff to some, but to me, this is very true. There are times when an idea for a song pops up every day and then there are times when I cannot write for weeks. There are some things I learned throughout the years.
First is “You cannot force it.”, which is pretty much what Mr. Young said. You may have techniques to get your creative juices flowing and all that, but it is not the same as when inspiration really hits you from within.
And the second thing is “When it hits you, go with the flow and use it.”. There are guitars and countless pieces of paper with hastily written notes and chords on it scattered around the house because an idea for a song popped up in my mind. My wife hates it. But I got to get those ideas out of my head quickly so I play them on the guitar for a few times and write them down then. Later I pick them up again and rework them into songs.
HFR: Could you tell us a bit about your “go to” equipment? Do you work inside or outside the box?
S: Besides the guitars , all music is done 100% in the box. And about 90% of the software used is freeware. There are some amazing free synths out there, like Dexed, Synth1 and PG8x. Same goes for EQs and compressors. Tokyo Dawn Labs has some fantastic plugins that I use on almost every track. And Reaper is my DAW of choice. Not free, but their licensing is super fair priced and the product is top notch.
HFR: What can we see in a crystal ball for Sportello?
S: My crystal ball is a low budget one with a very cloudy view, but I can see a new EP in the works, which will be out this year. And there might be another single as well. A cover song which may surprise a few people and which may or may not feature vocals. That is pretty much all I can see through all that smoke.
HFR: Last words?
S: Again thanks for having me on your page and doing this interview. Hope people will enjoy “Vigilante”. Cheers.