Shikimo, a synthwave producer from Iowa, has just released Umbra Complex, an album with 10 tracks of Space Wave music.
We’re glad he accepted to answer a few questions.
Check out the interview!
Headphones For Robots: Who is Shikimo? Where do you come from? Where do you live?
Shikimo: I was born and raised in Iowa in the United States, and still reside there today. The name is actually Japanese, and roughly translates to “colorblind” – I took four years of Japanese language/culture in high school, and since I am colorblind, it just made sense.
HFR: How did you start making music? Could you tell us a bit about your influences?
S: I started playing the piano back in elementary school, then began playing the upright bass starting in middle school. Bass became a passion of mine, and I played the instrument in orchestras all through high school.
One day back in 2009 a friend of mine introduced me to electronic music. I immediately fell in love, and decided to try a hand at producing my own since I had a background of other instruments – it pretty much took off from there.
HFR: You have just released Umbra Complex, an album of 10 tracks. I feel it is space synthwave. What do you think? Where does this project come from?
S: Definitely! I would call the genre of the album as a whole spacewave – a sort of mesh of classic synthwave, and sci-fi-themed ambient/chill/downtempo music.
The project is heavily influenced by media such as Bladerunner (both original and 2049), cyberpunk themes, and artists such as Noah B and Dynatron.
HFR: How did you approach writing the songs for your new album?
S: When writing music, I almost always think of a setting, location, or feeling that I would like to evoke in the song. For this album, I pictured space travelers searching unknown planets for signs of life, and finding mysterious and chilling discoveries.
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? Do you prefer Software or Hardware ?
S: I do everything “in-the-box” actually, the only external hardware I use are a couple of MIDI keyboards (Akai MPK Mini, and Impact GX49), a Focusrite Scarlett Solo audio interface, and Audio-Technica ATH-M50x headphones.
My go-to softwares though include Massive by Native Instruments and SQ8L by Siegfried Kullmann (those are my main two synthesizers), Decapitator by Soundtoys, and a couple other mixing/mastering plugins – other than that I use almost everything stock out of FL Studio.
HFR: How is it to be an independent electronic music producer nowadays? Tell us about your experience.
S: It’s great actually in my opinion. I think it’s awesome how in today’s day and age-independent musicians are able to monetize their work, and marketing is easier than it ever has been before. I sometimes think about all of the great musicians that never had a chance to be heard throughout time, just because they were born in an age where the internet didn’t exist.
On the other hand, however, the market is very saturated right now, and I even think that synthwave is starting to have artists that sound exactly alike, which can water-down and dilute the genre as a whole. I think it’s important for independent musicians to be true to who they are as artists, and try to develop their own sounds – I think that’s the key to success and fulfillment in being an artist.
HFR: Will you play your new album live? Do you have other projects?
S: Not likely, unfortunately, I’m working on building a solid following and presence online first before I start to really dive into doing live shows. I’ve played a few in the past, but don’t currently have any planned for the near future.
I do have a few singles/remixes that I’m sitting on waiting to be released, I’ll likely be releasing singles for the rest of 2019 (hopefully will be quite a few!). Other than that I’m working on a project that’s kind of hush-hush, and can’t really say too much about it otherwise.
HFR: Last words?
S: I just want to thank everyone for listening to “Umbra Complex”. I can honestly say this is the first full body of work that I’m extremely happy with and proud of, and it’s just so cool that people are enjoying the work as well. I also want to thank everyone who helped make the album possible, and Headphones for Robots for asking me to do this interview!
I think that I’m just scratching the surface of what I call spacewave, and hope to push this sub-genre further and develop my sounds more down the road. Be sure to follow me on any of my social sites for updates on new music, and thank you again!
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