Newcomer in the expanding darksynth scene, Void Stare has recently released Zero One, a great cyberpunk album.
Good occasion to talk a bit.
Check out the interview!
Headphones For Robots: Who is Void Stare? Where do you come from? Where do you live?
Void Stare: Hi HFR!
I’m VS from Australia. Void Stare is my new darksynth project where I shape cyberpunk landscapes using synthesizers and thumping beats. Readers who are also fans of Black Metal may be familiar with the ambient black metal band Spire, which I’ve sung with for over a decade.
HFR: How did you start making music? Could you tell us a bit about your influences?
VS: I’ve been a singer in various bands for well over a decade now – most prominently Spire. However, in late 2018, massively inspired by killer electronic acts like Club Root, Occams Lazer, and Salem, I decided to finally have a shot at crafting my own solo synth based music. I played around in a few different styles before finding my comfortable home in darksynth.
I started by installing a DAW with absolutely no idea what I was doing and spent the next 18 months intensely learning everything I possibly could about synthesizers, music production, music theory, and beat making in general. In this period (and still very much ongoing) I spent every spare minute I had either writing music, or learning through books, youtube videos, podcasts etc. Out of this madness, Void Stare and my debut album Zero One were born.
HFR: Earlier this year, you have released Zero One, a darksynth album with 11 tracks. What a new listener can expect? Why do all the tracks have brackets in their name?
VS: Zero One is massively inspired by my love of dystopian sci-fi and cyberpunk culture. Each song can be thought of as a kind of cinematic act that works to transport the listener into a neon drenched landscape. However the music is also always accompanied by a thumping beat which keeps heads nodding and feet tapping along. One of the most unique elements of Void Stare is my self-developed throat singing style, which features on most tracks. In my imagination these vocals represent a kind of dark guide for the noir settings of each song, like a cybernetic ghost haunting the future from the past…
The brackets are intended to be somewhat literal in the sense that each embellishes the imaginary scene I have in mind for each song “Crusader (Perfect Heresy Machine)” for example is supposed to paint the picture of a machine wandering a future cityscape exterminating the faithful (the title is also a gentle nod to the magnificent Kurt Vonnegut).
HFR: How did you approach writing the songs for your album? What is the most difficult when you switch from producing Black metal to Darksynth music?
VS: I don’t have a consistent approach to writing at all! Very often songs are a bi-product of my thirst for learning new synthesis techniques or music theory practices. I might spend a few hours playing around making synth patches and write a quick bass line to test them out and that ends up becoming a full blown track. Other times I’m learning about different chord styles or progressions etc. and through my noodling write a progression that really speaks to me. Once I get past this stage I usually try to imagine what kind of ‘scene’ the song is painting and use the narrative I imagine to help me keep a consistent mood.
I’m not sure there has been anything particularly difficult with working in a different style to be honest. Both styles are very liberating to work in and I’m still very active in both (new Spire album this year!).
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 (virtual) instruments?
VS: Hands down U-He’s Diva! Diva emulates a modular analogue synthesizer set up and I love it. I spend many hours just noodling away in Diva creating or dissecting synth patches. It’s the first tool I reach for when I need a new sound, be it a pad, a lead, an arp etc. However, I also make extensive use of Serum for Bass patches (in combination with a ton of third-party FX), you really can’t go past the Serum growl for basses.
I write everything using my humble 49key Arturia keyboard, and record vocals using a nice and warm tube amp, and a SM7B mic.
HFR: Will you play your tracks live?
VS: One day for sure! However, I’m still pretty new to this synth gig and building up the gear and experience required to translate Void Stare into a really interesting and worthy live setup will take a lot of time and money. I’d hate to just stand there with a laptop/midi keyboard playing my stuff, I’d want a lot of hardware/lighting etc. to make it a full blown experience.
HFR: We know that Australia had to endure fires. We no longer hear about that in Europe, due to the coronavirus. What is the situation in Australia today?
VS: Not great and getting worse. The loss of wildlife and ecosystems here is devastating and won’t recover for a long time (if ever, if we don’t fucking do something about climate change!). Globally speaking, Australia is an absolute climate vandal and there’s no political will here, neither from the public nor the government, to address our massively disproportionate role in contributing to climate change. Now COVID 19 has piled into the shit show and our politicians seem completely ideologically opposed to taking any of these issues seriously. Climate change and the fires have also disappeared off the radar here in light of COVID. When your Prime Minister is a prominent member of a fucking doomsday cult, there’s not really much hope going around.
HFR: Last words?
VS: Writing about and living in a dystopia are very different things, we get to make the fiction sexy, fun, and entertaining. The reality for most is death and starvation in the streets. Folks, use whatever power you have (VOTE!) to keep this shit in the fictional domain!
Be safe, look after one another, and thanks so, so, much to everyone who has supported Void Stare now and in the future!
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