Denizens of the 2X80s, rejoice! Vancouver-based retrowave producer Renz Wilde has returned with new tunes and new collaborators, brought to you by Future 80s Records.
Super Stereo Sound is a dark and danceable record that sees Wilde exploring new stylistic avenues. He digs deeper than ever for inspiration, finding funkier beats and catchier hooks for his familiar synth pop foundation.
“Disko Maschine” is one highlight, featuring a phone operator voice loop over a four-on-the-floor kick drum and bubbling synth bass. The mellow, late-night groove “Dope Punk” is another favorite.
Setting has always been part of Wilde’s work–his last release, City Boy, was a concept record about the trials of urban life–but here he goes the extra mile with world-building. He opens the album with “Muzik Radio,” a stage-setting collage that weaves a cyberpunk cityscape with samples. Along with the consistent use of vocal elements, moments like this help Super Stereo Sound feel grounded, even as it delves into more fantastical territory.
After the record release, The All Scene Eye caught up with Wilde for an interview on his new direction and the synthwave scene that influenced it.
Tell me about the intro track, “Muzik Radio.” Where did the sounds and samples come from?
I had so much fun putting “Muzik Radio” together. The inspiration was to try and have the listener imagine themselves walking down a busy downtown street, getting into their car, and surfing the radio for the best tunes as they drive off into the night. Muzik Radio is the station they find, which leads into the album.
The ambient street sounds are two separate samples: bustling city traffic mixed with street lingo I sampled from the movie Taxi Driver. The track snippets heard during the radio surfing are by Stilz, VHS Dreams, and Takahashi Jones, who all appear on the record. VHS Dreams remixed “Home Computer,” a track from my Program EP that I released in 2014. That’s one of two bonus tracks you can hear when you purchase the record.
What kind of equipment did you use to make this record?
It was all digital except for “Speak (feat. Takahashi Jones),” which has analog synthesizers and live guitar. My DAW of choice is Reason, and a selection of VSTs I used for the album are Firebird, Dexed, Nightlife, Alieno, TAL-bassline, MinimogueVA, and Drumatic.
Compared to your last record, City Boy, Super Stereo Sound features more funk and disco influence in the drums and bass, more melodic synths, and even some vocal elements. What influenced these shifts?
After City Boy, which was a semi-autobiographical concept album, I decided I wanted to make more of a fun, dance record. The working title was Nightlife, ‘cause I wanted the whole record to reflect having fun, driving, and being up to no good late at night. All that stuff.
As the album progressed, I went off in different directions and reached for lots of sounds and emotions, including funk and disco. Lead vocals or vocal samples appear on every track, including the two bonus tracks, except for Dope Punk.
“Speak (feat. Takahashi Jones)” in particular features an interesting spoken word sample. What can you tell me about putting that track together?
I’m extremely pleased with how it all came together. My good friend and fantastic producer Stilz came up with that great bassline, the funky drums, and the flanging chord progression. I started working on the arrangement, and almost immediately I could hear a British accent working it’s way into the song.
Inspired by the Pet Shop Boys song “Left to My Own Devices,” I went in search of something that would fit, and before long I came across the sultry voice of Alan Rickman reciting Shakespeare, which I thought was perfect–I wonder how many people will recognize his voice.
After I arranged the track how I liked it, added different elements, and laid down the main synth line, I had this cool sounding track, but it was very raw. Just a bed. I knew I needed someone to lay down some nice leads and bring the track to life. The first person I thought of was an amazing producer called Takahashi Jones. When I reached out to him, I was hoping he’d say yes to collaborating, and I was very pleased when he said he’d love to. He heard the track and really liked it.
All I said to him was “Listen to this, man, you hear the sections that are just crying out for some funky shit? You want to lay down some vibes on this bed?” Fast forward to when I hear the parts he’s done. “Damn!” I was blown away. He plays those amazing funky synth leads, the lead guitar, and those little organ fills. I ended up rearranging the track over and over, adding and removing parts. I spent a lot of time on it till I finally got it to sound like I imagined in my head.
These artists are all amazing. I first met Stilz back in 2015 when he asked me to remix a track from his album Judicator. I had already heard his music, but we never crossed paths. I don’t know if it’s because we’re fellow Canadians or what, but we hit it off instantly and we’ve been keeping in touch ever since, both musically and socially. I consider him a good friend. I’ve worked with Stilz in one form or another on my last three releases, whether it’s remixing each others’ tracks, co-writing, or just bouncing ideas off each other.
Dream shore is another artist I’ve known for a few years now. We first met when we were both releasing music on the Retro Promenade label. He has a great sound and a great voice. I gave him the melody to sing for the track “Ready To Drive,” but let him compose the lyrics. I’m very pleased with the lyrics and vocals he supplied.
What can you tell me about Future 80s Records, and how did you end up releasing through them?
Future 80s Records is a label based out of Europe. I first came across them when I purchased VHS Dreams The EP, which was released on Future 80s back in July 2014. Shortly after that, I became friendly with George Dervenagas, the artist behind VHS Dreams, through social media. I ended up remixing a track from that EP called “Downtown.” It appears on the CD version as a bonus track called “Downtown (Renz Wilde Cyber Remix).”
It was at this time that I first had dealings with the people who run Future 80s Records. Later that year, I released my last album with Retro Promenade called Machine Feed. When I had all the tracks done on my next release, I decided to contact Future 80s and see if they’d be interested in releasing the album. They liked it, and we signed a deal. That’s the album City Boy, released July 2016, and I’m very pleased with how well it’s been received. I love being on Future 80s Records. They have a great roster of artists, and they’re great to work with.
What other artists and producers in the synth scene do you admire? Who should we be paying more attention to?
Besides the producers I’ve already mentioned, I enjoy many others–too many to list–but a few that come to mind are Syntax, Mythical Vigilante, and Cosmo Cocktail.
For more Renz Wilde releases, check him out on Bandcamp