Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Q&A with synthwave producer Color Theory

Brian Hazard aka Color Theory picked up the piano in his young adolescence and would form part of his high school jazz band. After high school, Brian would go on to do formal music studies and earn a Music Degree in Piano Performance. Once he completed his studies, Brian would win main prize in the John Lennon Songwriting Contest. This success led to his music being featured in the popular game franchise Just Dance and Rock Band. Brian’s music has also been featured in MTV’s The Real World series soundtrack.

We find out the finer details of the established musician in our interview.

If someone has never heard your music, which keywords would you personally use to describe your overall sound and style?

“melancholy 80s nostalgia synthesizer piano”. Unfortunately, I just googled that and my name didn’t come up.

Tell us about yourself. How did you get into music?

Inspired by a friend who played piano in middle school, I  started lessons and ended up getting a degree in piano performance, while knowing all along that I wanted to make records like Depeche Mode.

What type of music were you creating, before the synthwave craze began?

I was blending synthpop with EDM, inspired by Deadmau5 and similar progressive house acts. Before that, The Postal Service was a big influence.That said, I’m not sure my fans detect those shifts. Current trends rub off to some degree, but mostly it all sounds like me.

When you compose and produce tracks, do you make music for yourself or do you make it with others in mind?

I honestly don’t know. I just try to create something that produces a reaction in me, and hope it will do the same for others.

What key pieces of gear/software are you using to define your sound?

It’s all software synths these days: Zebra 2, Diva, and Sylenth mainly. I’ve relied on the piano from the beginning, but less and less as time goes on.

Has your arsenal of equipment changed much since you first started?

Actually, no! I’ve had the same audio interface and monitors for at least a decade. I’ve changed DAWs a couple of times but that’s about it, and even that wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t won Ableton as a prize in a songwriting contest.

Three favorite tracks of all time?

Shit. You stopped me dead in my tracks. This can’t possibly be right, but here goes:

1. Depeche Mode ‘Somebody’
2. David Sylvian ‘I Surrender’
3.The Smiths ‘Asleep’

What inspires you outside of music?

I’m slowly working through what are considered to be the best books of all time. I recently finished Don Quixote and started Swann’s Way by Proust. No exaggeration, I could write a song based off any single page in that book. Actually it would be more like a page and a half, which happens to be the average length of Proust’s sentences.I can find inspiration in anything though. My latest song was inspired by meditation.

What is the best or strangest reaction you’ve had to your music this far?

Just today someone left this comment on YouTube: “I swear to god if they don’t play this song during the end credits at my funeral I am going to haunt every single one of my family members.”

What, in your opinion would be the perfect genre fusion?

Is it sad that I can’t think of any that haven’t been done? Even the extremes have been explored due to the prominence of collabs these days. Maybe it’s a copout, but I’ve been doing my best to blend 80s synthpop with classical piano since the beginning.

What do you enjoy the most about creating synthwave music?

The connection to my childhood. I’ll often stumble onto sounds I hadn’t heard since buying my first synth. Which was a Korg, but I don’t remember the model!Since I grew up in the 80s, the music comes from a very genuine place. I don’t have to pretend to be something I’m not.

Do you consider the Internet and social media as fundamental in building a career in music today, and what is your personal relationship with the new technology at hand?

I’m sick of social media, but as a non-performing artist, I see no alternative. Still, I want to be as anonymous as I can get away with!

What can we expect from you in the near future? Any upcoming projects or releases in the pipeline that you would like to tell us about?

I’m just releasing my first tracks since my last album in October — a double a-side featuring ‘This Whole Nothing’ and ‘Juggernaut.’

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