Interview by Alaric Hobbs
Sean Harte (known by his stage name Memorex Memories) is a Scottish electronic musician who has become a prominent name within the Synthwave scene. He is best known for singles such as ‘Curious Alice’, ‘A Way Home’ and ‘Thanks For Listening’. His tracks are stirring yet meditative, a pairing of vibes that only seems strange until you have heard his music.
The Playground recently premiered a characteristically electrifying offering from the Glasgow based artist.
Press play and relax, here is Memorex Memories…
Hi there, how are you and what are you up to today?
Hey man! I’m good. I was actually at work earlier today. I’m a carer, (a “Personal Development Worker” if I want to sound classy) so I was hanging out with my buddy Pete. If he’s reading this. BIG SHOUT OUT TO PETE!
Tell us about your journey in music, how long have you been producing? What inspired you to start?
I was introduced to the world of production around eight or nine years ago. A friend and I had started a deathcore band and we were hell-bent on taking the metal scene by storm with our own “unique” blend of teenage angst and incomprehensible vocals. In a decision we still joke about to this day, my friend made the very questionable choice of assigning me the task of mixing our first demo. At this point in my life, the closest I had been to a mixer was the countertop of my aunt’s kitchen. I didn’t know the first thing about recording music! However, with stars in my eyes, I grabbed my £5
Lidl microphone, downloaded a demo version of Mixcraft 5 and got to work revolutionising the world of Metal… Let’s just say there was a reason our 5 piece never graced the cover of Kerrang! All the tracks sounded like they had been recorded on f**king ravioli. Over the following weeks, each of our band members began dropping out one by one and in order to compensate for their absence, I started sampling other tracks so that I could continue to practice my vocals. Eventually, it got to the point where It was just me, desperately growling over a multi-layered lawsuit waiting to happen. Over the following months, I began to lose my interest in Metal. However, my interest in production had begun to peak. Around this time, my friend introduced me to Brian Eno, Aphex Twin and Boards of Canada and the rest is history. Up until that point, I never knew music like that existed. I remember hearing “In A Beautiful Place Out In The Country” and just balling my eyes out. It felt as tho someone had somehow captured the sounds in my head and put it on tape. I remember openly saying, “That’s it! That’s what I want to do!” I was hooked man!
Take us through your collection of gear, tech or software that accompanies you.
I know quite a few musicians who buy a new piece of kit every month. Whereas, I tend to use something ’til it just gives up and dies on me. I feel that if I’m loyal to my gear, it will return the favour. As for synths I use an original Korg MS 10 (huge thanks to the staff at Stow College for that), a Roland JP-08, Roland TB-3, Casio Sk-1 and a Prophet 5 emulator. I currently use two drum machines, the Roland 303 Groovebox and the TR-505. As for Midi controllers, I use a Novation SL Zero Mk2. I love that controller! My dad bought me it when I was 17, long before I even knew what a Midi controller was. My Dad is like my biggest fan so for that reason, I hold quite a bit of sentimental attachment for it. Additionally, I use a Novation Launchkey.
My DAW of choice is FL Studio. I’ve used virtually every other DAW but that’s my personal preference, the interface just makes sense to me. Aside from that, I’ve got a whole bunch of tape decks that I regularly bounce my mixes down onto. I recently got a Tascam Porta One ministudio. It’s 4 track tape recorder but I’m currently still dabbling with it.
What kind of relationship do you have with the internet? How does this inform your artistic expression?
Much like everyone else these days, I’m prone to surfing the many waves of the information superhighway. I know it’s the “in” thing these days to hate on the internet and condemn social media but I’m certainly not one of those people, I f**king love the internet! I mean, I grew up in a time where you would willingly infect the family computer with cyber death in order to secure a Vengaboys MP3. Now, every song you could ever want is at your fingertips on a device smaller than a Game Boy Colour. People are freaking out over data breaches meanwhile I’m over here like, “Hey if the cost of a predicted Amazon shopping cart is to have some poor, unfortunate MI6 agent spy on my webcam during a Wednesday night private reflection period then I’m cool with that”. I might even dress up for him if Amazon can recommend a cheaper alternative to Lynx body spray. In all seriousness tho, the internet is an intangible asset within my creative process. I doubt we would be having this conversation otherwise.
Do you experience “creative block”? What gets your creative juices flowing?
For a very long time, creative block was inescapable. So much so that near the end of 2017 I almost quit making music altogether. One of my tracks ‘It’s Very Sunny’ received a bit of attention due to it being featured on Electronic Gems. After that happened, I figured I best strike whilst the iron is hot and put out ‘One Day At A Time’. This was then followed by a bout of writer’s block that lasted close to a year. I was miserable, I sat and watched the little relevancy I had at the time slowly dissipate. I’m still not 100% sure what changed but I’m glad it did. I think the most important thing is to remind yourself why you make music. Think back to when you started out. Think back to when everything you have is everything you ever wanted. These days, If I’m struggling to produce anything, I’ll make a parody track for my own amusement or I’ll write a theme tune for a sh***y 1980’s T.V show I just made up in my head. If I can’t do that, I’ll sample some records and try and make some old “Boom Bap”. If that doesn’t work out. I’ll attempt some collage, I’m terrible at it but it keeps me occupied creatively. I can’t tell you the amount of times I have been meticulously cutting something from a magazine only for me to throw it all against the wall and sprint to the studio because an idea has popped into my head.
What is the biggest challenge you face in your artistic pursuits?
For a long time, I really struggled with anxiety and if you’re not careful that stuff can attach itself to everything in your life. It preys on your self-confidence, which as I’m sure you can imagine doesn’t help with the creative process. Thankfully, Over the past 4 or 5 months, I’ve taken some really big steps which have totally transformed my quality of life. This may seem like a bit of a cop-out answer but I try not to focus on the forks in the road. I know I’ll jump those hurdles when I get to them. Right now, I’m just concentrating on staying positive, staying focused and hopefully, writing
some tunes that people can vibe to.
Who are the emerging artists on your radar?
I think anyone who is familiar with my work is aware of my involvement with Electronic Gems. It’s a fantastic platform that’s served as a launch pad for myself and so many other amazing artists, It’s more than just a channel, its community and one I’m proud to be a part of. So with that being said, I’m probably going to catch some flak for picking favourites. If I had to choose my top three, It would be ODDling. That dude’s sound pallet is jaw-dropping, every song he produces makes me want to throw my studio straight in the trash and stick to my day job. Hotel Pools. Similar story,
This guy is currently on the rise and in my opinion, deserves every bit of the recognition that’s coming his way. Last but not least, LUNE (Formerly known SILENCE), Dude brings an unrivalled sense of atmosphere to his tracks that’s only made better when you factor in his near-perfect production quality. There are so many great artists within the community that I haven’t mentioned and to those I apologise, I hope we can still be friends? It’s not you, it’s me. I swear!
Do you have any particular gigs or festivals that you dream about playing?
I’ve actually only just played my first three gigs over the past couple months. Each one has been such a rush and now I just want to play everywhere!… I don’t suppose The Playground has any need for a hairy, Scottish Synthwave artist? I’m asking for a friend…
Who would be your dream collaborator?
It’s been a dream of mine to someday sign with Ghostly International. Some of my favourite artists like Lusine, Tycho and Com Truise have put out incredible work on that label and I’d love the opportunity to try and do the same. On that note, even tho I know there is probably nothing I could contribute to his work. I would love to collaborate with Com Truise. Just the opportunity to pick his brain and see how he does his thing would be invaluable to me.
Breakdown the news for us: what can we expect from you this year?
I’m pleased to say that due to a substantial bit of personal growth (insert d**k or fat joke here), I’m in a far better headspace compared to the way I started the year. For the first time in almost 26 years of life, I’m feeling comfortable in my own skin and genuinely contented. I hope to stay motivated, stay humble and keep doing what I love. It’s still in the planning stages at the moment but after the success of my E.P In-Motion I intend to get to work on my first, full-length L.P. So if all goes well I should be dropping that for y’all later in the year.
Famous last words?
“Watch this”. I think that’s the Glaswegian equivalent of “hold my beer”. If anyone in Glasgow says that, stand back, because that dude’s about to inadvertently f**k himself up!
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