I was born into the era of synthesizers and video games. Portable arcades and Casio Mozarts. Gary Numan wrote future samples. New Order infused synth with leftover emotion from Joy Division. Then grunge pushed electronica underground and I’m not sure it has emerged from the bomb shelter yet… at least not in America. But, in places like Germany, it continues to have a mass following. My theory is that European music just tends to be more precise and intellectually driven. It is not void of emotion but definitely more mathmatical. Zib Zeptumn/My Fantasy Robot Legion is everything and nothing electronica. It is a solid echo. The reverb from a snapped sound barrier.
*How do you create meaning in a song without lyrics?
The songs have meaning because they will themselves into existence. I just listen and put the dots where they’re supposed to go. The music comes from somewhere else.
I like to represent the emotions of the notes with different synth samples and sounds and yoga positions.
Isn’t that what everyone does?
* The late 70’s and early 80’s were the golden age of electronica. Everything before was very organic. How has the Internet and technology shaped the sound of synth?
Even though most early synths were capable of being molded into a vast prism of soundscapes, they were still limited by their design: heavy and very expensive.
Synths are more aurally malleable and readily available to everyone now, thanks to the leaps and bounds computers have have made here on earth so far.
Smartphones might not yet possess the high fidelity of older Moogs and ARPs, but they do offer accessibility and convenience. You can now compose on the train, or while simultaneously driving to work and eating breakfast, and definitely before you get to the studio.
When inspiration hits, or a distant alien being transmits the signal directly into your brain, you have the tools in front of you to capture it all.
* My first exposure to synth music was Gary Numan. Who do you credit with pioneering electronica?
I’d have to say German disco on the radio circa 1979, while living in Bavaria at a young age. Kraftwerk was also a major influence, of course.
* How do you create mood in a song?
It’s a combination of tempo and the selection of synths and drums.
I sample myself playing and then edit and sequence it into my iPhone or other device. When I record myself playing drums or sheets of stainless steel with a wire brush or squeaky cabinet hinges, I am already experiencing the mood.
It’s the same thing whether I’m playing bass, guitar or synth. I don’t usually set out to create a certain mood. If the song sounds really sexy then I was feeling really sexy when I channeled it from space.
* Why do you think electronica has continued to explode in places like Germany but has gone somewhat underground in America?
In my opinion, Germans, like other Europeans and Scandinavians, appreciate innovation and close involvement with technological creativity.
*Where do you get ideas for songs?
There is a deep core of memories inside us all, made of everything we have experienced in this life and possibly other lives before and after this one. I feel that these songs come from the dreams of these memories.
* The song Dragon feels like Tokyo to me. Was that intentional?
That’s an interesting perspective.
This song was my interpretation of a musical illustration of a dragon, starting from his nostrils, teeth and horns, then working all the way along his scaled, armored back, and following down to a long, spiky tail. My very good friend is a dragon and I did my best to write this song for him.
* Have video games influenced your music?
No, I don’t really think so.
Although I do adore video games and I grew up with them, I do not think they directly influenced my taste in music.
I mean, Double Dragon, Super Mario Brothers and Zelda had very moving, brilliant compositions, so… Actually, sure, why not?
It’s certainly possible that every song I’ve ever heard has also influenced this album.
The real musical influences for me were: James Brown, George Clinton, Aphex Twin, Pixies, Mozart, Squarepusher, The Ramones, David Bowie, and so many others.
* What emotion is impossible to convey with a synthesizer?
I’m sure there are plenty. Here are some:
1. Buyers remorse
4. Horny (is this an emotion?)
7. Social diarrhea (this has to be one)
* Define your music with a film.
One film? A film I’m making up in my head right now, or one I’ve already seen which has a great soundtrack that isn’t like my music?
For the latter, I’d say La Planète Sauvage 1973, Soundtrack by Alain Goraguer
Contact, record label, and lurking info:
My Fantasy Robot Legion by Zib Zeptumn is also available on iTunes, Amazon, Google Play, Spotify, and just about everywhere else.
Instagram & Twitter: @zibzeptumn