Today I was able to interview synthwave artist, Alpha Chrome Yayo. We had a private chat conversation, and I’m pleased to share it with you.
A couple of weeks ago, you released a new EP called “Take My Advice.” I’m curious about the title. What inspired the name?
Alright! So ‘Take My Advice’ … I’m sure we’ll get into it in more depth, but it’s an EP that’s very heavily influenced by cop movies, particularly the grimy ones of the ’80s. Buddy cops, stakeouts, flawed badasses and murky morality.
The actual title comes from a line out of Sudden Impact, the fourth Dirty Harry movie. Harry’s being sassed by some street punks and he grabs one of them and launches into this tirade about how he’s ‘nothing but dog shit’.
It ends up with Harry spitting the words ‘take my advice… be careful where the dog shits ya!’
I know it doesn’t make a lot of sense without seeing the clip. But, honestly, even if you HAVE seen it, it doesn’t make a lot of sense, and that always tickled me.
Beyond being kind of stupid and funny though, it’s very indicative of who Harry Callahan is, and in a wider sense what those kind of movies represent. Tough cops from a bygone era who, for better or worse, are being phased out. It’s like the last days of the wild west in a lot of ways, and it’s endlessly enjoyable to watch on screen. I really wanted to capture that with this record.
LOL, that’s funny. I like that. Will you be doing any live performances or create any music videos to promote this EP?
So far this has been a studio based project, but I’m absolutely gonna be taking it live as soon as I can – I’m just trying to figure out the best way to do it. In terms of instrumentation, it’s probably one of the richer releases I’ve put out, and I really want to keep the sax and guitar solos performed live.
I’m very lucky to know some excellent musicians though, so I’m sure we’ll figure something out together. Where a lot of synthwave is extraordinarily precise – and all the better for it – I think the material on this record might suit something a bit more loose. Like, I’m not talking full on psychedelic instrumental wig-outs…
… but maybe just a little bit.
So you’re looking for the right guitar player to jam with? I definitely imagine you rocking out the saxophone. I used to play it myself, so I enjoy hearing it in your music.
Oh that’s so cool! You should dig it out again.
To be honest though if anything it’s probably the other way around – I’m much more comfortable playing the guitar parts than the sax. I love playing guitar live, it’s such a rush and I feel totally at home with it, whereas the sax – as much as I adore it – I hadn’t touched it in the best part of a decade.
But yeah, I’m a lucky guy – I’m friends with some incredible musicians who I’m sure would happily honk a horn or hammer out some synth with me in a little Belfast sweatbox somewhere.
Very cool. I hope someone will be able to capture it on video if you do it–I’m sure it would be great to see. Changing direction a little, I’ve got to ask you the question musicians hate but readers are always curious about—what are your musical influences?
Ah yeah I’ll definitely make sure someone grabs some footage.
Haha don’t worry, I love talking influences. I’ll try to keep it concise though, as there are so, so many and I don’t want to bore on.
As with a lot of people working in the synthwave-ish region, movie scores are a major, major influence on me. I mentioned Dirty Harry earlier, and I love the reedy, seedy scores of Lalo Schifrin, particularly from the later – and to be honest less celebrated – Dirty Harry flicks.
A huge, huge one for me is Fabio Frizzi, best known for his work with Italian horror-merchant Lucio Fulci. I think Fulci would be incredible anyway, but Frizzi’s scores lend the movies this really hypnotic quality that just draws you in.
Italian sounds in general are really big for me, and synthwave in a more general sense I think. Giorgio Moroder is an obvious one, with those 16th-note basslines making people move their feet, but also tugging at the heartstrings in a really unique way. His Scarface soundtrack is breathtaking – it’s so taught and muscular, kind of mean sounding at times, but also really tender, very romantic.
Tangerine Dream are great at that too, I adore the soundtrack to Michael Mann’s Thief, and it never leaves my car. It boggles my mind that it was heavily rubbished at the time, it’s a perfect record, from an incredible film.
Outside of the movies though … Steve Vai is big for me, not just his music, but his approach to it. I learn so much by trying to work out his guitar lines and then trying to figure out where they came from – honestly, they feel like they’re from another planet!
I’m a big metal fan so I think that’s bound to creep in to my music too. Maiden, Priest, Blind Guardian … but also that whole swathe of NWOBHM and American power metal, like Demon, Wolf, Cirith Ungol, and more recently Slough Feg. All artists that take me to another plane of existence when I’m listening to ’em.
Now for a bit of fun: do you have any unusual hidden talents, or something people would never guess about you?
Haha woah, I wasn’t expecting that. Eeehhhh… alright, I was a teenage yoyo champion. Kind of.
A huge yoyo craze resurfaced here (maybe everywhere?) in the ’90s, and I went pretty big on it. One thing led to another and I went on a mini tour of shopping centres with world champion, Yo Hans. I mean, I didn’t do that much, but it was a fun, weird thing.
It was over the school holidays and there was a thing about it in the local paper, obviously people took the piss a bit when we started up school again for the new year but sure to hell with ’em haha. I spent a few weeks doing sick tricks while you were washing your parents’ cars or whatever!
Thanks. I always appreciate learning little things like that about artists I’m into, so I bet other people do too. Is there anything you’d like the readers to know about you, your new EP, or something we didn’t touch on?
Just how ferociously grateful I am to everybody who’s listening. Every stream, purchase, share, radio play, review… it means a terrific amount to me.
The support I’ve been shown so far has been incredibly touching and, although I’m not in this for the money (if I was I’d be mad), every purchase helps me keep doing what I’m doing. And beyond that it’s a real tangible signifier that some people like what I’m up to. And that means everything.
So yeah, I’m super, super grateful. And I’m including you in that too Starwing, cheers for talking to me!
I really agree with you that purchases are a powerful indicator of people enjoying and supporting your work. It’s very encouraging. I want to say that I’m also very grateful to have had this opportunity to interview you. It’s been a lot of fun.
Hell yeah, I’ve enjoyed it!
Date of the interview:
June 4, 2019