Let's Get To Know Cybertronix / Cole Bouchard
by Kal-Elle Jagger
As an artist, he goes by the moniker, Cybertronix. As a record executive, he has signed top-tiered artists like Honey Beard and The Subtheory onto his Retro Reverb Records.
He is a man who wears many hats. So, let's get to know Cole Bouchard.
Where did you grow up?
Hi firstly, thanks for having me, it's a pleasure to be here. I grew up in da hood init. Well, Brentford, in west London, sometimes referred to as Brenthood. They made a comedy series about it that went to film, called "People just do nothing." It's about a crew of useless idiots running a pirate drum and bass radio station in the estate near where I grew up, so basically me, lol. I actually did that. I had a huge antenna hanging out of a tower block window. In reality, it wasn't very dangerous where I grew up, relatively speaking. I live in Sicily now, and that is even safer.
What is one of the first songs you remember liking as a kid?
That's quite a hard one to answer as my mum played so much stuff it's all a bit of a blur. However, I remember the first pieces of music I bought on tape at about the age of 10. Jive Bunny and the Mastermixers and Charles & Eddie 'Would I Lie To You?'. But it is entirely possible that Peter Gabriel's 'Sledgehammer' was one of the first, or maybe it was a Beatles song.
What influenced you to get into music and start your label?
I've always been into music like most of us, I guess. Primarily people around me influenced my music tastes and interest in music. My mum's boyfriend Tony, who played the guitars on my song 'Labyrinth' with Alex Vecchietti, is a song about my mum. He had a significant influence, and I remember him playing the sitar when we travelled around India. Later as a teenager, I was one of the first to get a pair of decks. All of my mates were heavily into the drum and bass scene, which sparked my love of electronic music.
The record label was something I sort of got pulled into, really. At first, one of my mates growing up, Vincent, rang me and said have you heard of Synthwave? I was like, "nope!" So, he sent me a load of stuff and told me to get FL studios for free and start trying to make some. We started Timeslave Recordings with his brother Jay. We did that for a while, and it was great fun, but because of geographical restraints, I wasn't really able to contribute in the way I wanted or that was fair to the other two, so we parted ways. When I arrived in Sicily, Alex said, "I saw what you were doing with Timeslave Recordings. Want to do something like that with me?" and Boom! RRR was born.
What are some of the challenges you have faced running the label?
Probably the most complex question to answer, so please excuse the length of the answer.
I think many people don't always remember that this is a niche genre and is supported by a lot of people who work tons of hours for little or no money just because they love it. I saw the interview you did with Ashley from Forged in Neon recently, and she is a good example of that. So, one of the hardest things is putting in a lot of hours and, more importantly, energy into RRR. I admit I do it in part because I want our artists and us to be successful. That doesn't necessarily mean what people might think of being super-rich and famous, but if I put in 40 hours a week, it would be nice for it at least to be my main job and not a job on top of another job. I also get frustrated with people who don't appreciate the work that goes into it and are a bit single-minded. That is why I take quite a long approach to vetting artists before they join us. If I invest my time and energy in them, I want them to work hard and pull in the same direction. So, it's not just about the quality of the music, but obviously, that is important but attitude too. Your Friend Esteves is like a dream to work with. He always makes everything easier for me 😊
I think managing people's expectations is another issue. When you run a label, as you said above, you have to have many hats and with an independent label being the artists' manager is definitely one that I must wear. I prefer people who take the bigger picture approach and don't get hot-headed over wanting instant results. But unfortunately, with societies reducing attention span, we are breeding a culture of instant results and attention-grabbing, especially with social media - another thing I hate about running a label. I would love to use my phone less!
Lastly, selling music is very hard, especially as we promote all artists no matter where they are on their journey. With the volume of releases, it can be hard to get people to take notice of new artists. Kosmo Kooper is a great example of this. We signed an external deal with a German company on his single Heavy Rain. It is killing it in the German DJ chart and last time I checked was above Swedish House Mafia and David Guetta. The video is another thing that should be doing much better. The extremely talented Elixirnine made it. It's a gold dust, 3d video with a great track that really should be turning more heads. But he isn't known, so we keep pushing, and hopefully, people will start to listen.
Are you ok sharing your fascinating day job with the world? And if so, would you consider yourself a scholar or academic?
Yeah, I am an academic, I guess. I teach English. I don't mind it, but I don't love it. There are definitely worse jobs, and I have been doing it a long time. I used to be a sports coach, which I enjoyed in different ways as I like being outside and moving.
What advice would you give your younger self after finishing school if you could go back in time?
: Don't eat carbs and sugar, do yoga, drink less alcohol, learn a language, get into IT, appreciate your body and look after it, be more patient, be kind, and some investment tips.
Who came first, Cole the record executive or Cybertronix, the artist?
They probably arrived together, I think. I created Cybertronix to go through the process our artists would. At first, I thought becoming an artist was a steep learning curve, so that probably strangely took more effort at the start, but the curve of running a label was more gradual but a lot longer.
What other genres of music do you enjoy listening to other than anything that would appear on your label?
NOTHING RRR forever! 😊 No, metal, rock classical, reggae, and electronic music mostly, but I usually appreciate bands or artists from most genres.
Which type of artist would you love to sign onto your label next? What kind of artist excites you?
We have a real mixed roster, so honestly, this isn't something I think about. I am always looking for artists who can engage fans and sell good music or people or groups that are underrepresented in the scene. Recently we signed Woves, who are bringing some interesting takes on Synthwave, and of course, we have Honeybeard, Le Groupe Fantastique, and The Subtheory, who all push boundaries with their styles. I love singers and people who play an instrument. But you know we also have artists on the label that I would call Synthwave Synthwave artists. Hideotronic is an artist who excites me, and he is working on a track with Daniel Hugh from RRR, another artist who excites me.
What is one of your favourite memories in your music career so far?
As an owner, the release of our first Vinyl with Honeybeard or the first charity event we did with Forever Synth Radio. We are doing another charity event soon; the line-up is smashing. We will be doing that with the support of Dennis and Jules over at Nightride FM. We hope to be doing loads more Vinyl (Shameless plug! If you think you can sell vinyl, reach out to us)
As an artist, everything I do with Alex Vecchietti. He is much more talented than I am, and he always brings my standard up.
What advice would you give to someone just starting to get into music?
Make hearing your music easy for submissions, don't send a link to Spotify saying I hope you like it. Say what you want, what you have, including videos, artwork, EPK, etc., be professional and polite, and above all, push the boundaries with your music and try things. Oh, and be active on social media ☹
What's next for you, Cole and Cybertronix? A new release, maybe?
I have a song coming out with Alex V called "End of Time". We just finished the video, coming to Youtube soon. I am singing and co-wrote it with Al. Then I have this long unfinished Cyberpunk EP to finish. Can I give a quick shout-out to Joey Kosmic Kiss, who gave me a little push with the melodic hook for the track. He's another great artist that people should listen to more.
As for the label, look out for the charity event, as I said, our new retro game on the website and RRR TV on Twitch.
I also would like to give another shout-out to all the RRR crew. They are all doing great work and a pleasure to work with; thank you all. Lastly, I would like to let people reading this know that Le Groupe Fantastique is releasing vinyl. So, look out for that.
Thank you so much for having me.
It was lovely chatting with you.
On a personal note, I wanted to thank you for bringing the sweet sounds of Honey Beard to my ears. Gaz is one of my favourite people, with one of the smoothest voices and best hand moves on the planet. I may or may not be responsible for being behind hashtagging #GazHands. We will have to ask him to be sure. I will provide my bank account for the royalties if so.
Thank you, Cole, and the many hats you wear. Your drive and commitment are evident. We look forward to the great things to come from you and Retro Reverb Records.
Pop Art Ave loves Retro Reverb Records
Thank you, Cole!
- Michael Anthony