Let's Get To Know Depthbuffer

Initially intending to create mostly 90s EDM and retrowave, Depthbuffer has decided to embrace his wide-ranging tastes, and branched out into an eclectic mix of instrumental and vocal tracks.

80s pop ballads, alternative/indie, trance, disco, and spoken word all make appearances at some point.

Where did you grow up?

Reading, England - a fairly normal town about 40-ish miles due west of London.

What is one of the first songs you remember liking as a kid? Kraftwerk's The Robots - not the original, but the version from their remix album, The Mix. I remember playing the cassette of that album to death, and not even realising until years later that all the tracks on it were reworkings of earlier pieces. What influenced you to get into music?

I've dabbled on & off in making electronic music for decades, mostly using descendants of the old Amiga soundtrackers, but never really taken it seriously. Then, during lockdown, I discovered two things: a DAW called Renoise, which blends the old grid-based UI and sample workflows of soundtrackers with robust MIDI and VST support; and Bandcamp, which I'd been vaguely aware of for years, but had never properly explored.

I had no idea how many talented amateurs were on there, making music of all genres. I discovered how much of the synthwave & retrowave scenes in particular consists of solo DIY-ers, sharing a community hand-in-hand with polished studio artists, many of whom were solo DIY-ers themselves not long ago. It's beautiful, and I felt like I had to be part of it. Plus, the tools to get started don't have to be cripplingly expensive. At what age did you start playing/singing?

I honestly don't remember! I've always had a musical streak. In primary schools in the UK, in the 80s and 90s, it was common to teach music using the recorder; but I was that precocious kid in the class who actually enjoyed playing and took additional music lessons outside school. I tried the violin briefly, and didn't get on well with it; then during my teens I played the oboe, which needs a fair bit of lung capacity - I was alright, but never going to be orchestra standard without far more work than I was, frankly, willing to put in.

Electronic music was always in the background, just as something I did for fun now and then; and that's what remained after secondary school, when I stopped having an oboe teacher to lean on to make & maintain reeds for me and didn't have easy access to a wind ensemble of fellow students at similar skill levels to myself.

If you could go back in time, what advice would you give to yourself after finishing school? If you want something to happen, you have to make it happen. Don't wait around waiting for opportunities to magically fall into your lap, or talk yourself out of pursuing something simply because you won't be able to do it to a "professional" standard. If you think you'll enjoy doing it, and enjoy mixing with people with the same interest, then just go for it. Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good. What are some of your favorite songs at the moment? I'm generally more of an album lover than a fan of individual tracks, but the one song I always come back to, time and again, is Radiohead's Subterranean Homesick Alien. My soft spot for Kraftwerk never went away, but it did evolve to keep up with the times a little, through various 90s/2000s electronic artists, turning into a brief obsession with Daft Punk's album Discovery. Also Electro-Shock Blues by Eels. I'm also indebted to fellow indie artist Life Patterns for introducing me to Black Moth Super Rainbow - one day I intend to do a deep dive and try to figure out what on Earth it is they do to get their signature half-processed, half-human vocal sound! Back in the small artist community, I'd say Hot Shots by MicroMatscenes is probably what I'd choose if I had to explain retrowave to someone in one album. Calypso Drip FM by Gryff is another strong contender; I wish I had his voice! Honestly, though, I could reel off names from Bandcamp all day. Every artist in my collection has earned their place. Do you listen to your own music?

Sometimes. If you aren't making music you love, then how can you expect anyone else to love it? There are some tracks that I can't listen to without just hearing all the flaws - be it uninspiring composition, poor mixing, problems with the vocals, whatever - but there are some I keep returning to. Counting Magpies, Manchild, Bigger than Bonnie and Clyde, and Good Taste get semi-regular spins. I think every musician has a love/hate relationship with their own work, especially those like myself who do all their own mixing mastering: every idea feels like the best idea so far when you start, but by the end, you've listened to a track so many times, making so many minuscule adjustments, that you start to lose all perspective on whether or not it's any good. Then, after a period of time away from it, you either come back around and think "this is alright", or you don't. Which musician would you like to collaborate with next?

I don't really feel equipped to answer this one - I feel like such a tiny fish in a great big pond of bigger, far more talented fish, who would probably just laugh if I asked! I have a weird mixture of a perfectionist streak on the one hand, but on the other, a strong awareness that I don't really know what I'm doing and am still learning tons with every release; so right now I feel more comfortable just keeping to myself. Permitting myself to shoot for the stars, I'd love to have something sung by one of the really talented vocalists in the scene, someone like CZARINA, Gryff, or ELYXIR.

What is one of your favorite memories so far in your music career?

Right now, I still feel like calling it a "career" is a bit of a stretch! Honestly, the highlight so far has been the incredible write-up that Pining for the Chords got on this very website. Depthbuffer - Pining For The Chords (popartave.com)

Foxpuppy is a real pillar of the community, and it's always worth keeping an eye on what he's recommending at any moment in time - I promise I'm not just saying that because he's a fan! Also, I'll always have a place in my heart for the Homebrew Electronica Show podcast, one of the first outlets to play my tunes, and a great place to discover fantastic indie artists.

What advice would you give to someone that is just starting to get into music? Coming back to what I said earlier: if your day job isn't in the music industry, but you want to make music, just do it; nobody will do it for you, and if you do your research, there are fantastic cheap MIDI controllers, cheap but fully-featured DAWs, and many free and cheap softsynths out there.

That said, there is part of me that wishes I'd spent more time experimenting before releasing, as I feel like my most recent (and, hopefully, upcoming) work is lightyears ahead of my earliest material; musically, technically, but most importantly, in terms of being more "me". Forgive me for contradicting myself a bit, but: don't hesitate to dive in, the tools are accessible to anyone with a PC or laptop; but at the same time, take the time to learn your gear, learn a bit of mixing & mastering technique, and most importantly, discover what style & content feels most "right" to you, because it may not be what you initially set out to create!

Find the right balance between not letting the perfect be the enemy of the good, and just releasing the first thing you finish.

Check out Depthbuffer on his Twitter, YouTube, website

and listen to some of his music on Bandcamp by clicking below.

Depthbuffer (@DepthbufferM) / Twitter

depthbuffer - YouTube

Depthbuffer website

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