For me, it’s always a pleasure to interview artists that have reached their full potential. Brad Tuller is one of them and he will wow you with his newest EP called ‘Forever Prom’. The 21-year old electronic musician put into practice all his knowledge about music and revealed to us a big passion for synths. Get to know him better by reading this interview.
1 – Did you grow up listening to 80s synthpop music? What artists or bands sparked your interest?
Growing up I actually didn’t listen to a lot of music from the ’80s. It was mostly The Beatles’ Greatest Hits and Dark Side of The Moon on repeat up until middle school. Around two and half years ago is when I really started to delve into ’80s music. The artists that grabbed my attention around that time were Hiroshi Sato, Billy Idol, Tears For Fears, Toshiki Kadomatsu, Le Matos, and Vangelis.
2 – Why do you think we are still obsessed with the 80s? Are you part of the new revival movement?
I think the big appeal comes from the fact that it reminds people of their childhood. More specifically, generations who were born in or around the time of the 1980’s who now have access to social media, blogs, videos, music streaming, etc. With all of this access we are constantly fueling that feeling of childhood nostalgia. I like to think that the sound of my EP has the potential to evoke some sort of nostalgic feeling from people, so in that sense I guess you could consider my music a part of the ‘80s revival movement. But I didn’t create the album to join the revival movement. The way I go about creating music is by writing music that I want to listen to, and I wanted to listen to a bunch of ‘80s jams. I wrote this album to enjoy it with others and to see how people react to it. So far, it has been so rewarding hearing what others think about my music.
3 – What made you choose the title of your new EP ‘Forever Prom’?
The title ‘Forever Prom’ came from an idea I had about everyone living their life as if they were in a perpetual state of attending a high school prom. Every day you wake up feeling the anticipation of seeing your date all dressed up for the first time, gathering with your closest friends around the food table, seeing all the popular kids in their clique, nervously asking someone for that final dance, and then laying in bed looking up at your ceiling reflecting on the night you had. Then the next morning you wake up and do it all over again.
4 – What’s the best track off this EP? Why?
It’s really hard to choose a song and call it the best, but if I had to choose one it would be the song “Forever Prom”. This is actually the second song that I wrote for the EP and I wrote it for someone very dear to me. When I got about two hours into writing the song, I realized I was writing a last-dance prom song instead of what I had originally intended. The more I thought about it, the more I realized how every day I felt the same excitement and anticipation with this person as I did attending my high school prom. This is also the thought that spawned the EP’s title ‘Forever Prom’. There was a lot of thought and emotion put into the song “Forever Prom” and I think it translates when you listen to it.
5 – Who provided the vocals in some of the tracks from the ‘Forever Prom’ EP?
I was the one who performed all of the vocals you hear on the album. I’m not a vocalist by trade at all, but I had a very specific type of a vocal performance that I wanted for the tracks. I thought, “Well, I really don’t know how to translate this to a vocalist so I guess I’ll give it a shot and sing it myself!”
6 – In what way do movies and video games soundtracks influence your work?
Soundtracks for games and movies are probably my number one source of inspiration. If hear something that truly catches my attention, I won’t stop listening for months. Many of the synthesis techniques I’ve learned were just observations that I made while listening to game soundtracks. Games like FEZ, Hyperlight Drifter, and Mighty Switch Force to name a few. When talking about movie soundtracks, the one major film that comes to mind as an inspiration is Bladerunner. What Vangelis composed for that movie changed the way I perceive sound and the possibilities of synthesized music.
7 – We know you started in music as a trombone player. Do you mix electronic music with live instruments in your current productions?
I actually enjoy writing music more when it’s totally synthesized. To me, it is more challenging to get the sound you want with a synthesizer than it is with acoustic instruments. I have written songs before that incorporate live and synthesized instruments, but I’m just so much more passionate about my universally synthesized compositions. However, when I write my melodies I’ll actually play my trombone or melodica along with the backing tracks I wrote because it comes so naturally for me. The melody for my song “With Another” came from me playing around on my melodica for a while until I found something that really locked in with what I had already written.
8 – Do you think a music degree is important in order to become a good producer? What do you think about “natural talents”?
To me, having a degree in music only means that somebody wanted to take a more academic route in their musical career. This does not mean that they are any better than someone who is self-taught or never went to school for music. I do think that a big a benefit of going to school for music is that you’re in the middle of an immensely dense and diverse pool of creativity and a lot of opportunities can show up during your time while attending school. I think natural talent is definitely a thing. There are some people who just have something in them that makes creativity flow endlessly, but natural talent has to be nurtured into something bigger. I know many people that have an incredible natural talent for music, but they have worked hard to be where they are now.
9 – What’s the best advice you have ever received from someone in the music industry?
While I was in Nashville recently, I was studying under the guidance of two-time Grammy winning Recording and Mixing Engineer David Leonard. While I was watching him mix a song, I noticed that he boosted the bass of an instrument twice as much as I was always taught to do. When I asked him why he did this his response was, “Just because it’s more.” That moment is when I realized that there aren’t any rules in music and if it sounds good, then use it. Music has become a very visual thing in the past few decades and it’s important as an artist to remember to use your ears more than anything else.
10 – What’s your ultimate goal as an artist?
To make memories for other people. As artists, we are indirectly responsible for memories that people associate with our music. I want someone to be driving down the coast during one of their vacations while listening to one of my songs only to be reminded of that drive every time they hear that same song. Thoughts like that remind me how much of a privilege it is to write music.