French synthwave maestro Absolute Valentine is hitting the United States for the first time. Very few synthwave artists have demonstrated such versatility within the genre. Absolute Valentine is constantly reinventing himself, showing that whether it is dark synth, outrun or retrowave, he can do it all.
Catch Absolute Valentine at what is guaranteed to be a smoking show at El Cid here in Los Angeles on Sunday September 2nd. Buy tickets here.
Absolute Valentine took time out of his busy schedule, dominating North America, to chat with us and give readers a heads up on what to expect from his live show and when we can expect new music.
Adam Barker: Police Heartbreaker has such an elaborate narrative, is there any chance we will get a live action music video exploring that world?
Absolute Valentine: That was my original idea, as Police Heartbreaker introduced a retro-futuristic world and the anti-hero Absolute Valentine. When i began production on this album, I had a fully thought out anime scenario in mind. It doesn’t mean that the project is dead, but I still need to find an anime team.
AB: Police Heartbreaker is a lot lighter than some of your previous work, like American Nightmares. Is this a natural evolution of your sound, or are you consciously trying to explore different genres of synthwave?
AV: American Nightmares was a period of my life when everything was dark around me. But yeah, I always try to explore new soundscapes. I don’t like to repeat myself that much. For example, my first album Sunset Love had a retrowave sound. I always like to keep the audience guessing. “What will happen next?”
AB: Where do you see yourself within the synth community? How do you endeavor to stay relevant in a genre that is both retro (backward looking) and cutting edge in its reliance on technology (forward looking)?
AV: Without hesitation I always look forward. I love modern technology and try to experiment with new methods to compose music. Perhaps I can explain it best by saying that I don’t use very many keyboards in my compositions, I am always using new tools.
AB: You have a comic book called Absolute Valentine: Memory Green put out by Crushpop Productions. How much input do you have in the stories? Did you come up with the original scenario?
AV: I was contacted by Crushpop Productions when I released American Nightmares, and Mark, the CPOP founder, told me he really appreciated Absolute Valentine. To be honest, he was a huge fan. So he asked me if I would be interested in someone writing a seven episode novel. You know my answer, all seven episodes have been published and written by the amazing Tom Haswell. Mark sent me all the episodes when they were finished for my approval. It feels fantastic to be a hero of a graphic novel!
AB: Do you see Absolute Valentine as a character that can be plugged into any kind of scenario? Is Absolute Valentine the hero of all of your musical explorations? He is a future cop in Police Heartbreaker, could he be a demon hunter or a cyborg or even a super spy in a different scenario?
AV: Absolute Valentine is an evolving character. Right now he is a future cop that can resolve a lot of different situations. In the future there will be a cyborg from a dark society, and he will need to find a way to vanquish that evil. Each track is modeled on a journey. Sometimes Absolute Valentine needs revenge, and other times he is wrapped up in a nostalgic moment.
AB: Your music is very cinematic, and you composed an evocative score for the short film The Summoner. How was your experience on the film? Do you see yourself transitioning into film or video game scores in the future?
AV: When James Secker (the director) contacted me for The Summoner, I was super excited. Immediately, I asked him what kind of emotions he was looking for, as the movie was not finished yet. He sent me a lot of photos and details, and “Light in the Dark” was born from Absolute Valentine’s darkness.
Right now I think a lot about scoring movies and video games. One of my dreams would be to produce music for a horror movie. I love producing strange sounds with my synthesizers.
AB: You do so much more than compose and perform. How does being a co-founder of Lazerdiscs Records impact you as an artist?
AV: Firstly, I get to meet a lot of amazing artists. We go on so many crazy adventures together. I always think abot the time when we will all be much older and we will be able to have conversations about all the crazy souvenirs we have collected.
There is a downside to all of this fun, as I get less time to produce my music, but I always do my best to stay productive. I would like to thank Darren deToni and Leander Lee Verheyen. Without them, it would not be the same.
AB: How do you decide which artists to sign for your label? What are you looking for in a Lazerdiscs artist?
AV: First of all, we are looking for talent and originality. The music needs to be interesting and emotional. Second, we are looking for artists who have a developed signature musical persona. Thirdly, we are looking for people who will work with the team on the label and support each other.
AB: I have to ask this question, what are your musical influences and what is the single influence that fans would find most surprising?
AV: In the past, I used to play guitar in and produce a black metal band. It was many years later that I switched over to keyboards and synthesizers. I’m now more influenced by the new French Touch (Justice, Daft Punk, Mr. Oizo …), as they use mostly old-time synths, and old synth-based soundtracks. But I must confess, I also love the energy of dubstep. Sorry guys, ahahhahah.
AB: What music is currently on your personal playlist? Is there a band or musician you are personally obsessed with right now?
AV: At the moment I have recently discovered another French artist, Prequell. I love his futuristic, symphonic vision. It is just amazing. On my playlist I listen to Stilz – Sentient album and many more. It is best to check out my Spotify playlist here if you want to know more.
AB: You are a big fan of movies. What are your comfort films? The ones you return to over and over? Is there a movie you are particularly obsessed with right now?
AV: I love a lot of genres, to be honest. It can be horror, thriller, sci-fi or adventure. But of course there are some that I can’t live without, like Halloween, The Crow, World War Z and Blade Runner. My favorite of all time is Leon: The Professional.
AB: Have you met all of your musical heroes? If not, who would you like to discuss music with in a bar over drinks? They can be alive or dead?
AV: I have gotten the chance to meet some amazing musical heroes, like Anoraak, Maethelvin, Danger, Carpenter Brut, Justice and John Carpenter. But yeah, I would love to get a drink with or open for many other musicians, like Nero, Kavinsky, Daft Punk, Metallica, or NIN (Trent Reznor is just a music god for me). Unfortunately I will never have the chance to have a discussion with Freddy Mercury or David Bowie.
AB: Do you enjoy performing live or are you more comfortable in your studio? And what can we expect to see from an Absolute Valentine live show?
AV: I love to perform live. In my studio, I am preparing the music for a live crowd. Live performance is always an adventure. As for what to expect, come to the show and you will see.
AB: How do you adapt your project for live performance? What gear do you use?
AV: For live, I try to pump the crowd up with a lot of energy in the first part and transition into more mental tracks later. I can’t bring all of my studio gear, so I try to reduce my set up to the minimum. I use two controllers and a computer, but it is always evolving, because I am constantly getting new ideas.
AB: What is next for Absolute Valentine? When can we expect to see a new album? Do you have any other exciting projects on the horizon?
AV: In the near future I am prepping a new album. If everything goes ok, it will be ready before the end of 2018. I also have some special secret stuff and some collaborations to look forward to.
Thanks for the nice chat. I hope to see you soon. I would also like to give a special thanks to all of my supporters. Stay Synth!!
Absolute Valentine just reissued his first album, Sunset Love, on limited edition transparent red vinyl (limited to only 300 copies). You can buy yours here.
Listen to “Extreme Drift” below: