As my old theme ran out of juice and started to act up I decided to design and build my site from scratch. As a result the old blog posts are currently missing images but hopefully the site is a bit nicer and easier to use.
It's new album time again! 'Dangerous' is my 6th album as Runaway Droid since 2018. Huh. That's a lot of albums. Luckily Spotify has made this regularly updating playlist of the essential tracks, great for any new listeners to check out the discography.
While the last album 'V' was all about Cyberpunk and cinematic vibes, 'Dangerous' is a return to the happier and lighter 80's sound with more uptempo tracks. This time I didn't include any tracks with vocals and kept the theme more or less the same to have a tighter package. Should be a good soundtrack for driving a car at night. Like Synthwave is meant to.
Some of the tracks were made already right after 'Lightyears' in the spring of 2020 and some a year later. So I have a lot of unreleased tracks I chose not to include on the album, but I'm planning to release an Extended Edition with probably 20+ tracks at some point. A few with vocals / vocoder in that bunch.
There are 5 completely new tracks, 5 already released as singles and a remix of 'Time Warp' from my first album.
1, 2, 3... 4... What the hell? Yes, it's my 5th album as Runaway Droid. Crazy! Anyways, it's out today on all streaming platforms like Spotify and Apple Music, more links here. If you're old school or would really like to support all my music is also available for purchase on Bandcamp! For lyrics and more info checkout the album page for V on this site.
This album differs from my previous releases as it has a sort of a more unified theme and feel to it. Whereas my previous releases have been more or less sort of compilations of the music I liked to make at the time.
V is more dark and heavy from start to finish. I have my musical roots in playing metal and rock guitar in bands, so that melancholy and dark tones are where I always seem to come back to at some point. The oddest bird on the album is called "Weaponized". I don't know what genre that is. Don't ask.
I also dug back to some musical themes I composed during my band years and gave them another spin as instrumentals on Cryogenics and Time.
I'd sum this album as some sort of mix of Synthwave, Cyberpunk, Electronic Rock and film/game music(?).
On this album I have two collab tracks but three collaborators. The track number 2. called Elements was an instrumental I wanted to have vocals on. So I sent it to my old band mate an vocalist R0kyu here in Helsinki and got back a really cool chorus melody and lyrical theme. At this point the track started to feel even more like Linkin Park, So why not have rap on verses?! And when I want rap Mark Cooper from Detroit is the man for the job! After Elements I used the same chorus melody on piano to make a nice instrumental piece called Resolution to carry out the theme.
The track number 6. Something Blue was released as a single last autumn for Halloween. Featuring another amazing vocalist from the U.S. Tarot Blood wrote the lyrics and vocal melody over my instrumental piece.
Elements (feat. R0kyu & Mark Cooper)
Something Blue (feat. Tarot Blood)
Something Blue (Instrumental)
I'm already working on the next album... Okay that's a big fat lie. Because it's actually pretty much done. But let's focus on this release for a while first? All I can say the 6th album will be pretty much the opposite to this one. If V is dark and melancholy the next one is more Synthwave, more Outrun, more summer and more fun!
In the meantime waiting for the Covid vaccine and working remotely pretty much the past year. Maybe we can travel and have live gigs some day again?
This was a heavy and downtempo track I composed and produced last spring that I felt really would fit well for some epic vocals. I've been compiling my own playlists on Spotify (more of which later on this blog) and that's how I found Tarot Blood who wrote the lyrics, vocal melodies and obviously delivered the amazing singing on this track.
Mixing the track with vocals was a bit of a process but luckily I got some professional help for the final mixdown and master by Syst3m Glitch.
We wanted to time the release of this haunting song for Halloween as it's got some gothic and mystic vibes and is really hard to put in any one genre, let alone in Synthwave.
Actually, by the way! I just got married earlier this month! Whaaaat?! yes that's right!
So coincidentally the track title is quite fitting. Though the lyrics are by Tarot Blood and not about me, haha!
After the last album LIGHTYEARS I've released 4 singles. I want to highlight Maverick, a Top Gun (1986) film and soundtrack inspired song. Pure 80's vocals and lyrics by the awesome Syst3m Glitch. Stream on Spotify or on your favorite platform.
Playlists on Spotify
So I've been curating my own public playlists on Spotify for a few months now. I started with a playlist of some less heard or unknown but really sweet Synthwave & Retrowave. Tune in and give it a follow on Spotify!
The second playlist I started a bit later is for more hard and heavy hitting Cyberpunk synth tunes. Check out Cyberpunk FM.
Almost exactly 2 years 1 month ago I released my first single Activation Sequence on this project. So happy 2-year birthday to Runaway Droid! Last year I wrote about my first year on producing Synthwave. The world and this scene has changed a lot since then. Definitely feels like more than a year. Since last October I've done my first 4 live performances as Runaway Droid, the last one in February. And then suddenly nobody got to play live anymore anywhere and the whole world shut down because of Covid-19. At the moment I'm not planning to do any live performances so let's revisit that topic some day the pandemic is over.
Something Blue is the first single from by forthcoming 5th Runaway Droid album. This one is going to be, at least I think so, a bit more musically unified and less random and leans more on the Cyberpunk side of Synthwave sounds. Expect huge hard hitting distortion basses as well some sweater cinematic instrumental themes and haunting pianos. The planned release time is during the first quarter of 2021.
A lot has changed since the last blog post. We all now about the global pandemic, COVID-19 and how it has affected everyone in every aspect of life. Also the following protests and riots in the US and globally. So I won't get too much into that in this blog post. It's probably not the best time to release a record, but here we go.
This one is the most versatile and biggest album I've done so far. Also the most time consuming. I started to make tracks for the album right after the previous one in August 2019 and released some of them as singles during the past 8-10 months or so. I wouldn't call this a Synthwave album, actually I have no idea how to categorize it. You tell me! Basically I just set out to do music and tracks I wanted to do and felt like worth doing and most importantly, having fun! There's some "general Synthwave", Outrun, Cyberpunk, Rock, Rap, Future Funk, Metal... All kinds of fun!
Really it's like a collection of tracks I wanted to do. In terms of a concept release, I have an EP coming up later this year that actually has a theme.
It's also different from the previous albums which were all instrumentals. This time I've got a lot of friends from around the world doing vocal collaborations so that's a whole different process and workflow. The album name was coined by Mark Cooper, who's doing some awesome rap on two tracks: On the Line & Trek Wars. I had difficulties coming up with a name that would sum up this hot mess of an album, and there it was, so obvious! Spanning over decades and genres.
The album starts with an instrumental called "F.U.N.K." that leads to an 80's pop/rock vocal track "Moonwalker" performed by C Z A R I N A. I had the honor of meeting her in last November in New York. Feels really surreal right now, when there's no way to travel anywhere. When I wrote this track she was the first person in my mind to do the vocals. Fortunately she agreed to do it! As an instrumental guy, I always struggle when writing lyrics to a melody. Luckily she has a super power to transform and render my halting lines into a real song!
The next vocal collab track is "Hellbound" featuring R0kyu. My bandmate from the rock band KARMIA we did almost a decade and laid to rest last year. Hellbound is a track we did in 2015 and felt like it needed to be reborn.
On the Line & Trek Wars
Next in line is "On the line" featuring aforementioned Mark Cooper, also known as Player One, from Detroit. I haven't met this super cool Nerdcore rapper in person yet, but I hope we can meet and perform together after all the pandemic and mayhem settles down. Mark is on this album two times! "Trek Wars" is a new track where I wanted to do some metal guitar riffs over "gaming music" sound with a Synthwave/Cyberpunk core. I sent it to Mark and all he needed was 2 hours, a few ideas for the theme and so this epic Nerdcore rap of Star Wars and Star Trek was born. He's a master of his craft and can write rap and vocal hooks instantly without breaking a sweat.
"Rocket Machine" was originally an instrumental track released as a single (also as a bonus track on this album), which got a complete make over by my Helsinki Synth City brother Levinsky. If I know a man so true to his art and integrity, it's this guy. I don't think you can hear him sing anywhere that you could easily find, so check out this powerful 80's/70's heavy metal vocal rendition. Authentic, that's the word.
Thunder in Your Eyes
Yet another collab from the US is "Thunder in You Eyes" by Colin Cayvz. We met by change last August in Las Vegas in a karaoke bar. I had this Outrun/80's rock track I felt needed vocals. I wrote some lyrics and melody and sent his way. I was thinking "I probably wrote this too high...", but I got back exactly what I wrote! Man this guy can reach some pretty high notes!
It's My Life
The last vocal track on the album is a Bon Jovi cover we did with Millennium Falck for a Helsinki Synth City live event "Winter Warmer" held February 1st, 2020. Little did we know about the impending pandemic at the time and that would be the last live concert in a while. I had the idea of a cover to end the night about two weeks before the show, as my set was going to be the last one and started putting it together. We both had to learn pretty quickly to play it live and actually first time practiced it together at the soundcheck. I did some vocoder singing while playing guitar, though I don't think the audience heard my vocals at all. Falck did stellar job just jumping in my crazy idea and delivering the live vocals perfectly! Below is a video from the event. The version on the album is remixed and has some new tricks up to its sleeve.
As the world is a mess right now I don't know when I can play live the next time. Or even if the venues are still there. I guess I could as well reveal that I was going to play a gig in Los Angeles this summer with some friends over there while on my vacation. So that went down the drain before even announcing anything! A lot of plans and gigs and whatnot has been cancelled or postponed and then cancelled. Personally I'm not really into live streaming gigs and playing into emptiness, so probably won't be doing that sort of thing. Call me a boomer, I don't care! I need the energy from a live audience to make it worthwhile for both you and me. I hope to meet you all again on stage at some point!
Thanks to all the wonderful #synthfam people who rocked with us the whole night! We had 4 live Synthwave sets by Millennium Falck, Levinsky, Glowline and Runaway Droid. I started my set at midnight so this was the last song of the night.
Filmed by Jere Hyppönen & Juho Karenko. Lights by Glowline/Tiivistämö.
I'm still working on the 4th album. It's been taking a bit longer than my previous albums as I have featuring artists doing vocals for some of the tracks. I now plan to release it in late April or June.
As usual it will be a hot mess of subgenres from Dark Synth to sparkly 80's Synthpop to some funky stuff and everything in between.
The album will have about 12-15 tracks in total. 5 or 6 already released singles and one of them will be a new vocal version. I'm releasing a new track called "Way to the Stars" from the album on April 6. I'm doing some vocoder on this one. Pre-Save to Spotify today!
It's time for the monthly single release! This February I have this game music / Dark Synth influenced slow ambient~ish but sort of brutal instrumental track "Last Defence". Imagine a war of robots in a distant world somewhere in time and space where the gigantic enemy machines are rumbling over the last defences of the resistance.
Helsinki Synth City - Winter Warmer
On February 1st I performed my second live of the year at Helsinki Synth City - Winter Warmer event at Tiivistämö in Helsinki with Millennium Falck, Levinsky & Glowline. I think this was my best gig I've ever done in any band or project. Even though I had vocoder issues but the audience was so awesome! You guys made me super happy! I had my friends Jere & Juho filming the beatifully lit (by Glowline) event, some cool slow motion footage below. The sweet keytar photo on the top of the page is by Matias Räisänen.
I got to close the event with my set and the last song I performed with Millennium Falck was a cover of Bon Jovi's It's My Life. It was a crazy idea I thought would be cool 2 weeks before the event. "Hey if I'll make this cover will you sing?" "Sure!" "Also let's make a music video of it!" "Hell yeah!". So next month on March 9 the single will be on Spotify and the music video (probably earlier, in a week or so) on my YouTube channel. This is the first cover I've done in years and the first on this project. Licensing a cover song was surprisingly easy by Harry Fox Agency through DistroKid. So no worries, it's done by the book.
I'm still working on my 4th album I intended to release in March. The project has grown a bit from what I first thought it would be, so I may have to push the release a month or two. Meanwhile that Bon Jovi cover is hitting Spotify and in any case I'm releasing every month, so hit the Follow button Spotify to get the latest releases on your Release Radar!
I'm looking into cool live performance opportunities and may have some exciting news for the summer! If you'd like to book Runaway Droid email me!
My first release of the year is also my first collaboration track. I made this combination of Synthwave and 80's pop rock and felt it definitely needed some vocals. I sent it to Detroit based Nerdcore rapper Mark Cooper and man, Mark delivered! "On the line" feat. Mark Cooper is out now! Stream on Spotify, download on Bandcamp. Find it on your favorite platform! Be sure to follow Mark on Spotify!
This track will be on my 4th album with other collaboration tracks featuring various vocalists.
I'm releasing new music every month so hit the follow button on the Runaway Droid Spotify profile to get monthly fresh retro on your Release Radar! The next track out in February will be "Last Defence", a game soundtrack type dark instrumental piece. Pre-Save to Spotify here.
I already had my first live of the year on January 3rd at Helsinki Synth City - Back to Fiesta with Arcdiv, Desert Monolith, Kizunaut & Glowline. Our Helsinki Synth City brother Ace Buchannon had to cancel his show so I did my best to fill in. I had 3 days to rehearse my set, which I had completely forgotten to keep up as I've been making new music. My synth playing in the dark with sunglasses on was all over the place, but I got to play On the Line and South Beach Chase Sequence live for the first time.
It's time for the monthly single release! South Beach Chase Sequence (try to pronounce that quickly!) is out today! Last month we went into Cyberpunk for Blade Runner month but this time we'll take a U-turn to supercharged Outrun!
I'm trying to release new music monthly, so be sure to hit follow on Spotify to get fresh tunes every month. At the moment I'm working on the 4th Runaway Droid album that's coming out in the first quarter of 2020. Seems it's going to be half instrumental and half vocal tracks.
A few weeks ago around Thanksgiving I visited New York with my girlfriend Eve (the female police officer voice on the track above is her by the way!) and her family for her birthday. We flew in through Dublin, Ireland and spent a few hours there walking her sister's dogs on the beach. The last time I was in NYC was in 2014 to see X Japan play Madison Square Garden. Still love that city, probably my favorite city on Earth! Feels like home. We stayed at Aloft Manhattan which I can highly recommend. It wasn't too pricey and the staff was super nice!
We went to see the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, visited Top of the Rock for Manhattan sunset views, saw Messiah at Carnegie Hall and explored Manhattan, Central Park and Brooklyn.
After lunch she gave us a tour of the neighbourhood (Williamsburg's got a cool music store with retro synths, I got to try an authentic Minimoog!) and took us to Catbird, a jewellery store I asked her to recommend a few weeks before the trip where I could get my girlfriend's birthday present. Specifically I needed a place to get moonstone jewellery. I bought a ring.
Oh yes, it was an engagement ring. She just didn't know it yet. The next day was Eve's birthday so in the evening after sunset I lead her to Brooklyn Heights Promenade and asked her to marry me. She said yes! Thank God. The whole day was quite unnerving walking around with the ring in my pocket trying to get her to the location at the right time without raising suspicion. After getting back to the hotel and surprising her dad and sister with the happy news we went to have a ton of cake at Ferrara in Little Italy.
On Dec 2 it started snowing heavily while we headed back home to Finland through Dublin again. Had a few hours of sleep there and then flew Dublin - Stockholm - Helsinki. New York we'll be back!
Last Saturday November 9. I played my first official live show as Runaway Droid at Helsinki Synth City Festival. What an awesome experience! Way more people showed up than anyone expected. Ääniwalli was packed with 600-700 people during the night.
We had an awesome festival line-up: Nina, Robert Parker, Ace Buchannon, Millennium Falck, Levinsky, Kizunaut, VVOV, Glowline, Runaway Droid.
A heartfelt Thank You to everyone who came to see us!
We went all in with the marketing and did pretty much everything within the Helsinki Synth City collective to make the festival possible without a crazy budget. We had AR posters (thanks to AR partner and sponsor Arilyn!), a trailer movie for the festival shot and edited by Glowline (Detailed credits in the video above). Glowline also did the lights on Kallio Stage so without him my live would have looked pretty dark! Thanks to Petri Pekkarinen for being our "The Driver" not only in the film but also during the festival! We also had a movie screening of "Tonight She Comes" by Matt Stuertz with Night Visions Festival. Hotel Rivoli Jardin accomodated our special headliners and let us shoot a part of our movie trailer in their finest room. I did my part by designing the logo and some posters and such while Millennium Falck and Levinsky did all the heavy lifting by organizing the whole event and contracts and all event producing matters. Without the hard work of these guys within only 3 months from zero to a full blown festival it would have never happened.
One of the coolest things after the festival was this article by YLE (The Finnish equivalent of BBC). Thanks Jussi Mankkinen from YLE who came to the festival and interviewed and took photos and video; Synthwave in Finland finally got some mainstream attention on national media!
I started to work on my live set last summer and tried to make it as entertaining as possible by playing both guitar and keyboard (& keytar) and "singing" with vocoder on Memory Core. Back when I started making Synthwave I didn't plan to do live performances so some tracks were quite tricky as I had not designed the parts for live playing at all. Also I'm not a keyboardist so I took up keytar in a few months for this. I do compose with a midi keyboard but I'm really not a player, I'll need more practice with that in the future. I have played guitar for 20 years but that wasn't too much help as the concept is quite different and my choice of all black keys wasn't the smartest one in a dark live room with sunglasses on... Luckily two weeks before the event I had a gig at a private space themed party to see how my set works.
I have 3 new singles out since the last blog. Check out Memory Core for vocoder vocals, Rocket Machine for guitar solos and Reconfiguration (Cyberpunk Mix) to tune into Blade Runner month which is now! It's November 2019 like in the movie!
For the past 9 years I've been playing guitar in a rock band called KARMIA which I formed with the vocalist Sharan. Recently we decided to put the band to rest for several reasons. While it's sad and quite emotional this allows me more time for my passion to Synthwave.
Right now I'm mastering my next single release for December. I'm trying to release a single per month while working on the 4th Runaway Droid album. Follow on Spotify to get them as they release! These singles will lead to an album release hopefully some time in the first quarter of 2020.
Now that I've performed my first live Synthwave sets I'm ready to do more and will be looking for cool opportunities in the future. If you want to book me check the contact info at the bottom of the page!