Com Truise is the pseudonym of New Jersey based producer Seth Haley who describes his music as ‘synthwave’ and himself as a ‘synth nerd’, which is evidenced by his debut LP Galactic Melt – a sonic love letter to the early electronica of the Atari Age. Easy points of reference for his tunes include the sci-fi cinema of Vangelis, Boards of Canada-esque soundscapes, Italian disco house, and Eighties hip hop; but despite a haul of nostalgic influences Galactic Melt sounds wholly futuristic. Pedestrian recently chatted to Seth about ’80s era synth music, the difference between synthwave and chillwave, and the possibility of a visit to Australia…
PEDESTRIAN: I hear you’re on tour. Where you at right now? COM TRUISE: I’m on a small break, I’m currently home, in upstate, NY. I’m leaving to tour again in two days.
So how do you go with touring – are there many challenges to recreate your sound live? I haven’t really run into to any real challenges yet. This past week I’ve been we’ve been finalizing the set with a real drummer, it’s sounding so good. Next level.
Is there a lot of equipment you have to take on tour? It’s slowly growing. I’ve been taking one vintage synth with me, an Octave Cat. I constantly worry about it. But it adds so much to the live set.
The first time I heard your work as Com Truise it was the track “Dreambender” which a friend had turned me on to and my first point of reference was Vangelis. Is that synth-era music of the Eighties as influential to Com Truise as it sounds like it is? That’s a terribly worded question… I guess I mean, is that era of music important to you? Very important, I find myself listening to ’80s era synth stuff more than anything, everyone always asks “what are you currently listening to?” and more of the time it’s music that isn’t quite current. There is too much music coming out, we’re only hurting ourselves, it’s a cloudy market.
Speaking of cloudy… Explain the difference between “synthwave” and “chillwave” – if there is one? Well ‘chillwave’ strikes me as music having more of a mellow, chill, fun, or happy vibe. ‘Synthwave’ is more along the lines of depressing, dark, warm but cold at the same time. I mean I just think Synthwave fits my sound more than anything really, it’s the one word sum-up of what I’m trying to achieve.
Outside of music, what inspires your work and the creative process. Reading, films, surfing the net for hours finding, looking at media on vintage computer systems. Everything really, I just don’t drag my personal life too far into my productions, I do draw from it, but it’ll never be the main focus.
All your album artwork is amazing and I understand you do it yourself. Is the connection between sound and vision important to you, and why? Yes, I’m a designer by trade. Very important, for the simple fact that it’s easy to be misrepresented or misunderstood for that matter, simple on a visual level. Branding and the knowledge of it plays heavy in all of my creative output. I always tell people when they ask why I designed it myself, “Who knows better what the sound looks like, than myself?” Sometimes I can see what the sound(s) look like even before music is written.
I’ve seen that you’re a self-confessed synth nerd. What’s in your personal collection? As of right now, a Octave Cat, Oberheim Matrix-6, Korg Poly-61, Korg EX-800, Sequential Circuits Split-Eight, Simmons SDS-8. By no means is this a major collection but some sort of magic seems to happen.
If the house was on fire what 5 things would you take with you? iMac, hard-drives, Matrix-6, Passport, my favorite jacket. Way too hard, if it were to happen my adrenaline would be off the scale so I would get almost everything out safely.
You’ve got a growing fan base in Australia. When are you heading down here to play? Not sure, there has been some talk the past few weeks. Nothing on the immediate radar, I’m sure soon enough though. It’s far!!
Personal motto? Value you your own opinions and be careful whom you choose to share them with.
Galactic Melt is out now through Ghostly International/!K7/Fuse.