Logan is the man behind the online community 'Tek Syndicate' and the weekly news show 'The Tek' and other original content. They cover everything in the technology sector, whether it's Politics, Hardware, or Video Games. But Logan is also a talented musician, and it's only fitting that his music is also technology oriented. It's called Zweihänder, and it's electronic music with metal and classical influences. I got a chance to talk to Logan about Zweihänder and his other influences and processes. Read below for a peek inside his brain.
At what age did you first start creating your own music personally and professionally, and are there any plans for music outside of Zweihänder?
I've been making music since I was about 15, in one form or another. I did a couple acoustic/acapella improv comedy albums then, but was never serious about anything. I listen to extreme metal, bluegrass, and classical and I decided early on that I would never be able to invest enough time to be as good as the musicians I like, so music was a hobby or outlet only.
As for Zweihänder, I did not intend to do anything professional. I mainly wanted some music that fit the style of the Tek Syndicate videos and not get flagged by YouTube's terrible content ID system. I am better at composition than I am at playing live music. I'm also not very good with the software. So, my music is still rough around the edges.
If I did any music outside of Zweihänder it would be in the extreme metal category and I would not produce it myself. It's not out of the question, but it's not something I have time for now.
I know how you feel about labels so I know you'll hate this question haha. Would you say Zweihänder falls under the 'Chip Tunes' category or somewhere else entirely?
Zweihänder is technically not "chiptunes". If one wants to be pedantic it is "fakebit". I use 8bit sounds but I mix them with other electronic instruments and even some live instrument samples. So, it has a chiptune core but I do not allow the definition to limit my style. I've been mixing in some retro/80s style synths lately. I do whatever I want.
What other music has most influenced you personally over the years? And has any of that music influenced the sound of Zweihänder?
Progressive and pagan black metal resonates with me the most, particularly bands from Germany, Norway, Finland, Sweden, and Switzerland. I am not sure if you can hear any of that influence in the music, but perhaps there is a similar mood to some of the music. I like the hollow and eerie imagery invoked by some of the black metal I listen to. There is a subtle melancholy to it, and that feels real to me.
I do think the bluegrass and classical influence is apparent. I love counterpointal lines. This can sound busy to some, but without it I get bored.
What tools (instruments, software, hardware) do you use when creating your music? Do you play any instruments or is it all programmed?
I use FL Studio because it has the best piano roll I can find. It's just fast and easy. I am terrible at mastering, but I don't care much. I'll hire someone to master, one day...
It's all about the instruments. The VSTs from http://www.tweakbench.com/ got me started and I still use them on almost every track. They are simple and sound awesome. I also use the magical8bit VST and a few random, free VSTs.
I do pay for a few premium instruments as well. Syntheway makes great choral, string, and piano sounds. Arturia makes all my favorite old-school synth VTSs (ARP 2600 and the Moog stuff mainly).
I do not play any acoustic instruments on the albums, though I have thought about breaking out my mandolin for a song or two on the next album. I did actually play some drums on this album, but with an electronic kit.
You've said the the 1st album 'Ear Slayer' was more of an experiment and a learning processes. The 2nd album 'Nitheren' actually has a story, yet both albums are entirely instrumental. Does the story come 1st? Does it develop along side the music?
We discuss a story and many of the songs have a theme. This helps with the flow since I am scoring a scene in my head. So, generally I have a story first. However, sometimes I just feel like making some music. So, I will make a song and then later we can add a story to it if need be.
There are some pretty atmospheric sounds in a few tracks of both the 'Ear Slayer' and 'Nitheren'. It really gets my imagination running , almost like I'm in a video game. I have heard rumors about a Tek Syndicate game... Would you like to address these rumors sir?
Rumors are scary! (Note: All proceeds will go toward initial development of a somewhat secret project.)
One of my personal favorites is the track 'Epic' on 'Ear Slayer' because it sounds like a metal song, but still works as an electronic track, and it stands out to me for this reason. There aren't any other tracks that I would describe like that on 'Nitheren'. Was this a conscious decision you made or do you just wright what comes to you?
When I made 'Epic', I sat down and said, "let's do 8bit Ensiferium!". I love epic metal and I have heard several 8bit remakes of popular songs, but no original songs. So, that was my attempt. I am somewhat satisfied with it. My big gripe is that I did not have live drums. I recently picked up some Roland V-Drums, so that problem is over. I made one metal-style song on the new album (Slay the Chopper). If everyone enjoys it I might make several more and release a whole album of this style. I write these songs faster because it is more natural for me, and I can just play the drums rather than program them in.
Are there any musicians you would like to collaborate with? Or have you collaborated with others already?
I would enjoy working with Andrew Hulshult . I think a track with some guitars would be epic. Plus, I'm sure we would have a few beers and make a hilarious video out of it. It would be cool to work with a pagan metal band or guitarist, but I am not sure how it would work with the music. Other than that, I would be curious to work with some of the new dark wave artists like Carpenter Brut, Dan Terminus, or Perturbator.
I've been hearing little snippets of new music on the latest Tek Syndicate videos and it sounds great. Seems to have a 80's synth flavor to it, but still distinctly Zweihänder. Can we expect more of this style on the 3rd album?
I used a few VSTs that have a very 80's sound, but it's all foreshadowing. The fourth album will be primarily dark wave, retro, and 80s style stuff with a little 8-bit mixed in. I already have several songs ready for that album, but for this one the styles are too dissimilar. You can tell it's still Zweihänder, but I have decided to separate the 80's stuff for a future release. That is also why this latest album is taking so long. I am working on music for both albums, in both styles. I like working on multiple things at once. That means it takes longer for any one thing to get finished, but it also means you do not have to waste ideas. If you have an idea that is better for one style, do it, there is no reason to wait or do things in order. Some people can organize ideas and work in a linear fashion, but I am far too chaotic to work this way.
Does the new album have a name yet, and when/where can we buy it as well as 'Ear Slayer' and 'Nitheren'?
Höllental. The translation is "Hell's Valley". Expect it on OCT 31st.