Interview with synth-infused music producer Man Without Country

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Image credit: Man Without Country

Set to release his EP Bloods, Side A on the 16th July, music producer Man Without Country a.k.a Ryan A. James returns with the mellow single ‘Gardener In a War’. The track is infused with rich and delicate synth notes that create a fragrant listening experience for any retro music lover for sure. Man Without Country has worked with Röyksopp on their noteworthy single ‘Sordid Affair’ and has released official remixes for renowned electronic acts like M83 and Moby in recent years.

We had the pleasure of finding out the finer details about Man Without Country’s art below.

Describe a pivotal music moment for you in your favourite film, television show, brand partnership etc. Has this influenced any of your own compositions?

I loved that bit in The OC back in the day when Mischa Barton shoots Ryan’s git of a brother in the back, and Imogen Heap’s ‘Hide and Seek’ comes in. I was blown away by the poignancy of the moment and how amazing the vocal processing in that track sounded. I’ve been messing with vocoders and vocal processing ever since.

How did you become drawn towards making retro/synthwave music?

I’m slightly reluctant to describe myself as a synth-wave artist. It just so happens that I love ’80s music and use a lot of vintage hardware. So much of that genre is completely uninteresting and lacking in substance.

What does your current software/hardware setup currently consist of?

I very rarely use software synths anymore. I have Ableton as my DAW and use a handful of plugins. Almost all synth work is done with hardware – mostly 80’s era gear or 80’s synth clones. Currently, I’m using a Korg MS20, DW-8000, Arp Odyssey and MicroKorg, a Roland JX-8P, D-50, U-220, JU-06a, VP-03, a Yamaha DX7 and a Behringer Model D. My setup is probably minimalist compared to many but I have been thinking about downsizing to something even smaller that covers a lot of areas in one – as I find I tend to mostly use whatever is right in front of me.

Outside of music, what inspires you?

Family, gardening, peace and quiet.

What kind of relationship do you have with the internet? How does this inform your artistic expression?

I’m not a huge lover of social media. If it wasn’t such a useful tool for promoting music then I probably wouldn’t bother with it at all.

As a performer or as a member of the audience, what single show has been the most memorable for you?

As a performer- There’ve been a few. To pick one it would have to be Heaven in London in 2018 – opening for ionnalee. I hadn’t played too many solo shows at that point and it just felt like one of those ones where you gave a little extra and the audience really felt it.

 As an audience member – I got to see John Grant with the Royal Northern Sinfonia in Bristol a while back and it was magnificent.

Any new or upcoming artists on your radar?

I would highly recommend a duo named Felsmann + Tiley. I was fortunate enough to end up working with them on a project not too long ago and was completely blown away by their compositions. Some of the best synth work I’ve heard in years.

Please suggest an album for us to listen to.

I’m still listening to Punisher by Phoebe Bridgers a fair bit since it came out last year. But I love everything she does.

What can we expect from you in the near future? Any upcoming projects or gigs in the pipeline that you would like to tell us about?

I’m planning and hoping to play some select shows before the end of this year. Aside from that, it’ll soon be time to return to my synth cave to finish the follow up to Bloods, Side A.

Famous last words?

“This will be my last album.”

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