Interview: Five minutes with DEADLIFE

DEADLIFE is a UK born and raised electronic musician. He has just released his latest single ‘Strands Unravel’ ahead of his album release City of Eternal Rain, due on 24th April 2020. The composer has been featured on the hit Youtube channel called NewRetroWave and has had his music streamed just over three million times among major streaming platforms. His album Bionic Chrysalis was voted Best Synthwave Album 2017 by acclaimed MetalSucks. We find out more about this self-taught DJ in this interview. 

 Set the tone for us. Why the arts?

It’s in my blood, always has been since I can remember, there was never any doubt really what I’d end up going into, even as a kid.

Which comes first when you’re producing – the sound or the idea?

Either, I wouldn’t say I have one way of working. Sometimes I find a sound I like, other times its a general idea of what I want to do, or sometimes I really like certain chord progressions and it inspires me to create a track.

Does your material feature any collaborations?


What’s on your current playlist?

Recently I’ve been playing a lot of Final Fantasy XIV, so it’s mostly the soundtrack to that, it’s truly lush. Incredible compositions. From time to time I’ll have some chillhop on, something downtempo, a soundtrack, or on rare occasions, I’ll dip into a really solid record like Deftones Diamond Eyes or Refused’s The Shape of Punk to Come.

Tell us about the chemistry you have with your fans on stage.


What techniques do you experiment with to get your original sound?

I usually play around with distortion, LFOs, and envelopes. Sometimes it sounds like I use arpeggiators in my music but it’s all programmed in. I don’t trust an arp to get the exact notes I want. Mixing to me is an extension of writing, I adore playing with sound frequencies and building this wall of dense, thick sound. I love my mid-frequencies! Its what gives it that chunky fatness with the bass. I want it to sound clean but also thick, and it took me a long, long time to get to that point. I kinda want my music to sound like its being transmitted from another reality directly into this one, and via the process, I use to make music, I think it gives it that slightly other-worldly edge. I just love producing.

Take us through a day in the recording studio.

First off, it’s definitely not a recording studio. I write in my bedroom, I’ve always written in very un-musical environments, just because I don’t have the resources to get a nice studio. I’ve always been janking it. The rig I use is an old gaming set up, and I’ve just added bits to it. I only got proper monitors in late 2016, and the first thing I did was write my first album when I got them! So yeah, though I’d love a studio someday, you make use with what you’ve got. I was running my RAM at 99% until about a month ago, you jank it til you make it.

So a day in the “studio” for me is probably… Open my DAW, mess around with chords until I really feel something in the chords, then that usually inspires me to write. I can’t pretend to know what comes after that because a lot of it is part muscle memory (setting up side chains, EQ, etc) and part of is it just jamming until I have something that is 90% complete. Then it’s six hours later and I wonder where all the time went, and I gotta go to bed because I have work at nine.

Was there a specific moment in your life where you thought, “this is what I want to do”?

I just know it’s what I’ve always been into it, there was never any doubt. I’ve had a fair few severe knockbacks in life, stuff that could have made me give up entirely. But I just always pushed on, mainly because I enjoy writing so much. It’s my biggest joy in life and takes top priority. I think sometimes I enjoy creating a track from scratch more than the actual release, it’s a pure love thing. Words can’t comprehend it too well. Music is, to me, the purest form of communication to get across how you’re feeling. And I think and feel a lot, so it’s incredibly cathartic to get it out there where I can hear it. It also helps me understand myself a bit better, and makes it all the more meaningful when other people feel the track too.

Any emerging artists on your radar?

I didn’t want to admit this but well… I don’t listen to much synthwave. I’m pretty out of it in terms of the scene I’ve been placed in, and I love composers more than anything. I’d say there is a handful though I enjoy, good guys who I’d like to see do well, who’s music is really good: Tonebox, d.notive, Straplocked and a guy called Inexedra. Also, a guy who’s doing really good, and is also placed in the scene because of his past work is Scattle, he experiments a lot with his sounds and I have high respect for that guy.

What gets your creative juices flowing?

Always a hard thing to answer, a lot of my stuff is inspired by things I can’t really place, more feelings than tangible, specific things. I play games sometimes and love good storytelling, I grew up with Final Fantasy and the music of Nobuo Uematsu, so a lot comes from him and Japanese RPGs. I love how music compliments visuals, I always have. I’d love to compose for games and films someday. 

I love powerful chord progressions, I am in love with music theory and how chords work, how certain keys convey certain emotions. I love the journey through a song to certain points, shades of light and dark, contrasting two feelings, mixing two feelings, taking someone through that audio story with me.

Take us through your collection of gear, tech or software that accompanies your creative expression.

I don’t have much hardware. I have a pair of KRK Rokit 6’s which I love and some Beyerdynamic DT 880 Pros. I also recently bought Push 2 for live stuff, but I’m still figuring all that out. Production-wise I’m a user of Ableton Live Suite 10. I use FabFilter Pro-Q for EQ, and a lot of Ableton’s own inbuilt compressors and reverbs. I use ValhallaVintageVerb too, what a plugin! I have a few samplers too, virtual ones, and use Massive and Serum, Duda is a God amongst men. I recently bought Omnisphere, so I’ve been heavily using that, and also use a few Kontakt plugins. I have tens of thousands of samples I’ve collected over the years, most of which I don’t use, but some I mix in with other samples to create new sounds. My PC rig isn’t the best but it’s improved since I got it via upgrading it. I think I’m on 32GB RAM now, much needed, with an i&7 processor, but probably going to upgrade that and bump up to 64GB RAM.

Any side projects you’re working on?

I release everything under DEADLIFE, although I did do a drone album I put on YouTube which is like a hidden release, its technically an album, it’s just for sleeping to.

How have you refined your craft since you entered the industry?

I’ve been a drummer since I was nine and that was always my instrument after I split from a band in 2012, I had to start from scratch, knowing little to nothing about production, but I had seen parts of the process when in recording studios in the past. I used this knowledge and the internet to self teach myself to produce better.

I knew that if I ever wanted to be happy, to create my own music without limitation, I’d have to learn to produce it well. That was probably the hardest part. The ideas were always there, but I couldn’t produce them. I had to reinvent myself and what I did completely, some people wondered why I didn’t continue playing in bands because I was always a drummer, but now, years later, most people don’t know that I play drums at all. It’s funny how times change, but I think to be happy, you have to go down the untrodden path. Its hard work but if you persevere, who knows where you could find yourself.

Breakdown the news for us: what can we expect from you this year?

I have this new release coming up, I’m on a compilation or two, but mostly who knows! I’m always open to things. I’m halfway through my next album after this next one. I don’t know what direction that’ll take, it may change, but I just love to write, and I’ll write until I physically and/or mentally can’t write anymore.

Famous last words?

Focus on what you really want, step up and graft. If you love it enough, that will be reward enough.


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