It's not everyday you get a chance to speak to an insane doctor obsessed with building terrifying robots built out of abandoned computer and doll parts. The Doctor takes some time out of his insane day to unveil his intentions regarding his Microchip Terror project. Be sure to hit that play button to have a soundtrack to this crazy doctor's insanity:
Hi JY, thanks for taking some time out of your daily routine to answer some questions. Tell us a little bit about your music, goals etc for Microchip Terror.
JY: I’m from Singapore, and I used to play in death/thrash metal bands for about ten years before deciding to call it quits and start my own electronic project - Microchip Terror. I’m not really in touch with any scenes here, so I can’t really say much about that. Other than the metal scene here, which I’ve lost touch with long ago, I don’t know any electro or synth wave scene here. I’m pretty much a hermit that stays home and watches films and listens to or composes music. Other than films and music, I like do some reading.
With Microchip Terror I aimed to fuse Horror and Sci-Fi elements from films and soundtrack influences with early industrial as well as dark synth music. I love and am heavily influenced by 80s music and films. I try my best not to be another 80s retro producer since there are tons of them out there that can do a much better job than me. As an artist I believe it is important to stay true to ourselves, and as much as I can to be original. Also, I aim to be extremely open-minded and not to shy away from experimentation with art, as that’s usually where the magic happens. The reason why I chose to do electro music was due to the endless possibilities in terms of sound experimentation, which was something I couldn't do as much as I like to with metal music.
My musical influences during the formation of this project includes early Ministry, Fear Factory, Rammstein, White and Rob Zombie, Fabio Frizzi, Goblin, John Carpenter, Brad Fiedel, Perturbator, Protector 101, GosT, SurgeryHead and Carpenter Brut. Now, it could be anything from Daft Punk to Hans Zimmer to Anime music, heh! Some of my goals would include scoring for games and films in future, as well as playing live as soon as I get enough material for a set.
How did you come up with the name Microchip Terror?
JY: I wanted something that sounded like a title of a B Sci-Fi/horror film. So I got the idea from that scene in Terminator 2 where Sarah Connor removes the microchip that was in T-800's head that totally shuts it off completely. And I thought damn, just one little microchip could generate such terror and destruction to mankind - hence Microchip Terror.
You come from a metal background. Bands like Gost, Pertubator, Carpenter Brut and Dance with the Dead do well with the metal crowd. Why is metal so accepting when it comes to retro synth genres? People go berserk when these bands play live. What are the key ingredients for playing a live show with such intensity?
JY: Perhaps because these artists have strong metal vibes, at least that was exactly what I felt when I first heard Perturbator's Dangerous Days and that was even before I knew the term Synthwave or Retrowave. I just thought this electronic music sounded very metal, in terms of the song structures, melodies and the overall heaviness.
Living just outside NYC, we are spoiled with a wealth of live events. Gost and Carpenter Brut are very intense live with bodies flying everywhere. Do you have any plans to take Microchip Terror Live at some point?
JY: I won't be able to give the best idea since I've not played a live show, nor have I been to a synthwave show. But from what I've seen in videos, these artists put on amazing shows with their own style. Be it the lights, visuals and atmosphere to insane showmanship, but most importantly their energetic music drives everyone nuts as they're full of energy, not forgetting their ability to connect with the crowd in their own special ways. I go crazy watching a hand held camera footage of GosT on my computer and that certainly means something. Sounds like a typical thrash metal gig, sick! I would love to catch these guys someday. Definitely, when I have enough material I’ll start working on a live set. It will be tricky for me since I’ve only been on stage with a bass guitar when I was still playing in metal bands so I’ll need to take some time to learn and adapt to an Electro setup that I am comfortable with, at the same time put on an interesting show.
You have some great compliments on Bandcamp regarding your cassette. How has the fan reaction been to the super limited cassette overall? Also, what led to the decision to release this on cassette?
JY: The reactions were positive, which is a huge relief because this is my first time putting out tapes on my own and working with a tape production company. For a process that I have little control over, you could imagine the anxiety I was having before I receive the goods but thankfully it turned out well. The decision for this tape release was mainly because I wanted a physical copy of my own release, as I’m a huge fan of physical copies for music in general. As I’m already putting up digital downloads for free on Bandcamp, the most feasible option financially for releasing physical copies was cassette tape. Besides, I love the sound of tapes!
Tell us about the artwork. It reminds of me of Terminator? Is there a message behind the illustration?
JY: The artwork was actually a photograph of an android head that I built out of tech junk like broken computer parts I scavenged from the depths of the Electronic Wastelands. It sure reminds me of the Terminator as well as the artwork for the Robocop OST - the Nicolas Winding Refn Presents reissue edition vinyl. I wished I had an intellectual or philosophical message about trans-humanism ideas and the uncanny valley through the artwork, but to keep things fun I’m really just an insane doctor that does illegal experiments by building killer androids to take over the world and Microchip Terror is the name of this project / experiment.
We would also like to know a little about the artists you worked with on the cassette and how those collaborations came to be.
JY: SurgeryHead was quite an influence to me during the process of finding my own sound, the early versions of my tracks sounded too typical and I needed to fix that problem. So when I heard his album Lords Of The Video Wasteland, I was blown away - the music basically told me I can do whatever the hell I want and go crazy with it without abiding to any rules. So I wanted his craziness to infect one of my tracks and thankfully he agreed to remix 'Targeted For Termination'.
I needed a guitar solo for the track 'Cyber Tyrants' and Electric Dragon was the first person to agree among a few others I've approached, I am really grateful for that. His guitar solo was probably my favorite moment on the EP; he knew exactly what I needed without any explanation on my part - I guess perhaps both our metal backgrounds have something to do with that.
When you mentioned "too typical" it does hit home as so many artists share the same ideas. Many artists in the retrosynth and synthwave genres do share so much in common from the neon pink and blue colors laced into the art and ultimately into the music. Is there still room to make something different? Microchip Terror draws from several genres. Do you think fans want artists to dig deep in the creative vaults or stay consistent with sound that seduced them in the first place? Are you looking tweak things a little for the next release?
JY: Definitely, there are a lot of producers in this scene doing amazing work that deviates from the neon palm tree stuff. It's a tricky thing, some fans like myself love experimentation and exploring new sounds while there are others that still prefer listening to something familiar. Since I'm a music fan and also a musician, I try to be extremely open minded to both dark/heavy as well as the light stuff because I believe I can learn more and improve musically if I keep my mind open to ideas. Instead of writing songs based on films I love on the EP, the new material will be based on original concepts that reveal more about Microchip Terror and that insane Doctor I've mentioned before. I'll be trying out some new sounds as I'm never satisfied with my production but the heavy vibes will definitely be present.
What can you tell us about these new concepts and new sounds? Is there something you really want to do? What are your boundaries?
JY: Concept wise it’s still going to be Sci-Fi / Horror, I hope to give the audience a story to follow behind the Doctor's character and his work. I’m still in the early stages of developing these new sounds, one of which is that I’m trying to fuse horror and melancholic vibes - kind of like Japanese horror movies as they scare the shit out of you at first but the next minute, you feel really sad like with Dark Water from 2002. All that aside, my main goal is to improve on song writing and achieve a better sounding production. Boundaries? There shall be none!
Cool! What are you doing to push your music to the next level in creation and production? Are you experimenting with new software/hardware?
JY: I mix a lot on headphones for the debut EP, it took a toll on my ears so now I'm sticking to monitors so that I can work longer hours without busting my ear drums, I think that should be the right way anyway but I guess it's not too late to change my habits. I am playing around with some newer soft synths I've purchased like Massive, as I've only been using synth1 for the EP, which is an amazing software and still my main soft synth.
Any ideas on who you may work with on the next release? Your collaborations seemed to work very nicely on the current tape.
JY: Thanks! I'm very fortunate to have these talented guys on the debut tape. But for now I'm not sure who to approach yet, but I will have a better idea when I am close to completing the tracks. I will definitely have a guitar player again and maybe a vocalist but these are just rough plans.
Sounds good. We are looking forward to it. Anything else you want to add?
JY: Appreciate it Luke, thanks so much again!
Writer and contributor on Brutal Resonance
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