20SIX Hundred (aka Darren Jones) Auto-Biography
I was heavily influenced by 80’s horror films, having seen a whole bunch of them very young, particularly the films of John Carpenter and any other flicks that featured a score composed on a synthesizer. I loved that electronic sound from a very early age. I started making super bad, super low budget “videos” when I was a teenager and wanted to become a film maker. I used a super cheap Casio SA-1 with a whopping 100 instruments to score my lame videos.
Fast forward a decade or two, and I ended up editing and scoring a few lo budget films and writing, directing, editing and scoring some of my own. I graduated to Virtual Synths on my Mac, using Reason, Cubase and Logic to compose the music. I was briefly in a classic rock cover band in the 2000’s, but my love was electronic music.
A few years ago I discovered a subgenre of electronic music called “synthwave” – a musical style routed in 80’s retro synth-based electronica, and much of it sounds as if it were supposed to be in an 80’s sci-fi or horror film, or a car-racing video game. And I had been making similar music for years, and thought, why not take a stab at it?
I named my outfit 20SIX Hundred, being a big fan of the Atari 2600 Video Computer System and put out my first album in 2014. Mostly “synthwave” styled tracks, with a few scary ones thrown in for good measure. I performed all the instrumentation myself, and mixed and mastered it myself. Over the course of 3 albums, my musical style slowly drifted away from “true synthwave” and more “industrial” and “progressive rock” sounding, and I started using real drums, bass and guitars – but always backed it with retro-sounding synthesizers. My third album, The Cold Rise From Sleep, seemed quite popular, and a friend of mine, Dave Pyper, helped me out on the track After Hours by providing some amazing guitar solos. I also learned quite a bit about the mixing and mastering aspect of production.
My latest album, PHANTASMAGORIC, is an homage to classic B-movies with an underlying theme of Death and Finality. It was also my first venture, outside of a Twin Peaks compilation I worked on earlier last year, using female vocals. I collaborated with Chelsea Owen from Victoria, BC (who goes by the moniker Oceanside ’85) and she wrote the lyrics for and sang on two of my tracks. They sound great, and truly stand out among what is arguably soundtrack-styled compositions. I’m really interested in exploring soundscapes and creating a mood really, rather than coming up with a hook or a fantastic melody, although those things are always great to have. I like the concept of having an underlying concept behind an album so all the pieces of music work together, but each song should also be able to stand out on their own.
I want to explore even more dark territory, have another few tracks with vocals, and dig deeper into soundtrack infused ambience. I really want my music to paint a visual picture in your mind, and unravel into a cohesive movie, your movie, with my soundtrack. I would also love to go out and perform my music in public, something that a “garage producer” like myself might find a bit daunting without a backing band to cover all aspects, but I’d be up for the challenge.
Get the album PHANTASMAGORIC at https://20sixhundred.bandcamp.com/
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