The constant cashing in on 80s nostalgia has created a fatigue around every aspect of pop culture associated with the decade. For a while, it felt like you couldn’t go 10 minutes without seeing some dickhead sporting a Neverending Story T-shirt — ironically, of course.
Thankfully, people seem to be slowly moving on. How does New York electronic DJ Seth Haley (AKA Com Truise) avoid this sense of pop-culture appropriation? By being completely apathetic to the 80s while carving his own musical narrative. It’s an effective approach — the beats and plinky-plonky syth-laden sounds are all there, sure, but they sound fresh, given a new lease of life thanks to Haley’s clear obsession with making each sound perfectly convey a very specific emotion.
He’s very much doing his own thing, and it feels like he would be making this kind of music regardless of whether the 80s happened or not...
Your new album, Iteration, seems to remove your work from the kind of 80s nostalgia that’s starting to fatigue across popular culture. Have you found it difficult to establish what you do as legitimate genre work when so many others seem to be just John Carpenter fanboys/girls?
I do think I've made a sort of logical departure from the cliché nostalgia of the synth movement. I guess in a way I was trying to refine the project for the last chapter of the current narrative. I've never really felt attached to any scene, really. I don't necessarily like the 80s pop culture. I'm more into the sound of the production itself within that era of music.
Tell us about Iteration. Have you been slowly plugging away at it for the last six or so years?
It was a long road trying to find the right inspiration again! I took a long break due to the fact that I became so bored of sitting on the computer for hours on end, and unfortunately it's the centre of the studio as far as recording and sequencing. I think for whatever I write next I will attempt to approach the process completely different.
What do you hope fans and newcomers alike will take away from Iteration?
I hope that it's experienced as a complete piece of music at first. I think the arc of my imaginary story works well. I also think there's more room in the music, room to breathe —it's not so dense and compressed. I hope people can see/hear how I've evolved to the point I am with my music as it currently stands.
How do you feel about coming to Hong Kong for the first time? It’s a big deal for us to have you here, especially since this will be your first live set after Iteration drops.
I'm extremely excited. I actually think it'll be a pretty special place to celebrate the release of Iteration! Looking forward to meeting fans and sharing the new (and old) music!
Your remixes cover a huge lexicon of genres. How do approach a remix?
I tend to call them ‘re-productions’, as if I was the original producer working with the vocalist. I try to rewrite the song in my vision and not use much of any of the original music. Obviously, that's trickier with instrumental music and I do find instrumental remixing a great challenge.
What are some of the different challenges in approaching a Deftones song as opposed to a Maroon 5 one?
It's very different music. It's much easier to remix music that's produced with pop sensibilities. It’s a much easier structure to tackle pop verses than say hard rock or metal. I was very psyched to be approached by Deftones for a remix and it was a great honour to try to blend the genres a bit. It was also a very tricky track to remix, but in the end, it's become one of my favorites.
Do people ever do the robot at your shows? Is it really embarrassing? Do you mind if we do it? It’s the only dance we can do...
Haha, oh I'm sure it's happened! I don't mind how you dance, as long as it's the music that's making you move. It's sad how much people don't dance these days. My favorite shows are the ones where the whole crowd is swaying about. It's not about filling the room or selling out for me, I just want a happy crowd of people just feeling the music, moving in whatever way they feel comfortable.
Haley plays his first ever Hong Kong show on June 16 (coinciding with the release of his second album, Iteration) as part two of MO Bar at the Landmark Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong's rather excellent Sound-Bites series of live shows.