‘This Week In The Universe’ is the synthwave project of Sydney brothers Beau and Casey Golden, combining their love of ’80s nostalgia, synthesisers and prog rock to make something uniquely theirs. Having released their debut album earlier this year, Noisegate caught up with Beau to chat album production, songwriting and of course..synths.
Looking through your facebook page, it’d be pretty safe to call you synth enthusiasts. Tell us a bit about what’s in your arsenal at the moment – anything you’re absolutely loving?
Yeah absolutely. We’ve got a beautiful old Sequential Circuits Prophet 5 at the moment which we’ve been using on our new material which sounds super lush. We’re also having some fun with the Moog Moogerfooger MF-101 Low Pass filter, running everything we have through that. When you crank the resonance and get it to oscillate it gets pretty wild and badass. We’ve been using the new Korg Monologue on our new stuff too, which is a super tough sounding synth. We have a whole new sound palette for our new music coming next year and we’re always stalking eBay and Gumtree for cool, interesting stuff.
Tell us a bit about recording your album earlier this year – what was the process like?
This Week in the Universe actually started as a few demos that Casey had of music that didn’t fit in musically with his jazz trio. We went through them and ended up creating this prog rock inspired, ’80s synth record.
We found this old Warner Bros sample library they used for movies which has samples of everything from a guy eating an apple to car chase sound FX and heaps of other weird stuff which we ended up trawling through to make beats from – chopping up and effecting stuff. We also ran midi through some synths to make loops and noises and stuff, which we used instead of hi-hats in the tracks ‘Chocobot’ & ‘From Afar’ for example.
A lot of the hi-hats we did end up using were from the Korg Kronos. It was really easy to scroll through options on it and see what worked sonically, but overall our general approach to the drums for the album was to keep the programming pretty minimal and let the synths act as percussive elements.
Listening to your Self-Titled album, the emphasis appears to be on simple tones and melodic arrangement rather than complex synthesiser programming, was that a conscious decision?
We decided early on when making the record that we would limit ourselves sonically with the gear we used. We wanted it have that warm analog 80s vibe. We even got some new gear towards the end of making this album but decided to wait until the next record to use it. There are so many different ways you can go sonically using these instruments that I think you need to have some level of restraint to get a cohesive sound across an album.
Despite it being an electronic album, it sounds very organic and human, akin to early synthesiser music – did you play most tracks by hand? Was that something that stemmed from jamming in a room together rather than sitting on a computer/sequencer?
We did play a lot of it by hand. There’s some arpeggiators on there that are programmed. We also ran a bunch of midi parts through hardware so we could ride the filters, and play the dynamics musically rather than automate them. We wanted to use kind of classic gear and sounds on our first release and get that warmth, a lot of it through a Universal Audio 6176 Vintage Channel Strip, all the bass played in on Moog Little Phatty, and Dave Smith Prophet 08, Korg MS20 and Microkorg used pretty heavily.
A lot of the music was written at the piano and even notated before we started working on it. Like we said, the project started with some of Casey’s demos leftover from some jazz projects, so those first few songs were definitely coming from a more human place than a lot of other synth-heavy music. After working on those tunes, the rest of the album came out in the same vein pretty naturally, even if it wasn’t written using the same process.
What’s next for TWITU?
We’re finishing up a third stop motion clip from our self-titled album which will be coming out in the next few months. Then new music from us next year!
This Week In The Universe’s Debut Album is out now via Bandcamp and Spotify. Check out their incredible stop-motion clip (done themselves) for the track Second Castle below