composing the soundtrack to your life
Sunglasses Kid is an independent electronic producer based in London, UK, who has been making ’80s inspired Pop, Synthwave, Funk, and soundtrack-influenced music under the Sunglasses Kid moniker since 2013.
His collaborations with fellow Synthwave artists, singers, rappers, and musicians in adjacent genres have led to his music being heard in video games and TV shows. He has also performed in venues across Europe.
Sunglasses Kid has produced three albums and two EPs, alongside singles and guest feature credits with other artists including Ollie Wride, Jay Diggs, Zach Robinson, Primo The Alien, Tim Cappello, and Richard X. He also composes music for brands, commercials, and indie films.
Indeed, Sunglasses Kid has been a key figure in the Synthwave community since its very early days. His attention to detail in creating just the right mood for just the right moment can be heard throughout his catalog of music including his massive 2020 hit with Ollie Wride “Stranger Love” which has over 2 million plays on Spotify as of this article’s writing as well as lesser known but equally vibrant gems like “Freshman” an upbeat and incredibly nostalgic bonus track from his 2017 album Graduation. When I say lesser known even his least listened to songs rack in over 50k plays each so there is definitely something about this Artist that turns his listeners into fans and keeps his fans coming back for more.
A prolific Producer and Artist, Sunglasses Kid is very active on social media and regularly posts his live in-studio performances which each have their own prompt and theme such as “It’s 1986 and you’re in a phone booth calling to make up for the damage you caused.” These themes are centered around a nostalgia for the 1980s and 1990s. Indeed it is so rare to find an actual phone booth and yet the picture Sunglasses Kid paints with every touch of his keyboard is so clear you can almost reach out and touch it. This seems to be equally true for younger fans of Synthwave who have only a nostalgic viewpoint from which to access this time and place just as much as it is for those of us (myself included) who were alive at that time. The vibes are real and they are really good. The authentic style of Sunglasses Kid goes far beyond the music and into his branding and visuals which are both nostalgic and fresh at the same time.
This February one of his TikToks went viral with over half a million plays in about 11 days. Watch it on TikTok:
What is the inspiration behind your music?
“My inspiration comes from many of the iconic R&B and pop producers of the ’80s like Jam and Lewis, Teddy Riley, L.A. Reid and Babyface, David Foster and Dave Gamson, as well early film composers like Hans Zimmer, James Newton Howard, and Thomas Newman. I took inspiration from early synthwave artists like Mitch Murder, Futurecop!, and Miami Nights 1984, but tried blending that with the sounds of acts like Scritti Politti, The System, and Janet Jackson.”
Do you have any favorite instruments in your collection?
“I’m very much ‘inside the box’, using keyboards as controllers for an otherwise completely virtual setup. I have a ton of virtual instruments recreating synths from the 80s and 90s, including DX7s, D50s, Korg’s iconic M1, Triton and Wavestation, the Emulator, Synclavier, Fairlight, and Ensoniq keyboards. Lately, I’ve been deep-diving into older discontinued sample libraries from the ’90s. I’m very much a preset person-mainly down to laziness and not being very good at sound design. But it’s not entirely about being a rubbish sound design-it’s also about the fact that synth presets were so prolific in their use in 80s pop-so they’re one of the fastest short-hands to creating a sense of nostalgia. The fastest way to evoking the sounds of the 80s-beyond chord progressions and compositional styles is pulling up a Fairlight choir, Emulator Orchestral Hit, or a DX7 electric piano. A good FM piano sound gets you halfway.”
What are your future goals?
“I have no idea why, but lately I’ve had a bit of interest from some big-name producers in the rap world, as well as indie and signed rappers, all keen to explore the ’80s palette. So I’m focusing a little less of my time on Sunglasses Kid, and working with some rappers and producers based in the UK and the US. But the Sunglasses Kid brand continues to function as the shop window handing out the tasters and baiting new opportunities via my social channels. Every significant opportunity I’ve had to date has come from social media and online communities.”
What projects are you working on now?
“I have a new single coming out in March called ‘In The Dead Of Night’ featuring the UK-based Synth-pop band Pensacola Mist and saxophone from Max Cruise. It’s a moody late ’80s-inspired ballad about relationships and not needing to be saved. It’s got a mid-tempo vibe with a lot of electric pianos, slow jam beats, and saxophone solos.”
Have there been any challenges you have faced in the music industry?
“I think the business and legal side is always a challenge and can be relentlessly confusing and unpredictable. Surrounding yourself with knowledgeable and trustworthy people is essential. I think more than ever it can also be challenging to stay relevant and maintain the energy to compete in the social media arms race. It can be deflating if ideas you work hard to develop get stolen or copied. There’s a particular culture of that on Tiktok, where everything is fair game. So focusing on what makes you unique and what’s inimitable about you is crucial to pin down, as everything else is seemingly up for grabs. Looking toward future challenges and opportunities, I think AI is increasingly going to have an impact on artists at every level.”
What is it about Synthwave that you love?
“Synthwave is more than a genre-it’s a community of musicians, artists, designers, and creatives united by their love of the ’80s and early ’90s. What I love is how an obscure sub-genre born entirely online managed to unite this disparate group of people across the globe in a way that feels unlike any other genre. It’s been a fun ride playing a part in the development of the sound in the early days of the mid-2010’s and seeing the sound and aesthetic every so often burst into popular culture-whether that’s a movie using the chrome and neon font, or a film featuring a Synthwave track-has been an amazing experience. It’s cool to have played a very small role in what I think isn’t an insignificant footnote in the last decade of pop culture and Internet culture history.”
A Message from Sunglasses Kid
“Fans can help me out by doing what they’re already very kindly doing, which is liking and sharing my music on Instagram, TikTok, and Spotify. Buying my music on Bandcamp (download, CD, tape, vinyl) helps too as well as telling your friends. If you know someone who likes ’80s pop, hopefully there’s something in my back catalogue for them.”
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