Three questions with musician, song-writer and actor Bryndon Cook aka Starchild & The New Romantic.
Synth History: What are your top three favorite drum machines of all time? Very nice Oberheim DX on the LP cover for your new record, Forever, by the way!
Bryndon: Clearly the Oberheim DX is my favorite at the moment. When I saw it, I had to get it, and It was a pretty penny for sure. But it gave me a nice new anchor for songwriting and production this time around. The DX and the OB-XA were foundational sounds for this most recent album, FOREVER. I love that it and the OB-DMX are such pivotal machines for Hip-Hop, New Wave and Funk all at the same time, I love that DMX got his rap moniker from the machine, and it's distinct sound on early Jam & Lewis productions. I am obviously a sucker for the LM-1 from Linn, and the classic CR-78 CompuRhythm box.
I very much enjoy the cross genre machines, but In terms of keyboards, I've been a big Yamaha devotee for a while, part of the reason I also have the Yamaha Rev-7 box on the front cover, which also went into recording a great deal. My first keyboard I bought in college was the Yamaha DX-7, which I named Arthur. The DX-7 and Yamaha YS-100 (along with the R&B/Gospel mainstay, Roland Fantom-X) were featured a great deal on the debut album, LANGUAGE. Both keyboards have since been sold or disappeared, but now I own a Casio CZ-5000 (which is featured heavily on the album), and a Juno-G. My dream keyboard is the coveted Yamaha CP-70. There is no other electric piano sound I enjoy more than that. Peter Gabriel, Jam & Lewis and even up until recently with D'Angelo, the CP-70/80 is my favorite.
Synth History: What records inspired you the most to get into making music?
Bryndon: I recount this a lot, but the [Prince] 1999 album helped me envision so much about music & production which I carry with me to this day. Growing up in the Pharrell & Neptunes era of production, their sense of style and mixing helped people like me (maybe unconsciously) have a better point of reference for groove theory within the sonic palette of popular black music. You can really hear the Korg Triton working overtime on Neptunes production and how each patch or element not only delivers musical information, but sits in the pocket of the groove to create a musician-based style of production. I hope that makes sense, but that is what my mind feels and felt when I heard and learned from that music.
Synth History: In addition to Starchild & The New Romantic, I know you've played and toured with many musicians. Is there a special memory either in the studio making a song or on the road you can recount?
Bryndon: I'm super grateful to have been able to record and tour both under my own project and with other folk. Overall, one of the things I am most grateful for is getting to stretch out and perform/record on various instruments. Guitar, Keys, Bass, Drums etc. It's been a real honor to be able to live out those dreams and liner note fantasies, in real life. It's definitely one thing I miss amidst the quarantine. I like the roadie experience, and setting up and playing and practicing and getting better in one fell swoop. Hopefully, sometime soon, we'll all be back with a unified consensus on how to move forward. Will also never forget recording the cowbells for "Don't Touch My Hair" in a small, acoustically-sound bathroom.
That's a fun memory for sure. I also think the synth work on "Lost Boys" [from Language] is a great recording moment of mine. With no punch ins and all straight takes, I remember sweating in my apartment with my shirt off. On top of the syncopated layers, there is a synth-solo a bit buried towards the end, but if you can make it out, It's quite fun and I am proud of myself for it.
That's all I can think of right off the back at the moment, but so far, there's been nothing but great memories.
References: Synth History Exclusive, Retro Synth Scans via Retro Synth Ads, Press Photo Rahim Fortune.