Friday, 15 July 2011

Interview with Munich Syndrome (David Roundsley)

David Roundsley is a musican and graphic designer who lives in the San Francisco Bay area of California. He started writing and recording under the name ‘Munich Syndrome’ in the late 80s, and released Munich Syndrome’s debut album in 2006. He has also been a creator of web and graphic design for the past 15 years and is currently writing a book detailing his search for his birth parents.

  1. How and why did you choose the name ‘Munich Syndrome’?

I went with a friend to see the indi sci-fi movie ‘Android’ when it first came out. The main character is a loveable but flawed android named Max. Max has an affection for listening to music broadcasts from Earth. One night, Max overhears that he is to be decomissioned with his parts used for a new and improved android. Sad, but resigned to his fate, he listens to his last broadcast from Earth to hear that the androids in the city of Munich have risen up against their masters, wanting to be more than part of the machine. They were exhibiting signs of  ‘Munich Syndrome’. This lodged in my brain and four years later when I started writing and doing my first four-track demos,‘Munich Syndrome’ was the only name that really came to me and felt right.

  1. Tell us about your latest album, ‘Electronic Ecstasy’.

‘Electronic Ecstasy’ is a continuation/evolution from ‘Electro Pop’. I became more comfortable with the vocoder and wanted to push further into exploring melodicism and harmonies with this release. This also opened the door to revisiting a couple of songs written a while back that I felt needed a more melodic approach than I was able to muster previously.  While keeping the overall sound anchored in a classic analog synth style and ‘electronic’, I also wanted to counterbalance that with lyrics exploring a range of emotions.

  1. Why did you choose to create this album, and what do you hope to give to your listeners?

Growing up I was a loner and albums and books were my lifeline and showed me there was a world out there that I could connect and identify with. This album, along with my previous efforts, are my attempt to connect with others and add to a global dialog.

  1. Is there an underlying theme or message in your work?

What I would hope comes through is for anyone to be true to themselves and express themselves as openly and honestly as possible.

  1. You are also a professional graphic and web designer. Has this helped you with your career in music, and if so, how?

The short answer would be: ‘yes’. I had always played music as a child and tried, off and on over the years, to get a band together (with no success), but never really considered music a possibility. I experimented with early sequencers (with a lot of outboard gear and a very early generation computer; the lag time gave everything an out-of-sync feel that wasn’t acceptable) and four-track recorders; but what I heard in my head and what I was rendering weren’t matching up. My ‘aha’ moment came when I started working first with ProTools and then moved on to Logic where I had a visual representaion for the music.

  1. Of music you’ve created, do you have a favourite? If so, why this particular work?

I will have to say Electro Pop is probably my favorite creation (so far). It was the point where I took my sound experiments and refined them into more coherent pop songs. There was more intent and focus on this effort.

  1. How is creating electronic music different from creating acoustic forms?

I’d say the difference is the variety of sounds available. When playing an acoustic piano, or other instrument, I’m already at a very well travelled starting point. When I play around with weird noises, sounds or patches, suddenly I’m in a totally different world, and this suggests new paths and ways to progress that I probably wouldn’t have discovered in an acoustic framework.

  1. What do you find most rewarding in the creative process?

Dragging anything over the finish line. Seeing a finished product is immensely rewarding.

  1. What do you find most challenging in the creative process, and how did you overcome it?

The hardest part for me is making that leap from a glimmer of an idea and moving it forward into something with more form and function. Sadly, I don’t always overcome this. My notes, and my head, are litered with millions of unfinished ideas. Sadly too, the time I get my best ideas for lyrics are just as I drift off; and more often than not I opt for a good nights sleep vs. waking myself up to memorialize those thoughts.

  1. What have you done to promote and market your music, and what advice would you give to other artists?
Not really having any budget for promotion I’ve gone the D.I.Y. approach down the line. Being a graphics web designer, doing my own website was the first order of business. I also joined every and any music or social network website. I do try to make sure my songs are available on as many services as possible and hope they’ll get exposure and attention through people discovering them organically.

  1. Who, do you imagine, would be your ideal listener?

I’m not sure there’s an ‘ideal’ listener, but in looking at the metrics provided by the various sites I’m on, my typical listener is male, between 18-30 and they’re probably into sci-fi and fantasy. 

  1. What advice would you give to help others build the confidence required to produce electronic music?

This was a big challenge for me as none of my friends or family are, or were, into electronic music, so I really didn’t have a sounding board. About the time I had a group of songs I felt comfortable with, I used GarageBand as a way to get feedback. Some of it was quite harsh, but there were valid comments that I looked at and utilized to improve in the performance and production areas. I think putting music out there and getting the feedback is the best thing. There will always be haters, but I consider myself lucky that I’ve had some very encouraging responses.

  1. What aspirations, or reservations, do you have regarding your music being used in film and television?

I do think some of my work would be very applicable to film, TV or commercials. I’m very open to it being used whereever.

  1. Tell us a little about any good electronic music you’ve heard recently.

John Foxx and the Maths is one that really jumped out at me, as well as DJ Hell’s Teufelswerk. One release that totally surprised me is the production work on the new Britney Spears album, ‘Femme Fatale.’ They pushed, pulled, tweaked and reconstructed her voice into a futuristic fembot. My favorite tracks are the four bonus tracks on the deluxe version. Total guilty pleasure.

  1. Describe ‘Electronic Ecstasy’ in one sentence.

Future-retro electo pop with an emphasis on melody.

  1. Where can we find you and your work?

CD Baby, iTunes, Amazon MP3 and most of the major subscription services.



  1. Thanks for the nice interview. It was great to learn more about the creator of this wonderful music I've just recently discovered.

  2. Glad you like the interview, Alan. David is an excellent musician!