An Interview with Michael Glover AKA Miami Nights 1984

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Miami Nights 1984, aka Michael Glover, is one of the pioneers of the current Synthwave movement. His albums Early Summer and Turbulence are classics of the scene. His nostalgically lo-fi synth soundscapes are perfect for vibing out on your next late-night drive.

Miami Nights was an essential impetus for my fascination with the genre. Below we discuss how he changed his name from ActRaiser to Miami Nights 1984, the hand aesthetics played in launching the current scene, and his love for vapor vinyl. If you dig anything I said above, check out my conversation with Michael below, pop open a New Coke, throw on a neon tracksuit and blast some Miami Night 1984.

Joe:
Considering the current state of the world, what have you been up to the past year?

Michael:
You know, honestly, I’ve been enjoying it. It’s been nice. It’s just an excuse to work on myself and focus on the label. I don’t have a lot of complaints about it. I mean, going out in public feels a little strange right now. But hey, I’m awkward and weird anyway. [Laughs].

Joe:
So, let’s talk about the album you recently released. It was a soundtrack for an independent movie, I believe.

Michael:
Yeah, for Flinch.

Joe:
How did you get involved with the movie and end up doing the soundtrack?

Michael:
The director, Cameron, had been in touch with me several years ago about another film he was working on. He always wanted to work with me on something. I don’t know whatever happened with the earlier film; we lost touch with each other. He got a hold of me down the road and said, “Hey, I’m doing my own movie. This isn’t someone else’s script. I’ve written everything. I’m directing this thing. I want you to be the guy to set the mood for it.” Doing a complete film score has kind of always been my dream. When we first started this genre of music, that was the motivation behind it. I think it’s what many people in the industry were waiting for. I mean, it’s a genre of music that’s based around soundtracks. I think it was a natural progression. It was awesome. I would love to do more of it.

Joe:
Turbulence is a classic of the Outrun/Synthwave scene. Tell us a little about how that album came together.

Michael:
I had put out Early Summer. Some things happened in my life that caused me to move, and everything was turned upside down. Music was put on the back burner for a bit. I was on Facebook one day, and I decided to search Miami Nights 1984 for some reason. I saw there was a fan page already up there. It was just a ton of people talking about my music and saying they wanted more. I was just totally blown away and pretty touched by the whole thing. There was more demand for this than I knew. It’s actually my current artist profile. The guy who started it let me take it over. Shortly after, I got laid off. I decided I was going to focus on my music. I just hammered it out pretty quickly. “Ocean Drive” was the first track I finished, which was the most popular one on the album. That helped get the ball rolling. There was just so much excitement from that one track. I wanted to continue making this and keep going. While making the album, I did the Gotye remix. It really helped push me to that next level; I got featured in Rolling Stone too. It was an incredible moment for me. It was probably the most excited I had felt about music since Early Summer.

Joe:
How did you come up with your stage name, Miami Nights 1984?

Michael:
Well, my original name was ActRaiser. Back in the MySpace days, there was this other ActRaiser that was making Dubstep. I was very anti-Dubstep at that time. [Laughs]. This Dubstep station got a hold of me and was the one who notified me. They were fans of this other ActRaiser. But they came across my music and wanted to feature it. I was wondering who this other guy is. I looked him up. Then we had some words back and forth about the name. He beat me to putting out a first release. I’m not sure how the lawfully works with that, but you have a bit of a copyright to my knowledge. I was frustrated by the whole thing. I decided I had to think of a hideous name. A name that no one is ever going to take from me. So, I came up with Miami Nights 1984. It was a tribute to the opening season of Miami Vice. I figured no one is ever going to copy this. Low and behold, everybody’s putting 1984 behind their name. Even Wonder Woman. What’s going on here? [Laughs]. It is funny to me because I did this out of necessity, not because I thought it was cool. Now everybody is jumping on board with it.

Joe:
What was your segue into music? What path did you take to making the music you make today?

Michael:
I had been experimenting with making music since I was a teenager. I used to make Hip-Hop on a four-track back in my early days. I was using an old Casio guitar and trying to sample stuff. It was never anything serious. Once I became a DJ in the early 2000s, I got really passionate about what I was listening to. I was curious about how to make it. From there, I started using reason and experimenting. Once again, not making anything serious. I was feeling the water out and seeing where I wanted to go. I made some bad drone-based stuff until the big French Electro-House boom. Then I started making that kind of music myself. When I began ActRaiser, I made French House-style music and put it up on MySpace. I wasn’t getting much traction with it. I would go around on MySpace, clicking on people’s friends’ lists. Seeing who had the coolest art and that would drive me to click on them.

Through all that, I came across Valerie Collective. I think it came on just randomly when I was cleaning my house. I rushed in to see who the artist was. I think it was College. Instantly, I knew this is the sound I am into. This is everything I love because 80s film is my passion. I started experimenting with a retro-synthesis and started to find where I wanted to go with my sound. The ActRaiser stuff was more serious and darker sounding than where I ended up going with Miami Nights 1984. When I had to come up with the new name, I decided I wanted to change my style. Summer was coming in around that time, and my mood was different. Everything I wanted to do was a little bit different. I wanted something a little more lighthearted, where I could go in for the feels. That’s sort of how that came about.

Joe:
I have always felt like the graphic art and aesthetics of the Synthwave scene is as important as the music. What are your thoughts on that?

Michael:
I agree. I think I think it’s an even split. Going back to MySpace, the aesthetics were a huge reason we gained so much traction. The way you would find new artists was by going through your friend’s profiles and the artists you liked. You would see their top-ten friends list or whatever it used to be called. The cooler you could make your profile picture or gif animation, the more traction you were likely to have. When I started, I just took my character for ActRaiser and animated it. I took my time to make it look really sweet. It was just total eye candy. I know most of the clicks came from was seeing my animated character with lightning flashing behind it. Then when they clicked, just finding themselves falling into an 80s wonderland. The aesthetic helps carry across the imagery of the music. Once again, being so heavily inspired by film and cinematics, it’s a huge deal. Having that sort of vision to go along with the music.

Joe:
Physical music forms have made a big comeback in recent years. Independent music has really embraced this. This is especially true within some of these electronic scenes, such as Synthwave and Vaporwave. These scenes have welcomed records, cassettes, and CDs. Also, they have included more non-traditional formats such as mini-discs, floppy discs, VHS, DVD, USB drives, etc. How important do you think this has been to these scenes and independent music in general? Why have so many seemingly dead physical formats been embraced in these scenes?

Michael:
The aesthetics, more specifically the retro aesthetics, are essential. It’s a bit of nostalgia porn. It accompanies the feeling of holding the music and owning it. I mean, owning digital tracks and stuff like that. It’s awesome. It’s portable. You can put it anywhere. You could do whatever the hell you want with it. But there is something special about the aesthetics of everything, particularly in the genres you mentioned. A lot of work is going into how the vinyl looks. You have fantastic pressings with these amazing colors and designs. It’s the whole package. It’s addictive. You want all your favorite tracks. You want the physicality of it. Physically owning your favorite piece of music is just such an incredible feeling. I’d say it’s the labels of those specific genres focusing on that sort of retro-aesthetic. They are pushing all these crazy formats. That could be ignorance on my part. I don’t think Indie Rock focuses on putting out reel to reel or mini disc releases. I think that’s more of a vaporwave and Synthwave kind of thing.

Joe:
Do you collect and listen to any physical forms of music, or do you mostly enjoy digitally?

Michael:
I am horrible at collecting vinyl. I’ve got the IKEA shelf, like the half-size one you have behind you. I was going through my collection the other day, thinking that I have to get rid of some of them. Coming from a DJ background, I had many of my tracks I used to spin back in the day. However, now I’m more of a listener and less of a deejay. I want full albums. Something I can just put on and walk away. Have it play and set the mood for whatever I’m doing around the house. Currently, collecting Vaporwave has taken over my life. That’s what I want to utilize my shelf space for. I have become a massive collector for sure. I am pressing vinyl for my record label as well. I’ve got way too much of it.

Joe:
You mentioned some of them before, but what are some artists that have been influences on your sound?

Michael:
Many of the original guys from the 80s, like Tangerine Dream and Faltermeyer. The Valerie Collective was the one to open my eyes. To show me, this could be a modern format for music. I also took inspiration from a lot of 80s Electro-Boogie and Funk.

Joe:
What do we have to look forward to from Miami Nights 1984 for the future? Do you have any new work coming out that you can talk about?

Michael:
Right now, I’m doing so much experimentation in the studio with gear. I’m doing a lot of high-speed tape recording. I’m constantly getting new ideas. It’s always distracting me from other stuff I’m working on. The plan of action for right now is to start releasing a lot of material that I’ve just been sitting on. Stuff that should have been out years ago. “Accelerated” is one of my biggest tracks, but there’s no way for people to buy it. That is just silliness on my part. I’m going to be putting “Accelerated” on an EP. A few other tracks will be on there, such as one of the tracks at the end of Flinch. I’m going to be getting that out there. I will also be releasing a mixture of old and new tracks. I am going to go the route of doing EPs and singles for a bit. At least until I get to the point where I’m happy with my current sound. Comfortable enough that I want to do a whole album of it.

One of the things I’m confused about is how many artists are dropping what I loved about Synthwave. Artists are dropping the lo-fi retro aesthetic and going more a big, polished sound. Meanwhile, I’m here doing tape-recording stuff as I’m still into that. I’ve been experimenting a lot with Vaporwave and old romplers for my writing. I want to do a hybrid of those sounds. We will see how the fans like it. I’m still going to make a few classic Outrun-sounding tracks too.

Interested in learning more about the artistry of Miami Nights 1984? Check out the link below:

Dig this interview? Check out the full archives of Records, Roots & Ramblings, by Joe O’Brien, here: https://vinylwritermusic.com/records-roots-ramblings-archives/

About Post Author

Joe O'Brien

Joe has always been a huge music fan. Growing up on Long Island, NY, USA, Joe did chores and dumpster dove for bottles with his best friend Andrew to trade bottles for money to buy vinyl. Joe is a Registered Nurse in the ER by day, and a life-long music lover by night. Having been an avid consumer of all things music since he was a child, Joe’s diverse collection of over 3,000 vinyl albums, plus several hundred tapes and CDs, tells the story of a man who simply loves music. Joe’s goal is to write about what he is most passionate about and share new and exciting music. Joe lives on Long Island, NY with his beloved dog Scarlett.
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