An Interview with Pete Curry AKA FM Skyline

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FM Skyline

FM Skyline, real name Pete Curry, is an Electronic, Vaporwave and Pop/Synth artist who has been in the game for several years now. In that time, he’s released a few studio albums, some of which are absolutely essential to any Vapor/Synth/Electronic collection regardless of which format you collect. Albums like Deluxe Memory Suite, EarthSim and Advanced Memory Suite are some of the finest the genre(s) have to offer. Recently, FM Skyline put out his studio effort which is called Litwire, and I believe in time it will be looked back upon as yet another classic within the genre. Plus, it’s on 100% Electronica, so you can trust that it will be fantastic. Today, I’ve got none other than Pete Curry with us. He’s a cool dude and I was happy to get to know him better. If you’d like to learn more about FM Skyline, or his latest record, head over to the 100% Electronica website here or Pete’s Bandcamp here. Once you’ve done that, give this interview a read. Enjoy.

Andrew:
Pete, thank you so much for taking the time to speak with us here. How are you hold up during this seemingly ever-raging dumpster fire?

Pete:
I’m doing alright, I’ve been home on my computer 95% of the time since last March.

Andrew:
Tell us about your backstory. How did you get into music? What was your musical gateway so to speak?

Pete:
I’ve been playing music forever, my dad plays guitar, my mom always listened to music, and I’ve been wrapped up in making it through everything that I’ve ever been through. I can remember my first tiny Casio keyboard and picking out the Terminator theme on it. I studied Jazz and classical piano by ear at first, then learning to read. I was also a maniac guitar player and singer at a time. Now, I make groovy soundtracks for album covers that I also make.

Andrew:
While you are often lumped in with Vaporwave only, in reality your music crosses over many genres. Along with the obvious classic ethereal Electronic influences, I hear elements of Chillwave and Ambient throughout your music. Would you agree? What more can you tell us about that?

Pete:
Chillwave is probably something that has just entered my music by proxy, but I’m sure that the Ambient side of things I do probably comes more from Star Trek: The Next Generation background music and other soundtracks like that than it does from the Ambient genre.

Advanced Memory Suite | FM Skyline

Andrew:
Advanced Memory Suite is a classic album within the genre. You really took things to the next level with that album. What can you tell us about that album? What was the inspiration?

Pete:
On Advanced I was trying to continue what I had done with EarthSim in that I was using a very focused set of sounds, forms, and rhythms, and trying to create vignettes around that to develop the sounds and ideas. Everything I do as FM Skyline is an audio/visual venture, so when I had gotten my album art nailed down, it really helped guide where that album was supposed to go and what it was ultimately supposed to sound like.

Andrew:
An underrated album within the genre is Liteware, I think. Tell us more about that album as well.

Pete:
With Liteware, I was pushing further along with the idea of creating an album with an all-around an aesthetic concept, in this case it was very bare bones and ‘lite’, it was all FM synthesis sounds that you’d find on a DX7, very transparent sounds, and there was a cloud of adjectives like “light, crystal, marble, acrylic, mirror, sky.” The style was also paying homage to the Utopian Virtual subgenre that you might hear from Eyeliner, or from James Ferraro’s Far Side Virtual, etc.

Andrew:
What are the origins of the FM Skyline moniker?

Pete:
I didn’t put too much thought into it when I created it, it’s just an impressionistic kind of thing, like imagining a skyline or horizon and trying to hear FM synthesizer sounds that go along with it. I thought it had a good ring to it and I’ve just been living with it and filling out the blanks of what it means since then.

liteware | FM Skyline

Andrew:
Who are some of your biggest influences musically?

Pete:
One theme in Vaporwave I’ve loved and focused on as FM Skyline is looking at things that aren’t normally considered “good” or “valid” music elsewhere, like Jan Hammer’s soundtrack to Beyond the Mind’s Eye, or the soundtrack to the 1988 OAV Appleseed, or the soundtrack to Final Fantasy VII, or Library Music by composers like Geoffery Bastow, things like that which often celebrate very synthetic sounds and have programmatic purposes, and finding ways to borrow from that kind of thing and make it modern, groovy, and psychedelic. Also, discovering Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon in junior high was probably really important to the line of thinking I’ve arrived at today in creating concept albums. Also, when I was having my big Jazz phase, I was always really fascinated with the relationship of some great albums and their covers, like Bill Evans Interplay for example.

Andrew:
There are a lot of misconceptions and confusion regarding how Vaporwave music comes together. Can you tell us a little bit about your process? How does your music come together?

Pete:
Well, because I compose everything from scratch, I tend to start from an idea I’ll have in my head that leads me to go find it in my studio, but the most important thing for me is conceptualizing and starting to build a visual concept to go along with and help curate music that I’ll be writing. Also I always like to just find some sounds that give me a feeling and build a track around them, even when there isn’t a clear concept yet.

Andrew:
Thinking back, how have you evolved as an artist today, compared to where you were when you were just getting started?

Pete:
It would have been completely inconceivable to imagine where I’d wind up today years ago, but I think the one thing that was really important for me was figuring out how to incorporate visual art and music together, and finding the version of the more experimental and playful side of music that suits me. It feels like I was always FM Skyline, but I just hadn’t gotten there yet.

Pete Curry - "Doin Nothin" - YouTube

Andrew:
Two of the biggest issues in the Vaporwave community are FOMO and scalpers. These releases are all so limited, and the prices get insane in the aftermarket. What can be done better to help thwart the scalpers that plague the community? What would you say to the scalpers out there?

Pete:
It’s really complex with vinyl sales and I know there’s a lot of interaction between buyers and labels. I’m really fortunate to work with 100% Electronica who does their absolute best to keep everybody happy. It’s hard to be sure there will be enough of an in-demand release before it’s actually out and in-demand, and once an album becomes that, it’s harder to navigate. Can’t really be too mad at “scalpers” unless they’re really going overboard and buying up tons of copies and selling at twice or more the price.

Andrew:
We know about all of your classic albums, but tell us what you’re working on now. What have you got in store for us going forward?

Pete:
I’m in the middle of a new album right now that I think might be just a slight turn from where people might expect me to go, but I know it will be the most cohesive and conceptually rich album yet, as well as having the most musical depth of any FM Skyline album.

Andrew:
Shifting gears here, is there anything within the industry that you would like to see change for the better? What improvements would you like to see that you feel would be beneficial to us all within the vinyl community, and music community in general?

Pete:
There’s nothing specific I want to change, I’m just focused on my music and what I’m doing, and I want to keep seeing the genre grow and keep seeing other people innovate, be excited, and push the envelope along further.

Partyman: Weekend Playlist by Pete Curry aka FM Skyline | RVA Mag

Andrew:
A lot of people try to define what genre you’re associated with. You seem to like to disassemble genres in a way. What are your feelings on that? What are your thoughts on the idea of genres in general?

Pete:
Right. I guess I’d have to say that what I do is technically Post-Vaporwave, and I’m not always sure exactly what to call what I do. I think being really specific about genres can be an impediment to an artist’s development; it’s more useful to think about multiplying and honing in on the things that resonate with you, and letting the results fall where they may. I’m happy to be within the broader Vaporwave genre, too and that was where I started with this project.

Andrew:
The way I initially discovered your music was through Bandcamp and Reddit. In your opinion, how important has both Bandcamp and Reddit been to the Vaporwave scene, and Indie music in general?

Pete:
Bandcamp and Reddit have been huge for the Vaporwave scene, as a genre that depends as much as it does on the Internet. Bandcamp is wonderful for artists to get their music up someplace to share with others. Reddit is probably going to be the first stop for a lot of people looking for Vaporwave, although one has to be a little wary of Reddit’s Redditness, it’s still valuable to a point of entry for people. Twitter has also been huge for the last few years for people to interact directly.

Andrew:
Vaporwave has existed in digital forms for a long time. What do you think of the rising wave of support for vapor-vinyl over the last few years?

Pete:
I think it’s great, I’ve always loved records, and I think it’s a great way to take advantage of the visual aspect of the medium as well.

JPEG Jamz | FM Skyline

Andrew:
Another interesting development in the Vaporwave community has been the sudden resurgence of cassettes. Did you see that coming?

Pete:
As far as I know, the cassettes were always important in Vaporwave. Cassettes have been huge in DIY music in general for a while now.

Andrew:
Do you collect vinyl? Tapes? CDs? Or are you all digital now? If so, what are some albums that mean the most to you? Where do you like to shop for music?

Pete:
I collect a little bit, I always appreciate a gorgeous physical release regardless of the format, but admittedly lately I’m just mostly focused on my own music most of the time these days so there’s a lot of releases I mean to pick up but forget to.

Andrew:
Last question. You’ve always embraced the DIY approach to music. What advice do you have for young musicians trying to get their start?

Pete:
Just really be patient with yourself, and be warm and open to other people as much as you can. It probably seems like I’ve become prominent pretty quickly in Vaporwave, but I’ve spent years and years and years collaborating with, supporting and cheering on other artists, as well as honing my own writing craft and learning to get my music out there, before there was an FM Skyline.

Dropping Soon: Watch Out for These New Richmond Band Releases this Fall |  Music | Style Weekly - Richmond, VA local news, arts, and events.

Interested in diving deeper into the work of FM Skyline? Check out the link below:

Dig this interview? Check out the full archives of Vinyl Writer Interviews, by Andrew Daly, here: www.vinylwritermusic.com/interview

Published by Andrew Daly

Since he was a young child growing up on Long Island, NY, USA, Andrew has always loved writing, music, drumming and collecting music on CD, tape and vinyl. After losing his life-long vinyl collection in 2014, Andrew began his vinyl collection from scratch again when he met his future wife Angela in 2015. Andrew’s love of music only further blossomed as his collection spanned all genres possible. After amassing over 3,000 albums in under two years, he knew it was time to finally follow his dream of being a music journalist, and thus, Vinyl Writer was born.

Andrew’s not only the go-to friend for music trivia, but his intricate knowledge of the ins and outs of the music industry allows him to develop engaging questions that really tap into each artist and individual to deliver insightful and enjoyable interviews. He’s proud to share his love of music with the world through his writing, and the result is nothing short of beautiful: articles and interviews written by a music addict, for fellow music addicts.

Andrew lives on Long Island, NY, with his wife Angela and their four cats, Oliver, Patrick, Charlie and Kevin. Andrew’s collection of over 4,700 vinyl albums, plus several hundred tapes and CDs, tells the story of his passion for all that is music. Andrew works as a Horticultural Operations Manager by day and runs the Vinyl Writer website by night. Andrew is also the admin of several Facebook groups dedicated to music.

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