Q&A With Richard Tracey aka Jigsaw Sequence
Revival Synth has been a big fan of Jigsaw Sequence since I heard the track 'Beyond The Veil' back in 2018.
Richard Tracey is a brilliant supporter of the site as well as being very supportive to the artists on the scene.
The Revival Synth theme music you hear playing on the site was kindly produced by Richard, an orchestral remix of 'Beyond The Veil'. I caught up with him just after the release of his new EP 'Day One', to ask, what lights his Fuse, the past, the present and the future.
Q. When did the journey of Jigsaw Sequence begin?
A. Unofficially it all started in 2012. For a long time I had all these musical ideas in my head. I used to write lyrics a lot from my early teens onwards and knew how I wanted the songs to sound and how to sing them, but not having learned an instrument, didn’t really know how to go about unlocking those ideas and putting them into reality.
Off and on I would buy a keyboard and have a play about, writing little piano pieces, that sounded nice, but weren’t really the full blown synth music I imagined creating.
Then in 2012, I bought a MacBook and was introduced to GarageBand. That changed everything. I quickly realised that my ambitions of creating the music I wanted were too constrained by what GarageBand offered, so moved up to Logic.
During 2012 and 2017, I must have started close to 500 to 600 ideas, some very basic little ideas up to almost fully complete songs. At this point I had gone through three Artist Name ideas, but stuck with the first one I came up with, which is an Ultravox lyric taken from their track 'Rage In Eden'.
My plan was to release the music and see what people thought of it, but I don’t think I was as confident as I wanted, so met Mark Kendrick on Twitter and we got talking. We got on really well and we realised we had very similar musical styles. Mark has a listen to about a dozen of the song demos I had and really liked them. He offered to produce my music for me, which I was really grateful for. If it wasn’t for Mark, I don’t know whether I would be releasing music. So it really began properly in December 2017, with the release of the first single – Heroes.
Q. Has your musical journey had a deliberate direction, or did it simply gradually evolve in whatever direction it found?
A. I think I always knew that I wanted to do 80’s sounding synthpop type music. This was the music I loved growing up, so it seemed the best fit for me.
Q. How would you describe the sound of Jigsaw Sequence and what sets your music apart from other artists on the scene?
A. Oh, I think I would describe it as 80’s sounding synth music, with a modern production and touches of cinematic flair.
Q. Who are your biggest musical influences?
A. Early 80’s synth music including Ultravox, Visage, Midge Ure, OMD, Depeche Mode and many many more. I also love soundtracks and I’m a huge John Barry fan as well.
Q. You’re a Policeman by day and I, like many others commend you for undertaking your duties to try and protect us all in these uncertain times. How do you cope with the current climax in society, and do you use any of your experiences in your songwriting process?
A. Thanks. You learn to cope with a lot in the job, so I have opinions about what’s going on at the moment, but would rather keep them for private conversations. All I will say is, I don’t condone what has gone on, from either side.
As for experience- Nah, I’ll leave that kind of thing for others to write about.
Q. Has the covid-19 pandemic thrust you into writing and producing more than you normally would?
A. Not really. I’ve been working during the pandemic and I already write a lot anyway, so it hasn’t really changed my process.
Q. You’re a singer/songwriter and you also remix and produce tracks for other artists on the synth scene, would you like to tell us a bit more about that?
A. Sure. There is such a great synth scene out there, with a lot of fantastic music already being created. Sometimes I hear a track and think ‘how would it sound if I did it’, that is basically what I do when I remix another artist’s track. Same goes for production. So far I have only produced ‘Linger’ for Sombremoon, but doing a remix is almost the same as production anyway.
Q. Streaming is always a lively debate when it pops up on forums, what is your view on today’s streaming services?
A. A necessary evil. We won’t be going back to how it was when I was growing up and although a lot of the listeners of a certain age still like to purchase, the vast majority of music listeners would rather listen online via a streaming platform.
Do I wish they compensated the artists better for the music that makes their platforms successful? Yes, but it will take a music revolution before that will change.
Q. Yourself and many artists aren’t in the business to make money, but If you could change anything about the industry to make it fairer for indie artists to get their just rewards, what would it be?
A. I wish there was an easier way for the independent music artists to get heard by a larger listener base. We are always very thankful for all the radio shows that play our music at the moment, but anyone making music, always hope it can be heard by as many people as possible. If you don’t, then you would be just as well just making music for you to listen to.
Q. Your new 5 track EP ‘Time Will Tell’ will be released 26/6/2020. Tell us about the tracks and the thought process behind the tracks.
A. The main track, which is also on the upcoming album is ‘Time Will Tell’. This is probably the most sappy track I have written. It sounds like something that would fit nicely into a John Hughes 80’s teen movie. It’s my usual production, lots of synths and trying to capture the 80’s vocal – I really don’t like auto tune etc.
‘The Art of War’ is a full on synth instrumental. This is a shorter version of the idea I have for the first track on the next album. I love instrumentals and especially 80’s instrumentals that you used to find on the b-side, where the artists would do something a bit different or more experimental.
‘Collapsing Time’ is me trying to write a building instrumental soundtrack piece. I hope I achieved that.
‘One Last Time’ is a new write that I decided to add to the EP at the last minute. I wanted it to have a synth/romantic feel to it.
‘Sadness’ is a very short piano instrumental piece. The album is called ‘Happiness’, so people can read into it what they will.
Q. Your good friend and fellow producer Mark Kendrick aka FUSED has worked on a few of your tracks, does he have any input on this EP?
A. Mark is a great guy and is still there in the background. He doesn’t produce my tracks anymore, but he hears everything I am working on and let’s me know if something feels like it’s working or not. We chat all the time about production/mixing and mastering and he is a big help on how I am progressing in these areas.
Q. Talking of Mark, other than remixing/producing with him, have you ever thought of a joint venture?
A. Maybe…. Watch this space. We are both busy at the moment with our own music releases, but there might be something later on this year.
Q. I hear there is an album to follow shortly after the EP?
A. Yeah, ‘Happiness’ is the album. Eleven tracks, with two instrumentals (see, I told you I like instrumentals). I just hope people like it.
Q. Have you ever performed live? If not, is there still a desire to perform your tracks live one day?
A. Other than karaoke, no I’ve not performed live. I did get a standing ovation for performing Vienna during a karaoke night and I do love singing, so who knows. If I can do a live gig the way I want and something that people would like to see, then I might do it at some point.
Q. Probably a daft question knowing your passion for Midge Ure, but what would be your dream line up if you were to perform with someone and at which venue?
A. Ha ha, let me think…. Midge on guitar, Billy Currie on keyboards, Chris Cross on bass and Warren Cann on drums. Yeah, I am sad.
Q. You have an ambition to produce a video for one of your tracks, which track is it and are there any plans to progress with it?
A. I have an idea I love for the ‘Beyond the Veil’ track. The idea for me sounds like it would be very cool, but it is beyond (see what I did there!!) my means to do it at the moment.
Q. What are the highs and lows of being an indie artist?
A. The highs are when people listen to your music and are very complimentary about it, especially if they purchase it. The lows, knowing that there are a lot of great artists and music out there, that does not get anywhere near the audience it should.
Q. Describe today’s music in 3 words and your reasons?
A. Disposable, mediocre fluff. The majority of mainstream music just sounds the same. Some artists you can’t tell apart from others. The music and production sounds the same. There are some artists out there that really stand out, but they don’t get the success they should. There is no true creativity given the platform it should. If something worked, let’s do it over and over. That seems to be the mainstream.
Q. And finally, do you use your wife and children as critiques when you write and record new material or do they just stay away from the man cave lol?
A. Ha ha, all my wife says is ‘that’s good’ and my daughters remind me they hate my music and my singing. So no, I rely on others to listen and provide opinion.
Q. Thanks for your time Richard, much appreciated. Anything further you would like to add?
A. Just a big thanks for your support Andy and for everything you do for all the other independent artists. Also a big shout out to Mark for his help and to the rest of the excellent synth community we have.
Keep up to date with all Richard's latest news and releases via the links below.