Dasha aka Pulse Lab is no stranger to Revival Synth, or to many of her fellow artists within the synth community.
A fresh young talent from Finland, gracing our ears with her melancholic sounds influenced from her favourite artists of the 80s & 90s.
We caught up with Dasha and put a few questions her way about the past, present and the future.
Grab a cuppa and welcome yourselves to the world of Pulse Lab.
Q. Hi Dasha, thanks for taking time out of your busy schedule. Could I first ask you to give us a brief insight into the beginnings of your musical journey?
A. Hi Andy, I wouldn’t say no to such a great supporter of indie electronic music like you! Even though music has always been a significant part of my life, and I have always had big ambitions, I only started to do it with serious intentions since 2020. Prior to that I was making my own music in hope of meeting like-minded people in real life (which didn’t happen), I had a brief stint in a music school band and for a very short while was a vocalist in a heavy metal band. In 2020 I realised that I had to search for electronic music artists with the same passion for synthpop music outside of Finland. I am happy with my decision now, as it was right at the beginning of the pandemic, and if I hadn’t found my first ever producer to work with, I'd probably be quite depressed by now. I already had a few tracks ready in the autumn of 2020, but I decided to postpone my debut appearance on the indie electro scene until January of the next year. Since then I have been lucky to establish connections with some amazing musicians, DJs and electronic music enthusiasts who show fantastic support for my music. I feel I am definitely only at the beginning of my music journey, but I am thrilled with the progress I have been making.
Q. Who and what inspires you to be part of the music industry?
A. First of all, it’s my love for music and my crucial need to be involved in it. I can’t imagine not doing music myself or not listening to the other artists, as I start to suffocate emotionally.
Secondly, I draw inspiration from my favourite artists, no matter if they are commercially popular or only known in the indie scene. I would say that Alexander Bard, the founder of such bands as Army of Lovers, Vacuum, Alcazar, BWO and Gravitonas, inspired me to become a musician myself and to do electronic music. I find his melodic vision influential, especially when it comes to Army of Lovers and Vacuum. Lyrically I admire Morrissey’s writing style, as his songs can speak to people of different genders and sexuality. It’s truly powerful, and this is what I aim for with my own lyrics too. In addition, ABBA, Erasure, A-Ha, Depeche Mode and Propaganda are also my music gurus of quality music that I look up to.
Q. Other than the collaborations, how would you describe the music you create?
A. In terms of sound it is a melodic electronic music with mostly 80s and a bit of 90s flavour. I usually refer to myself as a synthpop artist. However, I have a trip-hop track called Cosmic Roses, and in future I intend to step out into other electronic music genres. I like to create emotional songs with topics that are relevant to me, as I feel that the better I connect with the lyrical content, the better I can deliver it vocally
Q. On the subject of collaborations. You’ve done quite a few with various artists such as Kiffie, Maxx Silver, Truthscan & Projekt Ich, to name but a few. What do you enjoy the most about collaborating with other artists?
A. Expressing myself artistically in a different way. By no means do I feel limited in Pulse Lab, as it’s the most authentic I can be when writing the songs by myself.
In collaborations with the others it is my creative fusion with another artist, and together we create something different in comparison to what we do separately. Each collaboration I have done allowed me to grow as an artist, because none of them was similar to another. I worked alongside professionals who are genuinely passionate about their craft and who gave me a creative freedom, which resulted in songs I feel proud to be the part of
Q. Go on, Dasha, a daring question. Who did you enjoy collaborating with the most?
A. Each collaboration was unique and stimulating for my music growth. truthscan kindly allowed me to cover his protest track “Filter Bubble”, and I even dared to appear with my lo-fi production on some radio stations. I love Gary’s lyrical themes, quite often he sings about digital technologies in a witty way, which is not a very usual topic among electronic music artists.
The “VR Chained” song I did with Projekt Ich is my first official release related to digital technologies and human interaction with them. I have more songs to release in future, which cover the subject of modern apps, reasons why people use them and how it impacts their communication with the others in real life. Now that I mentioned Projekt Ich, I have to say that Ulf’s track was innovative for me, as he asked me to do it in two languages, the russian version can be heard HERE on the video produced by Ulf himself, for the Montage Collective remix.
I also applied a different vocal approach to “VR Chained” combining a spoken word with a high pitched vocal, not something that I have done for Pulse Lab that much so far. An offer to collaborate came from the incredibly prolific Kiffie after he heard “Cosmic Roses” on Chris Watts’ In The Moog. He was the first artist who wrote the music for me. Kiffie posseses the talent of singing with his heart and feeling music, therefore his songs sound very emotional and moving. Like truthscan and me, he also expresses his frustration with the state of things in his protest tracks. My first track with Kiffie “Homesick and Spacebound” is likely one of my most hopeless songs. I listened to David Bowie and Pet Shop Boys “Hallo Spaceboy” a lot when writing the lyrics. Another collaborative track with Kiffie is called “ Access Denied ”. You can tell by the name it’s also quite optimistic. It will appear on my debut album I have been working on. It was exclusively aired once on Electrocurated with Colin Spencer during the episode #165. Timo of montage collective is one of the most sophisticated producers I have heard in this scene. His sound is polished and has so many great sonic nuances. “Leave the Night” was my first ever duet, and Timo did a superb job blending our two quite different voices. Now about my brilliant (ex) patient Maxx Silver. My first interaction with Maxx happened on the chat thread of Rob Harvey’s Synth City. M was complimentary about my track “Tears of a Fool”, and we got connected on Twitter later on. The discussion about the collaboration was born during the last summer, and in December Maxx went through extensive tests to get the progressive Electronica treatment. The result is the fun track that makes a change in my serious catalogue of collaborative tracks. My next collaboration “Permafrost” with the wonderful electro experimenter Wavewulf will see the light of day this spring as the part of Nicholas’ upcoming album. The funny fact is when I was working on the lyrics for the song, the temperature in my city dropped to -17. Being briefly outside in that weather might have inspired some lines...You can already hear what the song was about on Colin Spencer’s Electrocurated #171 In short I would say each collaboration brought something different to the table and I enjoyed working with all of them because of this.
Q. Your latest solo single ‘Music Is Dead’, is that a dig at the music industry?
A. That could certainly be one of the interpretations taking into account that most of modern mainstream music sounds like a soulless manufactured mass production rather than individual art meant to awake emotions and provoke thoughts.
My initial idea was the perspective about a heavily technological and digital time, which already dawns upon us. In some ways technology made it much easier and cheaper for musicans to create and promote their music, but at the same time it became much more difficult to get noticed, as greater volumes of music get released each week.
However, “Music Is Dead” is meant to portray this futuristic technological world, where the majority of people work themselves to (emotional) death in the pursuit of money and where art is not relevant anymore, because lots of artists are not a good fit for the capitalist society, especially if they choose to protest through their art. “Music Is Dead” is also the ode to those street musicians, who play music in any weather, even if there is no audience around.
Q. Being an indie artist can be very frustrating, especially when it s to getting your music heard. What’s your approach to it?
A. I was relatively lucky with my debut single “Tears of a Fool”, which got a fair amount of a radio play. It has not always been easy to get heard even on electronic music shows. Sometimes you have to remind them of yourself and your material several times, especially when you are a new artist. I always look for more shows, radio stations and playlist curators who might be interested in playing my music. My music collaborators, some other musicians, DJs and audience also help in promoting my songs. It has never been taken for granted, I try and help others where I can too
Q. I admire the way the synth community comes together, supporting one another, and forming circles to help get their music heard. Would you reconsider releasing music if that support network wasn’t there?
A. I wasn’t actually aware how supportive the synth community could be, when I just entered it. I was submitting my first two tracks to electronic music shows and wasn’t really interacting with the rest of the scene much. But then it happened naturally that I started to talk to some artists, mostly in public tweets related to the shows on which me and them were featured together. I was glad to hear quality material done by artists who shared the same passion for electronic music. Many of us have a similar music taste, which influences our own music. Being a new artist, I was pleasantly surprised when Martin of Nostalgia Deathstar approached me with the suggestion to join Generation Blitz: Dusk & Dawn compilation. He is one of those great people I’ve encountered, who is genuiely supportive of other people’s music. There are also fantastic DJs like Chris Watts (In The Moog), Colin Spencer (Electrocurated), Rich James (Electronic Rendezvous), Rob Harvey (Synth City), Kate Bosworth (Dark Train) and other amazing supporters including of course your good self, whose encouragement and interest keep electronic music artists going. Having all this support network definitely motivates me to release more material, and if it wasn’t there, I would likely be only sending my tracks to labels in hope that someone would like my music enough to sign me and help with the promotion.
Q. If you could change one thing within the music industry, what would it be?
A. No discrimination for a real talent. For example, ageism has been a big problem in the music industry and quite often a decisive factor why labels sign a young attractive person with the lack of talent or none at all and blatantly ignore more talented older artists. The story of Scatman John is sadly rather the exception than the rule. I never think of his age when listening to his tracks. And at the same time it doesn’t matter to me how good some young artist might look like, if I don’t engage with their music, their appearance won’t help
Q. If a new kid on the block asked you for advice about starting out in music, what advice would you give?
A. Believe in yourself, because belief can make wonders, and the lack of belief might disrupt a promising career. Creatives tend to experience self-doubt, even if they don’t admit it openly. Especially if they are criticised by someone else, or their efforts don’t get as much recognition as they would like to have. It’s important to remember that it’s impossible to create music, which will be liked by everybody. Criticism is also not always productive and can be based on negative feelings that doesn’t have much to do with the quality of music. In any case, a regular practice and improvement of your skills is essential. Talent accelerates a learning process and brings positive results faster. However, becoming a good musician requires time and dedication. Having like-minded people, even if just one person to start with, is crucial. Of course, some artists do everything by themselves, and I respect them for that. In the long run, if you aim for a professional music career, you will have to network, and it works the best when you click well with other people.
Q. Spotify! An advantage or disadvantage for indie artists?
A. It might be an advantage for those whose music get featured on editorial playlists, but for the majority including myself it has been a disadvantage. The problem is that it’s owned by the businessman, who is not an artist himself. So his main interest is to get the profit for himself, therefore he created this joke of a royalties system. He turns lots songs into a sweat-shop product, and artists get paid peanuts for their work. Streaming hardly benefit indies, because less people want to buy their music when it can be streamed for free or a very small fee.
Q. Other than yourself, what other Finnish artists are catching people's attention?
A. They are a Finnish/German duo, so I hope it still counts. Platronic is fuelled by the talent and drive of two artists creating quality emotive music. I am looking forward to their releases, as they are clearly very dedicated and hardworking people. Timo of montage collective has also some Finnish origins, and he is one of the most talented producers in the scene. He doesn’t work just solo, but also produces and remixes for other artists. I recommend you to pay attention to his other projects that he does with his friends: Sonar4 and Mothloop (with Martin of Nostalgia Deathstar on the lead vocals). Some other Finnish artists also caught my eye and ear, for example, Possible Space, The Empty Mirrors…and more to come, no doubt
Q. If I came across your personal playlist, who would I find on it?
A. My personal playlist can be quite different depending on my mood. I don’t always listen to synthpop, even though it is my favourite music genre. 70s music (ABBA and disco), euro-disco and indie rock (The Smiths/Morrissey), 90s EDM. I can listen to the specific band or different artists of the specific genre. I support some indie artists too, not just my collaborators. The album that I was listening to a lot last year was “Charged Attachment” by Nostalgia Deathstar. The brilliant release that deserves to be heard by many people in general, and “December Won’t Be Magic Again” is a stunning track in particular. I never get tired of listening to it
Q. Generation Blitz II will be released next month (March 4/3/22) and your track ‘Only The Ocean Knows’ is included in the latest compilation. Can you tell us more about the track?
A. Initially it was supposed to be a romantic ballad by a different name and inspired by Erasure’s “How Many Times?” However, after my short visit to the Latvian seaside resort Jūrmala, I decided to make the track more upbeat and dedicate it to a fictional love story describing a (very) short affair between two people who met each other on the beach one careless summer day. When working on this newer mix, I had ABBA’s demo “Just Like That” (Na Na Na Version) in the corner of my mind. The title of the track came to me while I was sleeping. I heard the whisper in my dream: only the ocean knows. When I woke up, I thought that it would be interesting to write the lyrics around such an unusual sentence
Q. Is there a Pulse Lab album in the pipeline?
A. Yes, there is! My debut album will include my three first singles and seven new tracks, some of which haven’t been aired anywhere else yet. Few producers have been involved including Chain Complex and Kiffie. Kevin of Chain Complex is another amazing artist I discovered on the Synth City show. He produced ”Music Is Dead (Hope Mix)” and ”Only the Ocean Knows”, to be continued…I am also delighted to say that the State of Bass label (Nostalgia Deathstar, ghost elektron, Mothloop, Generation Blitz compilations) will help me with the physical release of the CDs. One day I got a message from a person called Mario, who wrote that he would love to have a signed copy of my album in CD form. I got very motivated to release the album rather than the EP, as I have lots of demos I would love to polish and let out in the world. Kevin and I have still been working on the album, and the results have been really promising.
Q. If you could grace the stage with one person, duo, or band, who would it be?
A. If I could go back in time to the 80s, I would be very honoured to appear on the same stage with The Smiths. They were an incredible band with an impressive music repertoire
Q. Have you any live dates planned in the near future?
A. I would love to play some festivals in the summertime if I get invited. Probably in the UK, as then I could perform properly with someone else, rather than asking my friend to monitor my phone with the backing tracks while I'm busy singing (it did happen)
Q. What’s next for Pulse Lab in 2022?
A. Releasing my debut album, hopefully live gigs and the first official video with me in it. Some new collaborative projects might occur during the year, but my main focus is and will be on Pulse Lab
Q. Tongue in cheek questions lol
Did you manage to cure Maxx Silver?
Has he asked you to join him on stage and wear a wig?
A. I still have to do checks on Maxx’s condition to make sure there are no side effects. He is determined to continue taking Electronica, because the resulting static helps him style his hair!We certainly entertain the idea of sharing the same stage one day. As for wigs, well, why not?
Thank you, Dasha, for the support you give Revival Synth. Is there anything further you would like to add?
Thank you for asking me to do this Q&A, Andy! I thoroughly enjoyed answering your brilliant questions! Thanks to all the people who support me in the scene and beyond it, it means a lot! And remember: music is alive, because there are still people who can’t live without it.