As the synthwave genre and its offshoots have continued to evolve, the ‘80s-inspired, retro-heavy ride back in time has become a haven of creativity for artists who like to think outside the box. 2018 saw a deluge of superlative releases from this extended world of nostalgia, with a particularly scathing example coming in the form of the aptly-titled Death & Glory, the third album from Hungarian producer Gábor Tóth, otherwise known as Lazerpunk, an artist whose hard-hitting beats and caustic take on electronic music has attracted supporters from all over the world.
Continuing an incredibly busy year that has already seen him tour the U.S. twice as well as cart his distorted beats around Europe, his current point of focus is an Indiegogo crowd-funding campaign meant to raise funds for a full-production music video for the song “Black Lambo,” a highlight from Death & Glory and now the subject of a brand new remix album. The album is a diverse release that showcases Lazerpunk’s willingness to stray from any presupposed paths. With a huge 36-date, American tour also on the immediate horizon alongside Aesthetic Perfection and Empathy Test, Lazerpunk is geared up for an intense remainder of what is certain to be a remarkable year for him.
We recently caught up with Lazerpunk as he approaches his third U.S. tour and the conclusion of his Indiegogo campaign.
Fast cars and pounding beats own the night on “Black Lambo:”
“I think (Death & Glory) is the most important thing I’ve done as an artist so far,” Lazerpunk says as we begin at his highly-praised third full-length release. “This is the album that made me an internationally touring, full-time musician, who is in a pretty good position both locally, and in the worldwide synthwave scene. I never expected this album to blow up like this, but I’m very happy and thankful that it happened. I released it on January 31st, 2018 and so many things have happened since (that) I can say it’s worth all the years of hard, and seemingly fruitless, work before. I toured Europe, I toured the U.S., I managed to quit my day job which was slowly but surely taking my soul away, and I met some of the best people ever, thanks to this project.”
Despite the success of Death & Glory and the opportunities his hard work and determination have borne, Gabe remains a totally independent artist by choice, having turned down offers that may have supported him further (albeit to the potential detriment of his own creative control and flair). Yet regardless of the challenges faced from going it alone, he maintains that Lazerpunk is a project he’s currently happy to manage himself. “Right now as I’m preparing for the upcoming U.S. tour and at the same time working on an upcoming album, working on the currently running Indiegogo campaign and all that, I can say it’s insanely difficult,” he says. “I do everything myself,” he continues, “and it is just too much to do in so little time. I was planning to spend August chilling, traveling, going to shows, meeting friends. Instead, I’m in the studio non-stop, working on songs, putting together the live set, answering emails, packing orders and tons of other stuff. But at least I found out that if I really have to, I can work five times harder than I thought I could.”
This song’s thumping beat is bound to give you enhanced “POWER:”
With the “Black Lambo” remix album now digitally released in support of his Indiegogo campaign, Gabe elaborates on something mentioned within the liner notes of Death & Glory: that he almost decided to delete the song during the making of the 2018 album. “When I was writing that album I was in a very dark place,” he says. “I kind of gave up on everything, I just wanted to finish this album and then totally give up, so all of the songs have this dark undertone, yet ‘Black Lambo’ is a very positive and uplifting song. It also didn’t fit the rest of the album musically.” Fortunately, the song was kept and went on to become an instant hit with his supporters. “As it turned out people really vibed with this,” he says, “so I’m focusing on this in my upcoming works. More good vibes. Thanks to music, and thanks to the insane amount of support I get I’m in a much better place now. I could even say I’m doing pretty good. So I’d like to share that with my fans.”
The song, as it turns out, has also inspired him when writing new material. “My music will still be pretty dark,” he says, “but with much more power and positivity in it. The message is that the world is still a dark place, but it can’t crush you. People who made this whole project blow up gave me hope and I want to share that.” “Black Lambo” isn’t the only track that inspires positive energy in a live environment, either. “That was my intention with the track ‘Power’ as well,” he continues, “and it really shows. That song just makes the crowd go wild at every concert. And it’s great to see that. Life is really tough so giving people strength is one of the best things you can do, and I’m really happy to see that I can do that with my music sometimes.”
Lazerpunk’s Death & Glory album was released on January 31st, 2018. View the “deathly” artwork:
The Black Lambo remix album sees a host of artists and producers collaborating with Lazerpunk as well as adding their remixing skills to the title track, and with contributions from fellow Hungarians Quixotic and Machabray, as well as artists from overseas (including Tokyo Rose, Aesthetic Perfection and David Grimason) joining in the fun, Gabe provides some insight into the collaborative process. “How I usually do collaborations is that I write a song, which sometimes is a full song or something that is close to done, but where I feel like it could be even better,” he says. “Then I give it to someone to do his or her magic and make the song even better. With Quixotic it was pretty easy, as he is an insanely good producer. He never released any fillers or any weak songs, so whatever you give him, you can be sure he will make it even better. With Machabray it was kinda the same thing. Fun fact is, the guy is producing music for (over) ten years now and he had a quite famous electro-industrial project, but that was in the MySpace era, and with that social platform dying off he kind of lost his entire fanbase. So he is starting from scratch now, but he is still an outstandingly good producer so I’m not worried about him. His upcoming debut LP in October is the album I’m most excited about this year.”
Gabe’s musical influences are varied, something that can be heard throughout his back catalogue, and they remain a key factor when it comes to keeping both his mind and boundaries open. Death & Glory is far more than a generic synthwave or darksynth album. It explores a number of different genres and sounds and refuses to conform to any standard tropes that might be expected. “The most important thing about art, and making art is that it has to be fun,” he says. “You have to experiment. You have to try new things, step out of your comfort zone, and sometimes fail. The synthwave scene is very saturated now so I think it’s my willingness to experiment was the thing that really helped me stand out.”
Lazerpunk’s “Black Lambo” is now available in 11 rad different versions; get stoked!
“My influences come from entirely different genres,” he continues. “I listen to a lot of trap music and hang out a lot with local rappers, I go to illegal raves and warehouse techno events, and sometimes you can find me in the middle of a moshpit in some dirty little ruin pub at the concert of some weird and angry local punk band.”
Like many established synthwave artists, from GosT through to Perturbator and beyond, Lazerpunk’s roots lie in the metal scene. As a genre that continues to prove popular with fans of metal, Gabe explains what attracted him to the world of retro synthesizers and ‘80s imagery. “I’ve seen the movie Drive, heard the soundtrack and I got hooked immediately. I can’t even explain what I felt, but I think it was pretty much the same for everyone when they discovered synthwave and dark synth,” he says. “It was such a refreshing new sound, and at the same time, it put you in a very nostalgic mood. It made you feel nostalgia for a past you have never really experienced. I really can’t explain it. I think synthwave is very unique in this aspect. For some people, it just clicks. You hear one song and boom, you’re on it, you are a fan. And I think this is also the reason why the scene is so good.” His thoughts on the synthwave scene are overwhelmingly positive, something he is more than happy to affirm. “I go to all kinds of events so I know lots of scenes and I can say with confidence that the synthwave scene is really outstanding. For real I met some of the best people ever in this scene. It just seems to attract awesome people. Sounds pretentious, but it’s true.”
For a look at what Lazerpunk has upcoming on his touring slate, check out the official tour poster for his fall U.S. tour:
On the verge of another U.S. tour, this time comprised of 36 dates alongside American pop industrialists Aesthetic Perfection and Londoners Empathy Test, Gabe discusses his experiences and how diving in head-first worked out so well for him. “Touring is really an awesome experience and it teaches you a lot about yourself and people,” he says. “I did my first ever tour this February. One day I just got a mail from the French synth-metal band Carbon Killer, asking me to go on tour with them. I knew absolutely nothing about the guys, and I said yes, even though I don’t trust people at all in general. But I still said yes, mainly because I’m adventurous and irresponsible. I said yeah, I know nothing about you, but I’ll go on a month-long European tour with you, I’ll travel, perform, eat, sleep, drink and party with you. Also, I’ll trust you with my life, and more importantly, my gear. It sounds crazy, and it is.”
With touring having been such a positive experience so far, Gabe is keen to take these experiences with him across the Atlantic. “Imagine being 0-24 with someone and do EVERYTHING together,” he continues. ”Even if it was your best friend, after a few weeks you’d be sick of the guy. So yeah it was a risky move, but it turned out great. Some bands who went on tour together end up never speaking again. We ended up as very good friends. That tour made me realize there are good people out there, people who you can really trust and count on. From day one. They did things for me that even very good friends wouldn’t do, and I did the same for them. Touring teaches you a lot about loyalty and teamwork. Like when the zombie apocalypse breaks out and whoever stands next to you in that moment becomes your best friend that you’ll fight side-by-side till the very end. Touring is like that. But with slightly less zombies.”
From the mouth of the man himself, here’s Lazerpunk to tell you more about his Indiegogo campaign:
A Lazerpunk live show is no less riotous than the music he creates, and Gabe is keen to emphasize that synthwave or electronic music can be a lot more than a person standing behind a keyboard. “I really stand out because I’m standing behind a keyboard, BUT with an absolutely insane fanbase in front of me. Not everyone has that,” he jokes. “But seriously, it’s mainly up to the crowd. I absolutely love music and I love what I do, and going on stage gives me a high like nothing else, but at the end of the day, I’m still just a guy behind a laptop with some banging music and flashing lights. It’s the audience who really makes the party. Every time I feel like I had an insane show it’s because of the audience. I go on stage and I immediately feel the energy of the crowd. People really go crazy and it is absolutely amazing to see that.”
Armed with true punk sensibility and a host of incendiary synth bangers, Gabe cements the idea that an energetic crowd is what makes the live experience so special. “I like seeing people go wild. I love when people don’t give a fuck,” he says. “When I look at the crowd and I see people screaming, jumping up and down, dancing, moshing and just really going insane and not giving a fuck about anything. Freedom is the thing that is the most important for me, and during these shows I really see people being free, being themselves, and not stressing about what others think. These days pretty much everyone lives a life where they have to keep themselves in check all the time. Be quiet, be obedient, be nice, smile, and behave like a good citizen. You need to put that aside sometimes. Seriously. Next time you feel down try going to a concert jump into the moshpit, and scream and shout as loud as you can and just go wild for an hour. I guarantee you’ll feel better.”
This song is one serious “Nightcrawler:”
With his Indiegogo crowd-funding campaign, Gabe is looking to raise enough money to shoot a professional music video for “Black Lambo” and maybe more. With so much already achieved this year, a successful campaign would be the icing on the cake, both for himself and for anyone who enjoys his music, and he is keen to express his gratitude to everyone who has helped make it happen. “The things that are happening to me now are far beyond any of my expectations,” he admits. “Seriously, I never expected much from life, and thanks to music I have already achieved and experienced way more than I thought I ever would. So even if it somehow falls apart tomorrow, or I crash into a truck and die, I’d say I’m satisfied. I traveled to faraway places, I’ve been to the U.S., I was partying in Hollywood with people whose music I grew up on, I’ve been to cities I never even heard about, I’ve seen clubs and shows I never thought I would, I played my music to thousands of people all around the world, I had people I never met before treat me as their best friend, I have people with my songs tattooed on them. It is all insane and I’m thankful beyond words. I’m thinking nonstop how could I ever express my gratitude towards the people who helped me get here. And man I hate this because I don’t think I’ll ever be able to express how thankful I am to those who got me here by listening to my music, coming to my shows, buying my merch and all that. I seriously think about it all the time, and I still don’t have the answer.”
With a few days left before the conclusion of his Indiegogo campaign, I ask Gabe for a quick teaser around what we can expect from a Lazerpunk music video. He doesn’t disappoint. “Guns, girls, Adidas, monster trucks and Eastern Europe,” is his response, and the more money raised will lead to, well… “faster cars, more guns, and bigger explosions.” Who wouldn’t buy that for a few dollars?
Many thanks to Lazerpunk for his time. His Indiegogo campaign remains live until September 5th, 2019, and can be supported here. Perks include music, merch, the chance for him to remix your songs, VIP concert experiences, and even the chance to star in one of his music videos. Get involved while there’s still time!