(Editor’s Note: This is the second of two pieces published today about Vehlinggo’s ninth anniversary. The other is this personal essay.)
Vehlinggo, this site you’re reading, published its first article nine years ago today. (More specifically, I wrote a review of College’s Save The Day EP and published it on Nov. 19, 2014.) At the time I had no idea what the next many years would look like. It was just a chance for me to cover music I loved — largely but not entirely stemming from the Drive soundtrack extended family.
Although over the years I’ve focused more and more on scores and soundtracks more broadly, it seems like material in the Drive orbit (or that which orbits the stuff that orbits Drive) is what consistently tops the list of most-read articles. Looking at the Top 5 most-read pieces over the past nine years, this rings true. (Although if we look at the Top 10 or 20, you see a lot more film and TV score and soundtrack interviews and reviews show up.)
Another thing you’ll notice when reading the list is that the articles are largely from between 2015-2017, the years that mark the ascent of Vehlinggo on the way to its readership peak in 2019 and 2020. I can’t explain why those early years dominate this list, beyond perhaps because at the time I had interviewed a bunch of popular synthwave and adjacent acts, and some talented score composers.
Anyway, let’s dive in.
5: What Does the Future Hold for Timecop1983? (July 1, 2015)
Although I first wrote about Dutch synthwave artist Timecop1983 (AKA Jordy Leenaerts) way back in 2014 — an era when you could still reasonably enjoy spending time in a synthwave Facebook group — it was my first interview with him in the summer of 2015 that seems to be a consistent favorite for new and existing readers. I published it a couple days before he released his Reflections LP on NewRetroWave’s then-new record label, and talked about everything from his early years chipping away at DOS-based music programs called “trackers” to his role in the synthwave community and his prediction of a darker-synth future for his project, among other things.
Ultimately, though, he hit on the core of his enduring appeal both within the niche synthwave scene and with a more mainstream audience: “I want to accomplish a melancholic and romantic feeling with my music.”
4: PREMIERE: New Carpenter Brut Track from ‘The Rise of the Synths’ (March 2, 2017)
It’s a Carpenter Brut premiere post and not my interview with Franck Hueso, the French man behind the project, that has garnered a great many eyes. I knew Brut was a popular dark synthwave act, transcending any one scene the world over, but it took premiering “Night Stalker,” from the Lakeshore Records-released companion album to the synthwave doc, The Rise of the Synths, to really understand the demand for a new Brut single. I called the song “blisteringly intense” at the time, and I imagine that’s a descriptor you could apply to any number of Brut cuts. A week later I ended up seeing the band live, with Vehlinggo friends Antoni Maiovvi and Le Matos serving as openers. It was a brilliant Brooklyn night.
3: Who Is FM-84? (Updated occasionally for several years)
This informational landing page began, admittedly, as an experiment to try to get Vehlinggo to rank highly in Google searches for popular synthwave artist FM-84 (AKA Col Bennett). However, it ended up being a solid reference page for those looking to get to know the artist better. It features the scores of articles this site has published on him, starting with FM-84’s first-ever interview anywhere in March 2015 and following that up with updates about new releases, an early-COVID livestream, his move to Scotland, and more. It has ended up ranking fairly high in Google searches, but at least I can say my SEO tomfoolery actually helps FM-84 fans and those curious about the artist. Don’t blame me for the demise of Google Search!
2: ‘Drive’ Soundtrack: Revisiting the Neon-Noir Masterpiece (Sept. 7, 2016)
It’s no surprise that this 7,000-word deep-dive into the Drive soundtrack for its fifth anniversary is on the list. Vehlinggo has made its name on everything in the Drive universe (or perhaps, I’ve made my name on it). I spent 2016 interviewing as many people involved in the music as possible — landing score composer Cliff Martinez, College and Electric Youth (“A Real Hero”), and Johnny Jewel (Chromatics’ “Tick of the Clock” and Desire’s “Under Your Spell”) — in addition to folks like Miami Nights 1984 and Highway Superstar, whose careers were affected by the soundtrack’s and film’s popularity. I’ve spent nearly a decade trying to get an interview with Kavinsky (“Nightcall”) and director Nicolas Winding Refn with no success. (I even approached the latter on a warm summer night in Manhattan in 2016 after a screening of The Neon Demon.) Maybe one day. Anyway, it was a blast to report out and write this piece and I’m glad it still resonates.
(Companion pieces: A big interview with Cliff Martinez; deep dives with Martinez associates Mac Quayle and Greg Tripi, who both worked on Drive and other films with him; and one of five big interviews with Electric Youth.)
1: Reliving the Past with The Midnight: An In-Depth Interview (Nov. 12, 2017)
That this is the most-read Vehlinggo story over nine years is not really a surprise to me. I’ve been an admirer of The Midnight since not long after their founding in 2014, and this interview is just one of many articles on them going back more than six years. (Not to mention their inclusion on the Vehlinggo Presents: 5 Years album and my involvement with their COVID livestream as host, among other things.)
The article came out around the time of the release of their popular Nocturnal EP, home to some of the band’s modern classics, such as “Shadows,” “Light Years (Feat. Nikki Flores),” and “River of Darkness (Feat. Timecop1983).” Even more notably, it dropped just as principals Tim McEwan and Tyler Lyle were preparing for their first-ever Los Angeles live show at The Globe. (Of course, now, they play sold-out shows in fairly big venues around the world, but in those days they were still getting their tour legs.)
We tackled so many aspects of their artistic and personal lives that I don’t even know where to start here. It’s best just to read it.