Artists Quotes from ‘Vehlinggo Presents: 5 Years’

Most of the artists on the Vehlinggo Presents: 5 Years compilation wrote a little bit about the songs they contributed. The artists are listed here in alphabetical order and the text is in their own words. If any of them are missing, it’s because they weren’t able to submit their comments in time. — Aaron

Frédéric Rivière (AKA Anoraak). Photo by Olivier Jeanne Rose.

Anoraak – “Panarea” 

“This compilation request came at a key moment in my musical path, as I’m operating a reorientation to something more raw and clearly disco. I first thought [Vehlinggo would] want a purely old-school/early-Anoraak sounding track, meaning synthwave-ish material. Then I realized how supportive you were when I dropped Figure, a synth-pop/chillwave EP pretty far from synthwave already, and I thought, ‘Let’s go. Just do your thing. Do what you’re feeling like now.’ I wanted to start from some drafts I had from my previous EPs, but a disk crash happened a few weeks before deadline. So I had to start a new song from scratch and had very little time left. I finally came up with ‘Panarea’ — a beautiful island in Sicily — sort of an Italo/disco/house mixup, sounding to me like a ride on a hovercraft between the Sicilian islands over a hot summer sunset.”

Betamaxx was the penultimate act of the NEON RetroFest on Aug. 26. He killed it with songs from his pioneering synthwave career. Photo by Andrew B. White.
Betamaxx (Nick Morey) was the penultimate act of the NEON RetroFest on Aug. 26, 2018. He killed it with songs from his pioneering synthwave career. Photo by Andrew B. White.

Betamaxx – “Ni-NRG”

“This was originally intended as a bonus track for the Lost in a Dreamworld LP. The origin and inspiration comes from Italo Disco, but it has an outrun edge to it.” 

bunny x
Mary Hanley (left) and Abigail Gordon (right) of Bunny X.

Bunny X – “Revolving Doors”

“About a year or so ago, I randomly came across an amazing song called “Visions of You” by ‘80s Swedish pop group Katz. The song came out in 1986, I think. Anyway, I just became obsessed and posted about it on Facebook in my ongoing mania over the track. Right after I shared it, I saw a message pop up from Italo Disco legend Fred Ventura, who told me he actually dated one of the singers in Katz back in the day and recorded a few cuts with the group as well. Since we had just recently finished recording a song with Fred — “Words” — it felt like everything had just come full circle.

So I spoke with our long-time producer Conrad Kaneshiro and asked him if he could help me fashion a track inspired by “Visions of You.” A few months later (we were busy with the We Demand Fun EP at the time), he sent me a nice basic drum and bass line to get me started and from there I wrote and arranged “Revolving Doors” in one afternoon — in about an hour or so honestly, because unlike many other songs that are longtime labors of love, this one just flowed right out. I laid down some synth notes and Conrad took it from there. I’m not sure why I chose “Revolving Doors” as the title and main theme, but I guess I was thinking of the flow of time and how so many things in life — jobs, people, places — are temporary and ever-changing. And then as pop songs tend to go, it ended up becoming a sappy romantic tale of longing and confusion; but also of hope.” — Abigail Gordon, one-half of Bunny X.

Deadly Avenger – “Your Phone Is Off the Hook, but You’re Not”

“I wanted to deliver something raw, cold, and electronic. Previous Deadly Avenger albums were swamped with warmth, but for this I needed cheap synths, broken drum machines, weird organs, French spoken-language, and tape hiss — and I wanted GRINDHOUSE!!!!!”

Diamond Field & Dana Jean Phoenix – “Freedom Pass”

Dana Jean Phoenix: “Diamond Field’s cool, carefree, bouncy track evoked the freedom I felt driving along the Pacific Coast Highway in Cali with the windows down. “Freedom Pass” is a celebration of that feeling — through the lens of being in a relationship and realizing that giving yourself over to that feeling doesn’t mean giving yourself away. Love is powerful, and even more powerful when you are truly free to love yourself.”

Andy Diamond (AKA Diamond Field): “I wanted to write an upbeat, catchy ‘80s-influenced pop number that encompasses a sound Diamond Field has be working into its repertoire lately. To bring that to fruition I needed a singer who could bring the magic and right vibe for the vocals – Dana Jean Phoenix was the perfect choice! I love the lyrics she wrote, which convey someone who wants to have fun but is strong and confident at the same time.”

Forgotten Illusions – “Girl On Video”

“When I worked on this track, I was totally obsessed by a tumblr page full of screenshots of old, obscure VHS, and I found some blurry images of girls. The blurry/VHS aspect is very important, as it made it very mysterious. Those girls are, each, the ‘Girl on Video.’ ”

Alex Karlinsky (AKA Highway Superstar). Photo Credit: Ofir Abe.

Highway Superstar – “SLow Motion (Feat. Zoe Polanski)”

“If there ever was a Highway Superstar film, this track would be its end credits. ‘Slow Motion’ is a state of existence we forgot how to be at. It is a reminiscence of the experiences with a love that may or may not have been lost in time. The vision behind this song is to bring back some of that groove, which can only exist after coming to terms with your past experiences, memories, and connections to your loved ones. The magical Zoe Polanski kindly lent her voice and talent for this track. She’s known for her work as a film composer, guitar player, and member of indie disco-pop duo Reo.”

in mirrors gold johnny jewel
In Mirrors frontman Jesse Taylor. Photo courtesy of Italians Do It Better.

In Mirrors – “Gold (Instrumental)”

“‘Gold’ was first written in 2014 as a demo for a miner from Minot, ND, as a theme for Gold Rush, when he was putting together a new tv series. The song evolved from a dramatic heartbreaking piece into a special groove of love. Presented here in instrumental form, the song will next appear on the In Mirrors full-length LP Permanent on Italians Do It Better. It’s produced by Johnny Jewel and is  the opening track from our recent North American tour. ‘Gold’ represents love and hope and promise and infinity. It’s also quite mysterious and dangerous.”

johan agebjorn
Johan Agebjörn, 2011.

Johan Agebjörn – “Have You Ever Been in Love? (Feat. Tom Hooker) [Wolfram Dub]”

“The original version of the song was included on the soundtrack to the movie Videomannen, released on Lakeshore Records. The lyrics were inspired by the love story in the movie. The whole movie has an ’80s theme, so I teamed up with legendary Italo Disco artist Tom Hooker for the vocals. Wolfram — who released the first Sally Shapiro records on his label Diskokaine in 2006 — remixed it. This is the first time the remix is officially released.” (Aaron’s Note: It might sound familiar to you, because Johan featured it on a Vehlinggo Mix in 2018.)

le matos rage of honor vehlinggo presents
A still from ‘Ninja Eliminator II: Quest of the Magic Ninja Crystal,’ a fake film trailer directed by RKSS. Le Matos, also featured in the video, consisted at the time of Jean-Nicolas Leupi, Jean-Philippe Bernier, and now-former member Maxime Dumesnil. All three of those original members appear on the ‘Vehlinggo Presents: 5 Years’ compilation song “Rage of Honor,” which they wrote as the “score” for ‘Ninja Eliminator II.’

Le Matos – “Rage of Honor”

“‘Rage Of Honor’ is the original score to Ninja Eliminator II : Quest of the Magic Ninja Crystal, a fake film trailer directed by RKSS (Turbo Kid, Summer of 84). The short film was shot by JP Bernier and the sound design/editing was done JN Leupi (both of Le Matos). All the dialogue of the short was recorded and performed by Le Matos and some of Les Enfants Terribles crew members. You can also see the original Le Matos trio fight the golden ninja in one of the scenes. The biggest influence for ‘Rage of Honor’ was the band Clan of Xymox and the movies of Godfrey Ho.”

Maethelvin poses in a first-edition variant Vehlinggo tee.

Maethelvin – “Dance Through The Night”

“This track is the first one of some new tracks composed recently. It appears to be like a switch — a need to go back to some Valerie Collective roots. It’s darker, more techno-oriented, and with references to the French Touch era.”

Mecha Maiko Let's review
Hayley Stewart is Mecha Maiko. Photo by Duncan Foy.

Mecha Maiko – “Selfless”

“I’m bad at being single. This song is about a relationship I had high hopes for, then slipped out of when I saw I was forcing something that wasn’t right. It’s about bad habits and the frustration of recognizing them, especially when they negatively impact people you care for.”

Nate Utesch is Metavari.

Metavari – “Be What You See (Extended)”

“The structure of this track was largely improvised. Sequences were pieced together and expanded into four repetitious breaths — sort of a da capo collage through simple polymeter and MIDI arrangements. Captured through playback in a modest synth collection and my own crude sound design. ‘Be What You See; was originally a short, one-minute track from Metavari’s 2017 EP, Tetra A.D. I’ve revisited it numerous times the last couple years; attempting to revoke on its brevity and rewrite it as an extended version. When Vehlinggo approached me for this compilation I immediately knew this would be the context to finish the piece.”

the midnight sometimes she smiles vehlinggo presents

The Midnight – “Sometimes She Smiles”

“I was living in Santa Monica, four blocks from the ocean. I’d been working a lot, but there wasn’t much happening with music. I left my fiancée in the apartment and took a walk to reflect on my momentary unhappiness. On a park bench at Ashland and Barnard Way, I wrote the lyrics — not intending it to be a song — to ‘Sometimes She Smiles.’ I think it was an unconscious drive to recalibrate the ‘Doing/Knowing’ part of me (that always seems to lead) with the ‘Being/Feeling’ part of myself (that I always seem to be lacking). Alternatively, it could just be a fictional conversation between me and my wife about my stubbornness. Either way, the bones that are breaking in his head are always mine, and the more evolved response (which is usually my wife’s) is just to smile — knowingly. This loop was kicking around Tim [McEwan’s] hard drive around the time that Days of Thunder was coming together.” — Tyler Lyle, one-half of The Midnight.

parallels the magic hour holly dodson vehlinggo presents 5 years
Holly Dodson of Parallels.

Parallels – “The Magic Hour”

“‘The Magic Hour” is about being caught in a whirlwind love — letting yourself be carried away by it, being unsure if it will last forever but hoping that it will. I recorded the demo for it after a trip to California, pulling inspiration for the production from Bryan Ferry and ’80s-era Joni Mitchell. I finished it this year at my studio in Toronto. The song features guitar by my bandmate Oliver Blair, who I kindly asked to play something Eagles meets “Rio” by Duran Duran.” — Holly Dodson, leader of Parallels.

The Artists Talk about What Vehlinggo Means to Them

In addition to discussing the background behind their contributions to Vehlinggo Presents: 5 Years, the artists also shared what this website and its community means to them. It’s definitely an opportunity to get teary-eyed at times.


Vehlinggo, to me, is this awesome man, Aaron: A truly passionate, open-minded, extremely supportive and talented writer, who likes to discover new music, help spread the word about it, and is also a very good friend to have drinks and endless discussions with <3.”


“Aaron has been a major supporter of and contributor to the scene and has always had my back. He’s lent an open ear to not only my music but as a personal friend. Always a pleasure to hang out with.”

Bunny X

Vehlinggo has been extremely important to me (and Conrad and Mary) for years now for a number of reasons. Obviously, we are unendingly grateful for all the support that Aaron has shown to us over the years, from premiering our new videos such as ‘Lasers and Lace’ to premiering new songs such as “Stay” and “Words (feat. Fred Ventura).” We have also been featured on The Vehlinggo Podcast, SoundCloud and via social media as well — all of which has been instrumental (hehe) in getting our music heard by the larger community. Vehlinggo is also just an amazing resource from a listener and fan’s standpoint. If I’m itching to hear new artists and curious about a new release, I know exactly where to look.” 

Diamond Field and Dana Jean Phoenix

Dana:Vehlinggo has been such a champion of the synthwave scene — giving thoughtful, eloquent, and heartfelt insight into synthwave music in a way that inspires and connects us. Aaron has been instrumental in building the scene and has done so with passion, sincerity, and class. To be a part of this compilation with so many amazing artists is totally rad and humbling. Plus, I’m always rocking my sweet Vehlinggo tee from ‘Far And Away’ on the Golden Gate Bridge!”

Andy: “Vehlinggo consistently has its finger on the pulse of great music with solid writing and research about the artists they feature. Aaron has been a big supporter of Diamond Field and I jumped at the chance to contribute to this awesome compilation!”

Deadly Avenger

“We went to MONDOCON. There was instant attraction. We talked and talked and then later that day, he got extremely drunk on whisky and beer, and with his taco-filled face he tried to kiss me. I was shocked, but also excited; and although extremely flattered, I couldn’t. I’m just not ready for a full-on relationship. I miss that fleeting moment. I think about it fondly — his warm embrace, the sauce stains around his mouth, and those eyes. It is something I will treasure,  and who knows what the future may bring.” (Aaron’s Note: It was a burrito, for the record.)

Forgotten Illusions

“Vehlinggo is the place where what we started 13 years ago is still living. It’s important for this scene, which is still evolving.”

Highway Superstar 

This is such a personal question, as I’ve been deeply connected to Vehlinggo from the very beginning. What started as a casual mutual interest in music has been long turned into a friendship. This compilation is one of the best manifestations of Vehlinggo’s taste and style, that there was absolutely no question about being involved in the compilation.” 

Johan Agebjörn

“Vehlinggo is a great blog that has also supported my music for a long time, so I love being part of this compilation.”

Le Matos

“Vehlinggo is a reference for the ‘retrowave’ synth history.”


Aaron has always been a great supporter and a real passionate writer with unlimited knowledge of different musical genres, and more specifically about the Valerie Collective history. I love the way he goes deep into subjects (e.g. multiple Drive movie analyses), and I felt honored he asked me to be part of this celebration compilation!” 

Mecha Maiko

“Vehlinggo means thoughtful, well-curated music journalism. While it’s easy for music blogs to fizzle into uninspired regurgitations of press releases, it’s a delight to see how Aaron continues to approach his craft with a much-needed enthusiasm, authenticity, and skill. I’m involved in the compilation because I believe that we need outlets like this to exist, and because I deeply appreciate the person behind it.”


“Vehlinggo‘s deep dives and long form features have kept me returning to its sparkly home in the internet for so many years (five!). He’ll forever be our “crazy synthwave archeologist,” but Metavari couldn’t be more proud (read also: fortuitous) to have been the subject of his journalism for way too many features than it deserves.” 

The Midnight

Tyler Lyle: “Vehlinggo means a community of likeminded enthusiasts with its finger on the pulse; but more than that it means Aaron. Aaron is kind, interested, and intelligent without needing to show his intelligence. His generosity of spirit is why we’re involved in this compilation.”


“Vehlinggo is THE source for well-researched, insightful, and thoughtful journalism about a colorful area of independent music that would otherwise be overlooked by major press outlets. I jumped at the opportunity to be involved, because Vehlinggo is a world where I feel like I fit in. So my music — being an extension of me — I feel like it does as well. 🙂 


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