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TEEEL (Jim Smith) is an electronic producer/songwriter from New Jersey and owner of the electronic music label, Synthemesc Recordings. Inspired by synthesizer and the 80s new wave movement, Teeel credits his sound to marathon movie watching and being an obsessive gear head. Creating music in a 10×10 teal painted room, stacked with synthesizers and guitars with walls covered with vintage Moog ads, TEEEL produces music that ranges from hypnotic synthpop to dreamy disco and dark electronica.
His critically acclaimed debut album, “AMULET” (Moodgadget Records) has generated quite the buzz in the blog world as well as being featured on KEXP radio. His sophomore album “University Heights” was just released on his own label, Synthemesc. His recent appearance at SXSW gave him more exposure making 2012 a big year with a slew of remixes, live performances, and new songs in the cue.
MW: How do you keep yourself inspired and/or motivated?
T: Honestly, I’m inspired by life. I’m very passionate and slightly obsessed with whatever I’m getting into. Whether I’m designing a brochure at work, recording a new song, or working on my home, I constantly strive for perfection. I think I gain inspiration from everything and everyone. My friends are successful artists and musicians as well and we feed off of each other. I don’t watch TV, the news or sports but I try to watch at least a movie a day. I love film, sound and art. I think they are all tied together and inspire me in the same way. Sometimes, halfway through a film, I’ll run into the studio to get an idea out of my head.
MW: Your music is the perfect pop soundtrack for technoprogressivist. What would make you happy to see on the charts?
T: I don’t really pay attention to the charts. I think there is such great music out there that will never see a large crowd. I enjoy the sacred music that people really aren’t aware of. I listen to a lot of weird music and It’s so fun discovering a new artist and having to research them to learn more, find older tracks and videos, etc. As for my music, I’d love to get more involved with movies. Drive 2, The Evil Dead remake maybe? I’m really getting more into sound design and scores.
MW: You recently started you own record label in the middle of what some people say is the death throes of the industry. Tell me your strategy?
T: Synthemesc (Synth Records) is more of an artist collective with a similar vision. Since we’re a digital label, the artists have the liberty to do their own physical releases and retain all the rights to the material. I didn’t start the label to make money. Let’s be honest, there isn’t much money in MP3 sales on a select underground genre with a limited audience. With the use of sharing sites, people just don’t spend the money like they used to. It’s refreshing though. The music is getting out there. The artists get exposure, cross promote and support each other. We all share our music with each other, radio stations, blogs and more. We bounce new ideas and it really motivates everyone to try harder. There is no politics, drama and everyone has the same fun mentality. With this thinking, there is no way to fail.
MW: I agree that the charts can be depressing but sometimes there is a breath of fresh air. What do you think of an act like Fun. or Arcade fire for example charting in the middle of all the American idol crap? as for music that will never see the charts, I LOVE prince rama – have you heard them?
T:Absolutely! I love the fact M83 is doing really well and selling out stadiums, his album was my personal favorite from last year, I was also excited to hear Crystal Castles on the radio quite a bit, I enjoy Metric and some of the newer indie groups using more sythesizers. Gotye is huge now too. To be honest, even some of the radio pop has some great electronic production behind it. In all the garbage out there, there is still something to grab onto. I haven’t checked out Prince Rama yet. I’ll have to make that a priority.