A Conversation with Synth Composer Steve Greene

A fan of both science fiction and horror, Steve Greene has been a major player in the synth movement. Slowing down is not in his vocabulary

Steve Greene is one of the major players in the accomplished synth band Voyag3r, releasing some of the most significant synth soundtracks of our time. From foundational elements of Carpenter and Vangelis, Greene has recently released his debut solo album titled Electronic Dreams For A Holographic Existence on vinyl LP via Bellyache Records and CD, Cassette and Digital via Battle Chamber Music.

In addition, Greene has been busy contributing to various projects including last year’s illustrious synth compilation The Rise of The Synths on Lakeshore Records, and various film scores that Greene talks about below. If you want a firm understanding of what today’s synth movement is like, Greene is the person to seek out. His love of the genre with both science fiction and horror elements is well researched and modernized in ways not experienced from the founders.

A Conversation with Steve Greene

How did you get into the synth movement?

I never intended to be part of a movement, but in recent years I can definitely see that there is something going on. If it helps bring more attention to Voyag3r and my solo music, I’m cool with that.

I have always loved the sound of synthesizers, even when I was a kid and didn’t know what was making those sounds. It was probably the album Three of a Perfect Pair by King Crimson (bassist Tony Levin used a Moog Source on their live videos) and Goblin that put it into focus for me.

You recently released a track through the They Came From Rue Morgue compilation, celebrating Rue Morgue Magazine’s 20th anniversary Halloween issue. How did that come about and how much did magazines like Rue Morgue have on you? I have been digging into ‘70s-era monster mags and there is a certain ambiance to these zines. How does that fit into your horror-themed compositions?

That was a lot of fun to create! I actually did 2 parts to that song, which the other installment came out on Witches’ Halloween Brew cassette; released via Burning Witches Records out of the UK. Both came about through some email conversations and some coordinating between me recording my debut album, scoring and producing these upcoming radio dramas from my friend and comic book author Dirk Manning and the birth of my daughter this past August. I almost thought I couldn’t take on any more projects, but I really wanted to be a part of both compilations. Both songs were written specifically for these comps.

As a kid, I would always flip through horror and science fiction magazines at the book stores. Always a relatable source for new films coming out or behind-the-scenes information on films I already loved.

Is there a difference between writing with a science fiction theme versus a horror-related theme? Is one harder for you?

I don’t believe so. When I am writing a film score, I really just focus on what I believe the scene needs to help tell and support the actions on screen. When writing for an album, I usually have a good idea of where i’d Like to end up, but try to leave some room for happy accidents or the intervening energy of the cosmos.

Voyag3r “Il Guanto Nero”

What are some of your favorite horror and science fiction movies?

Some classic horror from my childhood include Phantasm, Dawn of the Dead and Creepshow. A few modern ones I really like include Beyond The Black Rainbow (not really horror), It Follows, Let The Right One In and Get Out are great. (Sorta horror, but definitely not a comedy). Some great and timeless sci-fi on my list: Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Event Horizon (pretty much sci-fi and horror) and Krull.

Tell me about the score for Future? What led you to wanting to score a film? How did that differ with your other work? Would you say with Voyag3r, you have had built up a reputation for small-scale scores? How do the two projects go hand in hand?

My score to Future is a very minimal and dark score. As a matter of fact, a funny thing that happened during the production of the score was, I’d send a scene, with my music, in to the directors and I’d get a note back saying, “Can you do less?”. Their approach was to use my music in the sci-fi parts of the film. They listened some cool Detroit music for some party scenes and other vibes.

I’ve wanted to score films or even TV for quite a while. Either with the band or just me; depending on what is needed.

When writing for film or TV, I feel that your job is to help the story. Sometimes that means no music. With the band, it’s much more free. Although Voyag3r tends to sound a bit like film scores, we’re just a rock band. Out songs are still roughly in that head space, but we certainly have more freedom than a typical band with lyrics and a catchy chorus, for example.

When Voyag3r licensed two songs to Portal To Hell!!!, starring the late, great Roddy Piper, I think that helped our name get out there more. In addition to putting out albums, being a part of film soundtracks or even scoring a film is what we want to do.

You are also collaborating with a 4-part audio book production and the Nightmare World series. What can we expect there?

This is a project that really turned out stellar! I am not sure when it will be released, but I am very happy with how everything turned out. Dirk Manning is a very talented comic book writer who has a popular title called Nightmare World. We turned 4 of the epilogue stories into a sort of radio drama or audio book. Instead of just having someone reading the text, I composed 4 original pieces to accompany the readers and I also added in some select foley, to kick it up another notch. I’m looking forward to when everyone can listen to those.

Steve Greene – The Great Barrier

 If that is not enough, you have a solo album on the horizon? Tell me more about that and what it entails?

This is sort of the flag ship piece for me. I’ve been wanting to release a solo album of this type of music for quite some time. As a matter of fact, I didn’t know if I’d be able to find other people to play this sort of music at first (roughly around 2011/12). I thought all this synthesizer based stuff would just be me. As it turned out, my life long band mates were totally into the idea of starting Voyag3r with me, so I am lucky enough to have both.

I caught on YouTube some of the live versions of Voyag3r and how crazy good those songs are live. Do you have any plans for some live shows with any of the current projects?

Thank you. That is sort of by design. When I am writing, I am making sure that I can actually play all the parts live. We reallly strive for an honest translation between the album and live. My solo music is treated in the same way, as much as possible.

I do play solo shows ocassionally and always have a great time.

I was involved with a very cool project this past Halloween. My friend and author Josh Malerman, probably most known for is incredible novel Bird Box, just released a new novel called Goblin. As part of his promotion for the book, a small group of Detroit based actors put on a live play/reading of excerpts from Goblin and I provided a live score to that performance. It was really incredible to see it come to life, complete with great make-up, lighting and fog machine.

What elements do you think led to this immensely busy time in your music career? What lies ahead for the future of Steve Greene?

Well, I have some very talented band mates as well as really fantastic friends who are always up to something exciting and inspiring. I have been fortunate to be able to collaborate and/or contribute to them.

My solo album album, ‘Electronic Dreams For A Holographic Existence’ comes out January 19 and there will be more Voyag3r, too. Stay tuned!

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