Taking some time with Jordy – The romantic heart of synthwave

Mar 28, 2020 | Interviews, Music

When I first started writing this article, the World was on the edge of the madness that we are now all living. The main difference was we were still allowed out of our houses and to socialise with each other. Now as I sit here, living a socially distant life, I look back on how lucky we have been in recent times to be able to either travel far or to our local city to see some of our favourite artists perform live. The simple pleasure of grabbing a beer, heading to the stage and enjoying the feeling of time with friends, loved ones and the music. For me a big part of that process has been Jordy Leenaerts, also know to the world as Timecop 1983.

Jody’s Timecop 1983 project is arguably one of the most successful in the synthwave / retrowave / 80s nostalgia scene and this has seen him performing his dreamy, romantic creations all over the globe. My first experience of this was at Outland’s first live event at the Clapham Grand in London. What struck me wasn’t just being able to see Timecop live for the first time. (which is a treat), but also just how nice a dude Jordy is. Happy to take the time to come over to where I was sat, sign my copy of the (then very elusive) ‘Reflections’ album and chat away, all the while prepping for his set. It’s also a gesture that is reflected by many of TC’s fans and event attendees across the globe. It is that engagement (which is seen with many other artists in the scene too, of course!) that made me realise in our new restricted world, just how much of a positive influence the live events and the people we meet along the way has had on my life in recent years. Patrick Fakeman wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for those events and relationships. There is a lot to be thankful for.

So in a period where no-one knows where we will be in 3 months, 6 months or 12 months time, take a moment and enjoy a 1-1 chat with Patrick Fakeman and Timecop 1983.

First of all, thank you for taking the time to chat! We’ve met a few times over the last years and you’ve always been a pleasure to talk to. The scene has developed and, I guess you could say, transitioned over the years. It’s much larger now and certainly has it’s fair share of new artists. How have you found that development and has it had an impact on your own music making?

Thank you for having me! It’s always great to meet you and it’s crazy we’ve met in so many places in the world! You are a true fan of the genre and always fun to talk to and have a drink with! 

The scene has definitely transitioned over the years. And for the better! I remember doing my first live show in The Hague in The Netherlands some years ago. Almost nobody knew the genre. Now, years later it’s still getting bigger and bigger. I think it’s great the scene is becoming bigger and that Synthwave is making its way to more and more mainstream platforms/media.  

It has not affected the way I make my music. I always create my music from my own heart and try not to focus too much on what others do or what’s popular. But I do feel the growing scene brought me more talented people to work with, which is great.

The only downside is that I cannot keep up with new releases and artists anymore. I feel like I miss out on so much good music and new artists, but I just can’t listen to everything.

Timecop 1983 at Outland Glasgow (Credit: @larbeyperson – Instagram)

So it’s been a quiet year for the Timecop project, can you tell us much about what you have been up to?

Yeah, in 2019 I only released one track: My Delorean (with Primo). Which is unusual for Timecop1983! 

I was struggling with a huge writer’s block ever since I came back from my tour in the US last June. I wanted to make new music so bad that I put too much stress on myself and that blocked all my creativity. 

Everything I wrote just sounded bland to me. It felt like everything sounded the same as what I did before and I tried too hard to still create something. Whenever I sat behind my computer to write I told myself to create a new hit song, a song better than all my previous work. But of course creativity does not work like that and it threw me even deeper into the hole. So I had to take a little break in a hope to get that creative feeling back. It took me a while to get back on track, but I’m currently close to finishing a new album!  

I have been working very closely with Josh Dally and it has turned into an album full of romantic/love tunes. Josh is great to work with, his voice is phenomenal and it amazed me how fast he can come up with the best lyrics. He has been a great help with this album and we are very excited about it. 

It’s currently in the finishing stages, but I’m not sure when it will be released. I hope around mid-May, but that depends on a lot of factors. 

Great news! So what where Jordy’s go-to records as a kid?

Haha, i’m kind of ashamed of my musical youth.. I am born in 1983, so that makes me more of a 90’s kid than a real 80’s kid. And in the 90’s Hardcore / Gabber was really popular in The Netherlands. So I listened to a lot of Hardcore too. My favorite CD’s were the Thunderdome series, Rotterdam Terror Corps and Paul Elstak.  Later, when I was around 16 or 17 I was more interested in house and techno.  

I’ve read over the years that when you first started making music it wasn’t anything like the sort of work you are doing now. How did you find your Dreamwave style and what was is about that type of music making that kept you producing more of it?

Yeah, when I started making music I didn’t have any musical background at all. I enjoyed music to listen too, but never learned to play in instrument. Then I got a floppy disk with Scream Tracker (or it might have been Impulse Tracker) and I became very interested in creating my own music. So I kept trying and trying and after a while I could make my own musical ideas. I created anything I could come up with, not a specific genre.

I started making Synthwave when I finally saw Drive in 2013. I knew most of the music in the soundtrack, but never realized it was from the film (how that’s possible, I don’t know). Then I finally saw the film and it just clicked.. I knew I had to try and make that kind of music too.  

Patrick Fakeman with Jordy and Beyond Synth’s Andy Last on the eve of Outland Toronto in 2019 (Credit: @patrickfakeman – Instagram)

It was clear at Outland Toronto that you were one of the main draws for that event. The attendance certainly peaked for your set. You seem to have that draw in lots of countries. Do you have a favourite place that Timecop 1983 has allowed you the opportunity to visit?

Everytime I see a room full of people in front of me when I’m on stage I have to pinch myself a little bit. To me it’s so crazy that so many people come out and come to my sets. 

I’m truly thankful for that and especially to have the chance to play in so many countries on earth.

I enjoy all opportunities I get, but my most favorite place to play is in the US. I have a lot of fans there and they always enjoy themselves to the fullest and are always very enthusiastic in meeting me. 

Timecop 1983 Live at Outland Toronto (Credit: @larbeyperson – Instagram)

I took some time this week to go back to some of your older works.. Lonely Nights, Our Time.. There is a real consistency to your work over the last 7 years.. How has it developed for you over that time though? Has it come with a change in your techniques?

Good to see you hear the consistency in my work! I always aim to create music which has that Timecop1983 vibe, but still a little different every time. 

I never make the decision to sound a little different every time, but I think it’s just a natural process. I learn from everything I make and take that experience with me in every new track I make.

That consistency would suggest you have been able to stave off the pressure that successful artists are put under to make more music and make it faster, risking the quality… Have you felt a pressure to produce more?

Not from my fans, but definitely from myself. As I said before I was struggling with a writer’s block because I put too much pressure on myself. 

Before I never put that pressure on myself and tracks just kept coming and coming. But then my music got a more serious form with so many fans, live performances and other artist’s involved. So I wanted to create better music than I did before. 

Now I’ve accepted that you cannot write a good song like that. If it comes, it comes. If it doesn’t, it doesn’t. There’s nothing you can change about it and I’ve accepted that. That was the only solution to my writer’s block.

Fakeman personal favourite from Timecop 1983’s Night Drive Album – ‘Tokyo’

I chatted with Ollie Wride and Sunglasses Kid last month and they were both saying that the Internet has been key to the success of the genre in general, but also to building those collaboration relationships with other artists. How important do you feel social media has been to the success of Timecop 1983?

I agree with them 1000%. Without the internet Timecop1983 would not have even existed. I put my first song on Soundcloud and it got picked up from there. I did not have any contacts in the music industry and had no clue there was even a Synthwave scene. 

Because of the internet I came in contact with more and more producers, platforms and fans and this helped me a lot in continuing the project. 

Timecop 1983 in Brooklyn, NYC with FM-84 and The Midnight (Credit: @larbeyperson – Instagram)

Your Lovers EPs have just been released on vinyl record via Timeslave Recordings – Congrats! I’ve mentioned to many people that I consider those EPs to be your finest work. Is there a separate process for you when making an EP compared to a full album?

Thanks a lot! 

My music making process is always the same: I just keep creating as much song ideas as I can. And when I feel it’s time to release something I export all the ideas I have to MP3 and select the best ideas which fit together to tell a story. If it’s 6 or 7 tracks I make the release into a EP and if it’s more it turns into a album. 

The Timecop 1983 record line up, including the ‘Lovers, Part 1 and 2’ recently released via Timeslave Recordings (Credit: Martin Larbey)

Finally, what are you listening to at the moment?

At this very moment I’m listening to my favorite band Chromatics.

Thanks to Jordy for taking the time out to chat. If you are reading this then the chances are you have already heard Jordy’s work. If you’ve been under a rock forever then you can check out his music on his Bandcamp page.

And wherever you are in the World, stay safe, stay indoors and spin a record or two.

Now you’ll need to excuse me, I have to return some videotapes.