In April, Seth Haley released a predictably mesmerizing new EP, Silicon Tare, under his synthwave alias Com Truise. Haley talked to us about his growth as an artist, how moving to the West Coast has influenced his music and the challenges of remixing Deftones.
With your latest EP, were there any particular new influences or inspirations informing the music? Some of the tracks were a little older. I was trying to close the door on them and stop noodling them forever and get them out there, [so I could] move on to different things. Some of the other tracks were influenced by moving from the East Coast to the West Coast. It was more an experiment for me to try to do something that sounds like me, but different, to keep the door open for the future of the Com Truise project.
I did notice the EP felt a little warmer than previous releases, if that makes sense. Definitely. A lot of that comes [because] the software I use went through a huge change. Not that I had to necessarily relearn it, but the software itself has more room now, more air and more breathing space. Things warmed up. It sounds a little bit more open, so I've been getting used to that and trying to move away from [the] really compressed, dense quality and keep it open so I can explore other avenues down the road.
How else has moving to the West Coast influenced you? I mean, the weather is beautiful. (laughs) The extra sunshine. I might be a little bit slower these days, it's kind of hard to stay inside all day when it's beautiful out. Other than that, the palm trees and just being in California, I think, has its own weird magic to it.
What does your studio setup look like in California? I rented a house from a buddy, so I [have] basically a room just jammed full of equipment. There's cables everywhere. It's kind of a work in progress still. I feel like I hit the ground running here, and I haven't really got it set up the right way. It works; it's functioning.
You're also working on a new album. How far along is it? I'd say it's about 70 percent. A few new keyboards have been released, and I have one in the shop, so I've been waiting to dive into the rest of it until I get this new equipment, so I can really feature the sounds of that stuff on the record. That's kind of been the holdup.
Is it too early to tell the direction? The direction is going to follow the same storyline that my music follows that I came up with—the first android astronaut goes into space and makes contact with this civilization. They try to corrupt him, and he falls in love, and he's not supposed to have these feelings. Then he causes a rift between our civilization and their civilization. Basically, it's going to be the downward slope of the story. It will be dark and light. It's like a love story. It'll be happy and sad, I suppose.
I read your Reddit AMA and you talked about having some guests potentially on the record. Anyone you can confirm yet? Not at the moment. I have some things I'm working on with people, and I don't know if they'll make it to the record or not. We're actively seeking a few people, but trying to keep it under wraps at the moment.
Aesthetically and roster-wise, Ghostly seems like it's been a really good label fit for you. What's been the biggest benefit working with them? They're very patient with me. I wrote a lot of this music when I lived in New Jersey, and it's backlogged and coming out now, as I'm ready, I guess. Their patience and their support is amazing for me. Being an electronic artist these days, it's so saturated. And I got lucky to find a nice home for the music. Everybody is really cool, and they're very supportive of new directions. They never push me to do certain things. They might say, "You know, let's think about maybe working with other people, some collaboration. Everybody's doing that." I've always wanted to do that, it's just finding the right fit and the timing. In this digital world we live in, you can do it all online, but I miss that human connection. [But Ghostly isn't] really pushing me to do [collaboration], they're just throwing it on the table and saying, "Well, it's something to think about." They're not trying to force anything. They very much want me to do what I want to do.
When you first were starting out, you were aligned with the synthwave movement. Five years later, do you find that tag limiting or empowering? It's empowering in some respects, and in others, it's like, I don't know if I've graduated or not, but I feel that way. I built it off that structure, and it's taken on its own shape. A lot of the synthwave stuff is very ’80s, and maybe a little bit more fast-paced. Mine is still a little ambient and droning, [and] it still has that quality, because I love ambient music and things like that. It's a huge inspiration for me. I don't mind being put in the same category as that sometimes—I mean there's so many amazing musicians that are making synthwave stuff. I have really nice peers. (laughs)
You seem to have really worked on growing your audience in Las Vegas—playing Beauty Bar, and then Further Future and now opening for STRFKR at Brooklyn Bowl, which is a pretty big venue. Is that growth indicative of what you've experienced elsewhere? For me, performing in Las Vegas has always been … It's a very strange place. It's such a DJ world, with these clubs and that kind of scene. To be able to go there and do a show and play my type of music there is pretty amazing. There's definitely an audience, and it's growing for sure. At first, I was like, "We'll see, I don't know how this is going to go. It's such a DJ town." It was kind of like Miami, I was always kind of like, "I don't know if I'm going to fit in." But people like what people like, I suppose.
Do you have any memorable Vegas experiences or anything that really stands out to you? I don't go to concerts all that much, and maybe last year, early last year I think, I went out and stayed a weekend and I saw The Black Keys play. I'd gone to concerts and been at festivals, but not gone as just a patron to enjoy them without, you know, getting backstage and all that stuff. And I gotta say, it was one of the most fun shows I've ever seen. It was nice to enjoy it.
What have been the biggest challenges for you as Com Truise has become more prominent and amassed a larger audience? Keeping the live performance updated, definitely. I'm constantly remixing stuff. I always wish that I put more time into the live show. I'm really starting to realize, you know, being a one-man band, I have to do more to make it more of an experience than just a guy with a laptop and a couple MIDI controllers. I'm starting to work the visuals in. There's not four guys with guitars and drums. There's not a lot to look at, so I have to add those elements in there in a different fashion. That's still challenging for me.
On this current run of dates as an opener, what do you have planned? I'll be mixing the visuals live, projected as my lighting. It's all my aesthetic, my design stuff, just kind of animated. I really like it and how it flows. That's basically where we're at right now. The STRFKR guys have a lot of equipment onstage, so I tooled it down a bit to make it easier for everybody. But I still think it gets the point across.
Do you have anything else coming out in the near future people should look out for? I've got a couple of remixes. I did a remix for Digitalism. I'm not exactly sure when it's coming out, but soon. I'm working on a remix for the Deftones right now, actually. And then some other smaller remixes. I'll just be focused on the record after we get back from this tour. I don't have much going on for the rest of the summer, so I'm very excited to be at home and really write this record and make it. Hopefully, I can keep this going. I feel like this will be the pivotal release for me.
I love that you're doing a remix for Deftones. I don't think they get enough credit for being so open to different sounds and styles. It was a very hard thing for me to start. [In metal] the timing and things like that are just insane, so trying to make it into this synthetic hybrid thing has been a challenge. But I finally got somewhere that I'm pretty happy with it. Chino [Moreno] from the Deftones is a huge fan of synths and synthwave stuff. I'm very excited to be definitely be doing this remix. I'm curious to see how people respond.
COM TRUISE opening for STRFKR, with Fake Drugs. May 28, 8 p.m., $17. Brooklyn Bowl, 702-862-2695.