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Droid Bishop at Wonder Ballroom, May 13th / Preview

By MATT HANSEN // L.A. synthwave artist will open for other cinematic acts Dance With The Dead and Magic Sword at the Wonder Ballroom on Friday, May 13. 

Portland’s Wonder Ballroom will be visited by three spirits of synthwave on Friday, May 13. But rather than show you the past, present, and future, this line up takes up the mantel of 1980s movie nostalgia – and the soundtracks which gave them life. On the docket is Dance With The Dead, the horror duo blending metal and the suspenseful aesthetics of John Carpenter. Then, with a name the unapologetically implies they’re fans of fantasy, comes Boise’s Magic Sword. Known for their druid-like costumes, the band recently released the aptly titled track “Dressed For Fantasy.”

But it certainly wouldn’t be the 80s without science fiction. And representing that genre of cinema is none other than Los Angeles’ Droid Bishop. With titles like “Days of the Running Man” and “When Androids Dream,” Droid Bishop (James Bowen) is a man happily living out of time, infinitely more comfortable in the retro future inspired by Phillip K. Dick or Spielberg.

We recently caught up with Bowen in-between his busy schedule of touring and blurring timelines to talk about dead formats, cover art, and his dream job as a composer.

You bring an exceptional cinematic feel to your tracks. What is your relationship to film? How did you come to represent so many of your favorite movie genres in your sound?

I love movies. The combination of moving picture and musical score is an amazing experience for the mind and soul. Just like film, music is a journey and I want my listeners to be taken to new worlds, so I’m passionate about incorporating cinematic, orchestral, and sometimes abstract elements to better enhance their escape. 

If your music was a movie, would it be on VHS or LaserDisc? How would the cover art look?

I recently got a LaserDisc player but I love and grew up on VHS. I love classic airbrushed cover art or anything by Drew Struzan. I’d want my cover to be a blend between “Raiders of the Lost Ark” and “Moonwalker.” 

Synthwave artists all have the most referential names, and you are no exception. Is the actor Lance Henriksen aware of your project? Do you think he is a fan?

Ha, yes, it’s from the movie “Aliens.” I doubt he knows who I am, but I’m a fan of his work and maybe one day we’ll connect. 

In Japan there are small pieces of music played for areas like train platforms to signal incoming passengers. Composer Minoru Mukaiya did around 200 distinct melodies. If you could do the waiting music for a spaceship or a time machine, what would it sound like?

I love Japan and Japanese culture so I’d be honored to make something like that. As far as a spaceship station tune goes, I would incorporate some sort of digital but melodic pattern, almost like time ticking down and layer some butterfly arpeggios in the background over a warm blanket of synth pads. Ad astra.

ON TOUR: Droid Bishop at Wonder Ballroom in Portland on Friday, May 13th, 2022. Doors 6:00PM / Show 7:00PM. Tickets. 21+ show.

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