Deep basslines and digging for drum samples: chatting gear with synthwave producer Diskodisco

Synthwave strongman Chris Lamaro aka Diskodisco is almost too cheesy for his own good, hungering after the kind of muscular, retro-futuristic synth sound you’ll find in buddy cop films from the 1980s, or blasting out of a PA at your local arcade. Those still exist, right?

Led by a dynamite single in The Darkest Magic, DiskoDisco unveiled their debut EP Game Within A Game only yesterday, packed with so much synthesised mania, we felt our mullets growing upon the first listen.

We caught up with Lamaro to find out about what gear went into his chunky release.

Who doesn’t love to nerd out once in a while? Dive deep on Diskodisco’s new EP Game Within A Game, and exactly what pieces of gear made it happen.

HAPPY: Can you give us a quick rundown of what we’re hearing on The Darkest Magic?

CHRIS: Deep arpeggiated bass sequenced on a Arturia Microbrute, a lead patch I created on a Roland Gaia SH01 and some Linn Drum samples. I really wanted to create a soundtrack style sound so there is a lot of hi and lo pass filtering happening there.

HAPPY: How heavily do you use presets, or lightly modded presets? Has that changed over time?

CHRIS: I guess I always start out a project on a preset and then personalise or adapt it to what I’m going for. Over the years as I’ve gotten more and more confident, I’ve tried to create my own sound from a preset.

Diskodisco chris lamaro
Images courtesy of Chris Lamaro

HAPPY: Drum samples: where do you find them? Dare I ask how many you have saved up at this point?

CHRIS: Over the years I’ve just collected my samples from old drum machines. I now have a folder with over 30 different drum machines. I love loading them into a sampler and then adding different compression styles and effects.

HAPPY: What was the first synth you bought? If you’re not still using it, why?

CHRIS: My first hardware synth I purchased was a Arturia Microbrute. It’s my go to bass creator. Prior to that I used VSTs.

HAPPY: What are your thoughts on the software/hardware synth debate? Do you use both and is there a preference?

CHRIS: I use both. There is no real debate for me. I just use whatever I feel is right for the right tune. This EP has an orgy of everything.

HAPPY: What are a few plugins you’re loving right now?

CHRIS: I really love the V Collection for old school synths. I use the Minimoog and Prophet.

HAPPY: What’s the cheapest piece of gear you feel like you’ve gotten the best value out of?

CHRIS: Definitely my Korg Volca Beats and Volca Bass. I think I paid about $200 each. They’re so rich in sound straight out of the box you don’t really have to use any after effects.

HAPPY: If you had to grab a new piece of gear, what would it be right now?

CHRIS: I’m really loving the the re launch of all the Roland boutique gear. I have my eye on the TR-08 and SH-01A. They look as close to the original 80’s machines without the epic price tag!

HAPPY: Do you have any artists that you really admire gear-wise?

CHRIS: I have a few. But the standouts would be Aeroplane (Vito De Luca), he has an epic collection of old and new hardware. A very impressive collection. He has a video on Youtube of a little tour he does of his studio. He has an extremely rare ARP 2600 with the original filter in it.

The other would have to be Luke Million. Again, that guy has a studio that most synth nerds can only dream of.


Grab a listen to Game Within A Game below:

If you’re up at BIGSOUND, you can catch Diskodisco live this Thursday the 7th. He’ll be playing some tunes during a lunchtime bash at Netherworld alongside Idiio, Electric Zebra and Machine Club. Kickoff is 2:30pm.