This week on Discovery Friday we take a look at a long time player in the retro/synthwave scene, a composer who has had work on television series and film, a guitar virtuoso who can shred at face melting speed, a man who lives and breathes music, a world builder, it’s none other than Jon of the Shred.
Jon has been playing guitar, piano, bass, and composing for over a decade.
“When I first started guitar I was in the 6th grade. I was into the “teen angst” rock that was popular at the time”….”Shortly after that I moved on from the “nu-metal” and discovered Iron Maiden, Manowar, Savatage, Symphony X, Judas Priest, Children of Bodom, HammerFall, and tons more. In high school I moved into prog rock territory such as Meat Loaf -Jim Steinman is a genius, and Deep Purple -probably my favorite band of all-time. After graduating high school I joined a “jam band,” and started getting into the hippy music. Along the way I also learned how to rap. Gotta love GFunk era hip hop.”
During the time Jon was exploring those styles he was also heavily inspired by something that affected many of us who grew up in the 80s and 90s, the soundtracks of video games and movies.
“Ocarina of Time, Star Fox 64, Donkey Kong Country 2, and the ragtime of the Mario series will forever ring in my subconscious. And the filmscores to movies such as Conan the Barbarian / Destroyer, Terminator, and John Carpenter flicks were my jam. I actually was recreating the vibe of these types of horror and action scores long before I discovered there was an entire scene dedicated to recapturing the atmosphere of the 80’s.”
The soundtrack influence on his music seems to work as a glue that somehow brings together all of his previous explorations in sound into a blend that works together with a symphonic gravitas.
“I basically form various super groups and then imagine what that would sound like.”
In 2017 he released two feature length albums, “The Dawn of Paragon”, and it’s sequel “Paragon Rising” over his record label Scythe Saga Records. Scythe Saga isn’t just a record label however, it’s an entire universe unto itself.
“In a sentence, Scythe Saga Records is a never-ending concept album, each release tying into the same lore and worlds. This includes my solo albums, one-offs from other artists (such as By Way of Shadows by FUBAR) and compilations. We’ve had some killer tracks over the years from dozens of artists from the scene.”
As a composer Jon pushes and expands his range in styles, which has lead to his work on scoring soundtracks to film and television. Recently Jon composed the soundtrack to an upcoming Australian comedy, “Lieutenant Jangles” and had a track featured on the Amazon series “Red Oaks”. He is also producing licensing music for Velvet Green Music and hopes to get trends licensed and placed in various forms of cinema and gaming.
When I asked him what drew him to the scene he said, “It’s the cinematic vibe. While most people deem Synthwave primarily 80’s worship, I actually think it encompasses a much wider period. If you ask me, synthwave takes cues from the early 70’s all the way through to the early-to-mid 90’s. Of course, it’s easier to just say the 80’s.”
So what is in the future for Jon of the Shred? When asked Jon said. “[in addition to licensing music]… I also intend to further flesh out the Scythe Saga lore. We launched a wiki recently, and little by little I chip away at it, adding information for characters, locations, factions and more. I’ll be rounding out the “Dr Grimm trilogy” and then moving on from that character. Not sure what story in the Scythe Saga Universe I want to tell next, but we’ll see.
Not everything in the synthwave/retro scene sounds the same, and thank god for that. There is a vast treasure trove of material from the 80s to find inspiration in. I think we should be celebrating everything that is awesome about retro styles and culture, and avoid narrowing down the scope of our focus to just a handful of derivations. To broaden the horizons, is to stay vibrant, fresh, and keep the scene alive. There are artist out there doing their own thing, exploring less traveled paths, and Jon is one of them. Jon of the Shred offers up a whole other world to enjoy. His music can sometimes be likened to taking a trip to an 80s movie that never existed, but seems like it certainly could have, maybe out there in a parallel universe somewhere. And if you appreciate rock of the era, there is copious amounts of intricate guitar work to enjoy. Expand your world and check out Jon’s world of sound.
You can find Jon of the Shred everywhere. Check him out at the links below: