Interview: Electronic Music Producer and Songwriter Color Theory
With over two decades of experience as a producer and songwriter, Brian Hazard, a.k.a. Color Theory, has experience, humility and love for his genre. It’s this love and respect for his craft that not only allows him to continue to experiment and grow as an artist, but also engage with fans as well as other artists looking to make their own mark within the electronic music genre.
Color Theory connected with Dopecausewesaid x The CAB Portal for an exclusive interview to let us know what has influenced him throughout his long career, and what keeps him going and growing as an artist. After reading our Q&A with Color Theory, be sure to follow him on social media and check out his Soundcloud profile below.
How did you come up with your stage name, and what does it say about your style?
A friend of mine was in design school, and she had a class called Color Theory 101. I thought it sounded cool, probably because Depeche Mode had a documentary called 101 and my subconscious connected the two.
I suppose it would be pretentious of me to suggest that it says anything about my style, after telling you how trivial the choice was! I guess “color” makes it sound artistic, and “theory” makes it sound sophisticated or intellectual.
Who are some of your main musical influences?
My rule is to only listen to music less than two years old, so my influences have shifted over time. I grew up on The Cure, Depeche Mode, and Smiths. David Sylvian stole my imagination for a long stretch. Later I fell in love with The Postal Service and Imogen Heap, then Deadmau5.
Nowadays I’m mostly into synthwave stuff like The Midnight and Duett. In fact, I have a Spotify playlist dedicated specifically to vocal synthwave. (http://bit.ly/vocalsynthwave)
I’ve noticed your extensive catalog of music. What inspires you to keep putting out music consistently?
My last album took six years, which is part of what prompted me to launch my Patreon page (http://www.patreon.com/colortheory) in March of 2017. Since then, I’ve released a song to patrons every month. Forced deadlines have done wonders for my productivity!
Up until now, I’ve mostly been exploring the boundaries of synthpop and synthwave, but now I’m ready to start a more focused album project. In the meantime, I’ll likely release an EP in late summer.
What made you fall in love with the genre of synthpop? Would you consider transitioning to production and songwriting on different genres?
Depeche Mode made me fall in love with synthpop, by creating a unique sonic signature for each song. On a practical level, synthpop made sense for me because I could do it all myself.
I’ve actually been producing music in a variety of genres since I launched my mastering business, Resonance Mastering (http://resonancemastering.com/), in the late 90s. For example, I recently mixed and mastered a folk album!
For my own music, I don’t see myself dropping the synths anytime soon. It wouldn’t be Color Theory.
How big of an impact and difference does social media make now, versus the way you interacted with fans before the boom in social media?
It certainly eats up a lot of my time! I made a lot more money in the early 2000s through CD sales with a lot less effort on the promotional front. I toy with dropping social media completely, or taking a sabbatical, but then something pops in my head that I *have* to share. I guess that’s why it’s so addicting.
On the plus side, it’s easy to reach almost anyone these days.
What are some of the ways that you have noticed the electronic music has changed as a genre over the years, and how do you manage keep up with the trends while staying unique?
Though I try to listen to newer stuff, I’ve never really had a handle on the broader electronic music scene. I’d see producer friends on Facebook debating whether a track was epic trance or melodic trance, while I wouldn’t know whether it was trance or house. Even within the relatively narrow confines of synthwave, I’m not keen on, say, italo disco vs outrun.
Part of the problem is, I just don’t listen to that much music! I’m always working on other peoples’ music, and I like to give my ears a break. The only reliable time I can listen for pleasure is when I run in the mornings, and I prefer to do it sans headphones.
What advice can you give to aspiring producers and songwriters who wish to connect with their fans while pushing their music?
As luck would have it, I have a blog (http://passivepromotion.com/) dedicated to answering that very question. I regularly test out services and strategies, and report back with my results and conclusions.
The biggest stumbling block, and this applies to me too, is that we all believe our music is better than it is. We think it sounds the way we wanted it to sound, and that the words mean what we meant them to mean. Our stuff is better than all the “crap” on the radio, and anyone who says otherwise doesn’t know what they’re talking about.
Once we let go of that notion, the real work begins.