‘Dark, raw, and moody’ | Interview with Long Eyes

What is the feeling of being restrained?
Long Eyes‘ latest song Keep In Cuffs is an addictive track that effortlessly blends rock and electronica genres, featuring big lead synths that leave the listener craving for more.

Describe your sound in 3 words

Dark, raw, and moody.

Tell us a few things about Keep In Cuffs. What is the main idea behind it?

This all started off with that bass synth, was fooling around in Serum making patches, threw a crazy resonant distortion filter on it and found it did wild, unexpected things (stereo / panning, saturation) to a specific note.
It was an absolute pain to adjust for each sweep in pitch, but I knew it was worth chasing. Sounds like a synth and a guitar had a baby.
Found a high end synth that I thought sounded interesting paired with it, then did a lot of jamming and puzzle piecing the composition together.
In terms of songwriting, wrote the chorus first, was humming jibberish, and the words “Keep in Cuffs” came out.
I thought that fit the sense of dreariness, dread, and rebellion to it, so I tried to lean into that thematically, and wrote it about a bad, inescapable relationship.

You mixed rock sounds with exciting synths in a very creative way. What artists or genres have had the biggest influence on your sound, and why?

Oh man, I could go on forever. Grew up playing guitar and loving Muse, Nine Inch Nails, Queens of the Stone Age, Arctic Monkeys, and all that kinda rock, but in college I got really into heavy electronic music and synthwave.
Artists like Pendulum, Gorillaz, and Does It Offend You, Yeah? showed me that heavy synths worked with rock, and I always wanted to emulate that.
Fast forward like 10 years of learning ableton and being awful at it, artists like Rezz have been a big influence on how to carve out the low end.
I feel like I failed so many of my heroes by not mentioning them in this question so here are some other big influences – Porter Robinson, Kavinski, Danger, The Toxic Avenger, Justice, Big Black Delta.
I’m sure I’m leaving out countless others but I don’t want to make this more of an essay than it is haha.

Adding to our previous question, favourite synth riff you wish you had composed yourself?

Ooo. I’ll give ya 3. 🙂
Does It Offend You, Yeah – With a Heavy Heart (I Regret To Inform You)
Pendulum – Blood Sugar
Gorillaz – Rhinestone Eyes

You mentioned struggling with perfectionism and insecurity about your music – can you describe how that has impacted your creative process and how you’ve worked to overcome those challenges?

This is still by far and away my biggest struggle. Making music has always (regretably) been a solitary experience for me.
In high school / college, I’d write acoustic songs that I’d be happy with, but the few time I’d find friends to jam with, I felt outclassed and rigid.
I thought, okay. I don’t want to weigh others down, I’ll move at my own speed and hopefully catch up.
Finally put some crappy video-cam recordings out on youtube at the tail end of college, and got some surprisingly positive feedback.
Then I thought, okay, if only I could get a producer to help me make these into something real… but the thought of a producer realizing they were wasting time with me kept me from chasing it. That, and I had no money haha.
So, I picked up ableton, and thought I’d try to learn myself.
Then, with a budget microphone and interface that my brothers got me for my birthday, I was repeatedly humbled by how awful everything sounded in a DAW.
Out of frustration, I hung up the acoustic songwriting and started trying to make beats to better learn Ableton, and was having some fun with it despite knowing they were AWFUL beats.
Eventually, those beats got a bit better, but never good enough. Even if they were pretty fleshed out, I’d archive ’em all and move on, thinking I’d come back to them when I was good enough to finish them and be happy with the result.
Fast forward like 10 years later, I’m still in that same cycle, even with songs that, to me, are like ALMOST there.
Was talking with a friend a couple weeks ago, feeling down about my creative endeavors, and my friend gave me some tough love about all the music I’m sitting on. Not that it’s good, but that I don’t finish songs or put things out there.
I thought by 25 I’d have the confidence and skill to get over that. At 32, I still don’t. Nothing of mine ever sounds the way I think it should, especially vocals.
I realized, nothing ever will probably, and I’m never going to get over this unless I force myself to put stuff out there, get feedback, and get better.
So, I’m currently going throug all my project files, picking one that feels right, and giving it one last revision. Whatever state it ends up in, that’s it.
Keep in Cuffs was made two years ago, and was already 90% there. Just had awful vocals (to me).
Rerecorded them, gave it one last sweep, and put it down. Even though I still cringe hearing my vocals, I’m proud of a lot of elements in this song.
So, onto the next one.

Solo bedroom producer, just getting started. What does success mean for you going forward?

At this point, success to me is simply continuing to finish songs and putting them out there. That’s it. Of course, I’d love for people to listen and like the music, but at its core, I think I’m trying to find some self esteem and self acceptance in this pursuit.

What is the story behind your name?

I could never land on a stage name, but I figured this kinda music needed one rather than just my typical name.
I had a nightmare once that I barely remember, but an image stuck with me. I looked in the mirror and my eyes were stretching tall and unnatural.
It creeped me out, and I thought I’d use it for a horror concept at some point, but grew to like it as a moniker.
Thought it could be interesting to masquerade around as a cursed music producer. haha

What advice would you give to your younger self?

Chill out, stop self-sabotaging, and be kind to yourself. The same advice I’m currently giving myself.

Thank you!

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