John Carpenter’s talented offspring talks making music.
Despite the large shadow his fathers career potentially casts on his own artistic creations, John Carpenters son, Cody Carpenter, isnt really all that worried about it. In fact, he takes it with stride and why wouldnt he? After all, beyond a few similarities, Codys own musical efforts are very different than Johns composing. With his solo project, Ludrium, Cody taps into a very specific niche of the greater synthpop genre. His work seems to be ripped straight out some obscure 90s Japanese RPG game. Quickly transforming form upbeat and happy to dark and sullen melodies, his music is immense and assorted; its universe building.
After a three year hiatus during which Cody was living in Japan Ludrium returned this year with a fury. Already having released two full-length albums on his Bandcamp the aptly titled New Adventures and, his newest, Pleasure of a False Past and the new track Machines of Man on his Soundcloud, it would seem as if Cody has found a new source of inspiration. In light of his work with his father on Carpenters much celebrated album Lost Themes as well as his own return to music, SHOCK talked with Cody about what the future has in store for Ludrium and other music-related endeavors.
SHOCK: At what age did you become interested in playing music?
Carpenter: I began playing music at a very young age, though I dont remember the exact number. There were always various instruments around the house, and I was consistently encouraged by my dad to be involved with music. He would play me both the music and the movies he loved, exposing me to all sorts of things: from the Beach Boys to Goblins soundtrack for SUSPIRIA.
SHOCK: What was growing up with John like? At what point did it hit you how much of an icon his was around the world?
Carpenter: Ever since I was little, I’ve had an enormous amount of respect and admiration for my dad, in many ways: one of these being his role as an artist and creator. Growing up with a father who was involved in a creative field was definitely a cool thing. I was taken to the sets of various films he was shooting when I was young. I had rather unique experiences as a child that perhaps other children didn’t have. I dont quite remember when I became aware of his success and following, but it was, and still is, a great source of pride to know that my father is such an amazing person.
SHOCK: You know, when I interviewed John he lit up when he began talking about you. He wasnt able to hold back the excitement he feels about being able to create music with his son. When working together, what is the environment like?
Carpenter: Its always great fun to do music with my dad. He truly is an artist, in the purest sense. Ideas just naturally come out of him, and he has such a clear vision of what he wants, down to the very small details. Its all very free and flowing. My dad, and by extension myself as well, were never into writing music from a technical or theoretical standpoint, the music comes mostly from improvisation, which I think is much more fun.
SHOCK: There are definitely remnants of his style in your work. But it would be wrong to say that you are trying to create the same sound. How much of an influence did John have on the style of music you play? What do you think has had the most impact on your style: J-Pop? 70s or 80s Pop Rock?
Carpenter: My dad has always had a big influence on my music, (and me as a person since he is my dad), primarily in the use of synthesizers. He has long been an advocate of electronic music and of using synthesizers and I, for whatever reason, dont often take to music that doesn’t have some sort of electronic element to it.
In terms of style, my dads influence is certainly at the heart of what I write, particularly for film music. When I was little, much of the music I wrote derived from his style, whether I intended it to or not. When I worked with my dad on the Masters of Horror soundtracks, I purposefully tried to copy his feel and sound.
My biggest influences now, however, would probably be late 80s and early 90s video game music and various progressive rock and fusion bands. My father makes fun of me for it, but I’ve always loved the soundtrack to the 1986 animated TRANSFORMERS movie, ever since I first watched it when I was 2 or whatever. That score by Vince DiCola has had an unreasonably big influence on me.
SHOCK: Weve talked a lot about Johns work, which I guess can be kind of hard to get around. In that respect, do you think the connection has both helped and hindered you, in regards to potentially finding it hard to carve your own place outside of his success?
Carpenter: My name hasnt really seemed to have an effect on anything. Fans of my dad arent necessarily into my own personal stuff. There is some crossover, and I think more people give a quick listen to my music because of my name, but it generally stops there. If I aspired to be a film director, however, I imagine it would be different.
SHOCK: I think that your style is very cinematic, how much interest would you have in composing more in the future?
Carpenter: If I had an opportunity I would be interested in composing for film again. Doing the Masters of Horror episodes for my dad was a lot of fun. Likewise, if my father was approached about scoring something, I would love to help him out.
SHOCK: In the same breath, how seriously have you considered trying to put your name out their for video-game composing. With your influences and style, it seems like an ideal match.
Carpenter: If game music was the same as it was 20 years ago I would be there without question! Unfortunately, music for games nowadays is more or less the same as music for film. While there are some great indie games that come out with fantastic retro scores, (the 2010 game VVVVVV comes to mind), the sad reality is that the type of game music I grew up with and love does not work anymore for the majority of games. Could you imagine the new Assassins Creed game with a chiptune score?
SHOCK: Haha, yes I guess that is unfortunately true. What was your exact involvement in LOST THEMES? Was working on that something that helped to revitalize your interest in creating music for Ludrium?
Carpenter: My role was mostly as a writer and a performer. I was involved with some of the production and mixing, but I mainly contributed songs/ideas and played instruments. I never stopped writing music for my personal Ludrium stuff. It was me buying a new computer with the proper gear for audio recording that allowed me to get the songs down. I really just didnt have the means to do any sort of quality recording before.
SHOCK: The last time we spoke (about a year and a half ago) you had kind of mentioned moving away from music, but you released a new albums in February and April what does this mean for the future of Ludrium.
Carpenter: I will never move away from music, its not possible for me. Whether I make any money doing music is another thing entirely. Synth-driven prog rock isnt exactly what young people are blasting out of their car speakers nowadays That being said, since I now have the means to do so, I will be releasing my music online regardless of whether anybody listens to it or not!
Check out Ludrium at BANDCAMP and further the adventure on SOUNDCLOUD below…