Review Fix Exclusive: Digital Shades’ John Kunkel Talks ‘Blue’ And More

Review Fix chats with Digital Shades’ John Kunkel to see what inspired the bands’ new EP and single, “Blue.” Eager to take synth music in a different, yet familiar direction, their tunes are melodic and catchy.

Review Fix: How did the band get together?

John Kunkel: James and I met each other through the making of Missing Words’ first record (his main artist project). We worked together for over 8 months and decided we should start a separate project since we quickly realized we worked well with each other. Our workflow was also really similar in terms of how we approached melodies and ideas. It was a win win.

Review Fix: What’s a band you guys try and emulate in one way or another? Why?

Kunkel: I don’t think with this project we were really trying to emulate any band in particular. We just had a simple goal of writing some songs together that eventually turned into an E.P. The very first song we wrote was actually an idea James brought to the table which featured guest vocalist, Clive Farrington (also known as half of When In Rome). If anything, we were trying to get away from sounding too 80s retro, but I think we landed somewhere halfway in between.

Review Fix: How was “Blue” written?

Kunkel: I think “Blue” was one of the last songs we wrote for this EP. If not the last, then second to last. James and I came up with a simple melody and started going from there. It usually starts with an arpeggio, then we add bass, guitars, and vocals usually last.

Review Fix: How are you guys different from other synth bands?

Kunkel: Probably not that different, other than the fact that we like to add guitar wherever possible. It’s nice to add a little bit of that organic element to get away from everything being synthesized. I think we try hard to add tasteful guitars wherever possible.

Review Fix: What are your long-term goals as a band?

Kunkel: Ideally to keep making records. I don’t think we’ll ever tour or anything like that. This project is really more about making great songs rather than playing them live. I think we’re more concerned with how this project translates onto your headphones rather than the live experience. We’re both pretty active with our main projects and play in one anothers’ bands. Maybe during a Missing Words or New Division show one day we might play a Digital Shades song for fun.

Review Fix: How does this song make it happen?

Kunkel: I think if nothing else grabs you hopefully the chorus will. Everytime I hear it, it gets me. I don’t know if that’s how other people will receive it, but for me it’s the chorus.

Review Fix: What do you guys feel you have to do to get the success you deserve?

Kunkel: Keep making great tunes, really. This project isn’t realy about getting any success as much as it is an outlet for collaboration and creativity. That’s the ultimate goal and we’ve achieved it with this record.

Review Fix: Where do you see yourselves in five years?

Kunkel: Making more records as Digital Shades, no doubt. I don’t have any plans of slowing down anytime soon.

Review Fix: What’s next?

Kunkel: We’re in the process of writing out some new ideas but there’s a long ways to go before we can consider anything a finished product. There’s just so much that goes into bringing these songs to life that it will be a little while before we can even think about releasing a follow up.

Review Fix: Anything else you’d like to add?

Kunkel: If you like what we do, check our separate projects, Missing Words and The New Division. It’s a bit different than Digital Shades but you might just enjoy it.

About Patrick Hickey Jr. 9748 Articles
Patrick Hickey Jr. is the Founder, Editor-in-Chief, Master Jedi and Grand Pooh-bah of and is the author of the book, "The Minds Behind the Games: Interviews with Cult and Classic Video Game Developers," from leading academic and non-fiction publisher McFarland and Company. He is currently the Assistant Director of the Journalism Program at Kingsborough Community College and is a former News Editor at NBC Local Integrated Media and a National Video Games Writer at the late He has also had articles and photos published in The New York Times, The New York Daily News, Complex and The Syracuse Post-Standard. Love him. Read him.

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