Written by Maya-Rose Torrão
British music composer Manzur Iqbal is the brains behind one of the biggest names in the retrowave world, making music inspired by the 80’s, dreams, nostalgia, sci-fi adventure, fantasy and mysticism: Futurecop!. The music project started in 2006 when Iqbal wanted to get in touch with nostalgic elements of his youth as well as his love of 80’s pop culture in general, and so the Futurecop! journey began, with Iqbal having no prior experience of music production. Over a decade later, Futurecop! has millions of song streams on a myriad of platforms, a dedicated fan base and an ever-evolving, unique retro sound.
With a whopping 10 LP and EP releases to his name already, Futurecop! has plans to bring out a new album next year, which promises to feature more of Futurecop!’s blend of upbeat and ambient signature synth sounds and 80’s drum beats. Futurecop!’s most recent album, ‘Return To Alvograth’ was released last year to great acclaim, the title a reference to the musician’s debut EP ‘The Unicorn & the Lost City of Alvograth’.
Listen to ‘Inner Universe’ by Futurecop!, from the 2017 album ‘Return To Alvograth’, below.
We caught up with Mazur Iqbal of Futurecop! and chatted about meditation, nostalgia and and a new album for 2019.
Set the tone for us. Why the arts? Why music?
I love music. I find it a way to express my experience of life. Sometimes words can’t explain it.
What three albums influenced the unique sound of Futurecop! the most?
It’s mostly songs or soundtracks. But if you say albums, must be… Joe Hisaishi albums, Peter Gabriel – ‘Passion’, Enya – ‘Shepherd Moons’.
Which comes first when you’re producing – the sound or the idea?
Idea or usually, I would say, a feeling.
What’s on your current playlist?
Tomoko Aran, Kenny Loggins, Enigma, Lisa Gerrard, Kate Bush, Bruce Hornsby, Pavement, The Cure, Thomas Newman, Hans Zimmer, Lemonheads, Donna Lewis, Radwimps, Lata Mangeshkar, Vangelis.
You’ve been playing a lot really exciting shows this year – Tell us about the chemistry you have with your fans on stage.
Well it’s really special, as I try to touch on nostalgia, I do feel the real energy in the room of youthfulness and innocence. I also have a VJ with me when playing shows that plays different films, cartoons and anime that go with the music. That is also something very cool to see. I do feel that when I’m playing and look into the crowd I see everyone as kids again. This thats what makes it special.
Any wild/strange/obsessed fan experiences?
No, everyone’s awesome!
What techniques do you experiment with to get your original sound?
I guess I have a formula in my mind I use, which is just playing chords till I get the feeling I want. Meditation too. I’m always wrapped around Futurecop influences whether it be retro film and music or something mystical like books and ornaments, so it’s easy to bring out from the inside when they are all around me.
Take us through a day in the studio with Futurecop!.
Well, I just lie on my bed with a laptop and midi keyboard. Then, when I create a loop of something I like, I play it on repeat on ages. Then leave it for a day, then come back the next (usually it’s either rubbish or amazing) then work on the track. If it needs to go to studio speakers I plug it in. If it needs to go for singers then I contact them. That’s it.
Was there a specific moment in your life where you thought, “this is what I want to do”?
I still don’t know what I want to do, just going with the flow.
You’ve been playing all over the world for a while now – Tell us about a show that stands out as being really special.
We played with many good names like Metronomy to Danger and maybe 100 shows from Australia to Los Angeles. But what stood out was the show a few weeks ago in London, I guess being more mature and wiser to the industry, (Futurecop! has been around for 10 years) to take in the uniqueness of the music, the idea behind it and the fans. When I first started it was like a bad rush to make it big and cool, with added pressure from managers, agents and industry people, so you kind of miss to enjoy the moments. So yeah, I guess that show.
And now you’re back in your home country for a couple shows. How does it feel playing where you grew up?
It’s cool. I”m actually from Cheshire. Played a long time ago in Manchester around 2009. Bit nervousI guess.
What do you keep close by while you’re playing a set?
Do you mean for good luck? If so, well, friends at the show or a lucky t-shirt and my bangles too.
Any emerging/upcoming/unknown artists on your radar?
Yoru, Beautiful Machines, Siamese Youth. To be honest I constantly listen to old music and discover new, retro music.
What gets your creative juices flowing? What gets you in the mood to create? Whether it be music from other artists, art, film, nature etc…
Watching nature peacefully, I feel something that I cannot explain in words, so I make music to express it
If you could collaborate with any artist, living or not, who would you choose and why?
Take us through your collection of gear, tech or software that accompanies your creative expression.
Ableton Live, Lots of plugins. That’s it. I have physical synths but use it more for ideas and just messing around.
Any side projects you’re working on that you can tell us about?
I am, with my wife, it’s called Having Seen Water, still working on an album though. The sound is a mix Kate bush and Brian McKnight, that’s our new project. I have wrote a book full of short stories, which are currently getting edited and my wife is making illustrations for it. I might release it via Futurecop, it’s got the essence of Futurecop in the stories. Watch this space!
Break down the news for us: what can we expect from Futurecop! in 2019?
New single coming soon, remixes with it and currently a video is being shot as we speak, in Japan. A second single will also be released with a video shot in India. Playing both tracks at our shows. Then the album release, maybe mid next year. Album is sounding amazing!
Listen to the uplifting ‘Believe In Me’ by Futurecop! via New Retro Wave, from the album ‘Hopes, Dreams & Alienation’ and featuring Tom Schleiter.