Almost three years ago, I interviewed David Thompson about his current (at that time) musical project, Thieves in the Palace. A couple months ago, he emailed again with a new project called, Jules Drive. I listened to a couple cuts and immediately thought, “Huh, this must be a different David Thompson because this could not sound any more different than Thieves in the Palace.” Upon my second guessing, David reassured me that yes, Jules Drive is nothing like Thieves in the Palace and his new project has taken a sharp turn in the opposite direction. Jules Drive is serious retro synth wave, soundtrack style. In fact, David admits to being deeply inspired by the original Blade Runner.
“I think the beginning of what would become Jules Drive can be traced back to the night I re-watched Blade Runner before the sequel arrived and actually found myself paying much more attention to the soundtrack. I’d seen the film once or twice previously but for whatever reason it had registered as sort of white noise. My background with music has always been fixated on organic instruments which over the years became a real source of frustration – I wasn’t always able to physically create what I was hearing in my head. In the process of searching the soundtrack I found the “Retrowave” and “Synthwave” genres and it was really a breath of fresh air.”
David’s excitement about this new project is palpable in our email conversations. Following the ignition of this new inspiration, David immediately reached out to his partner in crime, Matt Hatfield. He pitched the idea of trying something out of their comfort zone, something completely new for them.
“Coincidentally he had already been working on a track that would eventually become our first song “Intro” which he had recorded with an old Korg synthesizer he acquired over ten years ago when we were living in Oregon and recently brought back to life in working order with a factory reset and some diligence. We painstakingly mapped out the kind of sound we were going for by taking bits of ingredients from the different sub genres; for example, we wanted a distinctly 80’s drum tone paired with a mixture of vintage synth tones and modern tones. As we continued writing songs Matt delved more deeply into the world of synth plugins and before long had accumulated a vast array of textures and tones.”
Their efforts have paid off and what Matt and David have created is the EP, Dusk, five tracks of dreamy, droned out goodness. I hear bits of M83, Snow in Mexico, and of course, remnants of every 80’s soundtrack ever made (and let’s admit, Drive is totally in there even though it was releasd in 2011). The record also features another friend of David’s, Gabe Vasquez, on the track, “H.U.W.L.”, who collaborates with Jules Drive from a distance. Gabe wrote that delicious piano lick that sits in the background of the track.
The project is named after the street that David grew up on in New York City and he’s been hanging on to the name, waiting for a project that best suited it. The EP is built on nostalgia. It all sounds so familiar, from another time we’ve already lived through but David is bringing it back for us, loud and clear. My favorite track on the EP that captures this the most in my opinion is the closing track, “When the Party is Gone So Are They.”
One last note from David about his new project:
“Nostalgia captures us all at different times in different ways. In my case seeing a grainy VHS tape with synthesizer music is an instant pull on the heart strings. I think the majority of us yearn for the feeling of being young when life was new and unknown. I hope we can bring some of those sentiments to the people who discover Jules Drive.”