Back in 2014, Chris Herrera was struggling with his place in the now–broken up Aspen Grove and was restless about the work he was putting into the project. “I really needed something I could call my own—I needed to work on myself,” says Herrera. After deciding to leave the group behind him, Herrara turned to his fascination with electronic music. “There’s really nothing that’s stopping you from creating high-quality, industry-standard electronic music,” says Herrera. “It’s just you, your skill and your patience.”
Runestomper was the project that came out of this change of direction and allowed Herrera to find his full stride. The vast accessibility of creating in the genre, as well as its intimate customizations, are what keeps Herrera excited about the music. “I love a challenge,” says Herrera. “There’s nothing stopping me from creating, except for myself and my skills.”
Cybernetic Schizophrenia, released in early February, is the newest album from Runestomper. Throughout the project, Herrera explores themes derived from video games and sci-fi novels through synth-heavy compositions that feel nostalgic of ’90s futurism. “What I do feel that I’m able to express well is emotion,” says Herrera. “For example, [in] the title track, I like to think that you can really feel the anxiety that is put forth from the constant bass droning on, as well as the chaotic melody from the lead synth.” As a means of interconnecting these disarrayed elements, Herrera layers in a calming breath to complete this anxiety-inducing juxtaposition.
Having about a month since the release of the album to reflect on his work, Herrera is grateful for the release of the project but has already found new ways to grow as an artist. “It’s sort of a mixed bag,” says Herrera. “I’m very happy with the way [the album] sounded [and] the way it turned out, but I just feel that I could have done more.” Developing a laundry list of could-haves and should-haves with the project, Herrera confronts the age old dilemma: “At what point do you release a song or you constantly [keep] work[ing] on it?” he says. But after working on this album for over two years, Herrera has found that at the end of the day, “The only person you really have to impress is yourself.”