Power Player #34: Cheapshot
I’ve been on and off, straight-talking with Cheapshot for a while. His enthusiasm for bass and beats is infectious, as is his warm personality and northern charm. It seemed logical to get the man in on a Power Player. From the UK, to the JP, James York talks to us about the low-end.
How did you get into Chiptune? How far back do you remember hearing Chiptunes in gaming and being a fan? Do you have a favourite track?
My father used to write games and particularly the music for games on the Atari and I was even featured laughing on one. I trawled the net and found this, a list of his (very mediocre) games: So I have always been surrounded by games. But particular songs or soundtracks that stick out for me are things like
I didn’t really get into chip tune until like 2010 really. I started making music as a part of my BSc. in Creative Music and Sound Technology at Leeds Met. University back in 2001/2. Then I came to Japan and stopped making music to learn the language. In 2009 I decided to get back into music making and was intrigued with the dubstep sound. So I was already making dubstep, when a friend of mine introduced me to chiptune. I bought a Gameboy and started messing around with LSDJ, and it was then that I had the idea to make some dubstep with LSDJ. From that I got bored with dub step and started going for the more bass-driven sound taking inspiration from my favourite artists Quarta 330, ??? and minikomi.
I understand you like to swap up your kit quite a bit. What methods do you use to make Chiptune?
Mainly LSDJ, but have been experimenting with nanoloop 2.x a lot recently. I’ve messed with piggy and pixitracker too, but not to the extent of LSDJ.
How did you end up in Japan? Did you think you’d stay long term initially? If you had to choose one Japanese thing, culture, food or product, what could you simply not live without?
Well, when I finished my degree I was at a loss for something to do. So I started a part-time data-entry job for the university. One of the other workers had an email open, in that email was his friend working in Japan wrestling with a sumo wrestler. I was intrigued, needed a job, wanted an adventure and so looked into it. So I initially came out here as an adventure. Didn’t think I’d be here long term, but I enjoyed learning the language, teaching English and decided that this country is where I want to be!
Something I couldn’t live without — the trains. The train system is absolutely amazing.
Do you have a favourite or most memorable gig? Presumably Blipfest Japan 2012 must have had an air of melancholy about it? How did it feel to sort of, almost say goodbye to the run of festivals?
Fave gig would be Soundbytes in Melbourne cos of this: making the organiser lose his cool with the bass drop =)
Blipfest Tokyo 2012 was unbelievable. I’m so lucky to be one half of the people that made that happen. Didn’t really feel sad or like goodbye at all, cos we’ll be bringing pretty much exactly the same thing next year under our own-brand “Square Sounds.” So yeah, more of a “Thanks blip, that was awesome! Oh, and guess what.. this is coming now!”
Was the pause of Blipfest the catalyst for Square Sounds? What do you want to achieve with it? What would be your ideal goals?
Yes, definitely. Square Sounds is the invention of Eugene and Kristy, the guys behind soundbytes and blip australia. Me and David (Lazerbeat) are very close friends of theirs, they knew that me and David were planning a festival to take over from the lack of blip next year, and asked us if we wanted to come under the umbrella term “Square Sounds” with them. We’ve all got a lot of experience running big and small festivals, so it should be the perfect replacement in the hole that blip left (at least in Japan and Australia for now).
We have some big ambitions with it. Very big. Ideally, we’d like a few more satellite events in Europe and the US, too. So watch this space!
How about CheapBeats? Got any up and coming releases we should be excited about?
Again, very ambitious with this. Me and David basically have a semi-regular chip event called Cheapbeats in Tokyo, the label, and now Square Sounds Tokyo — so we are looking to get big! We currently have a few top-class artists working on EPs for us. People that we have approached. We are accepting demos though! Be excited for some of the best Japanese and international artists.
Who are your influences in Chipmusic, or you the innovator here? What about music outside of chip?
Like I mentioned above, my 3 favourite chiptuners are minikomi, ???, and quarta 330 when he was making chip. These guys are untouchable to me. I’m not sure I’d call myself an innovator. I just make the stuff I would want to hear at a chip gig and hope others like it, too! Outside of chip, I listen to a lot of “future bass” or “post-dubstep” or whatever you want to call it. Favourites are Rustie, Fantastic Mr. Fox, James Blake, and XXYYXX.
Is being a dad changing you?
Not really. Hahaha! Got horribly reprimanded for my behaviour at Blip Tokyo by the wife. It is making me want to settle down more though, like I really want to buy a house!!
You’ve put out some tutorials. Is being a teacher something that comes naturally to you? Why don’t you talk about Minecraft English?
Yeah, I suppose it does come naturally. I think I have been lucky and met a lot of good teachers on my route to becoming an adult, and I like to pass on that kind of thing to others.
Mining English… oh boy, here we go! This is my research project for my PhD. in Education with the University of Leicester. I’m basically researching how virtual worlds can be used as platforms for language learning. I use minecraft in a seminar class of 6 students, but also host a server open to the world! I’m working on making it a useful area for beginner learners.
You develop a superpower to read peoples minds, but the side effects are that it makes your clothes explode. How would you explain this during an important business meeting when you accidentally use your power?
I’d blame it on the radiation from Fukushima, clearly.