' Avatar of Freque

by Freque

Freque on Freque: An Interview with a Legend

December 26, 2013 in Power Player, Review

When I heard I had an opportunity to interview my childhood hero, I leapt at the chance. Here was a person I’d always looked up to, a man who I felt really had his shit together. At first I was terrified that he wouldn’t accept, and I would be left dejected and alone, shunned by one of America’s greatest heroes. But then, just as predicted in the New and Old Testaments, He came to me. Below is the interview that will likely rock the nation, an Earth shattering series of revelations by the greatest man in showbiz. 

Tits or GTFO

 

Freque: Thanks for agreeing to do this interview, I know your time is precious.

Freque: It’s my pleasure.

 __________________________________________________________________

Freque: I know in the past, you’ve declined other interviews, what made you agree to this intimate sit down with NoiChan?

Freque: Thanks for asking. I think that’s actually a really great question. Kids these days are so pussified and sensitive, I don’t feel that this environment would’ve allowed the elbow room for great, yet eccentric artists. People like Hitchcock, Hendrix, and Pollock. These people were visionaries in their respective fields, but were so unorthodox that I feel these trend-loving hipsters would’ve tried shoving them right back into their little box. We live in a world where the dominant social standard is that animals kill other animals with their face, but this generation of faggoted dipshits somehow maintains a strong sense of entitlement, and would prefer that you cuss less and have your goddamned cigarette on the patio. We’re pretty much all fucked once the meteor comes, when you really think about it. I can imagine picket lines of vegan protesters, circulating a petition and accusing the meteor of racism. Anyway, that’s why I agreed to the interview.

Freque: On the point of racism and persecution, I’ve heard you be compared to someone’s racist uncle, who ruins Thanksgiving. Why do you think that is?

Freque: Another great question. I think mostly because I’m highly visible. Most of my detractors are spoiled highschoolers or useless college kids, who have let down their parents, wasted their money, and ultimately accomplished nothing of any value. I think it’s a sort of passive aggressive jealousy, when you get right down to it. I’m constantly being told what someone else would’ve done differently, which I find fascinating. What you would’ve done differently? Like if you had spent 2 years of your life mastering PHP, built a social network, funded it out of pocket, and then gave it to the world for free? That’s rich. I’ll tell you what you would’ve done: nothing. I know this because that’s what you actually did: absolutely nothing. These fucking armchair quarterbacks are just upset that they have no point of leverage over me, in any fashion. So they whine about my willingness to defend myself against their ad hominem cheapshots, and say that I’m cruel and unprofessional. They claim to be “defending” the scene from my “unwanted presence,” but at the end of the day, they’re attacking the already small foundation of chiptune, and masquerading around as if they’re noble for doing so.

Freque: You are very well spoken and incredibly handsome. Do you plan to do more live shows in the future?

Freque: I might do a show here and there, but ultimately, the live scene is clearly retarded. These shows almost always lose money, because the audience is mostly performers and friends of performers. It’s one giant circlejerk where everyone pretends everyone else is famous, because they had the disposable income to act like rockstars for the weekend. It reminds me of those red carpet events in Hollywood, where showbiz insiders blow eachother and give themselves awards. The price of admission is complete willingness to participate in the mass delusion. People often mistake my self assuredness as insecurity, which is hilarious coming from a group of assholes who just spent an hour picking out what pair of pants they want to wear on their “big night.” You’re playing dressup, you’re playing house, and you’re coming across like a fucking poseur to anyone whose parents didn’t pay their way through life. Typically, these kids were born on third base, and they think they hit a triple. Anyone with a functioning brainstem knows that the internet is the future. You just traveled halfway across the continent and blew the equivalent of an annual third-world salary to play for 60 assholes, in a shitty bar, in a fly-over state. I’ve always found it weird how the chiptune scene cannibalizes itself. Most of the compilations and events are just taking your feces, repackaging it, and then feeding it back to you. Eat it. Eat your own shit, you greedy consumerist motherfuckers.

Freque: Describe how to make your favorite sandwich:

Freque: I thought you’d never ask! They make these awesome little round loaves of sourdough bread, a little bigger than a softball. You take one of those fuckers, rip it in half (not slice) and cover one side with a whole can of tuna. Try to make sure it’s spread pretty evenly. Then you literally cover the tuna with black pepper, until you can’t even see it anymore. On the other piece of bread, you want like 6 or 7 THINLY sliced pieces of tomato, lightly salted. Cover that with your favorite cheese (I prefer swiss). Put it on a cookie sheet and broil it, open faced, until the cheese begins to caramelize. Turn the oven off and let it sit in there for 5 minutes, to make sure it’s warmed all the way through. Pull it out (make sure to use oven mits!). Add tons of mustard and just a bit of romaine lettuce. I suppose you can put mayo and celery on there, if you’re a little baby, but I usually go without it. Either way, if you follow the instructions I’ve given you, it’s the best tuna melt ever created. You can thank me later, you stupid fucks.

Freque: Who Jew? You? You.

Freque: Ok, first of all, I don’t appreciate your antisemitic tone. Secondly, is that even a question? You’d better hope the ADL never sees this, because they won’t be as forgiving as I am. The Jewish people are as flawed as any other group, but they, much like me, have been unfairly persecuted throughout history. They don’t need you piling onto their oppression. It’s not fun, and it’s not funny.

Freque: People seem to struggle at finding relevant and accurate things to make fun of you about. What can you tell me about your childhood?

Freque: My father was a Portuguese immigrant, who was twice my mother’s age. She was 15 when she consumed my brother, and 16 with me. She ran away with my dad, from Massachusetts to Florida, where they both did jail time. She would’ve been released earlier, but she refused to tell them her age, because she didn’t want to get him in trouble. I’m not sure what they were arrested for, drugs or stealing, or both, if I had to guess. My father is a legitimate kleptomaniac. He mostly steals cars, but he’ll steal fucking padlocks and stuffed animals from grocery stores, he truly doesn’t give a shit. They split up before I was born. I met my dad a few times, but I haven’t seen him in years. He used to smoke crack in front of my brother and I, which sounds weird, but didn’t seem like that big of a deal at the time. The best car I can remember him stealing was a Pontiac Firebird Trans Am. I dont remember what year it was, mid 90′s, but it had those cool detachable pieces on the roof. It was pretty badass. We weren’t there when he stole it, but we drove around in it a lot. He hasn’t spent an unbroken year out of jail since he was a teenager. I don’t really know that much about him, honestly. My mom, on the other hand, raised me until I was 16 or so, then she just bailed one day. She left me with her mother, who I was only supposed to be visiting for the weekend. That was pretty weak, but I’m over it now. We found her a couple years later, squatting on a cabin in the middle of nowhere, near a lady who used to be our neighbor. She was all cooked out on acid, talking about how a knot in the wood on one of the walls was a portal to the spiritual dimension. I remember wanting to yell at her for abandoning me, but I didn’t, and still haven’t. She eventually got her shit together and we sort of patched up our relationship. She moved to Florida (of all places) a few years ago, and I visited her there once. That was a couple of years ago, so I don’t know if that counts as my childhood, because I’m 30, now. I got in an argument with her redneck boyfriend and punched a hole in her trailer wall, and my gf at the time and I left, and just drove home. We slept in her truck in a McDonald’s parking lot that night, in Florida, in the middle of summer. It was bullshit. We’ve made up since then and have pleasant talks, occasionally, on the internet. As far as me? I grew up fat and poor, I got bullied a lot. I used to get beat up quite a bit, until I learned to fight back, which changed my life. Violence became sort of an addiction for me, even after I lost most of the weight. I broke my hand on a kid’s head once, when I was in highschool. I got put on supervised probation for a year and a half for that fight, and I had to do 100 hours of community service, most of which I lied about. I also had to take anger management classes, which I got kicked out of, apparently for being too angry. They used to just ring this bell and make us walk around in circles. The whole experience was so much work that I picked my fights a little better from then, on. I guess it was a success, in that regard. I’ve been in a couple barfights since then, but nothing major. I mostly just argue with people on the internet, now. Come at me, I’m bored.

Freque: Are you an alcoholic?

Freque: Yeah, I’d say so. I used to just smoke weed all the time, but I had a really bad breakup earlier this spring. My slutty ex was apparently fucking our weed dealer, on the side. I was with that bitch for 8 years, we lived together for 7. I could tell she was lying to me for a few months, and one day she forgot to log out of her facebook, so I just keyword searched for “cheat” and “cum” and words like that, and I found a bunch of bullshit in there with this douchebag who can hardly even speak English properly. He was all like “want 2 bone u so bad rite nao” and shit like that. I didn’t even know she was into that kinda shit, she was a pretty classy girl, and kind of a prude, or so I thought. I just immediately packed up her shit and told her to get the fuck out, and haven’t spoken to her since then. I still loved her at the time. She cried, I cried, but that was it for us. I helped her move her shit into a storage unit and never looked back. I’ve been drinking nonstop since then, because I had difficulty adjusting. I’m finally starting to level out, though, and I’m moving back towards smoking weed, which is actually a good drug for me. I’m usually pretty fucking angry, and the alcohol doesn’t help a whole lot in the “don’t be an asshole” department, but the weed mellows me out quite nicely. I’ve met another girl since then, who isn’t quite as uppity and cunty as the last one, so that’s helped me a bit. She’s pretty submissive and I expect she’d tolerate me beating on her, if it came down to that. I don’t have any plans to beat her, but it’s good to know that’s an option. It’s easier to trust a girl like that.

Freque: You’ve been accused of nearly everything. Misogyny, racism, homophobia, antisemitism. How do you plead?

Freque: I suppose I’m guilty of a tiny bit of all those things, if we’re being entirely honest with eachother. I’m certainly guilty of perpetuating the idea that I am, mostly because I don’t give a fuck. It’s not like I just fell from grace one day. I live down here, at the bottom. I’m comfortable in the role of super villain. I don’t have nearly enough motivation to try and combat the things people accuse me of, so I just roll with it, for my own amusement. I think everyone is over sensitive, and I legitimately like to argue with feminists. I just like to argue with people who feel they’re being discriminated against, who whine about it incessantly, because it’s entertaining and there’s no real consequences. I guess I’m a bit of a bully, in that regard, but hey, no one’s perfect. My facebook feed is mostly chiptune kids, and they’re all insufferable bitches. You can only take so much of that shit before you feel like fucking them with a tire iron. There’s this one kid on me feed who posted this rant about “I hate litterers” as if he was taking a brave and admirable stance. It’s fucking annoying, and that’s just one example. It’s like all these kids are on a nonstop mission to impress their 6th grade guidance counselor, and it’s just really. fucking. annoying. They parade around like these heroic freedom fighters, even though they’re just towing the company line. People seem to be having this wacky competition to see who can get offended first, as if it makes them progressive and clever, and it’s kind of pitiful to watch. They’re not even good at it. I try to push their buttons because political correctness is stupid, and it’s fun to watch them glitch out. It’s sort of a reminder of why you shouldn’t be that way, because I’m usually taking a shit while I’m arguing with them, or posting offensive comments. I do some of my best posts with a turd hanging out of my ass. The chiptune world has worked itself into a frenzy over some of the things I’ve said, and I’m now one of the most despised people in the scene, and I’m shitting. You’re arguing with a guy who’s taking a shit. Ya know? As far as the misogyny, I won’t even deny that one. Most women are total sluts.

Freque: You were once accused of “giving a shit.” Defend yourself.

Freque: Ultimately, everyone wants to be liked. You get more free drugs and pussy that way, but I’ve always loved an underdog. Some of my more publicized rivalries (including but not limited to: andrewBLOWS, Shitzel, & Limey “I’m 30+ and I have an internet gf” Teevee) had a lot of backlash, but I’d say that’s healthy. None of my critics ever had a day where several dozen people came out of the woodwork to chime in on anything they did, so fine, let them talk shit. >Indifference< is the opposite of love, and I’m fucking famous. There will never be a day where they experience anything like that, and most importantly, I can take it. They dish it out because they think I can’t cope, because they can’t cope. I, on the other hand, was forged in hellfire, and the only reason these fucknuts even matter half the time is because they’ve found a way to attach their name to me. It doesn’t bother me, though. There’s plenty to go around, and I’m still just getting started.

Freque: Have you ever beaten or raped a woman?

Freque: Well, I wouldn’t call them “women.” I did smack a ho when I was in 8th grade, though. My brother’s exgf. We got in an argument on the schoolbus, and I spit on her, and then she spit on me and grabbed my hair and started rag-dolling my head back and forth. It was honestly pretty funny. I told her to let go of my hair or I was gonna slap the shit out her, and she didn’t, so yeah, I just started smacking her, right in the face. Slaps and backhands. She started kicking me in the chest from a sitting position, cause I had slapped her back into the seat. The bus driver was on the CB saying “WE HAVE 2 GIRLS FIGHTING! WE HAVE 2 GIRLS FIGHTING!!” because he wasn’t our regular busdriver, and I had long hair back then. The whole thing was sort of humiliating and exhilarating at the same time. I never even got in trouble for it, but I definitely had her snot all over me, because it got transfered a bunch of places while she was kicking me. I pretty much made that girl’s life hell after that, and she eventually transferred schools. I saw her earlier this summer, she was all cranked out on prescriptions, we were friends for about 2 days, laughing about the old days, until we discovered that we still fucking hated eachother. I called her a whore and a junkie and she blocked me on facebook. Good times. As far as rape, though, nah. Not yet.

Freque: Do you expect any backlash from this groundbreaking, historic interview?

Freque: God, I hope so. Maybe a bit of “For someone who doesn’t care, you sure wrote a lot of bullshit.” Maybe I’m giving everyone too much credit, though. If anything, it’d probably be another attack on my slut-shaming, jew-hating ways. In all honesty, I think people might be catching on to my need for negative attention, or at least they should have, by this point in the interview. I might have to change it up soon, and donate some money for breast cancer awareness, or something. You know you’ve reached a whole new level of trolling when philanthropy becomes the ultimate act of rebellion. I think that’s my endgame. I’m not sure how much further I can go in this direction before I’m just throwing puppies in a woodchipper and calling it performance art. I’m kinda like that chick who knits with her vagina, except slightly less trite and way less whorey. I don’t feel like I’ve hit rock-bottom just yet, though. If this doesn’t cause any drama, I’m pretty sure I’m gonna just start emailing pictures of my dick to all of my facebook friends. Men, women, & family.

Freque: What’s next for you?

Freque: I’ll probably delve deeper and deeper into incest porn, because almost nothing turns me on anymore. I pretty much need that to cum, at this point. I jerked off to one of those videos where the dude pisses in the girl’s mouth, earlier this summer. I wasn’t exactly proud of it, but it was oddly satisfying, at the time. I should maybe watch less porn, and go back to my imagination for a while, but I doubt that I have the discipline for that. I mostly used to just jerk off thinking about my friend’s girlfriends anyway, and I don’t have a whole surplus of friends these days. I might try to get arrested. I figured I could just start jazzing up my criminal record, sort of as an art project. I also have an album coming out, hopefully before the winter is over. I haven’t put anything out in a couple of years, so we’ll see what happens. Potato.

' Avatar of Freque

by Freque

Power Player #37: Buskerdroid

August 7, 2013 in Power Player

Power Player #37: Buskerdroid

How did you get into chiptunes?
After several plays of Lo-Bat, Trash80, Desert Planet, Binaerpilot, Goto80, Amor Antiquita and many more, I’ve gone totally crazy for chiptune music. I’ve loved the sound from the beginning, and as I was experiencing a transition from music played with guitars and bass guitars to music made with synth and softwares, I’ve decided to try with this new world by buying an LSDJ cart and using old Gameboy just brought back to life from my friends’ cellars.
How big is the chiptune scene in Italy?

The chiptune scene in Italy is active and prolific. There’s plenty of us, the last free-download compilation featuring the entire chiptune Italian panorama has been made by 29 musicians, and there’s more of us than that. We manage to communicate and compare ourselves despite of the distance, thanks to Facebook and to our website 8-b.it, an Italian micromusic portal.

And, as concerns live exhibitions, microparties and various parties, the interest of the public has always been high, but sometimes the situations can be delicate. Anyway, we don’t complain, but it can always go better.

How often do you play out? What are the venues like?

In the past years I played in France (Nice, Marseille, Lille, Paris x3) and I must say I love this country, and its electronic and micromusic scene. Even in Germany (Berlin), or in Belgium (Havelange). I’ve got great memories of first “Eindbass” in Utrecht (Netherlands), or of an afterparty in Nijmegen after Firestarter aka Frau Holle, Gijs Gieskes and Mini Roc. I’ve received the honor to play in lineup with Patric Catani & Imler, in Rome and in France. Another beautiful memory is the improvised feat with Computer Truck in Paris, during my Gameboy liveset in a GardenParty. I’ve also been in Italian cities like Bergamo, Brescia, Ancona, Marina di Ravenna, San Benedetto del Tronto and others, like my hometown, Rome.
My life happening abroad has been in Paris, and it was a party presented by “8bit em all” & “Dataglitch”, a savage party as usual! I’ve played in discos, occupied and self-managed places, clubs and pubs, but I prefer a plays with a good sound system anyway, even if it’s small place, and allowing a certain contact with the public.

When and why did you start coucou netlabel?

Coucou Micromusic Netlabel was born in February of 2009, in Rome, after having discovered a world of chiptune musicians for the NakedNoisesNetlabel. I’ve decided to create a web container to permit the musicians I prefer and even the to have their space and share their works, even the international micromusic panorama. With Coucou  Micromusic Netlabel we take care of the 8-b.it website management, and of the Facebook group “Micromusic Italy”, meeting point for musicians and supporters of this kind of music, in the Italian territory.

How have the shadows of the Roman empire affected you, personally?

Ahah, the shadows of the Empire weigh on every Roman.

What are the ladies like, over there?

They’re magic, mate!

What was your worst experience playing live?

You should not to ask me such a thing! I always have fun, even if the venue is a crap, I always have good memories the following day. But I hate when I can’t play my music at full volume, that’s the worst experience for me eheh

How did it feel to place in the lsdj showdown?

It has been fantastic and unexpected! Lsdj showdown is wonderful and I regret not to having participated to the previous editions too! Moreover, I’m even happier because I’m in the top5 for having misunderstood the contest rules, since I was supposed to send two tracks but I’ve realized it just too late, and I’m ever more proud to have reached that point with just one track. I needed a new usb cart too, so it has been perfect, and my next LSDJ track is dedicate to NoiChan.

What are your feeling on copyright law?

I find stealing intellectual of physical properties just disgusting. I think that for “nature” the rights go to the creator of the work, without payments and so on. We, the Italians, are under the SIAE dominion, but the Creative Commons culture is catching on, like the copyleft and the free copyright are.

What’s the biggest problem currently facing chiptune?

Since when I’ve followed the scene in the early years of 2000, it seems like it’s getting a concrete shape more and more, mainly even influencing tracks of the mainstream panorama and not.
“Unfortunately” I love the whole Chiptunes, the background and all the experiences it creates, so I’m the wrongest person to ask for what’s not going… I think everything is well.

Tell me about your new release on lowtoy.

Well, it’s a four-track collection, with a Gameboy DMG01 (pro-sound) and LSDJ. The first two songs have a more electro sonority, as the last ones belong more to techno. Differently to my other works with LSDJ, this time I’ve tried to abandon metrics I’ve previously used and to reach a more “experimental” field. The result, I think, it’s something acid, danceable and rough. The four tracks have been created in this last six months and they’re made and played with only one Gameboy, without hardware and software effects; as they’ve been recorded, there have been a mastering process and they’ve been exported in mp3. The mastering has been rough as well, just a “pump” of maximizer. Let’s say I’m satisfied for the EP final result, the sound goes a little further than in my usual chiptune tracks. And the fantastic artwork of Sanditio has enriched it all. In the EP there’s “Nowhere Fast”, the fifth-ranked track to LSDJ Showdown 2013, you can also find on Youtube the official chiptune video tribute to one of my favorite movies ever: Tetsuo the Iron Man. Our tribute video “Nowhere Fast” has been recorded in Italy by two guys, a talent aspiring filmmaker and an actor, who immediately have supported the project, and the chiptune culture. That’s all, I think. Have a good listen, and Shake your Microass!

How does it feel to live so close to the Vatican?

Don’t laugh at others’ misfortunes, ahah!

 

BUSKERDROID - Shake your microass

http://www.facebook.com/buskerdroid
http://www.buskerdroid.com
soundcloud.com/buskerdroid_chiptune

' Avatar of bitman

by bitman

Power Player #36: Auxcide

July 28, 2013 in Power Player

This picture was stolen during a Solarbear reconnaissance mission trying to prove that Auxcide had no friends. That mission failed.

Powerplayer #36: Auxcide

Auxcide is a MIDI-mastering, LSDJ-monstering, multitasking synth enthusiast, pianist, part time bro, full time hero, works behind the scenes for everyone’s favorite iCompany, and volunteers his time teaching underprivileged students at Berklee what real music is.

Okay, the last thing isn’t true, he teaches at SoCal, but he’s a pretty awesome guy. Get to know him.

He actually doesn’t teach at SoCal either, but read on, full time bros.

 Cool. What did were you doing two hours ago?

 
checking out the hotel online that i’ll be staying at for BRK! also thinking of setlists in my head
 
Wowza. How long ago was it when you found out you had been accepted to play BRKfest? And what was your initial reaction?
 
i think it was August last year that Curtis contacted me after the very first clipstream. i couldn’t believe it! i had listened to the BRK stream last year and dreamed of going just to watch. I couldn’t even imagine being an artist in it. . . my response to him was “i’ll start saving right now. brb making a BRKpiggybank” haha
 
So I take it that working in supply for a big computer company is helping with that? (And acquiring new gear? You seem to love things that glow and morph sounds)
 
My job sounds impressive but i’m only a temp. I pretty much took this job just to save up money and get new gear for BRK. I really wanted to expand on my sound and bring something different to the table in Lexi. It pays the bills. I do a lot of overtime so I can get extra money for merch. I seem to have a knack for finding the best deals on gear though. I got lucky and got some good eBay buys. My Arturia MiniBrute was actually bought on a whim and some good advice from Roboctopus. Best buy cause the thing is crazy.
 
You have a pretty strong piano background, how long have you been playing? Despite the cool flashy doodads you can’t forget the basics.
I’m almost completely self-taught in piano. I started when I was young but abandoned it for the Alto Sax. I eventually came back to it seriously in high school. I also took it in Junior College but all I ever played were video game covers and my teachers decided what I was doing was better then what they were gonna teach me. Actually for my Student Recital, I played like a 15 minute long medley of battle music from the Final Fantasy franchise. It went over surprisingly well.
I think it’s been like 8 serious years.
 
Pretty cool to see the alto sax background, I think Russelian and Megaflare also play it a bit. Have you ever thought about doing a chip-and-piano side project?
 
battle music from the Final Fantasy franchise. It went over surprisingly well.
 
[messages are lagging out a bit for me, not sure about you]
 
Almost all of my music has started off being written on piano. of Atoms and Stardust was completely done in piano first. The song Eos is especially apparent when you see me play it on piano. I have a very dancey and dramatic piano style so I think it’d be a good mix for a project. I have a couple songs out now that use a piano setting on a keyboard controlled by the Arduinoboy. I’d love to be able to do it live, but I do so many tempo changes that it’d be a lot to write. Actually did an experiment on a track that emulates my piano playing with lots of T commands. Look for it on the next Chiptunes = Win [ HYPE ].
 
Danimal Cannon did a rendition of the Moonlight Sonata (one of the movements, 2nd I think) that used tons of T commands to replicate the piano style in LSDJ. In LSDJ, you have blossomed into quite the hardware wizard. Some people cite LSDJ as being tough to learn, was your experience hard? How has it compared to learning the ins and outs of your other hardware?
 
haha I feel as if I’ve got a lot to learn still about LSDJ. . . I also feel like there’s a lot to learn with my hardware as well. With any new thing, it’s best to immerse yourself in it and that’s exactly what I did. It was so easy to explore because it’s such an interesting system and the first and only tracker I’ve learned. It actually came pretty easy to me. I first taught myself as much as I could, while exploring the software and then later explored tutorials and threads on cm.o about 2xLSDJ. The community was so helpful. Back then, it seems like it was less known to do 2xLSDJ, but I knew from the start that’s one of the things I wanted to make a staple in my music. The other, which is what drew me into LSDJ and making chip in general, was the Arduinoboy. I think if you stick with it, LSDJ isn’t that daunting.
 
Good to hear! You say that LSDJ is the only tracker you really use, are there any others you wish you had time/willpower to learn?
 
Famitracker! I still am always trying to devise ways to sync the NES and Gameboy together. Recently I hooked my arduinoboy up to my laptop via MIDI to sync with Famitracker but there was too much delay. One day, I hope to churn out some Fami tunes.
also the C64 is tasty.
 
Word has it we may see FaMi (from Batsly Adams) http://www.batslyadams.com/search/label/FaMI make that a reality with pure hardware. Worth keeping an eye on for sure. I myself struggle with Famitracker. Two questions left, first one is: are you a big sandwich fan?
 
I’m a vegetarian. We can’t be too picky about our sandwiches. If it’s edible, I’ll eat it!
 
Last question: If you were forced to be a stand up comedian, what would be your big running gag, and why?
 
“Solarbear cleans the carpets at my house. . . why? cause he sucks more then my vacuum!” *ba dum duh tssh*
also that is true. He does suck.
 
Thanks for taking the time to talk!
Can’t wait to see you at BRkfest!
 
Can’t wait to meet everyone in real life, man.
For those unaware, Auxcide and Solarbear are (im)mortal enemies. Buy BRKfest tickets and watch them fight to the death on stage. My bet is on the Arduinoboy becoming sentient under the influence of its tentacled overlord Roboctopus and destroying both of them.

Thanks for reading!
The Bitman 

Power Player #35: Mr Wimmer

May 17, 2013 in Power Player

Mr. Wimmer Chiptune

Photo By Andrew Gould

 

Power Player #35: Mr. Wimmer

We’re back into the swing of things. The latest Power Player is one of Kentucky’s own.

April’s realease by Mr. Wimmer, Once More Unto The Breach is as deeply croony, warbled, bittersweet and tragic as releases go. Especially as Wimmer’s voice arches between bitter and totally sweet. Tracks such as I’m Not That Kind Of Boy are creepy, melancholic bucket swing of blood on an aquatic underwater dance floor. There’s a kind of Gregorian chant on Possibility and a chiding I-told-you-so finger wagging melody of Blasted Field. The absolute stand out track is This Is Why We Can’t Have New Things where the whole release comes to a sort of heroic, screaming, upbeat fist punch in the air without sounding out of character to the rest of the tracks. This package is a suffocating saccharine saturation of reverb and the acoustics are the tears of a prom gone wrong. It’s not straight up chip of course, but it stands above other mixed instrument releases. We pull up a velvet pouffe and talk to the be-suited crooner. 

You have a certain, golden era sound and look to your performance. Who would you say you’re influenced by musically and stylistically? Go wild. I’ll give you three decades to choose from. 

I have a DEEP affinity for 20′s and 30′s jazz. Django Reinhardt being a personal favorite of mine. I will openly admit that as a younger guy, I did a lot of singing alone in my room along with Sam Cooke songs… And the Blood Brothers.

Some of the tracks have singing on and some don’t. What’s the reasoning behind this? They seem to alternate; was this planned?

Of the 3 songs without vocals, I honest to god planned to write lyrics to all of them, but when it came down to it, they just didn’t need them. They evoked the mood I was searching for without words, and shoehorning them in would have cheapened them a little bit I feel.

How did you get into Chip? It’s clear you’re already an accomplished guitarist.

I picked up guitar as a junior in high school, and was trying to make it as a folksy solo singer/guitarist, cause that was what I liked at the time. Then I saw Reformat the Planet (Cheesy I know, but I only speak the truth). I just LOVED all of the tonal qualities of chip music, It was the first time I really felt myself liking electronic music at all, so I grabbed an emulator and the demo version of LSDJ and set about figuring it out.

You rock a Gameboy Colour. What is this controversial decision to not use the DMG?

There was a brief stretch where I was forced into using a CGB because of doing some stupid damage to my DMG, But I have returned to the fold since then. Hunterquinn jokingly gives me crap for running it through reverb and delay though.

Mr. Wimmer - Once More Unto The Breach

If you had to fight for your right to party, what would be your weapon?

I always thought I’d look cool with a broadsword

You’re playing BRKfest 2013 – what songs from Once More Unto The Breach are you playing? Are you throwing some older tracks in there? What are you most looking forward to at the festival?

If I can get a nomad and an everdrive cart, It’s my intention to play the whole record. It falls just about the perfect length for it. If I don’t, a healthy dose of older songs and stuff no one’s heard yet will make an appearance.

The first BRK was such an undeniably positive experience that I’m just so happy for all of it really, so many amazing acts that I get to see is a great perk too.

The album has an overall theme. Is this part biographical or are you reviving the long last art of the musical storyteller?

I’ve done biographical stuff before, on my first releases, but my life isn’t interesting enough to keep that up for long, so I started making up other people, and telling their stories. I’m trying not to tell people exactly what the story I came up with is, so that they can find the story they want to see.

What do people not know about Mr. Wimmer?

I have Alice in Wonderland syndrome!

What does that mean?

It’s not as exciting as it seems, really. Basically when I’m very tired, or focused on something, my ability to perceive size goes out the window. I’ll be laying in bed, trying to go to sleep,and feel like I’m in a room in a dollhouse, or that I’ve all of the sudden gotten smaller. It’s happened to me a couple times while preforming as well, it’s odd, but I’m pretty used to it.

Kentucky is famous for inventing horses, bourbon, panning for gold and sticks painted silver. What’s your favourite cultural export from Kentucky?

Well, I am scared of horses, have no gold, and never heard of this stick painting business, so let’s go with bourbon and bluegrass.

What’s in the pipeline for Mr. Wimmer? What are you working on in the future?

I want to make a really jazzy EP at some point. So jazz it hurts. More genesis stuff, mostly cause FM just seems to make sense to my warped little mind. I want to get some hardware synths eventually, just cause they’re fun. I’ve got too many ideas really.

I described your release as having a sort of prom-like, underwater sound. What would be your spirit animal, under the sea?

Octopus, flat out. 8 arms to hold you tight.

Power Player #34: Cheapshot

November 22, 2012 in Power Player

Cheapshot Blipfest Tokyo

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. ;)

Power Player #33: Str8-Bit

September 6, 2012 in Power Player

Str8-Bit at BRKfest

photo by Shane Banegas via Facebook

 

For those of you who ventured in any and all cardinal directions, crossed oceans, forests, and deserts to attend BRKfest in Lexington, KY this past July, you know who Str8-Bit is, and you have experienced the power that lies within his mind, thumbs, and Game Boy.

Just before heading to Kentucky, he released My Dithering Heart, an epic six-track release that shows not just ability and technical prowess, but the capacity to get a crowd moving.

I did the Internet-equivalent of sitting down with Str8-Bit to ask him a few questions about him and his music.

——————–

Tell us a little about yourself, where do you live? Did you grow up there? Do you wish to stay or move away?

Well, my name is Billy. I’m 20 years old and I currently live in a little town called Christiansburg, VA. I have lived here all my life and right now, I am crashing at my roommate’s place [my parent’s house].

 

Did you play video games growing up? Which system? What were your favorite games?

Contrary to a lot of chip musicians I read about, yes, I did play a lot of video games growing up. For the first few years growing up we weren’t extremely wealthy so we didn’t have the pleasure of owning a console at the time. The only video game exposure I really had was just playing NES at a friend’s house. But then came that one Christmas that changed everything…

My dad whips out a huge present from the closet. It was the Donkey Kong Country addition SNES. HOLAY CRAP. Even though I would like to tell you I was freakin’ awesome at video games at a young age, I was not [my dad still tells me how my mom was awesome at DKC and I was the “cheerleader”…]. But that didn’t stop me from playing the crap out of that system. Needless to say, Donkey Kong Country: favorite game.

 

What do you like to do in your free time, apart from tracking in LSDJ?

Good question…I seem to overload myself with different hobbies that I do not really know what to do with myself! To start, I am in a pop-punk band called Times New Roman. We have been together for about 3 years now and we just got back from our very first tour. I really enjoy photography as well and taking promotional band shots. Uhhhh…other than that I have no idea, haha.

 

Where did you first hear of chipmusic and what were your initial thoughts about the genre?

Geez, this question. I always try and think back and it seems like the story always changes but here we go. I first heard true chiptune music [excluding VST and FL Studio stuff] when I played the Scott Pilgrim arcade game that came out on Xbox Live Arcade. I loved the whole soundtrack to that game. I later came to find out, thanks to my buddy, that the majority of the soundtrack was written by Anamanaguchi. Naturally, I Googled them and came up with all the “OMG muzik made wiff NES?!?!” articles. After more Googling, I stumbled upon Reformat The Planet. This documentary BLEW MY MIND. It showed me that chipmusic was not just seen as “video game music”, but seen more as music that someone could listen to on an everyday basis and not constantly compare it to Mario, Megman, etc.

This is also how I found out about LSDJ. Immediately after I finished watching the documentary, I downloaded LSDJ. It took me quite a while to get used to the layout since I was used to using more modern software, but I still was super pumped every time I hit the start button. I was still using an emulator at this time and was still wondering how they got all this music to come from the Game Boy. Yet again, a trusty Google search lead me to Nonelectronics where I purchased my USB BleepBloop cart [holay crap I love that thing]. A few womps, wubz, and I ‘Aint Your Buddy’s later and I’m still making choons.

 

What brought you into chiptune music, when did you start composing, and why did you choose a Game Boy, let alone two?

I guess I answered part of this question in the previous question but as for the Game Boy, I just love the minimalist aspect of it. Something so small with only four channels can intrigue people more than anything that comes from any computer software.

 

Do you play other instruments or have any musical training?

I was in concert, symphonic, and marching band throughout school as a percussionist. I also was a part of the chamber choir during high school. I also dabble with guitar and ukulele.

 

Who are influences? [Not necessarily the obvious ones... but artists, chip and non-chip alike, that had a profound impact on how or why you write music]?

This is a tough one for me.

Chip related: Knife City, NNNNNNNNNN, Solarbear, Roboctopus, Bubu and everyone who played at BRKfest.

Non Chip Related: Relient K (favorite band since 5th grade), Four Year Strong, Into It. Over It., Bayside, The Dave Brubeck Quartet, and quite a few others that have slipped my mind (I’ve been listening to the afore mentioned music a lot lately so that’s what was fresh in my mind, haha).

 

On the “why”.. why do you write music, as opposed to writing, painting, or acting?

I feel like music was the only thing I was really ever good at. Growing up, all of my friends were very sports oriented or they were very smart and excelled in school: I was neither of those. Music was the only thing that I could do well and have the most fun doing.

 

Do you indulge in other forms of art or expression? Tell us about those.

Well since I go to school for Graphic Design, I spend a lot of time doodling and designing things on the computer. I am also a professional Facebook stalker…watch your backs…

 

You recently played BRKfest, how was it playing for everyone in Lexington, KY?

It was incredible/nerve racking. I was extremely nervous since I had never played in front of any other chip musicians before. Everyone was so nice after my set and I really felt welcomed into the scene. It was such a great experience and I would do it 100 more times if I were given the chance.

 

How do you write your tracks? Do you have a process?

To tell you the truth, I have no idea what my process is. Sometimes I’ll dive right into a melody that’s been stuck in my head and then form the song around that. Other times I will be experimenting with different instruments and come up with some crazy bass line that I like. It really all depends on the scenario.

 

What is your favorite channel on LSDJ and why?

DAT WAV! The ability to make awesome basses, leads, and even the ability to add samples? Hands down WAV channel.

 

What lies ahead in the future for Str8-Bit?

I am hoping to play more shows with more chip musicians in the near future. Also, I’m really interested in doing a split album with another artist, and then performing those songs with said artists. That would be raaaad.

 

What was the last thing you were grounded for?

Not being yo buddy…

 

Thanks, Str8-Bit.. best of luck to you!

 

To check out more from this chipster, check out his Bandcamp page or Like him on Facebook.

' Avatar of andaruGO

by andaruGO

Power Player #32: Bit Shifter

August 24, 2012 in Power Player

Power Player #32: Bit Shifter

Josh Davis is one of the most influential Chip musicians and is known for his work with The 8-Bit Peoples and The Blip Festival : he has destroyed faces worldwide playing his low-resolution high-impact music in over 200 separate performances.  Performing under the name Bit Shifter, he has moved the collective hearts of thousands armed only with a gameboy (yellow).  I caught up with Josh and we had ourselves a good old-fashioned internet pow-wow

So Josh– please tell us a little bit about yourself: age, favorite food,
hometown, and maybe a playful anecdote?  

Hi there Internet — my name’s Joshua Davis, I live in Brooklyn, New York. Born in Chicago (in the same hospital as Peter Swimm, in fact, though not at the same time, and not from the same lady). Did most of my growing up outside of Buffalo, New York. Big on craft beer, Alan Moore, and Japanese food. Old enough to know better.

When you first started making chip music was it a deliberate choice, or something that you fell in to accidentally? Were there any direct influences that shaped your aesthetic decisions in your use of format and composition with the gameboy, or was it something that you had wanted to do deep down?

Totally accidental, but probably an accident waiting to happen. As a musician I’d always had an interest, lurking around the background, in the aesthetic of old home computing & video games. It was never a primary focus, and didn’t really manifest itself all that consciously, but it would pop up from time to time as I was experimenting with synth sounds or MIDI programming, things like that. It wasn’t until I came across the Nanoloop website (and the Little Sound DJ site soon afterwards) at some point in 2001 that everything came together — here was a way to explore that actual soundset, on the genuine hardware, and in a way that was cheap, portable, interestingly subversive, and above all, seriously cool-sounding. In fact the demo .mp3s that were available on the Nanoloop site at the time instantly blew away any preconceptions I’d had and drove home how wide-open the possibilities were. Oliver Wittchow, the program’s developer, had written these loops of minimal techno to demonstrate the capabilities of the software & hardware, and what struck me right away was how divorced it was from anything you’d expect; the music had no conventional association with the Game Boy whatsoever. This was like encountering a Game Boy that had been raised in the wild, by Autechre. I thought it was brilliant, I was floored. So of course needless to say, I ordered a Nanoloop cartridge immediately, an LSDJ cartridge a week or two after that, and I was off & running. So for me, the tools definitely inspired the project, rather than the other way around. But I think that for whatever reason, I was predisposed to liking something like this — exactly this, really — so I’m pretty thankful for whatever wrinkle in Internet Fate it was that steered me toward finding out about this stuff.

 

You have done immeasurable amounts of important and massively influential work with The 8-bit Peoples and Blip Festival, can you give us some insight into what it was like starting out? What was the original goal you had in mind for Blip Festival and The 8-bit Peoples when you first started, and how different/unchanged has that original goal remained/become?

Hahaha you make it all sound so legit! For my part — I wasn’t a founding member of 8bitpeoples myself, so I can’t take any credit there. My friend Jeremiah (a.k.a. Nullsleep) founded it in 1999 with Detroit musician Mesu Kasumai. I came along a few years afterwards, but I think I understood pretty much at first glance what 8bitpeoples was doing — giving a home to DIY music, visual art, and technology that adopted the aesthetic of early home computing or gaming and then took it in new directions — and I was totally behind it, I thought it was great. It was really exciting & inspiring to see what 8bitpeoples had been doing and releasing, it was all really fresh & new. Over time, Jeremiah & I found ourselves working together more often on projects — organizing live shows, planning releases, alerting each other to cool artists, musicians, graphics, hardware, and so forth, and my participation gradually blurred over into more of an official role. And at that point the two of us basically just continued to push forward with the same objectives and mission that had characterized the label/collective from the beginning.

The first Blip Festival was a pretty spontaneous development, not the product of much forethought, so the goals of that project developed as we went, mostly as we set about organizing that first one in 2006. At the time our friend Mike Rosenthal had been spearheading an annual circuit bending festival called the Bent Festival, it was seriously great, and the notion of taking something so niche-oriented and showcasing it on such a large scale was really inspiring. We knew we’d wanted to apply the same idea to chipmusic, but it wasn’t until mid-2006, when we were contacted by a group of Japanese chipmusicians planning a joint NYC visit later in the year, that we had the catalyst that set it all into motion — and by November, the first Blip Festival was happening.

On one level, our goals at the time were pretty short-term — throw a big giant party showcasing chipmusic and hopefully get some people to come check it out. But we also knew we wanted to take it seriously, to do what we could to assemble a lineup that could serve as a credible snapshot of the worldwide chipmusic community — visualists and musicians alike — showcasing its range & breadth, geographic diversity, array of styles, techniques, platforms, and so forth. Basically we wanted to do our best to present a valid cross-section of the chipmusic landscape, as comprehensively as possible within the constraints of a single event. And as we’ve continued on with the Blip event series, that’s probably been the goal that’s remained most central to the whole thing. It’s not a goal you’re ever going to reach with 100% perfection, but we always felt it was one worth trying to hit. I think we’ve done a pretty okay job of it.

There were several moments during the “Reformat the Planet” documentary that you seemed to be without proper words to describe the complex emotions that chip music has stirred within you, and what you think about the future of the ‘genre’– now that we’re a few years out from that documentary, have you been able to coerce any thoughts on that?

Oh it has nothing to do with complexity of emotions; having trouble finding proper words is just an everyday handicap for me. Happens at work, at the deli, at the grocery store. Not that the grocery store doesn’t stir complex emotions. I guess I don’t have any more of an idea about the future of chipmusic now than I did then. I’ve never been very good at seeing or forecasting the bigger picture. If I had to predict a particular scenario, as boring of an answer as this is, it’d be a continuation of what we see happening now. The chipmusic aesthetic will continue to bubble to the surface of mainstream culture, the way it has been over the last few years, integrating itself into the output of more established media decision-makers or better-positioned producers, etc., and meanwhile the core chipmusic community will continue chugging along under its own steam, devising its own outlets and dovetailing more tightly with indie game developers and things like that, and basically continuing to do as it’s always done, going about its business more or less unconcerned with what’s happening aboveground.

Speaking of ‘Reformat the Planet”– the song that the documentary is named after was written by you, and has become an anthemic ‘standard’ in the world of chip music. The song has evolved since you first composed it– is this representative of your evolution as an artist or is this more of a cognizant effort on your part to alter the context or the original song in order to change the ‘conversation’ about chip music in general?

reformat the planet, slow version via CHIPMUSIC CHRONICLE

Haha oh man – that song’s been called the “Free Bird” of chipmusic more than once, which obviously means it’s time to go home and fucking delete the thing. I’d started tinkering with the original track a while back, mainly to make it more interesting for me to perform live — adding patterns that could optionally be used during performances, giving me a little bit of leeway to change things around (or fuck them up) at shows. So the changes made in that case were the product of just continuing to explore & adjust the original song, mainly for the sake of performances.

Unrelated to that, there’s also a second, slow version that I did more recently. That one started out at the request of the 2 Player Productions guys (the filmmakers behind the Reformat the Planet documentary), who’d wanted a short, subdued cut-down of the song to use as a menu loop in the DVD edition of the film. After we hit on a final version that they liked, Paul Levering of 2 Player Productions texted me at one point to request a full version done in that style (just for kicks, having nothing to do with the DVD). I laughed it off at the time, but later found myself thinking it was a pretty neat idea, and so why not do it. It was a fun experiment, but mainly an exercise in putting an existing song into new clothes, so to speak. An alternate rendition, rather than any sort of intentional “evolution” of the track.

When it comes to sitting down and composing music using the gameboy, where does your inspiration come from? As far as emotional content is concerned, what place to you go to when you write– and where would you like to take your audience when they listen to your music?

Wanting to make something in a particular style or mood is about as close as I ever get to composing with a preconceived idea. I might be in the mood to make a drum & bass track, for instance, and I’ll use that basic stylistic framework as a guide (tempo & rhythm, etc.), and then dive in with an otherwise clean slate and see what comes out of it. I guess my process tends not to involve having a specific end result in mind, and then setting about creating it; most of my songwriting process is pretty exploratory. I’m realizing as I’m answering more and more of the questions in this interview how totally non-goal oriented I am. I feel like my strategy as a whole involves just wandering into everything I do and occasionally stumbling into a lucky result. No wonder I was never any good at gaming.

When you aren’t listening to chip music, what is a normal playlist for Josh Davis?

My listening habits are pretty messy (not to be confused with “eclectic”) — taking the chipmusic out of the “recently played” playlist reveals: The Bug, Quicksand, Milf, Worlds Collide, Bastro, Public Image Ltd., AFX, Ice-T, Sex Pistols, Cannibal Ox, David Last, Plastikman, Think Tree, Mike Patton, the Catherine Wheel. So, basically a cross section of a 2003 hipster record store’s closeout bin.

Do you have any plans for any new Bit Shifter releases any time soon?

I do, though it depends on how you define “soon” I guess. At the beginning of 2008, I told myself “This is the year I’m going to really focus and put together a full-length.” Thankfully I’m a chipmusician, so a refusal to abandon outdated ideas is basically second nature.

Can you give us any updates about the status of Blip Festival? Based on recent posts and discussions on the topic many people have said that it is very much like the ‘pause’ in 2010 and that Blip Festival is going to come back. Can you shed any light on this?

The Blip Festival event series has been a blast, probably the coolest and most exhilarating roller coaster I’ve ever gotten to ride. A lot of thrilling peaks and, somehow, not too many valleys. I love that damn roller coaster. But whether I want to ride it for six years straight — hard to say.

The pause you mention in 2010 was a conscious adjustment in the pacing of the festivals. At the time, we were planning September editions in Japan and Denmark, essentially back-to-back, and we recognized in the lead-up to those that we were leaving ourselves with no real room to operate for a New York edition in the winter (where it had traditionally fallen). So we made the call to shift it into May of 2011, as a means of giving ourselves room to regroup and to plan it properly, not to mention we figured that this way the event would be a lot less likely to get sacked with a blizzard.

That was a different call than the one we’re making now. In our announcement a few weeks back, we referred to the upcoming Tokyo edition as the last Blip Festival for the foreseeable future, and by that we mean to say it’s not a postponement, not an adjustment of the stride-length between events. However, with that said — the future is of course wide open, and we aren’t ruling anything out. We just want to regroup, refocus, start returning some of our attention to 8bitpeoples as a label, and devoting some time & energy to a handful of other projects that have been stuck on the back burner for the last several years. The roller coaster’s awesome, don’t get me wrong, but I hear the theme park has some other rides too, and we just wanted to give those a spin.

Are there any awesome projects you are working on that we should be on the lookout for? Your work on ‘bodies‘ was top notch– can we expect more like that?
Hey, thanks — I really appreciate it. That was a fun remix to do. To be honest, I don’t really have anything in my back pocket at the moment. Things have been busy enough over the last two or three years in particular that my own projects have taken a back burner. Now that we’re bringing Blip Festival to a close, I’m looking forward to clearing my head and hopefully rediscovering the impulse to make some more music, ideally some of my own as well as doing more collaborations & remixes.

How do you feel about the contemporary chip scene?

I love it, honestly. Like any movement that means anything, it’s a spectacular parade of wingnuts and geniuses, all coming to this from wildly different backgrounds and bringing with them different insights and ideas, and as a result the whole community is constantly percolating with new input and new directions, and things never get a chance to become too structured or rigid or stale. In fact it’s probably the most driven, DIY, punk rock community I’ve ever seen — probably even more so than actual punk rock. It’s constantly fun, strange, unexpected, challenging, genuine, and rewarding. Regular recurring chip event series are popping up in new places all the time, and one-off chip shows are even more prevalent than that. Now, I live in New York, where we’re fortunate enough to be totally spoiled when it comes to chip events and artists in the area, so it’s not lost on me that I might be seeing things from a perspective skewed toward the positive. But even doing my best to correct for that, it seems like empirically speaking, there really is a whole lot going on, and an enormous amount of talented people at work to make music, make visuals, hack hardware, write software, make events happen, and create new avenues to get all that great stuff out into the world. It’s fantastic. Now I want to hug everybody. Except Monodeer, he smells.

Everyone messes up on stage, or has a cartridge fail mid-song– what’s your most memorable ‘fudge-up’ ?

In late 2001 or early 2002 I started making chipmusic.

Do you have any words of advice for people just starting out making chip music?

There’s a lot that’ll seem strange or idiosyncratic or nonsensical, whether due to limitations or quirks in hardware, or the inevitable bugs in homebrew software, or the truly crazy gear acrobatics sometimes necessary in getting ROMs and song data onto and off of proprietary cartridge hardware and shit like that. Don’t get frustrated, try to push through & roll with it. Importantly, remember that A: people have been making chipmusic for 30 years, not 2 or 5 or 10; B: the Game Boy is by no means the only chipmusic platform (in fact become an Atari ST musician if you really want to get the chicks, that thing’s a beast), and C: always put the screamo in a separate file.

So when you compose with LSDJ, do you have any ‘stand-by’ things that you like to do? (I like to put E commands in my noise channel and V:F4/V:F7 on my pulse leads)

Aha — nice ideas, I’ll have to try those. I have a few tricks I return to sometimes, but nothing that I really treat as essential. Except for a WAV channel kick drum setup that Saskrotch showed me. That one shows up a lot. Thanks again Nigel.

Do you play any instruments other than the gameboy?

None well. Guitar, keys, some other odds and ends. It doesn’t count as “playing” in the same way but I also enjoy MIDI sequencing with hardware synths, drum machines and so forth.

So……Dogs or cats?

Dogs dogs dogs dogs dogs dogs.

Any parting words you would like to leave us with? Words of wisdom? A daily affirmation?

I leave you with a quote from one of my favorite philosophers, Horse Ebooks — “You Deserve The Lawn Of Your Dreams.”

thus concludes our interview with Josh Davis, aka: Bit Shifter////
all photo credits to  Marjorie Becker at http://www.chiptography.com 
be sure to check out chiptography’s kickstarter and help her get to Blip Tokyo 2012! 
LET’S HUG FOREVER//////////////////

 

Power Player #31: Dream Fox

August 9, 2012 in Power Player

Dream Fox Chiptune

 

Power Player #31: Dream Fox

Michael ‘Pugbath’ Snarzyk & Josh ‘Turbo Tiger’ Cameron are two parts of Dream Fox. They roxxed and fuxxed BRKfest into submission. Driving lo-fi leads and ass-shakery bass, they had us mesmerised in rhythm and cock-shaking awe. Nobody puts baby in the corner. Unless baby is us, cowering. The guys made time for us and talked to us about their style, flare and musical roots. Lock up your Aunts.

So what part of the US do you hail from?

Josh: I’m from a suburb right out of St. Louis Missouri called, O’fallon.

What’s the Chiptune scene like around there? Do you get to play many shows?

Josh: The chiptune scene around here is super small, almost non-existent. When I first met Mike, he was the only other person I knew in real life that knew about chiptunes, but there are also a handful of other great artists around here (Shitbird, Overthink). We’ve played several shows around here, and we usually get pretty good feedback because not many people around here know what chiptunes are and they’re just excited to see us using gameboys and dressing funny.

Mike: We’ve played around 30 shows in the last two years, and have had a lot better luck playing with bands and DJs as opposed to chiptune artists. Like Josh said, there isn’t really a chip ‘scene’, but I think we’ve kind of used that to our advantage.

How did the both of you get into Chiptune?

Mike: I was really into circuit bending around 2006, and started seeing posts in circuit bending forums about gameboy modifications and started to really get into it. I was just really bad at saving money and it took me a couple years to buy an lsdj cart.

Josh: I got into chiptunes back in 2007 when I was a senior in high school. One day I came across Sabrepulse’s myspace page. I’d always loved like video game music from classic games, but I had never heard of anyone writing their own songs on a gameboy. My mind was blown, I fell in love and a few months later purchases my first LSDJ cart.

You perform on LSDJ and DS, do you swap it up or do you have assigned roles?

Mike: It really just depends on the song, but for the most part we use DS10 for the Drums and bass and LSDJ for leads… But it just depends on where the idea stems from.

You’re both bassists and play in different bands. What’s the appeal of playing outside of a traditional band? Does being bassists effect the
way you guys write?

Josh: I’ve been playing bass since 2004. I’ve always been in and out of bands since high school. Gameboys were always something that seemed fun. Like a project that doesn’t involve as much time or money, but is still just as rewarding. I wouldn’t say being a bassist effects the way I write per se but it definitely doesn’t hurt. I just write beats that I think ladies will shake their asses too.

How do you usually write tracks together? What’s the process?

Mike: It really changes from song to song…

Josh: Basically whoever comes up with an idea the other person usually finishes it. So like if I come up with a beat on DS and Mike likes it, I’ll send it to him and he’ll shit out this whole song and then i’ll sprinkle some LSDJ on top of what he’s done. It’s kind of like that.

Mike: Yeah, there are a couple that we’ve actually written together, like, in the same room jamming together… But, with the tediousness of electronic music, it’s more of a back-and-forth, by-yourself-in-your-mom’s-basement type of process. Sometimes we’ll trade cartridges and keep building on each other’s ideas, sometimes one of us will just write a complete song.

Your outfits at BRK were pretty outrageous. One lady fainted and a fight broke out over some of the garments in the car park afterwards. Where do you obtain your threads?

Josh: A lady fainted?! Damn.

Mike: Are you serious? I’m glad I didn’t just come out with my garbage in a ‘Crown Royal’ Sack.

Josh: Most of our clothes we get from 1981. My uncle has this pretty sweet time machine that we’ll usually hit up a couple nights before a show. My boy Chad at the Jc Penny that used to be up the street usually hooks it up pretty good.

Mike: Yeah… And I go to a lot of thrift stores, too.

You were playing as The Lame Boyz for two years. What prompted the moniker change?

Mike: Oh shit…. I just really didn’t like that name.

Josh: Basically haters, Mike being one of them. When we went with the name I didn’t know about Low-Gain or Lame Boy or anything. I just thought it was clever. Since many people around here don’t know about chiptunes, they also thought it was clever, so even after I found out I was still set on keeping the name.

Mike: I disliked that name so much that I emailed Low-Gain with secret hopes that he’d say something like,”Fuck you turds, I AM LAMEBOY! Change your names”, but that didn’t happen… He was really cool, and, basically said that he thought it was a pretty dumb name and didn’t care if we used it.

Josh: So we kept it. Then all summer last summer we tried to think of new names.. We couldn’t come up with anything that we both liked. So we decided to just keep The Lame Boyz. One day I just absentmindedly shit “Man, I bet if we were called something like Dream Fox or something people would respect us.” out of my mouth. We were both really into it… The rest is history.

Have you got any gigs lined up for Dream Fox (and your bands) that we should know about?

Mike: Actually, this is the first time in a while that we don’t really have anything lined up… It’s pretty nice. We do have one thing set up in the north east in November, but I don’t know if we’re supposed to talk about it or not.

What would you guys do if you inherited a Pizzeria from a lost uncle?

Josh: Eat all the food in in there until it was gone… Then I guess hit up my aunt and see if she would be down to get weird in the back

Mike: I’ve been in the pizza industry on-and-off for like 12 years, so I’d really like to try out some of these experiments I have in my head… And then, I’d probably get weird with Josh’s Aunt in the back.

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Pop on over to their Facebook page and show some love. You can also check out Poon Goon on disk 3 of the noichan’s White Compilation. There’s a few oldies but goodies at their Soundcloud page.

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' Avatar of andaruGO

by andaruGO

Power Player #30: hunterquinn

August 5, 2012 in Power Player

hunterquinn


Power Player #30: hunterquinn

Cincinnati-based chip musician hunterquinn has been shredding the gnar in the nasty ‘nati for quite some time now.  we thought it would be a good idea to interview him– so after an arduous trek and many sleepless nights, I finally pinned him down.  We both put on our internet hats, and drank some bourbon.

Okay for starters, tell us a little bit about yourself.

My actual name is Hunter Quinn, so it kind of a convenient name for starters.  Been writing music on and off for the last 10 years and now I’ve been making music with LSDJ for about a year.

How/why did you get into chipmusic?  What was the catalyst that started it all for you?

Well, probably about 2 years ago, my buddy Andrew Gould called me and said “Get the fuck over to my house! You have to see this!”. “this” was Reformat The Planet and I about shit my pants. From there it was a tireless effort by Andrew Gould (known now as AndaruGO) to find out how to make this kind of music that harnessed the power of our childhood.  So after a few months he found out about LSDJ. We are and were both pretty poor at the time so we saved up, lurked flea markets and got gameboys of our own and got our carts and that’s when we made it go.

I know you went to blip festival this year – how was that?  Are there any things that stick out in your mind specifically?

That’s kind of an interesting question because to be honest, blipfest was like a dream that I never wanted to wake up from. Everything about it was amazing except for the beer prices and the bouncers. But the thing that I think stuck out the most for me was running into Joshua Davis (bitshifter) on a subway back to the place I was staying. That stuck out the most because he was just a normal super nice guy. This man I had been looking up to for so long actually gave me the time of day and actually WANTED to talk to the friends I was with and myself. It was something that I was super surprised by but it ended up being very similar when I ended up meeting all the other chip guys I met there. So long story short I would have to say that the best thing about blipfest was how “real” people can be.

That’s really awesome, how did that make you feel about the chip scene as a whole?

It got me super stoked. I had kind of hit a rut at that point writing music. After blip I was on a roll, and I was just really excited to be a part of this “thing”

hunterquinn

Do you have any influences in your musical style outside of chipmusic?  and what are the chipmusic influences that you DO have?

Alright, I would have to say my biggest musical influences outside of chip (in no order) would be: Cut Copy, Pedro the Lion, The Number 12 Looks Like You, Circle Takes the Square, Stravinsky, Schoenberg, Aphex Twin, Boards of Canada, Godspeed You Black Emperor, OLD! Dillinger Escape plan, OLD! The Red Chord, and Whitehouse.  And when it comes chip influences! In no order: Nullsleep, Bitshifter, Covox, Random, Glomag, AndaruGO, Quantum Wave, Erdrick’s Armor, NNNNNNNNNNNNN, Knife city, Animal Style, ctrix, CCDM, and so many others. These are just the people who got me into chip, and kept me interested. The rest of the chip guys I know will probably surpass alot of these influences at some point and I can’t wait to see that happen!

…and of course SAILORBOAR

The music I make comes from a really dark place, and not like “omg I am so dark lolz”. More of I make the music that I do to make people to have an off feeling if you get what I mean. It winds in and out of super UNCE and really slow chord based progressions. A lot of the bands that I grew up with had that indescribable sound that just put me on edge. Saying that I like to have people dance to my music, so I end up making it all bumpse bummpse tsss tsss woub woub yeaaaarrrrarrrrb. But when it comes to the chip influences I have, they all have really FULL music. So put all of this together and one can see my attempt at having my gameboy scream at you like someone who is disappointed  in you because of something you can’t help. It’s yelling because it needs more attention, and wants chip to evolve forever.

Do you have any pro-tips, or advice for people just starting out making chip music?

SLOW DOWN! It gets better I promise. Also, use a lot of tables, always make new wav instruments, and never settle for anything less than your best. If you don’t then you are wasting everyone’s time. Lastly just because people around you don’t get what you are doing, don’t let it beat you up, just don’t give up. Strive to be the push your city needs for people to appreciate this amazing thing, and get your friends in on it too! It’s all about a supportive scene, without that you really don’t have a lot.

…and when I say slow down, I mean tempo dawgss

[You and I] were in a band together.  Talk about that.

trololololol

OK once upon a time, there were 2 highschool geeks in tight pants with angular haircuts. One of those kids was andaruGO, one of those kids was hunterquinn. We joined a band called ALTERBOY and had a great time playing shows, getting our feet wet in the whole music scene more than we had before that time. Met a lot of great people and I learned a lot of shitty things about being in a band. Eventually Andrew and I were the only ones holding this band together who almost got signed by 2 different labels, was planning a tour, the whole shebang. But there was only so much we could do after the band lost its vocalist in a super shitty way. So we gave up on music for a while. Sad story

On a scale of one to bad-ass, where do you think you stack up?

Honestly, it depends on the day. Sometimes I feel like I’m pretty fucking spectacular. Other days I’d say I’m feeling more of a stale fart smell.

When do you usually take your shirt off during a set?

Usually when ever I have a brk from shredding the gnar. or when I’m too wet to see, then I use it to wipe the liquid nerdgasm off my face. Or when I see AndaruGO, then it just comes off by itself.

So are you going to play any songs from your first release, Bourbon Back Attack at your next show?

Dude…. seriously fuck you hahaha

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You can listen to Hunter’s music on soundcloud here. He also came 6th out of 60 in the LSDJ Showdown 2012 with his track finaLLY.

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Power Player #29: Frostbyte

July 24, 2012 in Power Player

Frostbyte iamcloud


Power Player #29: Frostbyte

Frostbyte, with the release of his long-awaited album, Codex, will be headlining the release webshow, here on noisechannel on Wednesday the 25th, starting 7.00pm EST. He’ll be joined by Cheapshot, VCMG, Roboctopus, boaconstructor and Electric Children. We get the skinny on the release. 

Help me out Frostbyte, I seem not to know a lot about you. Who are you and where are you from?

Well! I’m Frostbyte, silly ;) Haha nah, I’m just a 17 year old dude from the US in the lonely suburbs of NY. I pretend like I’m from the city because I love it, but I have to un-willingly admit that I only go there often, I don’t live there. In all honesty I’m just an abstract guy that likes to make and share music :)

I used to be involved in some other internet “scenes” that were quite interesting in their time…I used to be one of the biggest programmers for PSP flash games and HTML portals. It was fun while it lasted! My name was “nothing” back in the day haha. I remember posting on the forum we used to frequent and people would regard me as a god haha. It was a fun experience. After a few of the other programmers left the scene, I wound up getting out of it too because the forum we were based on got hit by spam bots and 5 year old kids asking “how make psp game”, so I quit and left it to die. I used to run a site too, but that went in the crapper since it was on a free Russian host site xD

Other than that, I’m your go-to LSDJ electro guy!

So, how long have you been writing chiptunes? What was the appeal?

I started writing them like…2 years ago? I don’t remember, I’m terrible with time. But I’ve been working on Codex since the start. My first LSDJ song was supposed to go on there, then I realized it sucked, so I did something else with it haha. You don’t wanna hear it. The appeal was that I just loved listening to what people could do with their gameboys! My first artist that I really really enjoyed was Saskrotch. I heard his EP and was blown away. Tried to write some chipbreak, then realized it was a total failure hahaha. Then I found Electric Children! Totally didn’t believe he was only gameboys! So I neeeeeeeded to figure that out and make those sounds.

That’s actually my weakness haha, I find an artist that makes music I really wish to write and then I just wanna sound like them haha. It took a long time to get an “original” sound outta me, which is basically just EC and TreyFrey having a kid. Oh! TreyFrey. I met him on CM.o actually. Funny story. He posted a thread asking for someone to master his song, Apex, and I was a total noob then, had no idea who he was. So me, with my crappy limited production experience thought I was pro enough to do it, so I told him I would. He sent me the song and my mind exploded! I’ve never been so amazed with skills like that…So, that was that. I can blame most of my sound design on him.

What are your internet stomping grounds for chiptune?

Well, I’m frequently unfortunately on chipmusic.org. The site is nice! Love the design and usability of the site, but that’s about it honestly. The people there are generally elitist groupies. I dunno, I mean, not all of them. But there’s quite a few that hold music made by their friends on pedestals and won’t open up to anyone else and they’re just rude to people that don’t agree with them. I get that they’re old-school and are a tightly-knit community but seriously, just don’t be rude about it. I don’t have to like your music. Other than that the website is a great resource.

I mainly chill on Facebook. You can find me there, my name’s Frostbyte Iamcloud (the second name is a non-chip sideproject) if you wanna talk :) I’m on quite frequently haha. I post lots of things there and I have The Vanguard’s Facebook page there too.

Other than that I come on Noichan every once in a while for my news and song updates, and sometimes I pop on ucollective :)

How do you prefer to get your tunes out?

Bandcamp! I post most of my albums on there, and sometimes songs on soundcloud.

Who would you say are your influences in the scene?

Influences? Totally Electric Children and TreyFrey. Recently a lot of Kedromelon, since we’ve been sharing songs and talking back and forth for a while :) Other than that I have a lot of influence from recent electro artists like Madeon, Zedd, (sorta) Skrillex, and Mord Fustang. But it’s hard to get those kind of sounds to come through in a gameboy since they do crazy sampling and stuff like that! Although I have perfected an LSDJ recreation of the Zedd bass. maybe I’ll post about that on The Vanguard ;)

Frostbyte iamcloud

It keeps them toasty

Have you a musical background?

Of course! My entire life has been music :) My father’s a composer and an arranger for drum corps and marching bands. I’ve been around them since before I was born. It’s always been a part of my life. I can’t really escape it either! haha, my dad gave me my first trumpet when I was about 5, I’ve been playing it since then, reading music and practicing forever. Although I’m really tired of the classical music and music theory stuff…I’m more concerned about the arts of it, and just getting into the music rather than making it a science and whatever. I realize that even if it’s just getting into it, it follows the rules of theory, but I don’t have to think about that, do I? Nah, I just make music.

Anyway, I plan to go to college for music, and I’m probably gonna wind up teaching it to high school students. It seems like the right course for my life, you know? I wanna share my philosophies with others.

How do you approach writing? When do you like to write the most?

I approach my writing in so many different ways! It’s a really hit or miss thing with me. I usually start making drums and other patches and whatever and trying to melodically string them together in a progression that sounds good to me. I pretty much always start with the drop because if I start with the intro, my drops are always weak as poop. I write a drop, and if it sounds full and good and makes me move around when I listen to it, it’s probably good. I found that the best indicator that I’ve written a good drop is when I catch myself running my fingers through my hair when I’m working on it haha. If I do that, it’s a keeper. Then I generally break it down to its minimal aspects of it and construct an intro and build up to it. Then I go for a little breakdown after it sans percussion to kinda build energy for the second drop haha. Which is usually a cut and paste and add variation to it. I like to write at night mostly…I can’t seem to write during the day. There’s nothing like waking up to hear a piece you don’t quite remember writing and being surprised by it haha.

Codex has been a working process for so long. Why deny the fans for such a big stretch of time? What was the holdup?

I needed to make it perfect! It’s my full length…Probably my only one that I’ll do at that. It’s my magnum opus. You know? I want people to be like “Oh have you heard of Frostbyte? Go listen to Codex”. It’s the starting point for people to listen to my material. I needed to make it perfecto :)

You’ve performed some shows without a cam. Secretive? Or do you just need to pick one up so far? Can we expect to see your face on the webstream this week?

Haha, well, sorta. I have to be secretive, parent’s aren’t big on me getting my real name and whatever out there, but I don’t really care haha. They’re starting to care less too. I didn’t use my webcam basically because I don’t have a webcam! I’m too lazy to pick one up. I’ll have one soon though, but don’t expect to see me this week haha. I’m on vacation, can’t really get one now! Oh well. Just imagine some gameboys.

Describe your perfect day.

I’d wake up to Call Me Maybe, sung by Carly Rae right in front of me instead of an alarm, and I’d go downstairs to get some breakfast from my chef, Gordon Ramsay. Then I’d work on some beats with Snoop and Kanye, and then grab some coffee with the guys (Mord Fustang, Skrillex, Madeon, Derek Jeter, Obama, Treyfrey, you know the rest). I’d come back home, produce some sick electro beats with Madeon and Zedd and go to sleep with a crown on in my bed of money next to my lovely girlfriend.

A-men.

Power Player #28: Bitman

July 21, 2012 in Power Player

Bitman

Power Player #28: Bitman

Bitman is an all-round regular user on noichan and hangs out with us in chat. The guy gets involved. As a change from the usual interview, we put out the bit-signal and had a group chat between the staff of noichan, Freque, idevourstatic, myself and Bitman to see what’s cracking with our crime-fighting, party-starting-artist. You can download his EP released on noisechannel here: NC015 – Bitman – Ten Day EP

Bitman: OH snap

idevourstatic: dine and dash

Bitman: Gang’s all here.

Mikee: Ok guys, I am so excited I made the chat pop out. I’ll edit the typos, later.

idevourstatic: geddon b

Freque: OK so we’re gonna ask Bitman a bunch of questions. As many serious ones as possible.

Mikee: So Bitman, I had some loose questions and we’ll freestyle it from there.

Freque: OK, Mikee’s up first :p

Mikee: So when did you first start listening to and writing chiptune?

Bitman: I used to be super active in the Sonic the Hedgehog hacking community, and I was interested in people who ported songs to the YM2612 chip (SMPS sound driver) for their Sonic hacks. I loved the FM sounds, and I played a lot of hacks (Sonic Megamix by Team Megamix, the S Factor by aquaslash, and Sonic 1 Brother Trouble by Markey Jester, mainly). From there I got into Megadrive modding, the benheck forums, met bibbin, saw his Gameboy modding stuff, then sort of stumbled upon 8bc. Listened to a few tracks, then it left my mind for two years until I met a classmate in my high school band who had a modded DMG (cerealkilla, he’s on the forums here at NoiChan). I saw his EMS cart, backlit DMG, and I was intrigued. A few months later I had my own EMS cart and I was begging him to teach me everything lol.

I guess you could say I got interested in chiptune once I saw that you could do original stuff with it anywhere, including a school bus. Cerealkilla’s approachability and kindness are almost completely the reason I started using LSDJ.

Mikee: Do you think it helps to have a partner when learning?

Bitman: I don’t know lol Cerealkilla and I always start talking about LSDJ, I go over to his house, and we start a collab and order some pizza. This has happened at least four times in a year thus far. What always has ended up happening is me watching him be admin on his insane Minecraft server, and we never finish our song.

In all seriousness, I see benefit and negativity in having devoted mentors. The benefit is having someone go-to for questions and help, as well as getting CC on tracks without getting flamed on forums. The drawbacks I had to deal with was limiting myself to the commands and techniques I learned from my “teacher” and I didn’t really read the manual until much later.

My opinion is that it is never bad to have people to refer to, but leaning too heavily on them like I did can dampen your thirst for knowledge.
Edit that all as you wish :P it’s a bit wordy.

Mikee: It’s cool, we want you to take your time

idevourstatic: Agreed longer interviews = more human/interesting

Bitman: Make friends in this community, just about everyone is willing to help you out or tell you their life story.

I’m ready for more questions. :p

Mikee: Electronics? You’re into your mods. What was the first one/how did you start?

Bitman: Um, my first mods were done with Cerealkilla. He basically did my first mods (backlights, prosounds). It wasn’t until about a year ago I started doing them all myself. Basically, my lust for custom Gameboys was satiated by using basic guides. Lately I have been using my accumulated knowledge to work on larger projects, one being a replacement flashcart that has an integrated CPU for native MIDI use in LSDJ (with a patch that doesn’t exist) via the mini USB port used for flashing.

All I have currently for that is EagleCAD stuff, no working code or parts, lol.

Otherwise, I am looking at working on bluetooth DMG audio, as well as better external controller support for DMGs. Flashcart design is something i picked up from the Sonic community and Megadrive demoscene.

Mikee: Your BRKfest set was only missing the rest of the brass band. How did you get into wind?

idevourstatic: I Keep blowing in my Gameboys cart slot, but no jazz comes out…. halp?

Bitman: Um, in middle school I was a fairly lost child. I got into band so I could go on a field trip that they had every year, and I ended up being really good at my primary instrument (euphonium) In high school I got put on tuba for marching band (sousaphone, specifically), and when I wanted to play in the jazz band, my options were to learn trombone or trumpet.

I ended up going with trombone and doing very well for myself, and later I was a top player on all three of my instruments at school. Decided to pursue music in college, and I have been into composition, I used to write and arrange stand tunes for football games and jazz tunes for the jazz band.

Mikee: Dude, did you go to bandcamp for the trips and girls? I thought this only happened in American Pie.

idevourstatic: 8D

Bitman: Bandcamp is an interesting thing, it’s more of a fraternal experience than one that reeks of spring flings.

Mikee: This has saddened me.

Bitman: Besides, I play the euphonium. It’s the other brass players who have exciting love lives. :p

Freque: lol

Bitman: Also – Static – you need to drop it in purple drank to put the funk in your cart.

Mikee: I thought you said you play the euphemism, so if I’d have known I’d have given you one.

Bitman: XD

Freque: how was performing at BRKfest?

Bitman: Beyond frightening. I spent my morning working on DMGs and dealing with real life drama, after having very little sleep on Solarbear’s tile floor at his house. I was totally blown away by the other sets, and I have a history of stage fright. Thankfully, even though I messed up my I-hate-chipmusic.org lyrics, I sort of recovered. Then, PANDAstar got onstage, pulled people on, and instantly things got better. My other songs went well, I danced a bit, and people slow danced and made out to my dark jazz tune. Pretty exciting feeling lol. Needless to say, my “one more song” encore killed, and Mikee in his game of “snag the shirt” with my trombone was hilarious.

Words can’t describe the nine pairs of manboobs supporting me on the stage that night. <3 all of you guys

Mikee: I’m sorry I touched it, that was rude of me.

Bitman: It’s okay. I got it for $100, total steal xD

Freque: lol. How did you feel about your set at the afterparty? People went nuts for your solo during kkrusty’s set.

Bitman: Hahah. The afterparty was an interesting thing. I don’t know kkrusty’s first name. I just called him k-krusty IRL. But he was playing a Final Countdown cover and I was up next. I was warmed up. I figured out that the song was in C minor, a key i was extremely comfortable soloing in. So, during the breakdown, he and I locked eyes and it just sort of happened. I don’t remember much after that: it was 4am, I was tired, and at 5am I was due to ride home with Shanebro. XD

Oh wait.. My Foo Fighters cover went over well, I guess lol. Playing along on trombone was cool.

Mikee: I like how if we didn’t know anyone’s name, we called them by their artist name or would attempt to pronounce it poorly. AndaruGO said “I’ve been calling SKGB Skiggabitzle or something” – so that’s what I called him for the whole weekend.

Bitman: Haha.

Freque: Yeah, I called Solarbear “fuckface” all weekend even though I know his name.

Bitman: :p

Freque: if you had BRKfest to do over again, would you do anything different?

Bitman: I would rehearse my set. And make sure my intro track had singable lyrics. Otherwise, I would have made sure to have the patchbooklets.

For those of you reading this who don’t know, I am working on making a miniature book you can buy or print at home and fit into a cartridge case for Gameboy games. It would have a couple of pre-made patches, but basically it’s a bunch of blank pages for instrument presets, tables, etc. I was working on hand-making the first batch for all the artists at BRKfest when I realized I had some super embarrassing spelling errors. Like misspelling my own name, “pulse,” and “patch.” I am a sorry typist lol. The book was meant to be super useful for festivals, meetups, and to keep hardcopies of patches in.

But yeah, rehearsing my set and bringing the booklets are on top of the list for sure.

Freque: You are trapped in a high school gymnasium and you only have a backpack with supplies. What’s in it and what would your strategy be?

Bitman: Define “trapped”

—-

Freque: [Mikee’s] prolly watching the Lion King somewhere

Mikee: Well..trapped. Whatever the apocalypse has brought has wrought some evil on you. You can’t leave.

Bitman: Are we talking “box canyon” from Red vs. Blue season 1, or mindless scene girls skipping gym class in such a quantity that there is no solid escape route?

Mikee: You can make up the evil, fuck it man, go wild

Freque: lol

Bitman:  Well, firstly, my typical backpack is the one I carry when I work at the local Christian gym, fitness center, and daycare that shall remain unnamed. They do however have a song with their name in it by the Village People.

Anyways, in this bag I always keep rope, duct tape, a smiley faced beachball (not Wilson from Castaway), a basic first aid kit, and a clipboard. Seeing as the standard gymnasium has basketball goals, I would hoist myself up using a lasso over the rim, and I would shimmy up the shank of the goal until I got to the rafters/ceilingIf it is like my high school gymnasium, the ceiling is cardboard tiles with beams you can skitter across to the air-conditioning unit. Seeing as these tubes for the AC unit are huge, I would need a cutting tool

Mikee: So far this plan is solid.

Bitman: My clipboard is made of ceramic plastic, and since all hard ceramics tend to break into sharp shards, I could use it to cut the giant hose open, and crawl out the top of the exhaust ventChances are I would have to kick down the grate, but beyond that my challenge is running across the roof, finding some bushes to jump into,then bandaging myself up with my own first aid kit.

And playing wallball with my ball as a sort of victory ritual.

Freque: lol, is that everything, Mikee? XD

Bitman: No interest about my coming album? lol

Freque: Yeah by all means, tell us about your next album, good sir.

Mikee: I was gonna ask about your djing and releases

Bitman: Well, seeing as I write in two styles, grungy-dubstep stuff and jazzier things, I am looking to combine the two for one epic album. I am aiming for a 2 CD release, with lots of bonus tracks/covertunes on the second disc that fit the style of the first disc

Expect to see DnB, dubstep, dark jazz, bebop, funk, second lines, and honkytonk styles, among others, on this release. Should be out sometime in the next 5 months or so.

Freque: I understand you DJ too, any up and coming events you want to shout out?

Mikee: Is god really a DJ? I mean come on

Bitman: No events planned atm, haven’t really thought about it yet. Getting ready for college band camp for marching band, and trying to keep my grades up. DJing will take a backseat this semester.

God is indeed a DJ. You know the Great Flood with Noah’s Ark?

Mikee: He let two decks in only? (and one DMG)

Bitman: He totally train-wrecked the soundtrack for mankind, and that flood was an airhorn clip essentially.

Mikee: *burst*

Bitman: Wiped the whole thing clean. BOOM

Freque: lol

Mikee: Like Compycore? :-(

Freque: The remix.

Bitman: More like Compyhorn, lol

Mikee: God deletes his .savs, starts over again. I like it.

Bitman: Yup. Anything else? xD

Freque: oh? Who’s got the football?

Bitman: ESPN ain’t got no balls on CCDM.

Bitman has left.

 

Power Player #27: Roboctopus

July 19, 2012 in Power Player

roboctopus power player chiptune

Power Player #27: Roboctopus

Roboctopus is one of the staff here at noisechannel. But the damned guy hated us and wouldn’t give us an interview. When we finally turned to a public company and his shares peaked, he let up a bit and now we give you the chance to meet the real Robox. He’s the writer of the LSDJ & You articles and all round Good Guy Greg of The Chan.

So, how did you get into Chiptunes and did you always start with LSDJ?

I’ve always been a fan of old video game music, but the way I got into chip was really backwards. I really liked the band The Minibosses (a rock band that did covers of 8-bit game music. Are they still around?). (I’ll take a chance with my google skills. I think this is them. ~ Mikee)

I liked the sound of guitars and bass and drums doing all those melodic lines and hyperactive bass runs. It was refreshing to not hear power chords all the time I guess. Anyway, I wanted to make my own music like that, but I had no interest in doing covers, so I started trying to write and record original compositions with live instruments that *sounded* like 8-bit covers, haha. Yeah, I wanted to make fake 8-bit rock covers. Kinda weird I guess. But then after recording a few compositions like that I started wishing they actually *were* beepy, and I started messing around with synths.

I wasn’t very good at playing synth, and the sound just wasn’t quite right, so I started looking around for a more authentic beepy sound. I found this band–Tree Wave–and really liked the raw sound of their synths and I learned they used C64s. (Tree Wave’s main guy, Paul Slocum makes the Cynthcart, etc.) That led me to discover the whole chip genre. This was in 2006 and The Information Chase had just come out and I got hooked on Bit Shifter. After that I picked up LSDJ and a DMG and started learning the program. It took a *long* time because I had zero background in trackers or any kind of computer-based music.

So yeah, I’ve only ever used LSDJ. I don’t really know how to use things like FL Studio or Ableton or whatever. Mah beeps is only LSDJ beeps.

You’re known for your aptitude on LSDJ, particularly for the LSDJ and You columns here on noichan. How did you amass such a large amount of knowledge on the software?

I don’t think I’m known for my LSDJ aptitude, haha. There are definitely a lot of people that do more complex stuff than me! Yeah. But as for amassing knowledge, it’s lame to say but, er, time and experimentation? I mean, I’ve been messing with that program since 2006! Though I did take a break for a few years…

Also, people should read the manual. It’s actually pretty helpful.

Any guest writers you have coming in soon we should be excited about?

Haha, not really. Cheapshot might do another column and an0va gave me some patches to use in a column, but it’s actually kind of hard to convince people to write! Calling all LSDJ wizards…hit me up if you have a column idea!

Describe a typical day in the life of Roboctopus:

Man, I’m super boring. Stumble out of bed. Coffee. Go to work. I’m a technical writer, so work is really just playing on the computer all day. Or writing LSDJ tunes in an emulator, haha. I dunno. I eat some food during the day? I avoid my coworkers and pretend to work. I mean, I live in Alabama and I’m like an English major working with a bunch of religious engineers who like football, haha.

BRKfest was new territory for you. How did it meet your expectations on ‘live’ chiptune and the people in the scene?

BRKfest was amazing! Live chiptunes really are a totally different experience. Especially in the low end. Even songs you might not think are bassy and percussive are superheavy. The vibe was kind of like punk shows I used to go to back in the day. I used to go to punk shows at this shitty arcade, and everyone would be super cool and just be there to party and enjoy the music. BRKfest had that kind of vibe.

I was pretty nervous, to be honest. Not only was it my first chip show, but it was the first time I’d played live period. Ever. I messed up a bit during my set but I think it went okay.

Everyone I met was crazy nice and I’d love to hang out with them again. (By the way, BRKers, If I didn’t get a chance to talk to you, sorry! I’m a bit shy–not super crazy social anxiety shy, but shy enough that I usually don’t waltz up and start conversations. I also didn’t really know what anyone looked like.)

Have you plans to play live again soon?

I do. Nothing is set in stone yet, but I’m talking to someone about playing a show in Nashville and Nestrogen mentioned trying to get a show together in Hotlanta. I wouldn’t mind playing in Lexington again either (hint, hint, solox!)

I saw you wailing on a guitar during your set. So many chipmusicians can at least play one instrument. What’s your musical history like?

I started out as a guitar player. That’s the instrument I’m the most proficient on, but I can play the bass pretty well and can get by on the banjo and the mandolin. I’m a really mediocre drummer, which is probably the reason I fall back on four-to-the-floor beats a lot. I took a music theory course in college. I can play piano, but not very well. I mean, I have a basic understanding of music theory and I know what all the keys on the piano are, so I can sit down and bang out chords and scales but that’s about it. I’m awful at reading music. I have a glockenspiel! Yes! Rock!

Any new things you’d bring to a Roboctopus set?

The set I had originally planned for BRKfest had a few more chill songs–I was going to do “Imaginary Worlds” and another more laid back song (er, not that my songs are that rocking, especially compared to a lot of other BRKers). But when I started doing run-throughs of my set and timing it I realized my first two songs (well, 2.5 songs if you count the noisy interlude) were right at 10 minutes. I had to cut stuff, and I cut the slower songs. So yeah, I’d like to do a slower song or two.

You’ve always been a bit of an enigma before playing live. Got any dark confessions for noichan?

I didn’t realize I was an enigma, haha. I would confess to being a nerd who likes Doctor Who, anime, pokemon, and weird boardgames, but, um, I think some of you might be nerds too. And that’s not a very dark confession.

Let’s see…dark confessions… Oh! I’m ashamed to say, but I went to a Korn concert. I mean, it was like 2001 and I had a wallet chain that almost touched the ground and white hair and there just weren’t that many concerts in East Tennessee. What was I gonna do? You have to mosh to something.

Now describe an atypical day for Roboctopus:

5:30 AM. Wake up drunk on the stoop. Light a blunt.
6:00 AM. Jump in my beat-up El Camino. It has rims with chrome Game Boys on them. Fall asleep in the driveway.
8:00 AM. Wake up in car.
8:30 AM. Have sushi for breakfast at this awesome breakfast sushi place. Don’t ask me what’s in breakfast sushi. Chorizo and eggs or something. Pancake nigiri maybe.
9:30 AM. Cocktail time.
11:00 AM. Arrive at my recording studio, Roboctosounds Unlimited. Kanye taps his watch and looks irritated. I tell him to come back tomorrow because I haven’t finished writing beats for his chip-hop album. I’m really just stalling because I spent the advance he gave me and I don’t know how to write chip-hop. He goes away angry, as always.
11:30 AM. Cocktail time.
12:00 PM. Cocktail time.
12:30 PM. Annie Clark of St. Vincent stops by to jam. She shreds for a bit and then lets me play her guitar, which is cool. However, she declines to lay down a wicked fuzz solo on my new album. Bitch.
1:00 PM – 3:00 PM. After riding my bike across Sky Arrow Bridge like 100 times I hatch a dreamworld ability dratini with perfect IVs.
3:30 PM. I do some blow in celebration.
4:00 PM – 11:00 PM. Too much blow, time missing.
11:30 PM. Sober up!
12:00 AM. Midnight sushi!

You can download Roboctopus’ album here and catch up on his LSDJ & You articles

Power Player #26: PANDAstar

July 8, 2012 in Power Player

PANDAstar chiptune
Power Player #26: PANDAstar

How did you first start getting into chiptune?

Funny story! I actually just fell upon it. I’ve always loved chipmusic ever since I laid paws onto a Gameboy. I just wasn’t aware of what it was really called. In ’08, I was really into finding electronic bands through Myspace. I stumbled upon “nintendocore” and with some more searching of Top Friends and such, I found Shirobon. Shirobon led me to Henry Homesweet, Sabrepulse, The Swashbuckling Swantoon, and Peppermint Pony. After being a heavy listener for a few months, I wanted to know how they made their music. That led me to the forums of 8bit Collective.

Do you write other music or been in bands?

Before chiptune, I was an on and off composer of Orchestral music. The violin has been a huge passion of mine for 12 years now, and every now and then, I write some material on my violin. I have been starting another music project under the name “SP33D” or “SPthreethreeD”. Only demos are up at the moment. That music project will be more chillwave/dark ambient (Silent Hill-ish) music.

Who do you admire in the chipmusic scene and why?

This is a tie for me. I really admire Shirobon for his eccentric attitude, and just making music that makes him happy. Also him being my “coming out” to the chiptune scene. But I also really admire Kloudygirl. She’s been a good buddy of mine for about a year now. I admire her strength and desire to create based on whatever she feels, and not based on what others want. And she tends to have such a positive attitude even in the worst of times. She’s done everything she can in order to help local chip musicians get their chance to shine. No matter what’s going on in her life, she puts those people before herself. That’s the kind of role model I’d like to be for people just starting into this genre. She really is like the bigger sister in my eyes that I never had!

Give us one of your favourite LSDJ tips.

Man, do I love commands! Favorites being V, P, L, and C. I’m not very complex with what I do. If you’ve ever seen my LSDJ Tutorial on Youtube, I’m very simple. The most basic tip is don’t be afraid to combine commands even if it sounds ugly. Just a slight tweaking, and you can create something amazing! I have no idea what I’m doing half the time when I make music! Haha! I just mess around with notes till it sounds awesome.

Ever had a Wisconsin Death Trip?

HAHA! OH GAWD! Not as intense as that! Yeah I’ve had my fair share of unexplained ghost-like events, but never mass suicides or murders

I hear you’re into Pokemon. If you were Ditto what would you turn into?

YES! And hands down, I’d be an Espeon! Make that a shiny one! Because green is my favorite color! haha!

What do you want to see more of in the chipmusic scene?

I’m slowly starting to see what I want to see in the chipmusic scene. As a community, I want all musicians to come together and share ideas. I love the idea of all of us being family. I come from a broken family, and some of the people in my life I consider brothers and sisters are all chiptune musicians! I noticed on 8BC that there was a lot of hate, and I find it ridiculous that we all must compare when chipmusic itself is the most basic sounds of electronic music. Everything will sound like everything eventually. That’s a fact of every genre of music. So why not come together and learn styles, techniques, and just have a great time doing what you love? That’s why I’m glad to be part of Noichan. We are all a family, and the fun we have together makes getting into this genre all worth while.

You released a split with Kloudygirl. How did that come about?

Ahh! Kloudygirl is my main partner in crime! Haha! We found each other through the Facebook group, Digital Underdogs. We noticed how much we had in common, and became sisters instantly! We always have a knack for inspiring each other to do our best. And we always had this idea from the moment we started talking to do a split album together. Back and forth, we shared our demos. Gave each other helpful criticism, got all the tracks together, and released it for our fans. I really enjoy working with her, and we are always planning new things together for the sake of our music.

As you’re playing brkfest, what are you planning to play? Or is it a secret? Can you keep a secret?

See I get WAY too excited! I can’t keep secrets for long! And I’m especially excited for this setlist because I’m doing things I’ve never done before when it comes to live performance. Since its the week of, I’ll share my secret setlist:

SPDRCRWL
PEROGIE
Relish
Thanastine (a mash-up of both Thana and Celestine)
Mass Hysteria (Debuting a new crazy tune which is the fastest BPM’s I’ve worked with thus far)
NYX
POPrawkZ
And the last track is something I’m CRAZY nervous to do, but something that has been requested of me to do for years now. I will be performing/singing my Lady Gaga/Pokemon parody, “Poke’Dex”.

Must be about time you released something. Anything in The Works?

It has been a long time hasn’t it? I got swept away in drama, almost called it quits. But I found happiness, and new inspiration!
And YES! I do have some songs in the works! Kloudygirl and I are getting together a 3 way split album with female chip musician, Rrayen. It’s gonna be amazing! We don’t have a set release date yet, but we are getting the tracks together!

I do have plans for later this year of a new album release! PANDAstar isn’t dead. It’s only the beginning! :3

 

PANDAstar’s Facebook page

' Avatar of Freque

by Freque

Power Player #25: Kedromelon

June 26, 2012 in Power Player

Power Player #25: Kedromelon

  • How did you get started making chiptunes?

I just kinda stumbled across it on the internet.  I had discovered MIDINES first, and had wanted to use it in my band or something, I don’t quite remember.  Somehow my interest in that eventually led to LSDJ, Nanoloop, 8bc, chipmusic.org, and all that mess.

  • How did it feel to win the LSDJ Showdown?

Felt good!  I honestly wasn’t sure what to expect, there were a lot of really great tracks entered.  Seems like it ended up being pretty close.  Regardless, I’m excited to mess around with that MIDIboy!

  • Tell me about the track you entered.

Its been in progress since the beginning of 2012.  Desolate Time was essentially my first attempt at making a live mode track.  I also was just kinda trying to see if I could emulate any of the sounds in mainstream hi-fi dance music.  Honestly, I’m still making changes to it.  I’ve started performing it live at CHILLBRAVE shows, and hopefully a final version will be available on the CHILLBRAVE release, whenever that happens.  I think it fits better with the style PopSTAR and I have been trying to associate with CHILLBRAVE than my other solo work.

  • Any advice for next year’s competitors?

Find ways to use LSDJ its not meant to be used!  I’d say try to avoid letting it sound too chiptune, if that makes any sense.  I’ve been trying to do my best to make my game boys sound as little like game boys as I can.

  • How did you get so good at LSDJ? Tell us your secrets.

Practice I guess!  Good mixing goes a long way.  I’m not the kinda person that has any secret patches that are super awesome or anything.   I’ve always been really, really liberal about my use of commands.  When I write a melody, I’ll use try to imagine how a vocalist would sing it, then throw in L, E, W, V, P, K, or whatever else commands to try to make it sound like that.  Silence is important!  K and E have always been my two most-used commands.  This might be getting a little out of the realm of LSDJ, and simply into composing in general, but good phrasing is INCREDIBLY important in creating a memorable melody!  Silence is just as important as the notes!

  • Is college really better than highschool?

Yes! Especially if you study something you love.  I’m studying music technology.  My program only has about 30 people in my class (including PopSTAR).  It is pretty awesome to have such a great source of really, really constructive criticism for music.  I’ve learned a lot so far.

  • How did you like Blipfest this year?

Loved it!  Personally, I really regret missing Blip 2011.  This year had a lot of new names for me though, and I found some new artists I’m really getting into!

  • How did you get there?

Took the Bolt bus from Baltimore.  That’s always fun…

  • What’s next for you?

Just gonna try to get through this summer and work.  I’m back in Maryland for the rest of the summer, then it’s back to New York!

  • How’s the chiptune scene in Maryland?

There’s actually a decent amount of us in the MD/DC/VA/WV area, but we are so spread out that it is really difficult to get a big group together for shows.  Usually we just end up hopping in on DIY shows with punk or math rock bands or playing shows with local DJs.  Byte Nyte happened for a while, but I think it became difficult for us to bring in a good variety of performers.  Good venues are hard to come by too, especially in Baltimore.  It’s not like Philadelphia or New York where the majority of the scene lives in the city.  Most of live out in the suburbs, or even way out in rural areas.

There used to be a local monthly DIY music festival called Fredrock.  It started in November 2009 (before I was into chipmusic) and I went to all of them except the February 2010 one.  Trey played at that one, and I remember looking up the performers and listening to his stuff and never even realized it was game boy music.  Anyway, I totally forgot about all that for a long time.  I got into chipmusic in March 2010, and a few months later (I think it was May 2010), I went to Fredrock again.  Trey was playing, but I had completely forgotten about him and I guess I didn’t know him from 8bc at that point either, because I was completely surprised when I saw him walk up on stage with game boys.  I had already done a decent amount of composing in LSDJ, and was pretty blown away by Trey’s set.  I walked up afterwards, said something like, “so, was that all LSDJ?” He was surprised that I knew the program.  We didn’t talk for months after that, but I kept composing in LSDJ.  In October 2010, Companion <3 (now CompyCore) found Trey and I and set up the ORIGINAL BRKfest in Thurmont, MD.  It was really small… Trey, Compy, and I played.  8bit_chris also showed up.  He later became known as DJCATS, then Daedalus, and now Datacats.  After that, Trey and I teamed up and started playing a bunch of split sets around Maryland and West Virginia.  We actually just did another one (possibly our last one?) just last week at an old venue we used to play at a lot.

  • He seems to think he’d beat you in a fight, any truth to that?

Yeah, he probably would.

 


http://kedromelon.com/

Power Player #24: Sycamore Drive

June 24, 2012 in Power Player

Sycamore Drive

Power Player #24: Sycamore Drive

When did you first start writing chiptunes? What formats do you use?

I started in early 2008. It wasn’t something that I discovered and immediately loved, it took a bit of time. My social group were heavily into Sabrepulse, but it wasn’t until I discovered Firebrand Boy that I decided it was something I wanted to explore. Hearing his track “The End” was my turning point. I contacted Philip briefly about joining Firebrand Boy as a guitarist, but that didn’t go beyond an exchange of e-mails. I picked up a Game Boy early on, but now, I’m using Renoise with Plogue Chipsounds. I’m not a big fan of ‘chip’ drum sounds, so I’m going for a retro sound with a modern approach. Chipsounds has been my software discovery of the year, and I’d strongly recommend that anyone reading checks it out.

Which artists do you admire? Chiptune and vanilla-based bands.

I don’t really listen to a great deal of chiptune, but the people that I admire most in the scene are local artists like Edward Shallow and Comptroller. They are so talented and proactive about their art. I was extremely lucky that I was surrounded by very original chiptune artists, and I feel that made me push harder with my own work.

Outside of chiptune, Bad Religion were my first love. I was the kid that knew all the local record store owners by name, and I’d spend my time flicking through the racks of used CDs looking for those Epitaph or Fat Wreck labels. I loved Bad Religion particularly because of their vocalist Greg Graffin, as he was a musician AND a scholar. He made me realise that you don’t need to choose between your passions, and that you can pursue them all at once if you work hard enough. That’s something I live by to this day.

You’ve made records on vinyl before. What’s the idea behind taking something digital and putting it on such a classic format?

I made the Sycamore Drive 7” record to sell at Ultrachip, the yearly Scottish chiptune festival in Edinburgh. I’d fallen in love with the format, and I found someone online that could lathe-cut records, which meant I could order any quantity I wanted – a huge saving over the traditional pressing plants if you only wanted a small quantity. It was purely motivated by wanting to do something that I thought was cool, and would excite people at the festival.

Speaking of formats, you seem to range from retro all the way up to digital distribution, contributing to iPhone and Xbox. Tell us a little bit about that and how you got into it. What experiences did you gain?

I got into writing for video games from seeing developers posting on chiptune forums looking for composers. I sent away a few demos, and people started putting those songs in their games. There are at least 4 iPhone games out this year featuring music I’ve written. I’ve kept doing it because I love supporting the indie games community, and the arts scene generally. I release all of my music via Creative Commons, so now it’s more about developers finding me than actively looking for projects myself. The work I’m most proud of was a soundtrack to a game that was never finished with a developer that works for Bungie. You can see a preview of the battle mode of the unreleased game here:

#version=6,0,40,0">
You’re from Scotland right? There seems to be quite a few chiptuners milling around up there. How does the unusually harsh climate effect your writing style?

I am from Scotland, yeah. I think I’m one of the few people that really likes it when it rains. For composing, I find that the bad weather helps, as everyone tends to go inside and be quiet for a change, and I don’t work well in a noisy environment.

Whilst hunting you down for blackmail material I notice Sycamore Drive is a location in Scotland. Are you named so because this place holds fond memories?

Actually, when I was formulating a plan for what to do next musically after my band broke up, I looked up from my notepad and the words Sycamore and Drive flashed on the little screen that tells you what street you’re on (I was somewhere between Sycamore Crescent and Lavender Drive, hence, Sycamore Drive). I’ve always liked the name, as it didn’t (to me) give away any indication of musical style, and I hadn’t decided yet as to what kind of music I was going to do on my own. There are many non-chiptune Sycamore Drive releases that I really hope you don’t find anywhere. There are purely guitar-based records, and bad electronica records online under that name.

Is chiptune all completely about nostalgia, or is is something more?

For me, chiptune isn’t about nostalgia at all. It was about convenience, and about producing music independently of other musicians and producers. As a student, I spent about 3 hours a day on public transport, and I always wanted to find new ways to use that time effectively. Chiptune has always been a shortcut, I didn’t need to sit and think about instruments, levels, microphone placement, etc. I could just sit down and write a song. That’s exactly what I needed.

Have you been busking with your gameboy? How did that go for you?

I’ve been busking a few times, including the infamous time with Tin Foil Hat Brigade in Edinburgh when that old lady stood and shouted at him until he stopped (you can watch our very different experiences in the same location – Sycamore Drive  and Tin Foil Hat Brigade. My favourite busking experience was with Edward Shallow in Glasgow, when we decided to busk in the city centre. We had those little Marshall amps hooked up in stereo, and it was pouring with rain. We noticed someone banging on the inside of a window in a bar to get our attention. He then came outside to speak to us. He asked if we could “program music on those things”, then asked if we could program the song Happy Birthday on it, and then come and play it in the bar for his mate who was celebrating his inside. So, now I’m standing in the rain getting soaked, with a Game Boy without a backlight, trying to work out all the right notes to Happy Birthday. After about 5 minutes, I’ve got it down. We go in, play it, the people in the bar all cheer and clap, and the appreciative people give us loads of food to take away with us. We gave it all to the first homeless guy we could find. It was a great experience.

You talked about writing new material after placing in the LSDJ showdown finalists. What’s new in store from you? What can we expect from Sycamore Drive?

I was really pleased to make the final in 2012 with a song I wrote in 2009. I find it to be strange though, as when I originally released those songs, no-one took any interest at all; but when I had Heikki Sillanpaa (DKSTR) create some beautiful new artwork, and I remastered those releases, it was a completely different story. That made me realise that it had been quite some time since I’d released anything more than a couple of songs, as I’m still taking credit for work from 3 years ago. I’m going to make time to work on new material, but I currently have no release plans.

If you had a tartan, what would it be?

It’d be all black, so I could wear it without anyone ever knowing.

 ____________________________________________________________

Sycamore Drive came 7th in the LSDJ Showdown with his awesome track Untold Story.

' Avatar of Freque

by Freque

Power Player #23: Edward Shallow

June 19, 2012 in Power Player

#23 - Interview with Edward Shallow" src="http://www.noisechannel.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/edwardshallow.png" alt="" width="500" height="333" />

Photograph by Stephen Grant

Power Player #23: Edward Shallow

  • Tell me about your latest release, what were your inspirations?

World Head Law is something I’ve been working with the last year. It’s a universal law of hedonism and secular humanism, and it works under the belief that World Dead Time exists. World Dead Time is the time after a significant event occurs during which you’re unable to process information and record new information efficiently. World Head Law is a natural phenomenon by which intangible moments are attached to intangible melodies.

  • Your artistic career extends far beyond chiptune, would you summarize yourself firstly as a performance artist?

I avoid summarising myself at all. I didn’t call myself an artist for many years because of how loaded the statement is. I do what I do, and I’ll continue to do so. People throughout the world know me in a variety of different guises, whether that be as an artist, a musician, a video-maker, an actor, a writer or an organiser, I do what interests me at that moment and I keep going with it. It isn’t for me to say what I am, really. I did once claim I created the universe, however, and no-one has to yet to disprove it. So, I think everything should be taken with a pinch of salt.

  • Your projects tend to be thought provoking, even offensive to certain people. How does that make you feel?

If someone’s personal beliefs are strong, they’ll be strong enough to withstand my questioning, my statements and my retorts. If they’re not, then how strong were their personal beliefs, that a person such as I could rattle them? Some people have never questioned a thing in their existence, and I feel that’s a very lonely state of affairs. I like to be challenged over my beliefs. If ignorance is bliss then knowledge is ecstasy. Oh, that’s a good one. Write that down.

  • What do you do for a living?

I live for a living.

  • How did you like your trip to the US last summer? What did you do there?

I hated it. I’m intending to boycott all North America products. Nah, it was good. I picked fresh blueberries, attended Blip Fest, jumped off a bridge into a lake and shared a stage with Joseph Gordon-Levitt.

  • How do you feel about the current state of the chiptune scene? What would you change about it?

I’ve met an incredible amount of inspiring individuals through the chiptune scene, especially in North America. For the most part, the chiptune scene is accommodating and pro-active. Sure, it has cliques and, sure, it has bastards, but I’m not sure there is a scene in the world that doesn’t. There’s nothing I’d wish to change in that respect.

  • How do you feel about the current state of the world in general?

I’m continually amazed by work of scientists, philosophers and writers, but continually disappointed by a distinct lack of equality, compassion and love. Sharing enjoyment with the world and being empathetic to those you meet is a great start. Hedonism and humanism. I understand you didn’t ask for a solution, but there you go. Where’s my cheque?

  • If you had to lose every piece of art you ever made except one, what would you keep and why?

I couldn’t care less. I’d just make something else.

  • How did you chose the name Edward Shallow?

Liam Neeson was taken.

  • What are you hoping to achieve with all this shenanigans?

Advancements in the field of quantum physics. The forecast is looking hazy.

  • If you died tomorrow, would you have any regrets?

No. There’s nothing I’ve ever wanted to do that I’ve not done everything in my power to make happen.

  • Does anything make you happy?

Hahaha. Are you implying I’m not happy? Many a great deal makes me happy. The love of those I’m close to, freshly picked blueberries, uncontrollable laughter and H.R. Pufnstuf.

http://www.edwardshallow.bandcamp.com
http://www.worldheadlaw.tumblr.com

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by Freque

Power Player #22: AndaruGO

June 8, 2012 in Power Player

 

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Power Player #22: AndaruGO

  • So I heard you lived in Japan for a while, explain yourself.

During my Junior year at college I was selected to study abroad in Nagoya, Japan at the Nagoya University for Foreign Studies (affectionately dubbed ‘NUFS’) for a little over 11 months.  It was one of those ‘defining’ moments in my life– kind of something akin to Harry Potter being told he was a wizard and that everything was going to be okay from now on.  Of course we all know that once Harry found out who he was, that he also found out about Voldemort– so I guess that would be a fitting analogy haha.  It wasn’t until I was 9 months in, with my life completely falling apart overseas that I truly realized what living my dream entailed– and I quickly realized that it was unrealistic and foolish to think I could survive it alone.

  • Is that how you got into chiptunes?

I would say living in japan had a fair amount to do with it– but more indirectly.  I think every person that had a Myspace account back when that was still a viable format for social networking remembers hearing Sabrepulse (Hey kate, anyone?) and that was my first real introduction to people that were making contemporary chip music within the original format limitations.  I always wanted to make chip music, but it was one of those things that was extremely hard to find out how to do.  I tried VST plugins on fruity loops and stuff like that, but it wasn’t the pure analog tone that I was looking for– I seriously googled and searched every possible variation of ‘how to make music with a gameboy/how to make chip music/how to make chip tunes’ and came up with nothing for about 4 or 5 years.  Then in the summer of 2011 I heard the word ‘LSDJ’, typed it in to google, showed all my friends and cohorts, and never looked back.

  • How do you feel about the scene right now?
The aforementioned reasons as for why I got in to chip music speaks volumes about the scene, in my opinion.
I want to start off by saying that this music scene is unlike anything I’ve ever experienced– I’ve been playing music and going to shows for at least a decade now and I have yet to experience anything with an iota of the power and resonance that chip music has in the modern landscape of music.
—Now, what I think of the scene has been said by many people.  The concept of ‘sell your t-shirt, not your ideas’ is an extremely detrimental thing in a niche format-based genre like chip music, considering the format limitations and the learning curve of getting the machine (gameboy, amiga, whatever) to do what you want it to are not to be taken lightly.  It is because of that, I think, that we should collectively try to inspire and invigorate the ‘up and comers’ or ‘newbies’ in the scene by sharing what/how/why we do what we do with our formats. It shouldn’t have taken me so long to find out about ‘how to make ACTUAL chip music with a gameboy’ but it DID, and the only things I can blame that on are a compound of 1) my own stupidity/inability to placate the Google Gods to hook a brother up with some chip-intel. And 2) the scene, afraid of being ‘dethroned’ from their position as ‘the best’ by some new person making ‘better’ music than them, actively hiding the means to create their format of music (you would be surprised how hard it is to actually find out how to make chip music, try it out yourself and see how few people mention LSDJ or Octamed.  I think it is a pretty lame thing)
For a bunch of people that exist on the internet, I think we do a shit job of sharing how we actually do what we do with the outside world.  Sure, someone might make a track that gets popular, or gets featured on a Rhianna track– but at the end of the day we have to take what we do with a giant grain of salt and just keep having fun.  Share with everyone.  Be friends forever.  Let’s just hug forever with music.
//rant
  • I saw your video from open-mic, how was your trip to Blipfest?
Geeeze BlipFest NYC 2012 was like a baptism of sound.  I still can’t even properly express how awe-inspiring it was, and I’ve had well over a week to think about it (and re watch the videos on Chip Music Chronicle) haha.  Day Zero, the open mic– that was a dream come true.  I signed up to be in a random pool of about 60 some people (they closed the sign up list a week or so after they started accepting applicants online) and of those people only about 20 got to play (plus KillerWhale as a secret guest).  I felt really humbled by the whole experience, because I really, truly wanted everyone to be able to play.  All of my friends (except for CrapHazard and EM-F) were just sitting around drinking free Sangria, sullen and depressed about coming all the way from Michigan, Ohio, and all over the midwest/ east coast.  It was a really great start to what became an extremely cathartic and moving series of days.  No sleep, lots of beer, smoking way too much, and lots of metal neck from thrashing (combined with a horrifying bus ride on the recently closed-down Chinatown Bus that smelled like piss and cabbages, and finished with a 12 hour car ride in which I drove 8 of the 12 from NY to Cincinnati) ended up being the perfect combination of horrible events to set off a creative forest fire in my brain.  Seriously.  So many creatures are on fire right now.
—Blip Festival is something I would recommend to anyone that enjoys chip music, or just really good people.  I may be being sappy, or over dramatic, but I would have to say that I met some of the most inspiring and humble, down-to-Earth people I have ever had the pleasure of meeting.  Josh Davis (bit shifter), Chris Burke (Glomag), and a host of other people I don’t care to name drop because I don’t want to look like a total jack-off– meeting them in real life, and forging a real and personal bond with them after having looked up to them for so long has completely turned my life around.
NEVER STOP DREAMING.
—But yeah, definitely go to Blip.  I started saving literally 3 days after NYC 2011 was over and managed to make it to 2012.  I’ve already started saving for 2013.  You can do it.  And I better see you fuckers there!!!!!
  • Tell me about your involvement with BRKfest.
Aaaah, BRKfest– this is something I am really proud to be a part of.  SolarBear and I spend a lot of time talking on FaceBook chat and texting and crap (it’s fucking CUTE)– and by talking, I mean I usually just whine to him and he deals with it haha.  But in all seriousness, Curtis and myself really wanted to prove that with the internet, a powerful DIY aesthetic, some good old fashioned Team-Work and Scene-Unity, you are capable of anything.  Curtis has done about 98% of the work though, I mainly provide moral support and manage the Twitter/FaceBook page.  He found the venues, talked with artists, and has provided a lot of the financial backing/technical support for the event set-up.  He really out did himself, and I expect that this event will really help solve the horrible problem that the mid-west chip scene has with diaspora.
  • How’s the scene in Cincinnati?
Man, the scene in Cincinnati is a peculiar one.  There was an American travel-writer that was traveling through Cincinnati, Ohio, and remarked on the way that men wore their hats and facial hair, saying that “I wish I could live in Cincinnati when the world ends– that way, it won’t come for another 13 years”.  Now whether or not this fellow said that or not is beside the point, considering how vivid an illustration it gives of my city.  The people that would be expected to be in to chip music just don’t ‘get it’ yet because they still think Folk Music is cool (OMG SO 3 YEARS AGO AMIRITE).  Combined with the smoking ban killing the bar scene down town, and the race riots a few years back scaring away all the rich white people, Cincinnati has had it pretty rough.  I know a lot of people in bands here that just don’t play shows here because people just won’t come.  The ethos of the Cincinnati music scene can be summed up as “you play in Cincinnati until you can get out of Cincinnati”.
—More from the chip music perspective, the way we do things in Cincinnati has come from the fact that our music scene is a fucked to death burning pile of shit.  You can’t get anyone to get out of their houses to come see a show for a ‘regular’ or ‘real’ band– let alone your gameboy dance music (or whatever the fuck you do, these things I’m saying about myself are applicable to anyone making chip music in Cincinnati in my opinion) so there’s a lot of ‘playing to no one’ or ‘hey it looks like 70 people RSVP’d and they’re all my friends!!!  OFUQ no one showed up and I’m playing to the bartenders/employees.’
I DUNNO THOUGH I think I need to get out of this city.  DEBATE OVER THAT.  IN THE COMMENTS.  OKAY GO GO GO GO
  • How many chiptuners have you met?
I’ve met a lot of other Chip musicians, and it’s always great when you do.  I met almost everyone at Blip this year that I wanted to meet– but soon realized that I wanted to know everyone hahaha XD  I would say that I know a LOT though, mainly through my desire to make this my job (I’m unemployed, so it is now, hahaha)
  • Who inspires you musically?
I really like super euro-beat.  Holy fuck, I was watching Initial D the other day with HunterQuinn and we both just started fist pumping so hard to STAY.  Fucking legit.
—But as far as emotional content, I really enjoy The Pillows, new Nullsleep (collapsed desires/ein sof style), HunterQuinn, and bit shifter.  I can’t stress enough how much chip music I listen to, so I just wanted to give out the obvious ones.  I just really like listening to anyone that can push a single gameboy without any additional instrumentation to its absolute limits.  Like NNNNNNNNNN.
  • What’s your deal with H.P. Lovecraft?
I love me some Howard-Phillips Lovecraft.  I’ve found it surprising how much of my life and what I do/how I feel as a human being in the vast lakes on infinite blackness resonates with HPL’s writings.  There’s just something about him.  We were born five days apart (I was born August 25th, he was born the 20th), both enjoy exceedingly sweet coffee, and were/are both very peculiar fellows.  His fiction has a certain resonance with me, that I can’t quite explain.  There’a an immersive quality in his literature, coupled with a breaking of the ‘fourth-wall’ through his literary style– something I’ve always been able to come back to no matter how many times I read and re-read his stories.  I definitely see a lot of similarities in chip music and pulp-fiction/weird-fiction, which is probably why Lovecraft is such an influential person in my life.
  • Working on anything new?
I’m constantly working on new music and visual art– right now I’m preparing some video loops for an installation I’m doing with a friend (some cool gameboy camera loops layered with weird black and white stuff).  I’m really excited about it, it took me two days of editing to get it together.  Musically, I’m working on my next release, ‘Necronomitron 1.0′– an entirely Lovecraft inspired album.  Kind of like my sonnet to him, haha.  I’m going to be releasing the SAV files, and I’ll be accepting remixes for a second album ‘Necronomitron 2.0.r’ so keep posted, folks :D
—I’m also working on a secret album, but that’s a secret.
  • How many releases do you have out?
So far, I have release 2 solo albums (6 tracks each) and a split with my buddy HunterQuinn.  My junior release will hopefully be a turning point in my song writing, and hopefully everyone will like it U.U;;
  • You Vs. HunterQuinn, who would win in a fight?
I think HQ and myself would have quite the brawl– but I think that if we fought, everyone would lose.  It would take a lot for us to have to beat each other to death, and when that happens– watch out.  Ken x Ryu world-ending battle of all time.  And then silence because we aren’t making music because we are dead (WE ALL LOST)

Power Player #21: Ralp

May 20, 2012 in Power Player

Ralp

Power Player #21: Ralp

 

As a relative noob to the chiptune scene, when Ralp’s entry, Yrche Vhul was submitted to the CTUK LSDJ showdown, it blew my mind.  A year later and noisechannel’s LSDJ Showdown 2012 features Ralp as a judge this time around. He took some time to answer a few questions for the chan and allowed us to get the lowdown on the man himself.

- How did you first find out about chiptune and when did you start?

I guess that I discovered it unwittingly when I was a child and my parents gave me the Game Boy Camera cartridge, in 1998 approximately, then I had a Game Boy Pocket and only played Mario, Tetris, Kirby, etc, so I didn’t know that chiptune existed at all. I started creating my little experiments while I was interested in electronic music production in general, then I forgot some of the Game Boy and continued creating electronic music with other systems, software and hardware. After a few years, in 2005 more or less, I remembered when generating these sounds with the Game Boy Camera and I decided to start integrating them into my compositions, and that’s when I discovered that there’s a culture around this. I became interested more and more for this genre and found people MicroBCN and 8bitpeoples, who motivated me to buy a Nanoloop and some Game Boy DMG through Ebay, and so far I have not stopped.

- When did you get involved with Lowtoy?

After MicroBCN will taper off, we decided along with a couple of friends, Lautaro and Manu, in early 2010, set up a small Net Label to make it function as a platform to disseminate the audiovisual culture related to the 8 Bit and Circuit Bending, because at that time were several of us dedicating to this and there was no active organization that serve as a connection.

- What array of equipment do you use to write your tunes?

Well, basically I use the Game Boy and LSDJ program for composing my songs, and Nanoloop to create my live sessions, but I also like to try different 8 Bit systems like the Commodore 64 and several trackers, the Nintendo NES with MidiNES, the GP2X with LGPT and many modified toys and homemade equipement.

- What type of methods do you take to when Circuit Bending?

As I am not an electronics expert, and everything I’ve learned self-taught, my modifications are purely experimental, so I have no methodology to follow when I have to open a device, and from my point of view I think that this is where there’s the real magic, because I like when the devices suffer and when they show me unexpected results. Something I don’t like is when people doing Circuit Bending copy and follow existent schemes to connect the devices. Where is the magic of modify your own equipment if end up sounding almost like the others? It’s always good to follow some steps you can find online, especially at the beginning, but I encourage people to lose their fear to open the devices and experiment.

- You make some custom instruments. Why not  tell us about a few you’re proud of.

The truth is I’m quite proud of all my little creations, because each project presents a challenge for me, especially without having much knowledge in electronics. I guess one of my favorite instruments is a 16 step analog sequencer, constructed with a turntable motor, which took me over a year to complete, as it contains about 300 meters of cable for all the internal connections, is a little archaic and the architecture a little shaky, but the result is pretty good. I use it to sequence a modified Game Boy, and the visual glitches of a Nintendo NES also modified. Now I am finishing a small random noise generator, with very interesting results, and soon will be available to buy through the Lowtoy website, in a limited edition format.

- Your graffiti is inspired. When did you first start getting into art and when to did you take it to the streets? How long have you been painting? Do you worry about getting caught?

Hehe, thank you very much! As with music, I’ve always been interested in the world of graphic and visual arts. If I’m not wrong I’ve started painting Graffiti in 2000 or so. First painting alone in my garage, and then gradually with more friends started hanging out in the streets. I never liked the idea of being caught by the police, although it happened to me a couple of times, so I’ve always tried to do it legally, or in abandoned factories where it is more quiet and nobody bothers you. The truth is that lately I don’t paint very often, because I have less time than before, but occasionally I like to go outside to paint.

- Your 8-bit art Graffiti: How do you get that sharp look to it? Are stencils involved?

Yes, just a square stencil, pixel by pixel like in a computer, but with a little more patience.

- How do you approach performing live? What materials do you like to take into your live shows?

I guess all started when I was a Hard Techno DJ, back in 2002. I gradually replacing the turntables by electronics devices and Game Boys. In fact I could say that I have two musical facets with Ralp, one of them as 8 Bit music, and the other as experimental electronic music, IDM style. Then for my performances as “Ralp 8 Bit” I just use a Game Boy DMG almost always with the program Nanoloop, because it gives me the ability to play long sessions without having to change the cartridge, apart from that I find it very funny to play with it in live mode. And for my performances as “Ralp IDM” the list of material is bigger, computers with all its peripherals, some hardware machines and even a modular synthesizer.

- What are you looking for as judge in the Noichan LSDJ Showdown?

Viewing the success, quality and quantity of songs presented in the previous edition, I hope to find a lot of artists who surprise me and to have it difficult to decide.

 

Ralp will be releasing a new album soon, right here on NoiChan.
' Avatar of Freque

by Freque

Power Player #20: Solarbear (Bazaar Day 13)

May 14, 2012 in Power Player

Today was Sunday again, the day of illumination.
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Power Player #20: Solarbear


  • Who the fuck is Solarbear?

Some talentless douche. I hear he does chiptunes because he isn’t dexterous enough to actually play a real instrument.

…small wiener too.

  • How did you pick that name?

HONEST TRUTH: At first I was going to go with the name Scratchatory Rape, haha. But once I figured that might screw me out of chances at local all ages shows, I decided to go with something a little more family friendly.

To me, it’s important to name my projects something without a connotation. People often get an idea about who you are or what kind of music you play by your artist name. I thought a name like Solarbear was vague enough to get by playing any style of music I chose. Odd coincidence… I hate bears. They’re ugly. Not as much as I hate horses, but close. (Seriously! Fuck horses.)

  • Let’s talk about BRKfest, what is it?

WHO TOLD YOU?! 

Anyway, BRKfest is a 2 day chiptune music festival that will have it’s inaugural event this July. In February this year, I had the chance to go to Cincinnati and see AndaruGO live. We got to hang out after the show, along with HunterQuinn, and talk about the future of chip in the region. I’ll tell you what, those guys are fucking visionaries. That being said, they introduced me to a couple “fest”-style events that they and SPRY had worked on in Ohio. I looked into them and basically used a modified version of their design for the event, but with my own flair.
  • Who’s involved?

Well, the front line of BRKfest is… well, me. I’ve done all the booking, web work and venue work. Not to say I haven’t had assistance. My roommate, a fucking amazing graphic designer, made the BRKfest logo and made our teaser video. AndaruGO runs the BRKfest twitter and there MAY OR MAY NOT have been talk about a healthy relationship between BRKfest and Noisechannel going on in the background….. ;D

AND MOST OF ALL, 21 flippin’ awesome artists! The very first on board, besides the Cincinnati crew, was Smiletron. I just sent him a shot in the dark email and it turns out that guy is really cool. He was down without a second thought! Good guy. I’m REALLY excited to meet all the artists and I know everyone involved feels the same way! With so many great artists, everyone playing is someone else’s inspiration. It’s gonna be an unreal experience.

  • How much work was it to organize?

A TON. …and it still is!! It took quite a while just to get the venues’ approval and now that we have that, we’re working on getting discounted rates at hotels, flyers, sponsors and overall trying to enhance the experience for artists and attendees alike! PLUS, we’re trying to sell all the tickets! If we can sell out this year, we’ll be able to have a much larger venue next year AND even more famous artists!!! That being said…. How about a link to the website where you can preorder tickets?! http://www.brkfest.org

  • How’s the chiptune scene in Kentucky?

What scene?

  • Is anyone else making chiptunes out there?

There is 1 other gentleman who can do chipmusic, but I wouldn’t call him a chiptuner. He uses a gameboy to occasionally augment his guitar playing. Still, 1 is better than none, right? The only other Kentuckian I know is E.G.R. from Datathrash Recordings. On a similar note, a side goal of BRKfest is to increase the interest in the genre in Kentucky. I’m sure having Kitsch set up with merch will definitely help for people who are eager to dive right in!

  • Are you working on any new music?

Always… but I am THE SLOWEST composer ever. I’m never satisfied with anything I write and I constantly get 2 – 3 minutes into my songs and then get disgusted by them and delete them. But seriously, I’m working on my debut EP and I’ve written and scrapped the first song about 4 times now. I get frustrated at my music A LOT, but you know, gotta just keep going! Writing and trying new things. So…. expect to see the debut Solarbear EP…. maybe by the end of the year? I dunno. Maybe later. XD

  • Who inspires you?

Gosh, honestly, I have a TON of inspirations and influences, although I guess those are completely different things. As far as “inspirations” go. I really look up to the Cincinatti crew, especially AndaruGO. He lives and breaths chip music. Sometimes we’ll chat on facebook and philosophize about the whole in the human soul that only chiptune can fill, haha. Roboctopus is a constant inspiration as well. Sometimes I feel like he is sort of my private tutor. A lot of the tricks and methods I use as an artist were taught to me by Robo and his outlook on the chip scene and opinions are always incredibly perceptive.

My musical inspirations, or “influences” though, run a slightly different course. I’ve always been a fan of odd time signatures and interesting uses of keys and accidentals. That being said, bands like The Dillinger Escape Plan and Protest the Hero are probably where I draw most of my style from. As far as chiptune artists go, I’d like to kinda be a cross between Danimal Cannon, An0va and Str8 Bit. (Odd, I know.)
Of course, mainly I just want to be me, haha.
  • What do you do for a living?

I’m a cable engineer at IBM. It pays the bills.

  • That sucks. How do you live with yourself?

Everyday is a struggle, mang! I’m not bipolar, but I live on a constant rollercoaster of emotional highs and lows. Not so much because I can’t control it, but because I refuse to be satisfied. There is always another challenge! Every song can be better than the last! Never sleep! Never relax!

  • Say something to your adoring fans:

Solarbear sucks. Do something more productive with your time.

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BRKfest.org

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In other news…

We are still accepting entries to the Dubstep Competition.

NoiChan tshirts are on the way. Pre-order coming soon.

The NoiChan minecraft server is alive and well. There’s a building contest. Go check it out!

Bitman is still accepting submissions for #comment-1272" href="http://www.noisechannel.org/posts/5511/comment-page-1 #comment-1272">Solarbear photoshop competition. (Prize TBA)

Of course, the LSDJ Showdown will be accepting submissions all month.

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Check the Bazaar Page for daily updates.

' Avatar of Freque

by Freque

Power Player #19: Kitsch

April 16, 2012 in Power Player

Tell me about Kitschbent. How did you get started?

Let’s see, a while back I was circuit bending things and selling them online a little bit (a very little bit), and the name was more-or-less from an observation I had while doing this and being swept up by fooling around with electronics in my first constructive way. So, not to be nit-picky, but circuit bending (imo) shouldn’t be about replication. Everyone’s projects started looking the same (patch-bays, mods-by-the-book (literally), etc). The name ‘kitsch-bent’ was me reflecting on this I suppose, and its followed me from that… From circuit bending came an interest in modular synthesis and building my own modules, which got me interested in new sources of basic tones because i didn’t have the equipment to build my own VCO (a scope) and wanted a cheap way to get simple tones in a small form factor. Which eventually led to chipmusic as a means to get such pure tones and control them. very different from modular stuff, but still… all-in-all i clicked on a link somewhere and read about video game music (SMSpower i think), and got interested in the means/method of it and contemporary applications of this.

circuit bending –> SynthDIY –> chipmusic (and its hardware)

in a nutshell. kitsch-bent is me, matt. i shouldn’t leave that out i suppose. with occasional help from my brother and girlfriend.

How about your involvement with Chipmusic.org?

Before ChipCo (ChipCoalition, now in limbo/defunct) started, right when cm.o was forming (all of this due to issues @ 8bc), I was working with people on ’8bit-forums’ as an alternative (which doesn’t exist now, I think it did for a week or so). It ended up with the staff of 8bit-forums and cm.o joining up in the cm.o effort (basically us ditching 8bit-forums), and ChipCo became a forum targeted at modding specifically. So this is how I got involved, out of a mutual interest in having an active forum with its management outside the purview of one person. There was general dissatisfaction with 8bc at the time and a need for an alternative. cm.o was born from that immediate need. I’m a mod there, but that doesn’t mean a whole lot because the staff is extremely hands-off, except for troll management. People on the staff who are knowledgable about the coding/design deserve the credit for what it’s capable of, and all the users for what it is. We wanted to create more of a level playing field for all the users of cm.o, which is why we aren’t identified as being mods/admins, except if you visit the page where it lists us. And that’s only really for when people need to seek us out for some reason. So, i suppose… my involvement is extremely minimal, and enjoyably so because its a good model towards having a functional community I think. Its not overbearing and power is decentralized.

Do you prefer the hardware or software side of chipmusic?

Hardware. My personal interest with chipmusic didn’t/doesn’t come from a software-driven perspective at all. I wasn’t enamored with tracking or trying to emulate the sound of a particular artist I’d heard. I geek out on hardware things, like the ICs used in synths or hardware revisions among consoles. The tonal qualities of VG consoles were fascinating to me, but from the perspective of “i wonder whats going on in there and how to tap into that magic” rather than “i wonder how to compose that style of music.’ The search started there, and an interest in the software followed quickly by default (as a means by which sound may be produced/controlled in VG consoles). I see this all in ‘hardware-hacking’ terms i suppose, even if this isn’t always physical hacking but simply using the tech in an unintended way (i’m just guessing that VG console manufacturers didn’t ‘mean’ for this to happen). Maybe not even unintended, perhaps just improved upon. With that being said, a lifelong interest/involvement with music pushes me towards the audible aspects of VG tech and how to support the production of music with VG consoles. They’re much more interesting as musical tools than gaming consoles to me. My fundamental appreciation of chipmusic is from the abilities people have to repurpose the hardware, which is complemented by their compositional/tracking skills or some other means of teasing sound out of the machine. Talent with typically very limited technology is something you can hear in this type of music and mind-boggling a lot of times. A nerd moth to nerd fire.

What kind of projects are you currently working on?

Wow, big question… a lot. Some of it people know about, others are just ideas stuck in my head, some things are hopefully going to be done soon. I guess the big one (right now) is an updated replacement DMG case. The case is the biggest project I’ve done both in terms of logistics and cost (and patience), it’s going to be pretty awesome i think. I made some structural changes to aid modders, like getting rid of some of the odd shaping and design characteristics. They’re designed with this scene in mind, considering all the wacky stuff we’ve done with the console thus far, it’ll be nice to cram some more inside… I know I’ve found myself in need of only 1mm here or there to make something fit. I hope i’ve solved *some* of that issue with the slight redesign.

Some other things which aren’t as ready are electronics projects, they span from *duino-based tools for the gameboy to an attempt to redo the front pcb (the LCD one) and the power supply board (having issues with this though because a particular part). I tend to have ideas that I jump into and research/start, then get overwhelmed by all the other projects I haven’t managed to wrap up yet. My head is all over the place, it’s a big problem (!!!). Oh, also a few different flashcart designs, one which i’ll only say would be the cat’s meow, except i have a serious time deficit. It exists as a proto-pcb, and that’s it. Ran into some coding issues and have been bummed out about it since… it just looks at me now, until i get other things out of the way.

um. oh…! gameboy->HDMI. That’s something i’m working on, and thinking its going to work out well. (i should expand on this, it probably needs a OMFG explanation… but until its working it’s just something to mention *is* being worked on). there are a couple hiccups to deal with in the idea that may cause some issues, but i’m hopeful. well, i’m sort of on a high with the thought of this actually working… so maybe more cautious optimism is called for…

EPROM carts for a bunch of consoles. gameboy, gba (probably, not really sure if its needed tbh), lynx, etc… most of these are older designs i just never produced but finished.

print-your-own screen covers for the DMG (other consoles to follow).

something for the n64. :)

possibly some new design of buttons for the dmg, it’s an idea stuck in my head that isn’t leaving me alone.

oh, a new pcb case for GB games. That’s one that will be pushed up a bit. so, expect that sooner than later.

EL backlights JUST got finished and should be in the shop very soon.

prosound/amplifier board for dmg.

3-way easy_CLK.

LED boards for illuminating the new start/select silicon buttons. (going to do these with Thursday Customs)

A project which will be finished up in the next couple months (it’s tested 100%, i’m hand-assembling them atm which by the way completely sucks), is called the ‘quint.’ It’s a platform device to control the clock speed at which the gameboy runs. It’s *duino-compatible, so can be updated and worked on from within the Arduino IDE. It has USB support. Um… without spilling the beans on what exactly it does, it’s a means to have precision control over the clock speed of your gameboy, can control two consoles at the same time, and because of USB support is easily customizable by the user. A shout-out to little-scale, nick E., and my brother for their help on the coding side! I’m really excited about this, it’s been in the works for about 2 years I’d say (not because it’s that complex, only because life gets so busy at times). It does everything that I think anyone could imagine doing re: the clock speed in a gameboy. Think of it as a precision oscillator, designed for VG consoles, with a brain. That’s the quint (it has 5 main buttons, hence the name).

man. i don’t even know. i’d list them all but it’s a bit. I really do just jump into wayyyy too much. To skip back up to your previous question real quick, I guess the real answer to what Kitsch-Bent is, is it’s a means to my end of learning and broadening myself as a productive human. It’s self-satisfying. Everything i listed just now sounds like tons of work, but i’m passionate about it so it’s a real joy.

How did you get into electronics?

Sometime when I was a kid I started taking things apart and seeing what was inside. Or, snapping off electrical components or parts I liked and hanging on to them (bothering the adults whose electronics i was ruining I’m sure). I remember mashing up different toys and shorting them out in strange ways, but it was really circuit bending that got me to pick up a soldering iron and be proactive about things (also, the convenient timing of a local RadioShack going out-of-business and having a ridiculous sale on supplies, which is when I got my first iron and basic parts). It’s a very helpful hobby for electronics confidence building, if you can get over frying a few toys. It’s just been a matter of picking up skills slowly along the way, and trying to build off these.

Although, looking back on it starting out with proper EE theory and a more traditional approach would have saved a lot of time now in having to go back and relearn things or unlearn bad form and practice.

What advice do you have for aspiring wizkids?

The main thing to know in starting out with electronics DIY is that you’ll fail. At some point, or maybe for a while, it’ll happen. Getting a PCB made to test that has some little error or simple mistake is a terrible feeling, but it’s how you learn. Getting it right feels wonderful though. It’s very much worth it.

In the past, I was a big proponent of circuit bending being a great means to learn electronics. But, looking back at this, a more traditional approach is probably best *if* a person wants to advance beyond rudimentary things. This is really due to my knowledge of electronics having expanded since the beginning, and is sort of a “oh, if i knew then what i know now” response. I wouldn’t suggest it as a means to learn now, I’d point people towards the more general electronics DIY scene if they want to avoid textbook instruction. Actually, SynthDIY is a great way to learn, it gets demanding at times… much more so than circuit bending.

(I should probably just say, I don’t think of myself as being particularly knowledgable about electronics. I’m very weak in theory and am limited by this, which is a fault of how I learned. I know what I know decently well, but just want to attach a disclaimer to my advice I suppose). It even makes discussing electronics difficult sometimes because I didn’t learn the correct vocabulary because it didn’t matter at all.

Better advice is to ask for help and ask questions. Be a pest sometimes if you need. Also, search engines ;) It’s obvious, but it’s unbelievable how many people neglect to do simple searches. There are some really great online guides that can help, such as the ones Sparkfun does. Also, go ahead and jump into a CAD software. Eagle CAD is a good entry-level tool, is free up to a point most people won’t move past, and is cross-platform. Because so many people use it it’s very easy to share files as well, and there are some parts libraries available online which include some VG console parts (gameboy.lbr is on the cadsoft site even, i believe).

Also, if you are a student, take advantage of the student discounts you get for software. Altium Designer, Solidworks, Rhino… that type of stuff you can get a substantial discount on just for being a student and having a school ID (in the USA, i can’t speak for other locations of course). I can’t emphasize what a big deal that is. I’m kicking myself a lot right now for not taking advantage of this more before I got out. Some licenses are for a lifetime… commercial even! And you don’t need to be an engineering student most the time. That’s the biggest tip I’ve got maybe. Student discounts.

How do you feel about the current state of the chipmusic scene?

Well. I’ve written an answer for this three times and erased it. Suffice it to say, and to start off with the negative, the worry I have about the community is the possibility of there someday needing to be “corporate chipmusic sucks” bumper stickers. Not to deny people their chance at the spotlight if that’s what they’re after (*that* isn’t the issue), but the ramifications for corporate involvement/guidance are that the scene’s comfortable and naturally evolving position is ruined. (this may just be too much a presumptive worry though, i sort of expect the world to be as fond of the music as i am i guess, if they could only just hear some of it)

Which, sort of addresses the huge positive of what we’re involved with, that organic building of a network of similarly minded people and the robustness in which most of us undertake this ‘thing’ we do. Whatever context that may be, from the making of the music, the hardware, the artwork, the online framework for all of this, the rich and wonderful history that is the foundation of what we all do, etc… We’re all pretty hardcore about it, kind of collectively geeking out…

come to think of it, ‘corporate chipmusic sucks’ stickers would be sort of funny to do. maybe add that to the list of stuff from up above i’m working on ;)

Who’s your favorite television/movie robot of all time? Why?”

Is a robot a ‘who,’ or rather a ‘what?’

Erm. Oh, i know. The replicators. As a whole ‘species,’ individually they just aren’t the same.

If androids count… then Saul Tigh.

kitsch-bent.com