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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 
' 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

 

#22 - Interview with AndaruGO" src="http://www.noisechannel.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/AndaruGO2-500x751.jpg" alt="" width="500" height="751" />

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)
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by Freque

Power Player #20: Solarbear (Bazaar Day 13)

May 14, 2012 in Power Player

Today was Sunday again, the day of illumination.
_______________________________________________________________

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.

_______________________________________________________________

BRKfest.org

_______________________________________________________________

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.

_______________________________________________________________

Check the Bazaar Page for daily updates.

' Avatar of Freque

by Freque

NoiChan Bazaar (Day 4)

May 4, 2012 in Events, Site News

Today is Friday, which means it’s the day of the user.

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Every Friday users are encouraged to organize their own events, compilations, contests, webshows, and things like that. NoiChan staff will do our best to assist you with those projects in any way we can. Your events can be any length you want, daily, weekly, whatever. Of course, every day is a good day for users to do these things, but on Fridays, we will make a concerted effort to help turn your ideas into a reality. We here at NoiChan will also try and release user oriented content, such as interviews and releases, every Friday specifically throughout the Bazaar, and for the rest of the week too, for that matter.

We’ve upped storage space from 100MB to 128MB per user in honor of the holiday.

You are welcome to submit details for your events in the comments section below!

_______________________________________________________________

In other news…

The WebShow yesterday was awesome!

We are still accepting submissions for the Bazaar Banner Contest until next  Tuesday.

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

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

Storage space has been upped from 100MB to 128MB per user.

_______________________________________________________________

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

Danimal Cannon Interviewed by NPR for MAGFest

January 18, 2012 in Review

 NPR has a feature about this year’s MAGFest and they talked to Danimal.  Pretty neat.

http://www.npr.org/2012/01/18/145347111/from-mega-man-to-final-fantasy-live-video-game-music

' Avatar of Freque

by Freque

Power Player Series Explained

November 7, 2011 in Power Player, Site News

We’ll be doing a periodical release from now on called “Power Player.” We plan on featuring and interviewing many different artists, and having many different authors along the way. Some of our members had started periodicals in the past, but those seem to have fallen through. This one will not.

We’ve decided to kick it off by republishing 6 articles mikeeteevee and I had written already, for controllerthrow.com, which some of you will remember from the CTUK LSDJ Showdown earlier this year, which I organized. Speaking of which, we’ll be having another LSDJ Showdown early next year, right here on NoiChan.

~Freque

~NoiChan Crew

' Avatar of Freque

by Freque

Power Player #7: NeX

November 7, 2011 in Power Player

Editor's Note: Reprinted from CTUK Chiptune Focus.

NeX was 25 and living in Sweden at the time of this interview (Jun, 2011). When asked why he left the UK he said: “I moved about 2 years ago, my girlfriend is Swedish, visiting was costly and when I lost my job in the UK the only way I could see her was by moving, so I got in my car and drove.” NeX‘s gameboy modding is currently his main form of income. This interview was conducted in real time over a messenging service.

Freque: Are you into videogames?

NeX: hmm kinda, some games i get totally into, portal, halflife, quake, unreal tournament, dead space, need for speed undercover, and then just mini games. thats about it

Freque: Give me a little background, how old were you when you started modifying electronics?

NeX: thats a bit difficult really, i have been interested ever since i can remember, i used a computer (windows 3.1) when i had to stand on the seat to reach the keyboard! (i remember because i fell off and smashed my lip lol) but i used to fix people’s VCRs and stuff like that when i was in primary school (12 years old maximum) i did little electronics like lights and buzzers etc, i do remember actually modding a gameboy, i put an electronic key lock on it so you had to use a key to turn it on. but i didn’t really mod existing stuff until later, about 15/16 when i built custom computers with fancy lights, and then moved on to custom cars, and then when i moved to Sweden i didn’t have the money for cars so i picked up on electronics and gameboys again (found my old gameboys in the move) and thats really when i learned the majority of my electronics knowledge, in the last 4 years or so

Freque: how closely related is what you do to the circuit bending movement? Are you inspired by circuit benders?

NeX: well i think what i say might upset some people lol, i am not a massive fan of circuit bending because its kinda “fake” electronics and there is no real skill to it. it has its place and its great that people get interested in electronics with it (it can be kinda fun too) but what i do is all planned, so there is no experimenting with random contacts etc, i know what will happen and what each bit does, (especially after building a gameboy from scratch) but i know a lot of circuit benders and i have no problem with what they do, i have built some circuit bent stuff for people and its been fun, but generally i stick to planned and engineered electronics.

Freque: There’s rumors floating around that you have top-secret hardware schematics for the gameboy, any comment on that?

NeX: lol erm, well i have lots of paperwork notes from reverse engineering the gameboy, but its more for my personal use. i have pin outs for the gameboy pocket CPU, the details for how DMG and pocket screens work and how they can be swapped over etc, and i have built some detailed guides on building arduinoboys and building midi gameboys which were originally for me to keep my work constant but i have made so many now i don’t use them. i do have plans to post it all on the net, but as that could have an effect on my already small business i haven’t bothered yet.

Freque: How do you feel about the current state of the chiptune scene? What are you hoping to achieve by working with noisechannel.org?

NeX: i suppose its like any other developing interest, the people from the beginning like the fact they are part of something special and hate the idea of it becoming main stream, this is true of chip music, it is not widely known or even excepted and there are a few involved that want to keep it that way, but art is meant to be shared, and by opening up chip music more will allow more musicians to get involved and possibly more money behind it which would increase the number of great tracks. of course this also means an increase in the number of bad ones too and i think that is what people are afraid of but hopefully with this new forum chip music will move on to something more publicly accepted and i would love the idea that some of my work would get used by the big names in chip music too, that would be a real honour.

Freque: I still haven’t seen an LSDJ track from you. Do you prefer the role of engineer over frontman?

NeX: lets just say i am better at electronics than music! i have made a couple of tracks with LSDJ, but they are not something i feel comfortable in making public, in fact none of my music is, but then again if nobody else hears it, it does make it a bit of a waste of time. the difference is i know how people feel about my gameboys but not about my music, and the critique from the few friends who have heard my music has not been great. it doesn’t really bother me as i do it for fun, i enjoy making music and making gameboys, but only one of those i get anything back from. but my plan was to really concentrate on a decent LSDJ track once my big gameboy project is finished (it involves a lot of effects and sync tricks parts of which i have already made public) but its i big project and a long way from finished and actually building custom gameboys for people has forced me to put it on hold. the idea was that all the effects would cover the lack of talent lol

Freque: Your RGB Gameboy video has spawned a wide variety of reactions, how long did that project take?

NeX: the RGB gameboy was the last big project i worked on and the last gameboy i built for myself. its difficult to say how long it took as i did some testing with the backlight first, then some planning, which evolved into putting every single mod i could think of into one gameboy, then i spent a few weeks writing the code, then i built the gameboy on and off over about a month and a half, then i had some problems which i hadn’t anticipated (i was expecting to run out of space, but instead i ran out of power to run everything) but eventually i got it working, and then went back to it later to add more stuff.

the final version ended up having 3 pro sounds (3.5mm, 1.4″ and RCAs) the normal headphone jack including filter board, full arduinoboy midi, super gameboy CPU, pocket gameboy screen, biverted RGB backlight, two front RGB case lights and two back RGB case lights and a third RGB LED under the D pad, as well as two self strobing LEDs, all of which were controlled by a second arduino, pitch bent mod, as well as under and over clocking crystals, clear buttons, my custom 25way expansion port for remote LCD data and controls it can also be used to change the programs on the arduinos (there is a small switch in the battery compartment to switch between the arduinos). there was also a PS/2 socket for the LSDJ keyboard mode, small things like removing the text from the shell to allow more of the light to be seen a low battery light (from Kitschbent) a modified power regulator to cope with the power problems, heavily modified PCBs to make the space, and finally i added a wireless bluetooth prosound with an extendable aerial. also one of the key aspects was to avoid anything sticking out of the bottom half of the gameboy so it would take my nuby reverb box.

Freque: Hmmm, does this image mean anything to you?

NeX: That is the Heisenberg uncertainty principle. It was used mainly in quantum mechanics because there is a lot of parts to quantum physics that don’t fit with normal physics, making them difficult to measure or predict, the formula is used like a floating point. the classic example of this theory is a cat in a box in which that cat has a 50/50 chance of being alive or dead, but without someone looking in to check, the cat is held in a state between those two outcomes.

Freque: Haha! Thank you for your time, NeX!

NeX: no problem

NeX’s Debut Release

Nex’s Modblog

(Originally published July 3, 2011)

Power Player #6: Team Toothpaste

November 7, 2011 in Power Player

Team Toothpaste Ate Bit Vomit

Editor's Note: Reprinted from CTUK Chiptune Focus.

I can’t go ahead with this Chiptune Focus without a brief review on the sub-genre of ‘Chipstep’ – and before then, talk about its origins in the now popular genre called ‘Dubstep’. The craze, which is now being played to a global audience started in South East London. The sound harks back as early as around 1998 as musicians were fusing together Drum and Bass, Dub, Grime and 2-Step, the latter being a deviation of standard Garage 4/4 patterns. It came into prominence around 2005 to 2006 a couple of years after legendary DJ John Peel invited listeners to vote for their favourite emerging dubstep artists. I recall, late one night in Brixton, stood talking to a Dubstep DJ who had travelled from the north that evening to carry two gigantic sub-woofers contributing to my shaky, concrete legs after dancing for 4 hours to the infectious ‘wubs’. Today, the sound has reached its commercial peak, with groups like Nero and Pendulum in the charts and clearly unfluencing Metal/Screamo/Electronica fusion Enter Shikari’s latest offerings.

Chiptune is no stranger to incorporating different genres into composition. So ‘Chipstep’ is born. There are different ideals about what artists think about this Chipstep movement, but they seem to fall into two distinct categories. The first is the fusion of modern Dubstep music and Chiptune, with two distinct sounds on different spectrums. The high-end melodic lead lines of Chiptune and the low throbbing bass of Dubstep are mixed together to create a new, modern sound with a retro twist. This seems to be frowned upon by purists. The second, is simple composition of Dubstep and 2-Step style but composed raw using the tracker tools supplied.

The artist today we’ll focus on falls into the pure category. Drew Campbell of North-East London writes and plays music as Team Toothpaste, creating raw 2-Step, Garage and bass-heavy tracks on the humble Gameboy. We’ve noticed a very common theme of Chiptune artists, in that they mostly come from normal, traditional music backgrounds as is the case with Team Toothpaste, playing guitar from a young age. Jaded with ‘real instruments’ TT moved onto electronic methods.

I got in to Warp records stuff and went to the Glade festival a few years ago. DJ Scotch Egg was there playing this really fucked up Gabba from a Gameboy. That was my first exposure to chip music. a year or so later I got my friend interested in it and we decided to get LSDJ (I later found out Scotch Egg uses nanoloop)

Drew got into Chipstep as a natural progression through Dubstep and was a fan of Rusko “I always really liked [him], although it seems a bit of a taboo to say that these days” Doctor P, Boregore and especially Akira Kiteshi from Scotland.

Just like the Dubstep DJs, Drew has also played ‘live’ with only a few teething problems. “I was using my gameboy loads and the batteries of the cartridges started to run out. I didn’t want to lose my stuff and I couldn’t find the usb transfer thing (to save stuff to a computer and change the batteries) online anywhere so I stopped using them much and got into home made synths

So we know where TT gets those wonderful toys, but how does he get those sounds out of the Gameboy itself? “Err, I like the wave channel a lot, where you can draw in your own sounds, I’d have 3 wave channels and a noise channel if I could! other than that its a load of pitch glides and arppegiators set up in the table view”

It seems an obvious progression. Chipstep encompasses minimalism, the bass can be distorted way down low and single palette gives way to customisation. Glitch is similar to 2-Step they are both departures from standard timing formats. Both Chiptune and Dubstep have their own onomatopoeia with ‘Unce’ and ‘Wub’ respectively. The clashing of modern and retro are blurring with the emerging scene. Whether you like to keep your tunes ‘pure’ or simply just going balls out to mash together the bittersweet harmonies of 8-bit melody with bass-bin busting bass, there’s a bit of dub for everyone.

But before we allow Drew to wander off into the Essex-border sunset, we have to ask. What the hell kind of name is Team Toothpaste anyway? “Well one time I was sharing toothpaste with someone and they asked if it was alright to use it and we decided that it wasn’t mine it was communal – Team Toothpaste.”  Brush up, look sharp.

(Originally published April 11, 2011)

Update:

Team Toothpaste later went on to release Dental Dubs with noisechannel.org

Team Toothpaste is now known as Galaxy Wolf

 

Power Player #4/5: Awesome Force & Freque

November 7, 2011 in Power Player

Editor's Note: Reprinted from CTUK Chiptune Focus.
Awesome Force Vs Freque

A new challenger appears

Awesome Force and Freque are two collaborators who work chiptune magic to fuse together melodic lead lines, static percussion, white noise and driving bass on their 10 track EP, Versus. The two met online and shared email and collaboration ideas. On a spontaneous whim, Freque using his girlfriend as a human shield embarked on a journey to the University of Massachusetts where Awesome Force is a student, not an axe-killer as might have been suspected. With chiptune being such a niche musical style, it was a surprise to them both to live relatively close together.

They write using LSDJ, Awesome Force on a DMG or Color connected to Ableton Live through a MIDI interface and again Freque using pure Gameboy with LSDJ as the controller. The music is dumped directly into his computer’s line-in port and processed with Audacity and/or Wavelab.

The guys are influenced far and wide by modern music: drum and bass, metalcore, grindcore, 90s hardcore, 80’s minimalism, ambient, electro, folk music and even in some cases, brit-pop. Awesome Force says “When I am writing I try to pull what makes me feel a specific emotion out of the song itself, and I look to everything from Kraftwerk to Oh, Sleeper as an influence.” With modern influences so clearly a part of any musicians input, we ask why they decided to turn back to something so natively pure as the Gameboy.

Freque expands “I’ve always liked video game music alot more than I should. I heard a chiptune on a keygen one day, before I even knew this scene existed. The song was Quazar – Funkystars (Hybrid Song) and it reignited the passion for me. I literally collected and archived over 300,000 micromusic songs in different formats, but I was completely indifferent to the gameboy scene at first, because it deals primarily in MP3. I began writing chiptunes in .mod format, because it seemed true to form, as it is the oldest format of micromusic module. It turned out to be mostly a wasted effort though, the tracks weren’t received well, as the micromusic scene in general seems to be on the decline.

However, I came to see how alive and well the gameboy aspect was, and knew I’d found the right outlet for my new obsession. This scene is small, but competitive, and allows room for growth, which are important incentives for any artist. For the first time in my musical career I think I’ve found something largely unpolluted and worth believing in.” while Awesome Force explains how emerging music influenced him to join the scene. “When I was in high school my friend showed me Anamanaguchi off the Internet. As soon as I got home I pretty much downloaded all of the 8bitpeoples releases and, as I only had Ableton at the time, a ton of VSTs. I really didn’t start writing full songs until around two years ago, before then just playing around with four-measure loops, and that really came from discovering more artists and practicing loads.”

Freque explains how a modern approach influences retro creativity. “I don’t think that corporations should set the tone of a genre. The chiptune scene hasn’t escaped that in the sense that you have alot of people trying to recreate the styles associated with games they played when they were young. I think when you look at how the music was coded back then, and the limitations they were facing, it becomes clear that there’s plenty of room for improvement, without compromising the integrity of the sound. That’s where modern influences come in for me.”

The album art features some classic console stylings

The EP opens with tracks by Awesome Force, with Glass, a progressive, 4/4 stomper with percussive sounds with light twinkling melodies and high speed drum rolls. The second half of the track trails into a floating melody and moves us onto Oceans and Battlefields, which is the perfect, anthemic tune to orchestrate two chiptuners at war. It features a buzzy marching beat, melancholic lead lines, rhythm switches, breakdowns of noise and unexpectedly, vocal samples from Master and Commander before kicking back into the main hook one more time. What prompted this we ask Awesome Force? “The part where Mr. Allen jumps aboard the “deserted” French man-of-war and says “Looks like the job is done, Sir,” just before the fatal head shot and one of the coolest naval war scenes in a movie, really prompted the samples. As far as the retro sounds goes, I don’t think the samples do a lot to take away from the fact that a Game Boy is what is making the music.” Neither do I.

If this is the war between two major forces, then Peanuts and Monkeys sounds like a post war celebration of poppy field opiates and street celebrations. The track skips between a 4/4 to high speed drum and snare rushes. So if we’ve had a post-war party, surely Morning After is the hangover? Slower uptempo beats accompany downbeat appreggiated bloops and lead lines. The drums occasionally step up to rolls and breakdowns. We’re starting to get a picture of Awesome Force’s style and overall theme of the EP, so it’s time to hit the cross-fader.

Things start to head eastwards and beats get ramped up to high speed with Yamantaka ft. Freque as the musical styles start to merge. We are introduced to that familiar ‘noisechannel’ sound. Explain that to us please Awesome Force? “The noise channel is itself, an instrument that goes “SHHHHHHH,” That seems to make sense. Why do you dwell on it so much Freque? “The noise channel is essentially just static when left untamed, but you can shape the static by changing parameters, to create drum hits, helicopter sounds, and zapping noises. It’s the least flexible” Awesome Force performs a swansong by handing over the reins and featuring on Freque‘s track , Vietnam. The tune starts with a heavy, progressive distorted beat with a wandering hook. The track increases in integrity and the BPM drops downwards in some parts. Freque explains “One of the gameboy hardware modifications featured on the release is the underclocking switch, which is used for the slower parts towards the middle of Vietnam. It basically drops the notes 1 octave, and slows the tempo by 50%. That’s the only spot on the album where the switch is used. It’s an awesome mod though, and fun to wire up.”

Now it’s Freque all the way for the rest of the EP, starting with Waldo, which starts with a rubbery bass and kick line, and bouncy electronic percussion. Freque‘s sound is more bassy and heavy in comparison to Awesome Force‘s melodies, but it’s through the EP can can hear their own styles and unique way of writing comes out. Awesome Force likes to keep to a traditional structure of verse and chorus, and songs like Peanut and Monkeys would sit happily atop a warp zone on Fantasy Zone, whereas Freque has a modern approach to breakbeat. It shows how much contrast there is between chiptune artists. When asked hiow they incorporate their influences into thweir chiptune, the duo respond with a surpise. Awesome Force harks back to experience in a band: “I played drums and did some sequencing for a post-hardcore band called Exit Ghost from high school to just a few weeks ago. It was a great time, for sure, and really taught me a lot in the realm of electronic music, strangely enough. The melodic aspects of it, too, surely shaped my composition style.” while Freque is succinct “I just try to stick to listening to only what I perceive as the best of each individual genre, and giving my support to the artists that actually need it.”

The jerky staccato intro to Audia is a precursor for some bendy breaks and metallic snare stabs. Things start to take a turn for the vicious as no competition in my minds eye, my favourite track of the EP (sorry, AF!) Doubt kicks in. It sounds like something Front 242 would have penned if they found someone had put all their synths into the wash and they’d come back out in 8-bit.

The final track of the, Urban Zone has a scratchy, claustrophobic chirrupy intro and beefy beats and breaks down into ear twitching glitchery. The bundle is wrapped up nicely and the Boys of Game take us through an incredible journey. How they can get away with calling it an EP when a full, quality strong 10 tracks exist on this release, beggars belief, but they are simply being modest.

In the real world, is there any animosity between the two? When asked about their feelings about who would be the winner in a real fight, they were not so passive. Awesome Force whispered “I’m going to go Street Fighter and use Hurricane Kick… One, no one likes to be kicked, and two, hurricanes have the force of like a 10-megaton atomic bomb every twenty minutes… translate that into a single kick to the face.” while Freque peeled a single leather glove off and admired his calloused rough right hand “There’s actually an old fighting game for the Playstation called “Vs.” and I was a big fan. There’s a pimp in that game who simply “pimpslaps” his opponents. It’s looks almost like he’s tossing a baseball. I think a few pimpslaps with that kind of enthusiasm would really straighten Awesome Force up. Either that or anything that ended with K-K-K-Killer Combo!!!!!!! Freque wins. Flawless victory.”

Versus was released by 8bittersburg Netlabel. The EP is available here.

The full interview is available here.

(Originally published January 31, 2011)

Power Player #3: PSURG

November 7, 2011 in Power Player

Editor's Note: Reprinted from CTUK Chiptune Focus.

Psurg

Some of my favourite music is something that is stumbled upon by a chance encounter. Like the song that you heard while wasted at a party. Something you catch the tail end of late night on the radio. Or in this instance, was recommended on the back of a friend discovering it through a custom mod for the recent Steam release Alien Swarm. The track, Galaxy Eater was attached to a custom map and played in game. Quickly I looked for more tracks by the same artist and found a link to an independent design house. You see Mayhem isn’t just a musician, but one half of PSURG Design…

Behind Mayhem is Renard Queenston who creates the music and Mischief is Squeedge who creates the artwork behind Mayhem. Confused? Let yourself be. They both work hard to maintain a strong brand identity intertwined with themselves and their enigmatic, bipedal animal characters. They are the human backdrop behind the fictitious players. Renard says “most of the characters that I have are based around my music, and Mayhem is one of them. She somehow ended up being what represents me as far as work under PSURG goes, and Mischief is Squeedge’s representation. These two characters are pretty close to us, I think, but they definitely aren’t 100% representational of us. They’re more representational of our design tendencies and style than anything.” The style is sparsely used, the most notable and popular being Gorillaz or more eclectically, Puppetmastaz. It makes for a tight merge of media.

Independently, Squeege’s ink and colour style of sexy be-legged sharks playing keytar and foxes in nurse garb which a penchant for toxic looking syringes would be of a high quality on its own, but the electronic accompaniment is noteworthy enough to almagamate them together, especially as they all the elements seem to fuse so well. As part of their brand they also produce a line of t-shirts and recently released their own 16-bit style schmup, Shark Attack. I asked why they branched out into a game: “There was a game called Sky Shark – me and Squeedge were hoping it was a shooter you could play as a shark in, but that wasn’t the case, unfortunately. We just kind of decided to make it the case and set a very short development time period as a goal to see what we could do. Looking back, I’m proud that we did, but we have a lot of room to improve and I think we can eventually create something really awesome.” What was initially just a bit of bit fun working on character design and music quickly morphed into a viral product consumed via mashups and user content online.

The Sharktits EP was released November 2009 under the artist name Mayhem and the follow up, Torpedo Torpedo released June this year, was a repackaged and remastered version of the original EP with an extra 8 tracks making 18 in total. I wondered aloud to myself why you would revise such an in-your-face and outlandish title such as ‘Sharktits’ until I noticed the undercurrent behind the new name: twin torpedos. Much of the same abandon is taken not in the production but in the musical hooks which Renard describes as “cheesy electro house business” but it adds to the charm of the package.

It’s the buzzy floor stomper opening album title track Torpedo Torpedo that sets the right pace for the album. The track kicks in to hard 4-4 kicks and breaks down for a chirrupy hook that pushes the track forward. It doesn’t let up from then on in. Next up is The Crunch, which starts with a dance hall beat and digital funkiness that loosens up the style a great deal. Initially when hearing Don’t Cry Jennifer I considered it had to be about domestic violence or personal loss, to be put out of my grief as Renard explains “The track’s name comes from the original Clock Tower game on the SNES (or rather super famicom since it was never released outside of Japan). It’s supposed to evoke the feeling of hectically climbing staircases and escaping from a killer of some kind, but at the same time is supposed to have a triumphant, empowering feel, since you know you’ll prevail.” Job done then.

The album takes a turn for the batshit insane as Space Dog Escape Pod acts as a precursor when Dizzy, Codemaster ramps up into happy hardcore territory. The latter, is a soundtrack fit for, but not exclusively drinking cider whilst riding a pogo-stick in a brightly rainbow painted room.

Whilst the previous tracks are joyful and upbeat Punisher is a blisteringly fierce and raw sound with rubbery bass lines underpinned by unrelenting pounding beats, while West Mansion and Tank! Tank! Tank! feel like the long journey through the last level of your life’s events. If events were hosted inside Daft Punk’s Super Nintendo, and the end of level boss is a giant metallic crab. That slowly lowers from a bottomless pit, pummelling rockets at you until you turn white and explode.

The middle of the album is where Sharktits originally kicked in with the aptly titled and gargantuan sounding Galaxy Eater which has electronic rock orientated stabs and fluttery funky bass lines. This is where we start to see that the sound behind Mayhem is a catchy earworm that Renard manipulates into highs and lows. Stylostyler displays a squeaky energetic funk and club element to Mayhem’s otherwise ravey synths while Fire Engine takes deep bass sounds that collide like summer heat on pale skin. These sit between my personal favourite track of the album, Home Row which has the right loops and hooks to put most breakbeat contemporaries to shame. It has the most disgustingly filthy breakdown amongst the repetitive but never boring driving hook.

There’s a sombre wind intro to the housey How I Love, which again wouldn’t be amiss during a climatic battle scene . If tracks like the EBM tinged drive of White Death didn’t come between that and Future Fighter I’d swear it was a modernised ode to some of the better Japanese 16 bit consoles of the early nineties which is why it fits perfectly within our Chiptune Focus.

The only vocals come towards the leg-end of the album with Better Day, a latin guitar enthused house track with chunky big beats and James Brown ‘uh’s. After hearing the glitchy and staccato cuts of the penultimate track Nailgun, you could be forgiven to thinking that Mayhem is a moniker that has the chance to show some very serious talent but that the cheese is a show of naivety in some part….until the final track Rescue plays. It blows such hardline cynicism out of the water. If Psurg wasn’t a design house, but an animated cartoon, then Rescue would be the music to the end credits, with Mischief and Mayhem shooting each other with bubbleguns. It’s an outro that’s impossible not to enjoy for the fun alone. If I was caught short disturbing a burglar in the middle of the night and in the ensuing struggle stood on the remote control, blaring track 18 out as I was strangled to death I still might find some joy in the experience.

When asked specifically about influences, the truth outs “The influences primarily come from simple experiences like going on late night walks, going to the arcade, and most importantly, my history as far as video games go – video game music has had more influence on my work than any other music or anything in general, especially chip-based stuff heard on the NES and Genesis.”

psurg trauma

It seems fans of chiptune keep their gear incredibly tight rather than using too much in the way of expensive software.  The soundscape of Torpedo Torpedo were made from VSTs then a combination of Modplug Tracker and Acid Pro was used for sequencing, arranging and mastering. I was surprised by a detractor on YouTube dismissing Mayhem as a niche market for ‘furries’ (sharks have…skin) but Renard is quick to set the record straight.

 

“It’s not “for” anybody. my music is generally non-subjective and completely open to interpretation since it’s usually instrumental electronic dance music. People that feel the need to complain about the design work behind the music are just shallow and ridiculous. Most of these people probably grew up taking in entertainment of some kind that involved anthropomorphic animal characters, and I think it’s outrageous that something as simple as dumb internet users has ruined that kind of character design for a lot of people. As far as I’m concerned, anybody with an ounce of common sense should be able to recognize the characters as just that – characters – and get on with it. It’s not about “furries”, it’s not about the “furry fandom”, they’re characters. While I’m a part of the fandom, that’s not what my music is about. My music is just music.”

http://www.psurgdesign.com

(Originally published September 7, 2010)

Power Player #2: One Player Game

November 7, 2011 in Power Player

Editor's Note: Reprinted from CTUK Chiptune Focus.

Sam Rixey, an Arazonan who goes under the exclusive title of One Player Game makes music of feeling and thoughts. There’s a mix of analogous rhythm, percussive sounds and melancholic, sometimes upbeat progression throughout. OPG has been writing and enjoying music for as long as he can remember. “My dad likes to tell the story of me bopping along to some singing animatronic robots at a Chuck E. Cheese when I was only a year old” Although not having a great deal instruments as a child (the most notable arrival was a gift from his grandparents at age 8, a Casio SK-1) he confesses he tended to lean towards drums which certainly explains the rhythmic nature of the music.

OPG has a certain depth of warmth and modern influence in the sounds, but that doesn’t detract from the minimalistic electronic soundscapes that he creates. There’s more going on here. There’s a passion to recreate moments of nostalgic memories. “I like the sounds from imperfect electronics – the glitches, hiss, and bleeps from tiny speakers – and twisting them into something that creates a particular mood.”

He takes his musical cues from minimalist artists suck as Keinzweiter, Farben, and Mathias Kaden “They are masters at arrangement and creating a groove” while he enjoys synth sounds in artists such as Broadcast and Radiohead. His own style then comes from his own personal palettes of sounds and atmospheres as “Nothing helps more than the lists I keep with specific memories from childhood” Striving to capture the sounds of 80’s TV idents and computer games, and overdriven analogue drums heard by in the1950s and 1960s, of which Raymond Scott and Tom Dissevelt are big influences.

oneplayergame

His debut album, World Runner was mostly created using the loop-based sampler and sequencer, Fruity Loops. He is personally very critical of his music, which is why his style varies incredibly. His website changed recently, omitting a lot of older material, which definitely deserves to have an audience. Despite this humble behaviour World Runner is by his own admission a neatly packaged product “I felt its songs went well together, though. They have a certain soft feeling that I associate with night time and naptime – two atmospheres that accompany many of my most stirring memories – but are all built around up-tempo rhythms.”

There are some stand-out tracks, the haunting Bellbird which contains a patch from the no doubt well-loved Casio SK-1. “The ‘human voice’ preset on it has always been the creepiest sound I’ve ever heard on a toy” and Attic which feels like being held captive by a malevolent TV in the darkest regions of the house. There is beauty and song amongst claustrophobia and alienation. You’d be mistaken into thinking OPG was a troubled boy until he talks of his experiences lucidly “Soap Operas, is based on a memory I have as a child at a babysitter’s house. I could never sleep during naptime, so the babysitter would let me lay on the shag-carpeted floor by an oscillating fan as she watched soap operas. I actually recorded an oscillating fan for the song.”

His next album is going to be a departure, further pushing to perfect the sound in his head. Collecting guitar pedals, analogue drum machines and toy pianos, speculating “I’ll be exploring those overdriven analog drums in the near future, as well as all the knob-twiddling I can do on the synths and effects. I would say that my next release will be darker, faster, full of bit-crushed goodness, and of course, arpeggiated Gameboy sequences.”

http://www.oneplayergame.com

World Runner on itunes

(Originally published May 1, 2010)

Power Player #1: 4mat

November 7, 2011 in Power Player

Editor's Note: Reprinted from CTUK Chiptune Focus.

Allow us to present to you the first in hopefully a long line of focused articles on chiptune artists who are creating music as part of a large underground and mostly online scene. However, there is a growing demand for live shows and with us championing this music here, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be checking out these artists online or going to watch performers play live in your area and we would like to play some small part in that.

4mat Chiptune

The perfect choice for us to start with is someone who we’ve played several times on our own podcast. Matt Simmonds AKA 4mat AKA Marie2 has been working on and off of chiptune for around 20 years and with his roots imbedded in the Commodore 64, the Atari seemed like a natural progression to follow. Matt tells us “I followed the C64 demoscene for a few years thanks to a friend who was on Compunet, which was an old BBS-like system in the UK. That same friend (Hi Tony!) transferred to Amiga and after seeing some of the Megaforce demos on there I did the same. He gave me a copy of Soundtracker and ST-01 and that was basically all of my 15th year on this Earth gone” he then moved onto 8bit and 16bit consoles and handhelds such as the Gameboy Colour. In the last couple of years he’s returned to the chiptune, drawn by the variety and diversity of a growing scene….

So what’s the appeal of the stark sound of 8bit music? After all, with all modern home consoles fully capable of reading DVDs with rich and lush soundtracks that can be composed in home studios, what draws him specifically back to chiptune? He answers us in part about how chiptune is derived “For the audio I think it’s the ‘purity’ of the sounds you’re working with. With something as basic as a square wave you have to really work at the melody and feel to get some soul in there. Something like Drax’s “Tristesse” or the themes to Glider Pilot, and Forbidden. Guess it’s the digital equivalent of going back to the acoustic guitar. Sorry, that’s quite a cheesy analogy!” Well then call me Monsieur Fromage, because you can really feel the groove inside the programmed beats in his side-project Marie2’s ‘Calendar’ and the Solo synth line in ‘Possessions’ takes us from a firm four-to-the floor drum and bass sound into ambient melancholy with the application of some subtle synth manipulation. There feels like a tale being spun in the melodies of the track ‘My Beautiful Empty Heart’ which is woven in and around glitchy, stuttering beats. I’ve been mostly enjoying a lot of 4mat’s music to and from my way to work because his tracks are always full of a sort of happy melancholic upbeat start to the day.

Matt does like to mix it up occasionally, with a chip-hop tune called ‘Transform’ he mixes some old styles of hip-hop with his own electronic styling. He doesn’t play in bands as much anymore as “you get sick of being in a van full of amps and drums” but he is working on a project called FireEaters that is self-styled as like “Vince Guaraldi surfing with MBV” As there’s clearly more going on musically up-top than just chiptunes, I ask him what gear he uses to create his music. “For chiptunes mostly I’ll write the song in FastTracker2 then export as a WAV and master it in something like Ozone. Mixing in the old trackers is a pain so sometimes I’ll export the parts seperately then put them in Sonar or Audition to mix. For traditional music I’ve based my ‘studio’ around Kore2 and a stack of plug-ins, guitars, mics, couple of master keyboards, Pod6”

Not only does he work on chiptune and the occasional live project he’s working in the games industry too as an audio producer on some of my favourite games, such as Fantastic Adventures of Dizzy and the life-stealing late-nighter, UFO- Enemy Unknown, citing some of his favourite works to date as Silent Hill and almost contrary, Spongebob. “For sound design the last two Silent Hill games I worked on were a blast. You could get a lot deeper into the meaning of the audio landscape than just ‘oh this has to be a bit creepy’ and so on, infusing the sounds with the personality of the main character as well as the environment they were in. I loved working on Spongebob: Supersponge a few years back, that probably sounds a bit weird but it was good fun. “

So with the musical diversity of gigging, 20 years of chiptuning and experiencing in the games industry, what kind of gamer does that make 4mat? “I seem to play a lot more indie stuff these days. Not that I don’t like modern games it’s just that the indie guys are going off on interesting tangents the games industry can’t really get away with doing just yet. But that’ll happen and it’ll be glorious” A man after our own heart. Matt’s been hard at work on his own project a game called depth, an anaglyphic game that will feature the ability to don a pair of cardboard 3D glasses of the 80’s and advises us he started after being influenced a year or so ago whilst doing it commercially on Microsoft’s Sudeki. “I was only working in script languages back then. As I’ve gone freelance this year there’s time to try writing some small games. Doing it in 3D came about because I’d been itching to know how the maths worked, though for this kind of game it turned out to be, like, 2 lines of code. :) The interesting thing is you can also add stuff that would otherwise confuse the player in 2D” He promises this will be ‘before March, so as it’s already March right now, we’ll assume that just himself working on his tod means it’s going to be put back for a bit yet. Tell us Matt, do you still own your own Amiga? “Yep but the drivebelt has worn away so I can’t use it. To be honest I went back to copy some floppy discs recently and got really impatient with it all. :) Emulation is so much more convenient these days and if you’re doing development it’s wonderful, better than the devkits we had back then.”

You can visit 4mat’s blog at I hear the sound of waves or follow him on twitter 4mat_scenemusic.

Update: Since this article, 4mat has put out a recent album, Decades which is presently available on itunes.

(Originally published March 10, 2010)

' Avatar of Freque

by Freque

Rare Interview with NeX

July 3, 2011 in News

Freque interviews NeX for CTUK Chiptune Focus.

http://controllerthrow.com/chiptune-focus-nex/