' 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 #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.

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

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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

NoiChan LSDJ Showdown – Meet the Judges

May 20, 2012 in Events, Site News

#version=6,0,40,0">
 

We’ve officially done interviews with all 10 of our judges for this year’s LSDJ Showdown. You can read them by using the links above, or you can find them elsewhere online by following the links below:

Bubu - Chipzel - deadbeatblast - Electric Children -
NeX - Nonfinite - Ralp - Solarbear - Starpilot - Zef

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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!

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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.

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Check the Bazaar Page for daily updates.

NC018 Released: Nestrogen – Unce Upon a Time

April 18, 2012 in NoiChan Release, Site News

Shortlink: noichan.org/nc018


Download

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An aggressive release from a stellar artist, and NoiChan Power Player, Nestrogen. Unce upon a time is a hard hitting mosh fest, and is similar to being beaten to death with a squeaky inflatable hammer.

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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

Power Player #14: Jellica

December 25, 2011 in Power Player

Jellica is Jake Manley, owner and operator of Kittenrock Netlabel. He’s been released on 8bitpeoples, CalmDownKidder, and even NoiChan. He performed at Blipfest 2008, and was the only artist to submit actual micromusic to the HELO Compilation, in the form of 2 .sid files. He even acted as a judge in the now infamous CTUK LSDJ Showdown. Put simply: he’s a total badass. He’s done everything. He also has a new release, which came out this very day, right here on noisechannel.org.

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Jellica: Power Player #14

  • What was your first foray into chiptunes?

It was either getting Octamed on the front of CU Amiga magazine in 1994 and making some seriously bad music with the terrible samples that came with it or getting SIDplay on a CD of C64 emulators and sampling the delights in 2001. I didn’t really know what Chipmusic was until I finally got on the internet in 2004 and discovered a whole world of people still using these machines.

  • What musical equipment are you fond of the most?

It has to be either my Game Boy or my Yamaha PSS-470. I have 4 Game Boys stashed away for any breakages but if my PSS-470 died I’d be heartbroken. I have some more complicated synths but I just keep going back to this lovely toy.

  • When’s your next release due?

Err… my next Jellica release should be on 8bitpeoples fairly soon. It’s a follow up to last year’s Desmos and continues with the sci-fi theme.

I spend a lot of time making music with my friend Phil MFU and we are always putting our jams up on http://soundcloud.com/les-aventures-sous-la-mer and videos on YouTube. There are bits of Game Boy and DS along with us playing all sorts of other synths. It’s pretty far out psychedelica, repetitive motorik rhythms, ramshackle techno and massive dose of 60 and 70s synth feelings. Very different to my solo Jellica stuff but it’s a lot of fun.

He is an EFL teacher who lives in Berlin. We were in a band together when we were 17 and continued make music on and off together for 10 years until he moved to Germany.

  • When was the last time you went punting on the River Cam?

August. It was a fun day of laughing at posh Cambridge University people getting wet in the rain and Andrew being very sexy with a big pole.

  • What’s the direction of Kittenrock in the future?

Fuck knows, I don’t ever have any big releases planned or anything. I guess that I’ll just continue to release music that doesn’t really fit in to the accessible prog/dance/pop realms of many of the other chip netlabels. Noisy, fonky, wonky, floaty electronic stuff that doesn’t sound like what everyone else is doing in the scene.

  • What’s your take on the merging of chiptune and dubstep?

I don’t think that putting some basic waveforms over the top of something necessarily makes something Chipmusic or whatever. They’re just basic waveforms that can be created on any number of synths. I’m more interested in dubstep things made on old machines. It’s nice to see people experimenting more with the bass capabilities of the old DMG, for example.

I don’t really get this rage against the dubstep thing. Like all genres of music most of it is very formulaic and bland but some is very good. In any case, it is mainly music for dancing in clubs with big sound systems and, like most club music, it can sound awkward outside of the intended setting.

  • What do you see for the future of chiptune?

Some people will continue to push the old hardware to new interesting places, in both the music and demo scenes, just like they have been for the past 30 years. Others will still be making NES progrock or doing 8bit remixes and covers. I’m fairly certain that people will continue pushing the boundaries of what is considered Chipmusic until someone banging on a table with their fists manages to get to number one on the 8bitcollective charts. These days it seems that just about anyone using a basic pulse waveform with a bit of PWM can say that it is Chipmusic. I don’t know, maybe they are right and I’m wrong.

 J Arthur Keenes and Br1ght Pr1mate are totally chipmusic, the Game Boy is a major instrument in their sound. What I was trying to get at was people slapping down some basic waveforms on a track and calling it Chipmusic, like some over compressed electrotrance monstrosity with a squarewave shoved on top -  basic waveforms can be generated by any kind of synth, so using basic waveforms doesn’t make your music Chipmusic. It’s not only about the sound, for me it’s also about the process as well.

The track Peedeetwo is pure Game Boy, well there is a touch of EQ on there. The rest of the Desmos release has a bunch of other instruments on it, that were added as an after thought – All the tracks on that release were orginally written as as solo Game Boy peices which I then decided to add stuff to!

  • Tell us about the last weird dream you had?

It was a horrible erotic nightmare featuring Katie Price/Jordan. I hope you haven’t heard of her in the States but I guess that you have your own versions of attention seeking celebrity media sluts. Her vagina had had so much plastic surgery that all that was left was a smooth oval hole with no clitoris or labia. I didn’t want to go near her but she kept shoving her vag in my face.

  • What kind of people do you look for to put out on kittenrock?

Anything that doesn’t really fit in to the more popular chipmusic pigeonholes. I went through a phase of trying to get some more popular artists and styles on board but now realise that this was a mistake and that I should just stick to being a bit different. Sometimes I get sent great demos and sometimes I’ll hassle artists I like for releases. I’ve had a couple of open themed compilations as well.

  • What’s the appeal of circuit bending?

I’ve never bent anything, so I can’t really comment. I have a bent speak and spell, it is fun but I find it kind of limiting.

  • If you could travel to work in a giant, mechanical, electronic cat, what would you name it?

Dungeon Master

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NC007 Released: Jellica – Fomag EP

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' Avatar of Freque

by Freque

Power Player #13: Chipzel

December 21, 2011 in Power Player

Power Player #13: Chipzel

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The first time I ever spoke with Chipzel was when I approached her to be a judge in the CTUK LSDJ Showdown. I was blown away by her work on Something Beautiful, from her album Disconnected, which ended up being the theme for the Showdown. Since then, we’ve been like peas and carrots. Busy as she may be, she’ll always respond to my sarcastic emails (eventually) with a twisted sense of humor all her own. “I know I’m shit at responding haha I do apologise, but I’m Irish.” She says. “I’m usually drunk or passed out but I’m a happy go lucky scamp.” Sounds like solid excuse to me.  Luckily for us, she managed to find the time to answer some questions via her cellphone.

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ASL??
20 / female / Irish

Is it really a man’s world out there?
It’s a sausage fest.

How old were you when you first got into chiptunes, and why?
I was 15 and started listening to Sabrepulse who just blew me away. I’d always dreamt of writing music but could never find the right instrument. Once I realised that you could compose with old consoles, I dug out my gameboy and set off.

Who influences you and why?
Sabrepulse will always be a massive inspiration, as well as the 8bitpeoples; Bit Shifter and Nullsleep. My influences are always changing depending on what I’m listening to. At the minute, I’m listening to a lot of house and trance, which is coming across in my chiptunes.

How long have you been performing live?
Since I was 16. I managed to create enough material for a live set in about 4 months and then got my first gig in Derry, Northern Ireland.

Do you get hit on by a lot of creepy guys after shows?
Totally. I mean, how could they resist? Haha no not really. I get some male attention but most people used to be surprised I wasn’t a guy.

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I happened to be that creepy guy at Blipfest 2011, where I had the pleasure of meeting her face-to-face, or close enough, being that I’d guess her at less than 5 feet tall. I planned on keeping it short , no pun intended, and simply handing off a copy of the NC000 compilation (which she was featured on), but she would have none of it. She ended up hanging out with EZKL, my girlfriend,  and I, for a solid half an hour, smoking cigarettes and making fun of things with us (my absolute favorite pastime). This was the best part of my trip to Blipfest, hands down, and she’s definitely earned a fan for life. I promised her an interview that day (in May), and didn’t follow through until now. Looks like she’s not the only one who’s a bit slow sometimes.

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What was it like being asked to perform Blipfest?
Mind blowing. Also terrifying as I’d never been to the states or been on a long haul flight on my own.

You seemed to face the crowd pretty fearlessly. Do you get nervous on stage?
I don’t get nervous on stage at all :) its where I feel completely free to make a complete arse of myself and enjoy going nuts, it’s just pretty good luck that the crowd enjoy it as well haha! I get ridiculously anxious in the half hour before I go on stage though, especially with big shows. At blipfestival I was shaking and totally freaking out. It’s more of an impatience than nerves though.

How did you like NYC?
It is the most beautiful place I’ve been. I felt completely at home there. Definitely want to have a lot more of it in my life.

How do you feel about music piracy in the internet age?
If you’re referring to the likes of Once We Were Robots, I think it’s absolutely disgusting. People who feel it’s acceptable to steal other peoples talents and then pass it off as their own is extremely lame.

What’s next for Chipzel?
Working on forming a 1 piece girl band of pop-slut meets bit pop. It’s a combination of me, speedos and gameboys. I think it’s totally gonna kick off. But in the meantime, probably just continue to write some 8bit and show it to the world through some local gigs around the UK.

Would you rather robot arms/hands, or robot legs/feet?
Robot feet with pogo sticks. That’d be awesome!

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Chipzel is the stagename of Niamh Houston, a genuine Power Player. She can be found at a number of pubs or concert halls, all across western Europe. Just look for the fearless Irish girl, dancing her heart out.

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Power Player #12: deadbeatblast

December 9, 2011 in Power Player

 Power Player #12: deadbeatblast

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  • What got you into Chiptunes?

I had an AtariST as a kid, I guess that was my first exposure to it all. Listening to demoscene disks and playing games on that machine was magic to a 5 year old… I played in punk/metal bands most of my youth, and never started making chip music myself until about 2007. It was entirely by accident really, I was looking for a band called Skyfire on the internet, and stumbled on Sabrepulse’s song Skyfire Ace. I saw the release date on the track and thought wtf, people are still making this kind of music? I had some background using programs like FLStudio and Reason, but was a total noob when it came to tracking. It was like learning a whole new instrument, which was fun for me.

  • How do you go about your visuals?

Typically I’ll start by circuit bending some battery powered (plug and play) video games that I buy at second hand stores. They’re very inexpensive, usually 2-5 bucks. I’ll get a screw driver,gator clips, or some steel wool and just rub it all over the PCB boards until something cool happens. I record the resulting visuals and throw them into some VJ software (currently using Resolume 3). Then I usually like to layer in some video samples, horror, gore, anime, robots, etc… I’ll mess around with chroma key and effects until i get the results I’m looking for, then set all the clips and effects to a midi controller for live performance. I’ve also experimented with low res web cams and other cheap electronics and had good results.

  • How’s Bitmasters Netlabel going? What’s new on the cards?

Lately we’ve just been focusing on doing live events in the Toronto area. This year we started doing a bi-monthly event called Pixeldance, it’s been pretty fun so far. Also another compilation is in the works. Website is due for an overhaul but we’re still accepting demos,videos etc… Any artists wishing to have an album featured on the site or planning to be in the Toronto area should get in touch with us. bitmasters@hotmail.com or visit the site http://www.bitmasters-netlabel.com

  • What makes Canadian Chiptuners unique?

Hmmmmm…. I dunno…. I guess all the bacon and poutine we eat.

  • What’s the main draw for seeing deadbeatblast live?

I’m pretty high energy on stage, and I usually play un-released material at shows, just so people can expect to hear something new when they come out. Basically put a few beers in me and watch me go!

  • Tell us a little bit about your experience at Nuit Blanche 2011

Well, for people who don’t know #pq=nuit+blanche+2012&hl=en&cp=14&gs_id=u&xhr=t&q=nuit+blanche+toronto&pf=p&sclient=psy-ab&safe=active&source=hp&pbx=1&oq=nuit+blanche+t&aq=0&aqi=g4&aql=&gs_sm=&gs_upl=&fp=1&biw=1600&bih=1061&bav=on.2,or.r_gc.r_pw.r_cp.,cf.osb&cad=b">Nuit Blanche is this lame art festival in Toronto.
A few years ago we started chiptuning on the streets during it. We started out with 3 guys. This year I think we had about 20 chip artists all performing in Toronto in the same night. We did shows out in front of city hall and in this ritzy movie theatre where the host the Toronto International Film Festival. People’s reviews online all said that the art exhibits sucked but the fucking chiptune guys rocked. I’d say that’s pretty accurate.

  • Where is the Chiptune scene headed?

Honestly I think a lot of chip artists are looking for a way to evolve their music into other genres. So in the future I expect to see a lot of us leaking into other music scenes, as well as more distinct styles. Chiptune will shift and change, but I doubt it will ever disappear. What I’d really like to see is more clubs putting on hardcore chip shows. Not the lame happy esque chipmusic, but the raw pounding electronic dance stuff.

  • Who is totally crushing in the scene right now?

LOL I’ve been so busy lately I wouldn’t know. But my personal favs would include Ultrasyd, Beastmode, Fighter X, Sabrepulse, Bit Shifter, and FantomenK.

  • What’s next for you, personally?

Hopefully finish some new tracks and get some touring in next summer. Life’s kinda been holding me back from doing all things I’d like to with chip music. It’s tough to stay motivated sometimes, so we’ll see…

  • What was your favorite Gameboy game?

It’s kinda of a tie for me between Kirby’s Dreamland and Links Awakening.

  • Do you play any modern games?

Starcraft 2 is the only game I’ve played recently, I stopped the console gaming at PS2.

New games will never have the magic like those old classics did. And I HATE the voice acting in newer games.

  • What Starcraft race do you play?

Terran. I really like Starcraft, it’s like a big crazy game of chess and I find it challenging. Always new people to play. I’ve even bumped into some DBB fans on their servers. ;) my user name on it is DEDBEATBLAST if anyone out there wants to play. Or they can add me using my email deadbeatblast@hotmail.com I’m always down for a quick game.

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http://www.bitmasters-netlabel.com/

http://www.deadbeatblast.com/

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' Avatar of Freque

by Freque

Power Player #11: Starpilot

December 6, 2011 in Power Player

I had the pleasure of meeting Starpilot in person at Nuit Blanche 2011 (Toronto). They definitely broke the mold when they made that guy. In the interest of journalistic integrity and accuracy, I’ve published this interview entirely unedited.

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Starpilot: Power Player

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  • How long have you been making music?

i’ve been playing music since i was 12. writing music the whole time. never took any lessons. when i was 17 i put together my first recording which consisted of 4 songs that i recorded using a circa 1970s yamaha organ and a 4-track analog recorder. ever since then i’ve been composing and recording and playing music. i’ve played in a few bands, jammed with a bunch of very talented people, recorded and performed a bunch of different types of music, and still ended up solo in the end lol.

it’s kinda funny actually, because i used to play mostly guitar-driven rock music… kinda alternative rock, psychedelic, post-punk, shoegaze, etc etc stuff and i would make techno music as a goof, just something to play for my friends at parties. but over time i realized people tended to be more interested in my electronic music, which i found perplexing because i put less work and effort into it at the time. and now, i’m 26 and i pretty much only make electronic music, although i still compose most of the music on guitar.

  • How many instruments can you play?

uh…a bunch i guess….guitar and it’s subsidiaries, keyboards/synth/etc, software/trackers/etc, and i can sing.

  • Why did you start making chiptunes? How long have you been doing it?

well, deadbeatblast got me into chiptunes a couple years ago and i was pretty floored by the kinds of sounds these old devices could make. i’ve always had a soft spot for the sounds and graphics my old commodore 64 would make and didn’t even know tracking software existed. i started making music using the gameboy so that i could go beyond playing acoustically on stage. i wanted to play in a band but could never find enough interested and committed people, so i started making my backing tracks in lsdj and playing guitar and singing over top. it was alright, well received, and lots of fun, but equipment problems and sheer boredom made me lose the guitar and vocals pretty much entirely from my act. also, people at electronic music shows tend to be not so interested in hearing screaming punky guitars and david-byrne-crossed-with-billy-corgan-esque vocals.

chipmusic seemed to fit me perfectly because it took my two passions, music and old computers, and mashed them together in this wicked way i had never before conceived of.

and although i don’t feel like a “noob” anymore, i guess i’m still pretty new to chiptunes compared to most of my favourite chiptunists who’ve been doing it for many many years even decades. but, for what i lack in chiptune experience, i gain in years of experience in other methods of creating music. i’m not sure how much that matters though lol.

  • How is the chiptune scene in Toronto?

i would rate the chiptune scene in toronto as “decent”. it’s still in it’s early developmental stages i think. lots of great musicians creating awesome stuff here though. we’re in the process of building up the scene right now, putting on regular gigs and doing cross-pollination between indie game developers, 8-bit visual artists, and chiptune musicians. but like i said, it’s still in the early stages. but it’s quite promising and i’m glad to be an integral face in the scene.

  • Tell us about your involvement with Bitmasters, how did you meet deadbeatblast?

well, i’ve been good friends with deadbeatblast since high school. i met him in 10th grade when we went to this shitty small-town high school. we both liked music and we both liked to get fucked up and party. i don’t think either of us realized the extent of the other’s abilities at the time and we never had any inkling that our musical endeavours would become what they’ve become. my involvement with bitmasters is actually pretty limited at this point. we used to do a weekly internet show on ustream and i would choose 99% of the music we’d play.

bitmasters is totally deadbeatblast’s brainchild and i’m kinda just there as one of the common faces in the local scene. i input ideas and try to help connect some of the dots (er pixels), but it’s still his baby.

  • Where does the passion in your music come from?

i don’t make music necessarily just because i want to, i make it because i have to. i mean, obviously i enjoy it, but music is my only escape. it’s the only thing that keeps me on this planet, keeps me sane enough to communicate and live in the real world. i guess it’s a coping mechanism, and that’s not especially unique. i suspect many people feel the same way about music, whether they play music or compose music or listen to music or masturbate to justin timberlake’s bare chest. music has the ability to envelope our conscious minds, spur imagination, and invoke emotion. i can’t really explain the depths in which music affects my mind and soul.

  • What are you hoping to achieve?

while i may have had dreams of being a rock star when i was a teenager, most of that has subsided as the reality of the world started to sink in lol… is anything beyond the journey itself even an obtainable goal? does it even matter? i’m honestly not entirely sure.

i guess in reality all i truly want is to have my music noticed and respected and appreciated. i’d like my audience to keep growing, to have the ability to play gigs in as many different places as possible, and to always keep learning. and if i keep the doors of perception open, i believe i’ll be able to continue to create music for the rest of my life.

i’d love to do more stuff for film projects and am currently building the connections to get into making music for games. i don’t even really care where or how my music gets used or reaches an audience, i love music and i want others to hear my creations.

  • Why do you wear a mask when you perform?

i started wearing a mask because i was tired of sweating all over my equipment lol! i get really really hot on stage unfortunately.

  • Tell us about the mask.

well, i’m not rich. never have been. so there was no way i was gonna be able to spend much money on it. it’s just made out of old t-shirts that i cut apart and sowed together with hemp twine. nothing special really. after my first time using the mask, i sowed my hat to it cuz my hat would fly off. as many know, i move around A LOT when i perform.

  • Do you use drugs or something?

hahaha! actually, yes, i do. but everybody uses drugs. whether it’s alcohol or caffeine or nicotine or weed or cocaine or lsd or prescription pain meds. who the fuck doesn’t do drugs?

and besides, it’s kind of a moot point as i’m a pretty weird eccentric guy anyways. i have been diagnosed as paranoid schizophrenic with bipolar tendencies and it makes me a bit bugnutty. although i should mention that while it might help musically and creatively, as mental illnesses often do, it also totally sucks balls! it has been a long deep struggle that has held me back in many areas of my life. i’ve spent time in the psych ward, been addicted to drugs, lost friends, blown opportunities, burnt bridges, and been on a plethora of prescribed medications.

  • You’re a pretty big guy. How’s your temper?

lol. this is actually a pretty funny question. why do you ask? lol :P yea, i guess i can have a bit of a temper. but, i’m not a physically violent person lol. in fact, physically, i’m quite a pussy. but i’m good with words so i can rip a hole in your brain if you piss me off. i don’t really agree with physical violence and see fighting as just a bunch of primitive prick-waving anyway. whenever two guys at a bar wanna get into a brawl, i always wanna say “just whip ‘em out and measure already!” lol. physical violence = obsolete male impulses from 100,000 years ago. smart people use words. that may sound like “the whiney cliché of a wimp”, but i sincerely believe it’s true.

  • Say something thought provoking (no pressure):

can we ever perceive the world from outside our own realities? can we see the world from someone else’s eyes? do we all hear the same things when we listen to a song? are our 5 senses enough to perceive the world around us? is there more then we can perceive? can we open channels in our minds that allow us to make use of extrasensory perceptions? does every electron in the universe contain its own universe inside? is our universe just another electron inside an atom of another being? is there more or less to reality than we perceive? is it possible to get every human being on the planet on the same mental wavelength for even just a split second? is nature a sentient being in itself? or is the consciousness of nature just the collective consciousness of every being on this planet? is there life without consciousness? are plants conscious? does the sun truly shine or is it just the way our brains translate the information that our eyes input from all the surrounding photons?

to many people, questions like these are boring and pointless. those people would rather just do what they are told and not question anything. i, on the other hand, am not as apathetic towards these kinds of philosophical questions. however, it doesn’t matter.

all in all, i cannot necessarily provoke thought. those who think, are already thinking. those who don’t, aren’t going to start any time soon. and it’s not our place to judge how one decides to use their mind.

but what we can all do, is feel the music, in whichever way we do so. we are here together because of our love for the way our brains perceive aural vibrations. and that’s pretty damn cool.

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Starpilot on bandcamp: http://starpilot.bandcamp.com/

NoiChan Release: NC003: Starpilot – Registers

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by Freque

Power Player #10: TreyFrey

December 2, 2011 in Power Player

 

Power Player #10: TreyFrey

TreyFrey is the stagename of Trey Frye. Say what you will about that, but he’s quickly risen to the top of the chiptune scene. He performs packed venues regularly, and just about every song he releases goes straight to the top of the charts on 8bit collective. As for the name, it was coined by a drunken friend of his, who shouted it at a party, so don’t blame Trey.

Quite new as far as Chiptune goes, Trey began working on his LSDJ compositions about a year and a half ago, having gotten a head start with Renoise for PC. He started as a hobbyist and the rest just snowballed from there, a fact he remains quite humble about. When asked how he became so popular in the first place, he responds: “I have no clue how I or my music became popular. I started this whole thing out as a hobby and everything randomly took off for me.” When asked how he kicks so much ass in LSDJ, he adds: “I wouldn’t say I kick ass at lsdj, I just took time to learn it and I’m just happy people like it.” Hmm.

Like many of us, he became jaded with the all money and time consuming pursuits of further education and has recently decided to take a break from college. When asked about this he simply replied: “I am taking a year off of school to work and figure out what I want to do with myself. I was sick of wasting time and money.” He’s a man of few words, and seems quite reserved at times. Almost protective over his true thoughts and motivations.

Working on any new music? “I’ve been secretively working on a lot of music but probably won’t be releasing any of it for a long time…” Tell me about that phone you use when you play live. “The phone I use at shows is basically just a phone turned into a mic. One of the simplest things I’ve ever “modded.” Its not impressive in the slightest, just fun/funny.”

Shy as he may be, I learned he’s good friends with Kedromelon, who he met at a show in Frederick, Maryland, known as “Fredrock,” oddly enough. “The rest is history.” He says. When asked how he feels about working with Kedromelon, he summarizes it quickly: “Noah is most likely going to become one of the best chip musicians around.” The two of them often perform the same venues (see Byte Nyte), and have pioneered the sound which has become evocative of the mid-atlantic. They have clearly claimed their spot on the map of the international chiptune scene. Being such a tight friendship, I was curious who Trey thought would win in a fight, so I took advantage of the oppurtunity to ask him. “Me. Definitely. I am very awkward and lanky, but scrappy.” Hmm. Now we’re getting somewhere. Did you get laid alot in highschool? “In high school I’d say I got laid more than a lot of people for sure, but it wasn’t an overwhelming, out of control thing by any means (unfortunately).”

I figured at this point in questioning, we might as well keep it personal. So I asked what anyone in my position would ask: “How come you’re always charting on 8bc, but I never see you on NoiChan? You fuck.” Ok, maybe that didn’t come out right. I’m hoping Trey has a sense of humor. It’s hard to tell through his solid pokerface persona. “8bc is just a default way for me to randomly post stuff. I have definitely neglected noise channel….and will be fixing that soon. Promise. :) Luckily he wasn’t offended (as far as I can tell).

He may be a man who believes in keeping things to the point, but one thing he’s not short on is passion. When asked if he has any advice for for future power players, I think I may have caught a glimpse of the real Trey. “My advice to future players is to not bitch about it being hard or not being able to write music like the “good” musicians do. Just sit down and experiment, the rest will come if you care enough about it.”

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TreyFrey has been described as a tortured soul, full of overwhelming emotions and propelled by a deep seeded need to create, but even after this interview, I can neither confirm nor deny that. With rumblings of secret projects on the way, we’ll just have to wait and see what the music tells us. You can trust that we’ll be there, following him every step of the way.

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Trey’s Website: http://www.treyfrey.com
Trey’s bandcamp: http://treyfrey.bandcamp.com/

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by Freque

Power Player #9: Electric Children

November 29, 2011 in Power Player

Power Player #9: Electric Children

How did you get into chiptune?

I heard about it from a couple other bands I had been playing with on the regular back when I first started doing performances and stuff. They showed me some different trackers including LSDJ, and I fell in love with the sound. I was sort of looking for something to fill out my music a little more and I figured it was just the touch I needed!

Why the change from “Circles” to “Electric Children”?

Electric Children is essentially a different project-it’s much darker, much harder hitting, and more to the point, not even close to the same style of music. I don’t have any shame or regret about everything I did with Circles, but the project was beginning to pull in two different directions before it’s hiatus, and I didn’t want it getting any more eclectic and messy when I started the whole solo thing again. It’s just nice to have a fresh start for my whole back catalog of songs.

How do you feel about the current state of chiptunes?

It’s always surprising to me how quickly it’s moving forward. Within the 4 or so years I’ve been involved in the chiptune community it has become vastly more popular and well-known, even to the extent of seeping its way in to the mainstream a little (Anamanaguchi and Sabrepulse). It’s also pretty surprising to see the quality of instrumentation and technique improve in general. People are using techniques in their song writing right off the bat that it took me a year to even discover, let alone master. More people are trying to branch out and get a unique sound, and as a result there’s a lot of chiptune music right now that would have described as “out-of-this-world” or “next level” when I started. So as far as the current state, I’d summarize all this by saying it’s better and always improving.

You don’t seem to be on the chiptune sites as much these days, why is that?

I lurk more than people realize. I never really was on chiptune sites a lot even before, except to post songs I suppose. Open forums where people have the opportunity to just spout off inflammatory opinions and skewer others consequence-free tend to scare the crap out of me, so I am far more partial to private interaction or if i’m lucky enough, chatting in person. I think this is the sort of general direction a lot of chip artists tend to take after awhile-working more behind the scenes with everyone where the environment is devoid of stress and bullshit.

Will you ever work with Fighter X again?

Not even if hell froze over.

What happened there, anyway?

It’s kind of a long drawn-out story that I don’t mind telling people, but I’m over it at this point and just don’t feel like putting in the effort of getting worked just up to issue another statement on it. The short version is we just had different opinions about how things should have ran, and he couldn’t handle working with me anymore, so he kicked me out. I will make a note to say we didn’t split up, he kicked me out.

What was performing at blipfest like?

Amazing. I met a lot of cool friendly people and the atmosphere was something so different from what I’m accustomed to. It’s always refreshing to be around other people who actually “speak the language,” allowing you to completely nerd out over chiptune stuff. The crowd was awesome, the setup was awesome, the company was awesome, it’s truly an A+ experience.

How did you like the east coast?

Well I’ve been to NY and FL on the east coast now and I’ve definitely enjoyed all my visits. Everyone was ridiculously accommodating and friendly, and who doesn’t love a vacation anyway?

Does the weather in Seattle effect your creativity?

Um, no more than it would affect anyone anywhere else. I suppose I write in a different mood depending on the season, but the negativity in my songs generally isn’t brought on by the fact that we spend 10 months out of the year knee deep in puddles. I will say that the architecture, look, and overall atmosphere of Seattle has definitely inspired my works on more than one occasion though. Seattle is truly an amazing place to live.

Describe your setup. Is it hard composing on LSDJ with 2 linked gameboys?

My setup is 2 DMG-01′s running LSDJ 4.0 and 3.9.9. I occasionally do songwriting on other sequencers, but the operation is more or less handled by those two gameboys alone. Composing on 2 linked Gameboys can certainly be exhausting and overwhelming if you don’t handle it right. It’s not so bad for me now because I’ve learned how to handle it, but the sheer amount of freedom can definitely be a little daunting in the beginning.

What advice do you have for aspiring Power Players? What’s next for you personally?

I’m just always trying to move forward with my music to make something I’m more satisfied with. I always want a bigger sound that can truly express how I feel from one song to the next. I guess my advice for anyone making music is to always remember you’re doing it for yourself first and foremost. This means being satisfied with your music when you’re satisfied, and making it better when you think it can be better, no matter what people are telling you to do with it. Make what speaks to you, no matter how simple or intricate it may be.

Tupac or Biggie?

Of course Biggie. I’m always partyin’ an’ bullshit :)

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http://soundcloud.com/electric_children

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by Freque

Power Player #8: Nonfinite

November 27, 2011 in Power Player

 

 

This Edition’s Power Player: Nonfinite

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Nonfinite is the owner and operator of nonelectronics.com. He has been a pioneer in the field of gameboy modification, and frequently attends, works, and has even sponsored Blipfest. He is slated for a release with the mighty 8bitpeoples, and has been making chip music for years. He even paid my cab fare when I met him at Blipfest, which I found quite gentlemanly.

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How did you get into chiptunes? Why?

I grew up with a lot of these sounds.  Rediscovering them felt like an epiphany of sorts.  I’ve heard it said that the nostalgiac aspect of chip can be detrimental to the forward movement of the genre, but in truth, for a lot of us, it plays a part, as it did for me.  That wasn’t all there was to it, though: there’s something unquestionably pure about a square wave, something many must experience with guitar.  It speaks to me in a way conventional rock never did.  Anyways, I had been bouncing around the internet one day when I discovered several mixes by an eclectic DJ named Sepix.  He had mixed some chip into his s-ag 1 and 3 mixes, which eventually led me to 8bitpeoples.  This led me to the 2A03 forums, where I cut my teeth on famitracker before finally taking the plunge into LSDJ and everything that brought with it.
 
How did you come to open the Nonelectronics shop?
 
Nonfinite Electronics was initially an attempt to recoup some of my losses investing in my first DMG and cartridge.  I had acquired a lot of 32MB cartridges from lowgain audio, a cartridge standard that isn’t widely used any longer in the community, and a couple DMGs purchased from Ebay.  I pro sounded my first gray using the old internal method of soldering to the headphone jack.  When that succeeded, I did the same to the next DMG, and posted that back up on Ebay, modified, along with several cartridges.  When I recouped my losses, and still had a modded DMG and cart to show for it, I realized there might be a potential for a small business.  It just naturally grew and transformed from there, piece by piece.  The creation of an LLC, the invention of what we now consider the de facto “backlight” all took place without much premeditation or formal planning.
 
When does your next release come out?
 
Very, very soon!  Chris Mylrae AKA CTrix is currently doing the production on the new album, titled “nonpareil”.  The album will be available for free download from 8bitpeoples.com.

How’s the family life? Tell us about your wife and her involvement in your projects. 
 
Kerry, my wife and the manager of Nonfinite Electronics, started out several years ago when our volume surpassed what I could manage alone.  I’ve held down a full time job throughout the life of the business in addition to working at Nonfinite Electronics, so at times, it’s been hard to carry the weight of both simultaneously.  Kerry has been a huge help lightening the burden, and in fact, manages the majority of shipping and customer relations now.  She’s been supportive 100% of the way, and knows about two hundred times as much about chip than your average woman.  That makes her pretty cool in my book.
 
Occasionally, my father in law, John, will help with shipping as well, although his employment at Nonfinite Electronics is purely voluntary and based on his desire to avoid boredom in retirement, spend time with his wonderful daughter and shower my dog, Zeppelin, who is convinced John is the best thing on the planet, with affection.
 
What’s the chiptune scene like in Madison?
 
There’s a chip scene in Madison?  Seriously though, there are two people in Madison I know of that write chip, and I’m one of them.  The other is my good friend, Nicklaus.  I met him on 8bitcollective, oddly enough.  We get together every month or so to talk about music and play Smash Brothers.

How often do you attend Blipfest?

I’ve only missed one festival to date, and that was in 2008, due to a collision that left me with some car repairs that couldn’t be resolved in time to make the drive over.

How do you feel about the current state of the chiptune scene?
 
It’s only getting better!  Pause, Ubiktune, and 8bitpeoples are all cranking out some amazing music.

What do you see for the future of chiptune? 
 
I think we’ll venture further and further away from classic, conventional, “pure” chip the further along we go.  Of course the old school approach will always be there, but the things that really intrigue me in the scene are the creative uses and applications we don’t see often, or haven’t seen yet at all.

What’s next for you?
 
I want to write an album with vocals.  Perhaps some work with my wife, Kerry, as well, and she’s a very talented singer.  I expect the next album I release will be a big change of pace from my previous work.  It’s a bit intimidating, truthfully.  I’ve always been the type to get as near to perfection as I could before performing anything, which is why production, which is exact, precise, fits in so well with me, and why something unpredictible, like the human voice, seems daunting.  That being said, I think it’s a challenge worth my time.  I’m looking forward to seeing where it takes me.
 
Why did you chose the name “Nonfinite“? 
 
The name stemmed from a long list of screen names, all beginning with the letter “n”.  My first experience on the internet was via Prodigy, an old, old service that predates the internet as we know it.  My father logged me in to a chat session where I encountered two other users: netSteve and Juliet X.  I couldn’t tell you what we talked about, but I do recall those names, and that’s where I took my first, unoriginal, name for my own: neTony.  (I went by Tony back then, changing to Anthony later.)  From there, neTony became neoteny, which reflected my view of myself as a growing individual that still had his immaturies.  Next neophyte, which means a beginner, or novice.  That finally came to be nonfinite, which, to me, means “without end”.  The term does exist in the english language as a way of defining verbiage, but in my case, it’s intended to mean the same thing as infinite.

Do people mispronounce it alot?
 
All the time!  I get non – fi – nit constantly, and nonfinity less often.  I pronounce it non – fie – night, with two long “i”s.

Which is better: Star Trek or Star Wars?

My mother would be ashamed if I said anything other than Star Trek, and the Next Generation at that.  Putting her feelings aside, I think Star Trek has been more fulfilling in terms of Film and Television, whereas Star Wars clearly holds the title in other forms of media, namely video games.  Knights of The Old Republic, Star Wars Galaxies, and the soon to be released SWTOR put it clearly in front in my mind.

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EOF                 

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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

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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