Howdy kids! Welcome to the first installment of the ChipWin-tern Spotlight, where I’ll be taking a look at some artists who haven’t really been featured on our site before. Now, the more astute of you will be thinking “HEY WAIT, THAT VINCE KAICHAN GUY WAS ON THE CHRISTMAS ALBUM, YOU HACK!” And I would tell you that you are right, and possibly that you need to cut back on your caffeine consumption before going on the Internet, bucko. But yeah – our boy Vince here WAS featured with his song “Midnight Snowflake” on the chipWINter album, and you can read Andy’s review of that whole album right here. However, I really think that we need to pay some attention to Vince, because he’s laying down some great stuff, he’s mostly doing it on his own, and…oh, did I mention he’s still in highschool?
(Note: It is, realistically, beyond the means of this article to give you a full step-by-step breakdown on Vince’s discography, but what I will do is give you some information on him, and highlight some of my favorite tracks of his for you.)
Iiiin West Philadelphia, born and raised – on the playground is where he spent most of his da- oh, wait, I’m sorry, I seem to have gotten Vince mixed up with someone else, apologies. Vince hails from southern California in the general LA area. He’s entirely self-taught when it comes to the music you guys are hearing, though when he was younger he, as many of us were, was forced into music lessons. Though, forced might be a bit harsh – he clearly seemed to like it, and we can see where that’s gotten him so far. As legend goes, about ten years ago his father bought and started teaching him Cakewalk Studio, and the rest is history. He’s only really been up on the music composition end of things in the past 2-3 years, since he was introduced to Garageband, and that’s where the real meat and potatoes of our story picks up.
He originally started releasing music under the handle VCMG, which he was going to keep going with until he found out that some of the guys from Depeche Mode were going to start using a project with that name. He tried contacting them about it, but as he said, “no one listens to a kid,” so he changed his name and went about his business. And it’s a good thing he did – the stuff he’s put out since he became Vince Kaichan are markedly different, and on the whole more professional. Now, I am ABSOLUTELY not saying that his earlier stuff was in any way bad, but some of the tracks certainly seem like they’re the early attempts that they are when compared to some of his newer things. If you click that link up at the start of the paragraph, you can get to the VCMG Bandcamp – but I’m gonna yank out a few tunes I particularly like from his old stuff.
This track is so sweet. (“The only good one on that album!” says Vince.) It’s super high energy, which I enjoy, but it starts deceptively, making you think maybe it’s gonna be a slow, purposeful song and then WHAM you’re pogoing around the room like it’s the 80’s again. This song is basically like someone tried to recreate a scene out of Hamlet, but instead of pouring poison in your ears they poured caffeine. Caffeine is caffeine, is what I’m getting at. It’s a good name. Sugar Rush might have been an acceptable alternative, but then I’d just start thinking of that damned Wreck-It Ralph song, so I’m glad he went with Caffeine.
This song, off of Journey (which was the first album he released as Vince Kaichan as well as VCMG), sounds like something that with a slightly expanded audio-palette (like, on the SNES), the song would be right at home. It almost makes me think of a retrocovered Megaman X-type song, which is a good thing.
Aaaaand then we get Earthshine. This is basically my favorite track of his, period. It’s got these nice ambient vibes, but it’s still something you can bob your head to. And it pairs well with its sister track, which is super slow and relaxed.
I would also be remiss if I didn’t mention Vince’s Soundcloud, where he’s got a bunch of stuff – not just chiptunes, I might add. As you can see from Earthshine, he’s not just on LSDJ (though that is his primary medium), he also uses a lot of SunVox to do his non-chiptune work. For his final piece for this evening:
Kazan basically clocks in at my second favorite track. I can’t even really describe what it is about the song – I really like how it starts, and it just keeps going as awesome. It’s low energy, but keeps you interested. It makes me think of a Blade Runner-esque animation, with someone driving around some really cyberpunk city at night, and the guy driving the car is just tooling around because he’s spent the entire day punching robots in the face so he’s got to unwind. Or, y’know, something like that.
As a final note, it’s not just me who likes Vince’s music – apparently, he’s written a soundtrack to an upcoming indie game, though he’s not at liberty to talk about it much yet. Good on you, Vince! At 16, all I was doing was trying to make it through highschool and watching Cartoon Network – you’re already an officially hired musician! I expect good things from you.
Linkstorm down below. Have fun tuning those chips, kids.