Yo, welcome back ChipWINers! This week I managed to get a hold of a very popular artist from the Philly scene, Chris de Pew, aka, Storm Blooper. Having started out doing open mics and quickly becoming an anticipated and often booked live act over the past year, this young man is a force to be reckoned with! So without further ado, I bring you my interview with this talented, charming and amiable artist, Storm Blooper!
Kuma: So, lets start with something I noticed shortly after we first met. One night after 8static, you, Doppel-Gengar and Shyabeetus let me crash at your place after of night of partying. While I was at your humble abode, I noticed a keyboard and plethora of other music equipment, belying how long you’ve been making music. Tell me, where did Storm Blooper get his start in all this musical hoo ha? How did your epic journey begin?
Chris de Pew (Storm Blooper): Well I guess I’ve been involved with music and everything since I was really young. There was always a piano of some sort in every house I grew up in and so I just naturally gravitated towards that wherever it was. Although I didn’t start really making music until about 2006-2007. I taught myself everything, so I can’t really read sheet music or anything like that.
Kuma: I can respect that. It seems self taught instrumentation is a lot more common that I first gave credit to the scene when I started doing these interviews. That being said, did you have any early music projects prior to chiptune? Anything on Newgrounds or OCRemix, for example, or did you not start sharing anything until much later in your musical career?
SB: Yeah, it’s really kind of nice to see that in this scene. I always thought for years that I was alone in that aspect. As for earlier music projects, yeah I had this silly “band” called Sub-Woofer Special where I made music in FL Studio. It was really terrible stuff. Like, really terrible. You can find that project on the internet in a few different places if you just search for it. Other than that though I was in a ska band called Castro Fiasco in high school where I played trombone (again, self taught). That was a fun time. But as I spent more and more time with the Sub-Woofer Special project I began to add different instruments that tried to emulate chip sounds. Then eventually, I decided I wanted to focus on making chiptune music, even if it was “fakebit”.
Kuma: Very cool. Now, during that time, when you were SWS, was there a particular artist, song or moment that gave you that spurred that catharsis? The one that made you realize that chiptune was what you wanted to do?
SB: Well for years I had watched this online animated series called Bonus Stage by this guy Matt Wilson and he did all of the animation, music, and voices for it. A lot of the backing tracks to his epsiodes were chiptune sounding (he makes his music under the name SAVESTATES) and that’s what initially made me want to start incorporating some chip elements on top of some of the orchestral instruments I was using. Then a few years after doing that I just ended up using more chip instruments than string instruments.
Kuma: Was the transition from VSTs to trackers on Game Boys like LSDJ difficult for you? Were you surprised by how much Game Boys were capable of when you finally got your hands on one for musical purposes?
SB: Oh, I was blown away! I had been listening to people like glomag, Bit Shifter, Sabrepulse and all of them for years before, but I just never knew exactly what their whole setup was. So I was always under the impression that there was more than just the Game Boy going on in their tracks. I tried a demo version of LSDJ when I was still in high school, and when I say tried, I mean I basically opened it up, stared at the screen, moved the cursor left and right, put in a 00, then turned it off. Then when I actually sat down and tried learning it about a year ago, I was just proud that I was able to get to the instrument screen and change the duty cycle.
The great thing about a piece of software like LSDJ is that I can continue to learn and do so much more every day, whereas a VST just has these set parameters for the most part and that’s that.
Kuma: LSDJ is certainly a beast of a program, but I think a lot of us have that moment with trackers at one point or another, no matter how much we want to try to make music. I remember before getting into Piggy Tracker, I tried making music with Milky Tracker. I opened it up, looked at it, was liked “cool!” and then I tried using it, and I was like “nope” and I never used it again.
SB: Haha! Yeah I never thought I would be able to get a handle on any type of tracker at all. I haven’t looked at Milky or anything but I’m sure I would do the same thing
Kuma: That being said, lets go back a bit to what you mentioned before, about being inspired by Bonus Stage. Now, recently, in fact very quickly after coming onto the scene as Storm Blooper, you found popularity through another group of internet celebs called Continue?. Let’s talk about how you first met these guys, the song they used in one of their videos, and your feelings about that song now that it’s out there.
SB: Oh god! God damn it! I knew this song would be brought up!
Kuma: What’s wrong Chris? You sound as if there’s some intense emotion towards the song.
SB: Haha. MANY intense emotions.
Kuma: Well…why don’t you tell us?
SB: Okay, so I used to be a teaching assistant for Nick Murphy for his film course that he used to teach at UArts for high school students. I’ve known him for a few years but I didn’t meet the other guys until MAGfest actually. Anyway, the song that they used was the second song I wrote in LSDJ. The song that people seem to love for some reason (I think it’s pretty terrible myself).
Kuma: Well while it’s very cool you’ve known Nick for a while and they chose to use one of your songs for their video, I still don’t understand why you dislike that song so. I suppose to each their own, but you gotta admit: aside from being semi-youtube famous for it, now, it’s also seen it’s fair share of remixes in the scene, particularly by a few good friends of yours who are rather talented. Does it bother you that they chose to remix that song, or are you indifferent towards it?
SB: You know, I don’t think I’m anywhere near as good as him, but Josh Davis (Bit Shifter) said in an interview with andaruGO (I believe) once something about “Reformat the Planet” and how he feels about everyone loving that song and requesting it. I think he said something to the effect of “it’s like the chipscene ‘Free Bird’ ” and that he kind of just wants it to fade away or something like that. I think I know exactly how he feels now.
Haha… I’m sort of indifferent to the whole thing now, I guess. They’ve remixed it and covered it in so many different forms it’s a little ridiculous. You have to give them a lot of credit for that. Mainly Shyabeetus, who will find any way possible to cover it…even in Mario Paint.
Kuma: You know it’s funny you mention that song and Bit Shifter. While I certainly understand it’s popularity and that sort of vibe it has in the scene, for me, personally, “Reformat the Planet” was never that pinnacle, Free Bird song to me. For me, it was always “Strange Comfort”. But hey, what do I know: I didn’t get into chiptune until Blipfest 2k12.
That being said, I’m glad you at least feel indifferent to the remixes and requests for “Someone Stole All of the Ice Cream”, especially because one of those friends who helped remix it is also someone you’ve performed with fairly often. Lets talk about your relationship with DJ McGranaman for a bit, such as how you two first met and what made you guys want to work together, as well as any impact musically you two may have had on each other.
SB: Strange Comfort is A+. Ah, yes, DJ Bananahands. We actually met at 8static. I want to say it was my second or third 8static. I had seen him play open mic the first time I went back in May 2012. Actually before that, I saw him at this presentation I attended about music in video games. Dain Saint and Chipocrite held that during Philly Tech week. But I didn’t speak to DJ McGranaman then, I just noticed that metroid hat he had.
Kuma: Ah yes…that hat that he no longer has and now he cries every time it’s mentioned because he is without it.
SB: Jeffery was a special boy. RIP.
But we started performing this hour long combination set thing at MAGfest. It was a weird idea we came up with I think to save time on the chipstage that Piko Piko Detroit had set up.
Kuma: Was it? It seemed like you two had planned it a little more than that. It worked pretty well.
SB: Yeah I think we did maybe like 5 minutes worth of planning before we actually went up and did it haha! We would just do back to back songs so there wasn’t a whole bunch of dead time and instead constant music happening. We just kind of guessed which songs would flow well right into the next, and luckily for us it worked the first time.
Kuma: Well enough that you guys performed together again a couple months back in Philly. Tell me, how did that performance go? Did you actually prepare for it?
SB: Yeah! We’ve performed a couple of times as that duo since MAG. We played a set down at T-MODE and a few other places. The performance at TooManyGames went really well! We prepared a bit more before that show, yeah. Haha and by that time we had been playing so much together already that we sort of knew what to expect, although we constantly communicate just to give each other updates on what songs are coming next and such.
Kuma: I’m glad to hear it! That being said, lets get back to your solo career. You have an EP coming out very soon! Lets talk about it! What can we expect to hear on it? Is there anything new musically you experimented with when making this album? Will it have that definitive Blooper sound or can we expect to be surprised by this new baby of yours?
SB: There’s definitely no “Someone Stole All of the Ice Cream on it.” I can guarantee that. But yeah, there’s some weird different sounding things that I tried out on a few of the tracks
Kuma: I’m definitely looking forward to the album. Are you doing a listening party for it, by any chance?
SB: No listening party for this one (the next one though I promise!). And I don’t know if I have a certain sound at all. To me everything on the album sounds like it was written by a different person or someone with a multiple personality disorder. It’s kind of all over the place really.
Kuma: Wahhhh! No listening party! That feels so naked, so raw! But I’m happy to have something new to listen to soon. That being said, I think here is a good place to wrap things up, my friend. Before we go, is there anything you want to say in closing to your friends, fans, readers, or the chiptune/vgm community at large?
SB: I’d just like to thank anyone and everyone who’s possibly interested in my music in the first place! It’s really amazing the amount of people that actually care about what I’m doing, and in such little time! I honestly don’t think my music is that great, but for whatever reason there are people out that still want to listen to it and support me. So really, thank y’all thank y’all! Especially the Philly chipscene, Bryan Dobbins, Chris Burke, Josh Davis, you, EVERYONE!
Kuma: Thank you for making the music you do, and for being the cool cat you are, as well. it’s been a pleasure seeing you perform, hanging with you and being your bro since joining the scene. I definitely look forward to interviewing you again. Peace!
Thanks for checking out this week’s interview. Don’t forget to follow or like Storm Blooper on your preferred social media and check out his new EP, Jawn-Dis, which drops this weekend on 8static’s bandcamp page, as one of the first albums to be released under their new record label since joining foces with Dj CUTMAN!
Also, check us out next week for the long awaited release of next monster LP, Chiptunes = WIN Vol. 2, as well as another (possibly even two) awesome new interviews!!!!!!!!