It’s been a minute since I’ve published here on the blog, and it’s good to be back. I return with the news of an incredible release by none other than an Oklahoma native that you might all know by the name of DBOYD (Don’t Blink Or You’ll Die). ‘Paradise’ was released on January 27th, 2017 via Galaxy Swim Team and the EP consists of music from straight out of Game Boy. Listening to releases so cleanly recorded and intricate really made me want to sit down and devour everything Little Sound Dj can do and I suggest you all buy the record to feel the same inspiration that I’m feeling.
Before bringing DBOYD in for an interview, I probably listened to ‘Paradise’ about five times. I had gotten home from work late, I wasn’t particularly tired, and I went in with no inclination as to how the record would sound. Little did I know that I would have this on repeat till about 4AM.
The record is probably one of the cleanest Gameboy releases I’ve ever heard. The mix is stellar. From the start of track 1 (entitled ‘Lazy Dayze’), this release oozes with positivity and showcases fun, twisting melodies with hard panned instruments that add complimentary ear candy. Each transition flows easily into each other, though each had its own distinctive and flavorful sound to it that constantly had me focused. Seriously, having listened to this release, you’ll want to pick up LSDJ and figure out all the hidden secrets of the software that we maybe didn’t think was possible until DBOYD showcased them.
My favorite track off the EP was ‘We Will Carve Our Name Into The Cosmic Abyss’. I could have listened to that fade-in noisy percussion forever. The melody surrounding 3:09 was heart-melting, and DBOYD leaves his mark with both intricate rhythms and memorable harmonies that soon come together in powerful unity.
I had the pleasure of interviewing DBOYD, so without further ado, here is the mastermind behind the record himself:
Tell me a bit about your artist name. I picture it coming from neighborhood kids tricking the youngest of the group into thinking they’d drop dead if they lost a staring contest. Where did the name ‘Don’t Blink Or You’ll Die’ originate from?
That’s a cool way of looking at it actually! Most people think it’s a reference to Doctor Who, but it’s not that either. I came up with ‘Don’t Blink Or You’ll Die’ as more of a carpe diem mentality that I aspire to in my day-to-day. It’s a reminder for me to not take things for granted, to not let life pass you by, because this may all be gone before we know it and realize it.
Tell us about you! Where are you from, where are you currently, and what do you want the world to know about DBOYD?
My name is Nathan Reed, born in Oklahoma City, OK, grew up here and in Edmond, OK, and currently living in OKC. Video gaming has been the biggest part of my youth growing up, until I fell in love with music in high school. I actually played trumpet for about 12 years and entered college originally as a music performance major, then changed to music composition about halfway through and have been in love with writing ever since then.
I discovered chiptune in 2010, when 8bitcollective was in full swing still, I discovered some of my early favorites like Fighter X, IAYD, Disasterpeace, Electric Children, older Trey Frey, and more, and downloaded LSDj shortly after, but didn’t finish a song until 2012 because I was more focused on writing for classical instruments.
After I graduated, I decided to take my chipmusic writing more seriously, so I played my first show in Oct. 2013 under “Don’t Blink…” and released my first EP, “Battle Jazz Classics”, in Dec. 2013. Looking back on that release is so wild to me now. Those tracks were literally some of “My first LSDj’s”, haha!
Who was the first chiptune artist you ever listened to?
Ohhhhh jeez, haha. If we’re going way way back….. I’d have to say, probably the first song was “Airbrushed” by Anamanaguchi, when they were releasing the Summer Singles. That track still holds a fair amount of significance to me. I can’t believe that was about 7 years ago O_0.
Is your Gameboy modded? How many Gameboys do you use?
For live performance, it’s not “pro-sound” audio modded, just paint/backlight/ buttons. For recording, I do use a pro-sounded DMG and also started using BGB emulator. I’ve been writing mainly 1xLSDJ (this EP was too) but I use 2 DMGs on stage just for easy transitioning from song to song.
Who created the album art? Was it you?
The cover art is a photo I took in Claude Monet’s garden at Giverny during a family vacation in France. I remember thinking “damn I actually took a beautiful picture for once, haha, maybe I’ll use this for album art or something idk…” well, lo and behold!
Did you record each instrument individually for this EP?
Nope, no channels were separated. Everything was recorded as 1 track onto Audacity! Tracks 1-3 & 5 were recorded w/ BGB, track 4 was w/ my pro sounded DMG because there is a fairly sharp ritardando at the very end which BGB did not capture (it doesn’t register a tempo under 80BPM, go figure!)
What inspired you to create this release?
Kind of a mix of things. The overall theme of the record is about searching for your own personal paradise, wherever/whoever/whatever that may entail. Part of it was influenced by my trip to Puerto Rico last May to visit some close friends of mine who moved there. “Lazy Dayze” began as an homage to their cat, Cazador, while “Paradise” is titled “Ebb/Flow” in LSDJ, drawing inspiration from the beach near their house. However, the last 2 tracks on the album are actually a little older, but I took them and gave them an update and put them on, because they fit the overall theme of the record perfectly.
I ordered the cassette today and I can’t wait for it to come in! What inspired you to release it on cassette?
Word, thank you so much!! I had a few friends come up to me for (literally) years now and ask me like, “Yo Nate, when’s that new DBOYD tape droppin’?? When’s the cassette coming out?” etc etc, hahah. Also, I was staying at Sean Baker’s (Awesome Force’s) house in Missouri last Summer for a show, and he played the Kevyn Gnartinez Band EP “Splash of Summer” and I LOVED how it sounded, so I figured I would try it for my album!
Tell us about Galaxy Swim Team. Who are they and how’d you come across them?
I’ve actually known about GST since its inception in early 2015. One of my close friends, Maxwell (fka kanon_kid) helped start it, and for a long time now I’ve wanted to release a record w/ them. I resonate strongly with everything they stand for, “escapism and idealizing your situation. Living in your dreams and fantasies and being completely swept off your feet by your own imagination” as it says from the first GST compilation, while also being a wonderful support group and promoting a positive atmosphere too.
What was the best show you’ve ever played?
Either Norman Music Festival 9 or Square Sounds Tokyo ’16 pre-party. Some of my friends did a stage dive during NMF9, and a lot people came up to me afterward saying “holy shit dude, I never would’ve expected anything like this from a Gameboy!” It’s still really cool to see people come up after a show, curious as to what I’m doing and want to try it, too. That’s the best feeling ever.
I thought the liner notes of your album were so sweet – it was so positive and uplifting, and it sounds like you have a major support team with friends and your girlfriend. Who do you generally show your finished/in progress work to first? Who do you show it to last?
Thank you so much. Mental anxiety and depression are too real, but I truly do have a great group of people supporting me and my endeavors, and I’m forever grateful for that ☺. I do show a lot of my stuff to my GF since we live together, but besides that, I really don’t show any WIP’s to anybody else, and I really want to start breaking that mental hurdle. I did show a newer track to Steve (Ap0c) recently and he noted how laggy some elements in the song were, so I made necessary changes and it sounds a million times better (thanks again, dude!!). That track isn’t on this EP though, but it’ll get a future release at some point ;).
How long did this release take you from start to finish? Were there any tracks that didn’t make it to the release?
All of the tracks are from 2014-2016, but I also took my sweet time with it. I could’ve probably put more focus into finishing it much sooner, writing more tracks, but it would’ve probably been a very different record. There were also a couple of tracks I considered putting on there in place of others, but overall I’m very happy with how it turned out.
What are your goals for the future?
I find a good deal of solace and comfort in writing music, so I’ll probably keep doing this until the day I die. I’m also taking my Japanese learning more seriously this year.
Be sure to listen to the whole album and consider buying a digital release & cassette! I cannot wait for my physical copy to come in. Keep an eye and ear on DBOYD — I have a feeling a lot more good music is in store for all of us from him.
Until next time,
The Unicorn Princess