Archive for July, 2014

Hoodie Highlights… Kubbi!

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Sup y’all? =) Prez Hoodie here, continuing my special interview series with the Chiptunes = WIN: Volume 3 judges! This time around I chat with everyone’s favorite cosmic cat composer, Kubbi! (alliteration FTW~). ENJOY!

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Hoodie: So we’ve been working together for some form or fashion for, what? Two? Three years now? I don’t even know anymore. All I know is a lot of crazy, awesome stuff has happened since that initial ice cream quest via social media silliness begun!

Kubbi: Still waiting for that ice cream….

Hoodie: Still searching for it. It ain’t easy to find, man!

Kubbi: Haha! I’ll be patient then.

Hoodie: I actually don’t even fully remember the joke anymore. I just know it was something really ridiculous. Hahaha

That aside, it’s been one helluva ride for Kubbi, at least from my vantage point! What’s that been like? I mean, did you even begin to imagine the adventures you’d have – & are still having x10!! – when this all kicked off?

Kubbi: I didn’t imagine anything like this, that’s for damn sure. It wasn’t until our little event at MAGFest and other unbelievable happenings that I saw the potential of this weird little project.

kubbi at MAGFest

Kubbi at MAGFest 12 Chipspace. Photo by Karl Ørn Ericksen.

Still trying to wrap my head around the fact that people listen to and care for my music.

Hoodie: Dude, I won’t lie. Where your music is concerned, nothing surprises me.

…okay, so the impact of your debut MAG show did surprise me a little! But that’s mostly because you’d always said before then that you probably WEREN’T planning on doing a live thing with Kubbi! Hahaha

Kubbi: And it’s still a really tough challenge, as recreating some of my tracks in a live performance is nearly impossible. DJing is something I still feel completely unfamiliar with, but considering how much fun I had performing at MAGFest it is something I just have to get comfortable with.

Hoodie: Yeah, that went just a little *TOO* well not to give it another go if you ask me.

Speaking of which, what does the future hold for Kubbi? Both in general, and the evolution of your musical style? While there’s a core feel to Kubbitunes, there’s definitely been a notable progression over the previous several releases. In particular with your most recent single, “Something New”. Because it most definitely is!

Kubbi: I’ve never defined myself as an artist of one specific genre. The stylistic distance between my new tracks are just greater than ever. This is actually the biggest factor to why albums take much longer for me to write now. Some tracks are heading in the same direction as “Something New” and some are still as silly and playful as “Up in my Jam“. I’ll let my musical style evolve further freely and we’ll see where this all ends up. I have a feeling great things are coming! : ]

Hoodie: You and me both dude!

Tell me a bit about your “Renovation Mixes”. Specifically, what are they and what prompted you to make them?

Kubbi: The idea came when I heard an older track of mine and thought “this one deserves better”. That was specifically the track “Void pt. 2” which I felt had great potential if only produced right. After being asked to perform at MAGFest I renovated and re-made a few other tracks I wanted to perform at Chipspace. It’s a fun challenge to take a look back at something I’m proud of and improve it.

Hoodie: Makes sense, especially since you were able to just tweak a few things and put them back down. Revisiting older works can be a Pandora’s Box if you’re not careful (i.e. “Okay, now I need to fix this. Now this! Now THIS! NOW THIIIISSSS…..”). I think you’ve got it under control quite nicely though. ;)

Craziest thing, though? Even though the Renovation Mixes are stellar, the originals are still damn solid tracks. Maybe that’s why it wasn’t too hard to revisit, but not get lost in doing such?

Kubbi: I just find way too many flaws with my old tracks. Taking the track apart and building it back together makes me see what, I think, makes the track so great and try to push it even further… but preferably avoiding these “flaws”. :3

Hoodie: Hey, it’s working for you. That’s all that matters. haha Personally, I’d love to hear a few more if you’re down for it. It’s really cool to see a track evolve in such a direct way, in an A/B fashion of a sort.

Kubbi: I think so too. ^_^ I’ll do more of them once I find time. Right now I’m fully focused on the next project.

Hoodie: As can only be expected. Already stoked for that btw! Any kind of timeline on when that’s happening, or is it still up in the ether?

Kubbi: Hopefully this album… will be out in time to keep folks warm this winter.

Hoodie: Duly noted, good sir. Will definitely be keeping an eye out when the weather turns a bit chillier. ;)

On a different note, while I don’t want to rehash the whole “Why do you chiptune?” question (as you’ve already answered it in various forms and fashions via other interviews), I am curious what is it that consistently draws you to that medium & sonic aesthetic with your compositions. I notice you’ve even started working with LSDJ as of recent!

Kubbi: The biggest reason is the community. I have never experienced a closer, more innovative and creative scene as the chiptune community. Next to that there’s just… I mean… how awesome isn’t it all? The sounds are so unique. The simplest of waveforms that wakes the most delightful of memories. Though it might not by itself appeal to the biggest audience, it draws a really special crowd and you instantly feel like you have something special in common with them.

Hoodie: There is a special level of kindred spiritedness within much of the chipscene that does facilitate a rather quick, magical type of connection. I first encountered it at MAGFest, and have continued to encounter & engage it in and around the chip, VGM, MAG, etc. scenes. It’s pretty damn inspiring. Good places to find other fantastic folk who are *DOING* stuff as well & join with them. I think that’s one of the biggest draws to me: finding more cool folk to do awesome shenanigans with. hahaha

Kubbi: Great people makes great shenanigans… makes great music! ^_^

Hoodie: Alright, enough of that serious crap. On to the real questions:

What’s it like growing up in Skyrim? Do you have a pet dragon, and if so what’s his/her name? What’s your favorite type of mead? How the hell are you, Jonas & Live so good at Cards Against Humanity? (srsly, that wasn’t even fair :3 ).

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FYI: Hiccup & Toothless both modeled after Kubbi & his irl pet dragon, MJØD.

Kubbi: See, we run a weekly competitive Cards Against Humanity tournament at our local tavern. During the second reign of the dragons our society learned the ancient arts of picking the funniest cards. Also my favorite mead needs to be brewed during full moon on the coldest night of December, then bottled in the presence of at least 15 polar bears. The dragons are still a government secret shh shh.

Hoodie: I KNEW IT ALL ALONG. And oh crap! How could I forget about the polar bears?!? They’re still fun to ride, right??

Kubbi: Never gets old. ^_^

Hoodie: hahahaha Well said. ;)

Speaking of stuff never getting old, it’s almost time to start judgeatization for Volume 3! You ready for that craziness???

Kubbi: Hell yesss! Can’t wait to see how it turns out. If it’ll even be close to the awesomeness of the last volume, I’m super stoked. Always an interesting experience listening through the crazy amounts of tracks we get.

Hoodie: It’s a pretty amazing experience, no doubt about it. Still pretty damn thrilled to be a part of it, and to have you involved. Gonna be some more good times I’m sure! =D

Thanks for taking the time to chat with me. Will catch you on the V.3 judging spreadsheet really soon!

Kubbi: Always a pleasure! Looking forward to it!

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ChipWIN-tern Spotlight: Steel Thy Shovel! Shovel Knight + Remixes and Tributes!

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original1Howdy-ho, chipperinos! I’m going to go out on a limb here and say you know a thing or two about Shovel Knight. You…you do know about Shovel Knight, right? I mean, I talked about it last year – it’s that game by Yacht Club Games where you combine all the best parts of Mega Man, Castlevania, Zelda II and Ducktales and go off to save the day and get your girlfriend back for great justice shovelry? Y’know, that game that just came out on darn near every game system so your list of excuses why you don’t have it and aren’t playing it grow slimmer as this sentence rambles longer? That one? Yeah. That’s a pretty great game. You should play it.

But this is a music blog! We’re not here to talk about really, really good games that you should go buy as soon as the dollars appear in your pocket. We’re here to talk about some bitchin’ music! And boy howdy do we have some music to talk about – the main soundtrack of the game clocks in at a whopping 48 tracks, composed by none other than the legendary Jake Kaufman, with guest appearances by the equally amazing Manami Matsumae, of Mega Man fame. And as if that weren’t enough, there’s an 18 track arranged album featuring new mixes of the in-game tracks from other famous folks like Jeff Ball and coda and so many others! We don’t have the time to do an exhaustive shakedown breakdown of every track, but I’d like to bring you some of my favorite pieces from these fine examples of compositional magic.

Not one to beat around the bush, virt slaps us in the face with a main theme filled with all sorts of fun things – while the melody is simple enough, all the little effects going on behind it give this theme such depth that it’s hard to believe that this is a track you don’t hear a whole lot of in the game. It’s sweeping, it’s epic, it lets you know that you’re about to get your butt in gear on a high-octane shovel-powered fantasy epic. This is a recurring theme in many of the later incidental songs (i.e. map music, cutscenes) – both in the musical sense of “variations on a theme” as well as the fact that none of the tracks in the game let you think for a minute that the energy is winding down during traditionally “boring” parts of the game like the map.

The first battle against the Black Knight is both the first taste of a boss battle as well as boss music – and in both senses, it sets you up to understand how the rest of the boss battles are going to play out. Just like it teaches you the basics of how to kill things and not die, it also tells you that the music for boss battles is going to be as intense as the fight is meant to be. It keeps your blood pressure up, your adrenaline flowing, and at least for me, the driving tempo helps me function more quickly since my brain is trying to move at the same speed as the music. Jeff Ball’s remix on the arranged album keeps it upbeat, but opts to revoice the track into this sweeping violin feature, and it’s absolutely grand. Violin, piano, electric bass and drum kit are already a mixture of musical voices that sound fun on their own, but not something one might think of immediately when covering chiptunes – but I’m glad he did.

I have talked about, in previous reviews, how much I love when artists can create a sense of place with their music. You know what I mean – sometimes, a track just makes you think of space, or a cave, or under the ocean – it’s all these subconscious metamusical constructs that we have in our heads from centuries of musical creation. This track perfectly evokes the sense of being high in the air – and it’s very soothing while still being upbeat, which is perfect, because the level this is tied to has a lot of frustrating portions, so being constantly soothed away from throwing the controller is vital. As with all the level themes, it becomes added in as part of the boss theme, which takes away the soothingness and does a barrel roll with the emotion behind it, making it a whole lot more urgent. While parts of the melody are the same, it’s amazing what a few changes can do to change the emotions evoked. Matsumae-san has her own remix of this on the arranged album, and I honestly don’t know which I like better. They’re tied at the top of the list of my favorite songs from the entire soundtrack.

From someone of virt’s experience, you shouldn’t be surprised when he whips out something completely different in tone than everything else he’s had going on. That said, I was not expecting a tarantella in the middle of my beating-rats-with-a-shovel-and-digging-for-gems simulator. (Nor was I expecting a waltz, but that’s a different scene.) It’s short, but it’s part of a hilarious little cutscene, and it all works together perfectly. It’s a nice break from the epic, sweeping pieces that accompany most levels – fun, fast, and fabulous. This theme also gets called back in the battle against Tinker Knight, which is a nice continuation on the whole Chekhov’s Gun for themes – if a melody gets used somewhere, it’s gonna show up again somewhere else.

This was one of Matsumae-san’s tracks, and who better to remix it than coda! It being an underwater theme, it’s a pretty relaxed and flow-y song, but coda gives it some juice and makes it something you can dance to instead of bobbing your head to it. It’s amazing what a punchy bassline and cranking up the tempo can do for a track. Matsumae-san’s track evokes a sense of vastness – indeed, it is everything we’ve grown to expect out of an underwater theme and so much more. coda’s cut keeps that intact, but instead of it feeling something like a calm afternoon floating down the river, it’s more like a trip down some rapids, while you’re drinking a Red Bull and have rubbed some cocaine in your eyes. It’s upbeat, it’s got some funk-heavy solos, and has fun with re-voicing the instruments all over the track so much that it almost keeps you guessing what’s gonna sneak in next.

tumblr_mxkl98RQv81t6ksl5o1_500 So, I was just going to leave it with that, and just stick to the two albums Jake put up on his Bandcamp, but in the interim, two other tributes have come out that I would be remiss not to bring to your attention: the ones from our good buddies DJ Cutman and Kevin Villeco and all around musical funnyguy brentalfloss! I’ll throw those embeds down at the end of the article.

And speaking of remixes coming out – I don’t know if you paid attention to the small print at the end of the paragraph on the arranged album page, but virt has openly welcomed any and all who wish to remix his songs to submit them to him! Who knows, if you’re a bad enough dude to save the president write a remix that he likes, he might throw it up as a bonus track on that remix album! So steel thy Gameboy and get writing!

Special thanks this article go out to Jake Kaufman for being a supremely talented human being, Manami Matsumae for coming back to the chiptune scene hardcore these past few years, and all of you who have contributed your remixes to the album or elsewhere – the best way to show you love something is to take it and make it a part of you for all eternity, so taking the time to pick the tracks you love and put your own spin on them for all the world to hear is so cool of you.

That’s all for now folks! I’ll be back next month with more ChipWIN-tern Spotlight, but in the meantime, there are all of the other amazing writers here, and there are a lot of fun things to look forward to in the near future – like BRKFest and the Orlando Nerd-Fest, both of which will be starring some of ChipWIN’s favorite humans, not to mention MAGFest 8.5 in but two short months!

Stay tuned! SEATS OUT.

Shovel Knight | virt’s Bandcamp

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The Adventures of Danny Pryor: geekbeatradio Presents: EVENTS!

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Hello everyone! It is I, Danny Pryor, here to take you on another random adventure!

As you may or may not know, I am a co-host on a show called geekbeatradio (*cough* Mondays 10pm-12am EST on geekbeatradio and wemfradio *cough*), where we talk about everything geek and nerd.

I am very lucky to be able to host some fine events in the wonderful city of Boston and this month has been no exception.  Three great events happened in the area and after I tell you a bit about them you will most likely want to live here FOREVER…or at least want to come and visit!

The month of July started off right with an event hosted by geekbeatradioleaguepodcast, and WEMF’s own Dave Crespo at McGann’s Irish Pub. Now you might ask, “Danny, why do you need THAT many people to host one event?”  I’d answer you that when you have Skyblew, D&D Sluggers, AND Mega Ran come to your city, you better call in the cavalry.    With the help of some of the best talent you can find in the city, we helped to make the Boston stop of the Odds ‘N’ Ends Tour a total success!

donuts and geekbeatradio

The night started off strong with a force..of Will (Sorry, Force of Will) a nerdcore rapper out of Salem, MA. His music spoke about what is like growing up a nerd and how the people in the nerdcore rap scene have influenced him. One of my favorite songs he performed used a beat by K-Murdock and Mega Ran called Forever which he called “RPGography” which is about his first experiences with tabletop games and RPGs.

Following his performance was MC facepalm!!!!!!! *AIR HORN!*

As soon as his intro song went out over the speakers, his coveted luchador mask was donned.  In full character, he blasted into his first track, “Robot Man“. The crowd moved to the front to join into the festivities once he started “Power Walking the Agro Crag“. He is the only man who can get through “The Legends of the Hidden Temple” with 60 seconds still on the clock.

Sam Mulligan was next in line, who is one of those guys you need for literally EVERY show. He always makes me smile with his catchy, funny tunes about hunting for Sasquatch or getting abducted by aliens. One song, even though it was a cover, was my personal favorite of the night, asking the audience, “What is your Fantasy?” In true to life Sammy Sam form, he nailed every single verse, top to bottom (head to toes?). Don’t forget, he is one of the founding members of HYPE$QUAD, so this is just another one of many talents he is capable of performing in almost any situation.

It was my first time seeing SkyBlew take the stage, and I was not disappointed. Forging a connection with the gamers in the crowd through songs like HM 2, a Pokemon reference to the Hidden Move called “Fly”, while still remaining loyal to his campaign of bringing substance back to hip-hop with tracks like “The Theory of C.O.L.O.R.S.“.  It is only a matter of time before this lyrical genius becomes a major player in the hip hop scene, with his heartfelt yet true to life words of wisdom.

Sky Blew at McGanns

D&D Sluggers, to put it bluntly, brings the party. After getting the chance to talk to Soultron and learning a bit about how he uses a Nintendo DS and guitar to make the people move, I was instantly hooked. The song that really got me moving was, “I Will Not Be There“, which brought together this amazing combination of chip and rock that kept me hyperventilating throughout the entire performance.

*BREATH IN, BREATH OUT* 

And of course, I can’t go without mentioning the headliner, Random AKA Mega Ran. Since I first heard Mega Ran’s song “Grow Up” I have been following his every move. His brilliant insight into the minds of video game characters, clean lyrics, and all around fun mentality, makes him an amazing act to see live. Some of his instrumentals were played from an original Famicom system and with a custom cart which only added to the nostalgic feelings filling the room.  He played a great combination of songs we all know and love, to new tracks that were just recently released, specifically “Infinite Lives” featuring Soultron of D&D Sluggers. Getting the chance to hear the two of them play this live was a sure fire way to get the song stuck in my head for the rest of my life! I even fell victim to his freestyle majesty when I handed him my Legend of Zelda wallet and was called out for not having any money in it. Obviously, chants for an encore ensued so he sat us all down for story time. The fact that he got everyone to sit down on a dirty bar room floor because we all wanted to be good listeners just proves that he is one of the best hip-hop artists around!

A huge thank you to all the artists for coming out and giving it your all, you were all truly inspirational in your performance!

BUT WAIT! THAT’S NOT ALL!  

On July 4th geekbeatradio was fortunate enough to help run our first ever BBQ at the HorrorHaus here in Boston. Hosted by the magnificent Mega Mega, we set up a projection screen with Super Nintendo games, speakers for live musicians, and even held a costume contest judged by Cosplay aficionados Harley Bean and Knives Jones.

Live acts that included the multi-talented duo of Seventh Gear, playing solo sets as Best Defense and RobotsexmusicDiamond Machine (who me?), and of course the super sonata songster, Bifflecup! Between the sweet jams playing from geekbeatradio.com, amazing burgers, fantastic friends and a glass of whiskey (neat), made it one of the best 4th of July celebrations I have had in a long time.

YES! THERE’S MORE!!!

July 12th was another big first for geekbeatradio, as we held our first ever video game tournament at Comicazi! We held a Super Smash Brothers Melee tournament, as it was the game being played at EVO 2014 that day, and we had plenty of dedicated players there to compete. We handed out cash prizes to the first and second place winners, had live chiptune music playing, and Mega Mega even brought cookies and brownies for everyone. What a guy!

Although it was a bit more of a casual tournament there was still a hunger to win from the competitors as it was a single elimination tournament. The final battle for first was a Captain Falcon mirror match which was a great surprise to me as I usually expect a Fox or Falco to end up being at the end. The game was played on a CRT TV and projected onto a screen for everyone to watch!

geekbeatradio at comicazi

The always loyal crew of chip artists came out to perform and keep a fun atmosphere the entire night. Diamond Machine started off the night, followed by BifflecupBest Defense, and Robotsexmusic. Everyone played their heart out that night, and we even got a visit from our good friend James Johnson, local entrepreneur and one of the creators of the game “Thief Town“. Go and vote for it on Greenlight since local multiplayer is the future of gaming!!!!

Whew! That is a lot of stuff going on in just a couple of weeks, but we are NOT stopping there!! We still have some AMAZING guests coming on the radio show in the next few weeks, a couple more shows to plan and a few tricks up our sleeves. Make sure to tune in so you are not left in the dark!!!!

Until our next Adventure!

ALL THE LINKS!!!!!!!!!

geekbeatradio
24/7 Chiptunes! | Facebook Twitter Tumblr Instagram | Youtube

WEMF Radio
Home Page | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Youtube

League Podcast
Home Page | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Comicazi
Home Page | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Random AKA Mega Ran
Home Page | Bandcamp | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Youtube 

D&D Sluggers
Home Page | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

SkyBlew
Bandcamp | Facebook | Twitter

Sam Mulligan
Home Page | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Bandcamp | Youtube | Soundcloud

MC facepalm
Bandcamp Soundcloud Facebook Twitter | Instagram 

Force of Will
Facebook | Twitter | Soundcloud

Bifflecup
Bandcamp Soundcloud | Twitter

Robotsexmusic
Bandcamp Soundcloud Facebook Twitter

Best Defense
Bandcamp | Soundcloud | Twitter

Diamond Machine
Bandcamp Soundcloud Facebook Twitter

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ChipWIN & Play It Loud Present: ORLANDO NERD FEST CHIPTUNE SHOWCASE!!

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Sup y’all? President Hoodie here with another badass announcement. I swear, those are becoming my thing lately, amirite? IAMRITE. #SwagSwagSwag 8-)

Stupid preamble aside, to see that the debut of Orlando Nerd Fest gets its proper dose of chiptune awesomeness, Play It Loud & Chiptunes = WIN are joining ridiculous forces to bring 9 KICKASS CHIPACTS to perform at not one, not two, but THREE late night shows of badassery for your pajama wearing asses to party and/or dance at.

LOOKIT DAT ZOMBOFURKIN SEKSAY POSTER BELOW:

ONF chiptune showcase poster - smaller size

Swankass event poster by Justin Franco of Play It Loud.

To top things off, we’ll also be helping man a separate side room full of retro games to play on classic TVs (provided via the Orlando Science Center, because SCIENCE!),
chipmerch to purchase, and some other chipjams to jive to! WACHOW!!

Add all of this chip goodness to the already absolutely MONSTROUS collection of other spectacular artists performing at this crazy party and you’ve got yourself a bonafide
GOOD GORRAM TIME!

So, what are you waiting for, Orlando? Grab yo ONF tickets#ComeGetYourChipOn!!!

Much \m||m/,
President Hoodie
Founder & Project Manager of Chiptunes = WIN

P.S. Don’t forget to check out ONF’s Kickstarter HERE to help boost the fest even further!

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Orlando Nerd Fest:
orlandonerdfest.com | Tickets | Facebook | Twitter 
Fb Event – ONFAfter Party | Kickstarter

Play It Loud:
PlayItLoudChiptune.comFacebook

Artist Bios & Links:

Boy Without Batteries:
Boy Without Batteries is the musical alias of Cole Jaques, a chiptune musician from Lakeland, Florida, who uses two Nintendo Gameboys to create melodic and energetic dance tracks reminiscent of retro videogames and old school computers.
BandcampSoundcloud

Astroskeleton:
~*high energy emotional punk rock, dance jams, and shibuya-kei/idol inspired powerpop from corvallis oregon*~
Bandcamp | Facebook | Twitter | Soundcloud | Tumblr

Melt Channel:
Melt Channel is a high energy, power packed fusion of electric guitar jams and lo-fi Nintendo console vibes.
Meltchannel.com | Bandcamp | Facebook | Twitter | Soundcloud

Storm Blooper:
Hailing from Philadelphia, Storm Blooper uses original Nintendo Gameboys running LSDJ to make music you can twerk to.
Bandcamp | Facebook | Twitter | Soundcloud

Solarbear:
Solarbear is a progressive rock composer from Lexington, KY who creates his works from Nintendo Gameboys. With a strong grounding in both metal and electronic dance, his music combines with an aggressive live performance to get both your feet and your fists moving.
Solarbearsucks.com | Bandcamp | Facebook | Twitter | Soundcloud

Auxcide:
Auxcide (PHL) is a chiptune artist who uses multiple gameboys along with other hardware to create vast soundscapes with driving passages through starfields.
Bandcamp | Facebook | Twitter | Soundcloud | Tumblr

Masikus:
Masikus began his musical career as a drummer. He now combines his love for chiptune, hip-hop, ambient music, downtempo and video games into darker, original compositions and video game music remixes.
Bandcamp | Facebook | Twitter | Soundcloud | Tumblr

Ap0c:
Ap0c is a project by Philadelphia-based musician Steve Lakawicz. He uses vintage game system audio combined with tuba to explore social encounters, interpret haunting memories, and expose visceral emotions.
Bandcamp | Facebook | Twitter | Soundcloud

Zantilla:
Zantilla is the progressive chip-metal outlet of self-taught composer, producer, and keyboardist Adrian Shegstad. Combining elements of chiptune, modern prog metal, and electronica, Zantilla manages to ground itself into multiple scenes. Adrian first made a name for himself as remix artist “Sleeper Express” and brings his production techniques and synth heavy style to Zantilla’s energetic aesthetic. His debut album, “Encounters” displays this energy at it’s highest as it takes listeners through a sci-fi inspired adventure. Currently, he is writing collaborating with titans of the chiptune, and djent metal scene, as well as porducing his next release, “Color-Motion”.
Bandcamp | Facebook | Twitter | Soundcloud

So You Wanna Make A Chiptune #1: Tone Matrix Apps

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Sup boys and girls, it’s your man Kuma!  You know, one of the things that I love about the scene is how curious we are about new hardware and software.  People of all ages and skill levels are constantly pushing themselves to be more crafty, finding new ways to create music and visuals.  It’s really cool.  But with new tools being released and updated constantly, making the choice of what to use can be rather daunting.  Furthermore, a lot of what’s on the market isn’t worth your time or money.  That’s where this article comes in. So You Wanna Make A Chiptune is a column in which myself (and possibly other artists on the blog, as well) will help shine a spotlight on the weapons worth adding to your arsenal, as well as advising against the ones you should avoid!  With that said, let’s get things started!

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If you’re like me, you’re probably on your phone or tablet a lot.  Checking Facebook, listening to Soundcloud, sharing hentai pics of chiptune artists on twitter.  Fun stuff, for sure, but did you know you can compose music on your mobile device, too?  It’s true!  There is a huge gallery of resources at your disposal for music composition on the go, and while there are a lot of different ways to do it, the kind I’m gonna be focusing on today are tone matrix apps.

Tone Matrices are programs that allow you to create music by pressing on buttons within a grid (16×16 is the most common ratio) to create musical patterns that can be played in a sequence for song creation or can allow the user to improvise easily during live performances, much like the Tenori-on by Yamaha.  Think of it like a Lite-Brite that makes music.  Why am I focusing on these kinds of apps in a scene that focuses heavily on trackers and DAWs?  Because not only are tone matrix programs simple, easy and fun to use, but they’re also arguably the most intuitive and unintimidating programs to use.

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Tone Matrix

tonematrix screencap

Starting things off in our article about tone matrix apps is…Tone Matrix.  Yeah, that’s what it’s called. Based off the tone matrix program of the same name by Andre Michelle (a Polish producer who created the PC version for use with the online DAW Audiotool), Tone Matrix is exactly what it says it is…and nothing else.  Lacking the multi instrumentation, pitch control, scale shifting and pretty much everything that makes the version Andre Michelle made that works as a stand alone browser sequencer (as well as a plugin for Audiotool), Tone Matrix is the most barebones tone matrix composer you’ll find, and honestly, it sucks. With jarringly loud tones that increase in pitch way too much the higher on the scale you go, a dull design, and only two options in the menu available, Tone Matrix is an app to generally stay away from.  It’s free, and takes little to no memory, so if you want to play with it just to get your feet wet with the idea of what a tone matrix is, feel free to use it for that.  Beyond that, this app is gross and a major disservice to Andre Michelle (whose music I highly recommend listening to).

Breakdown:
Functions & Features: 1/5
UI: 3/5
Bang for Buck: 1/5
Reusability: 1/5
Reliability: 1/5
Overall: 1/5

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RollingTones

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Moving on from Tone Matrix is a program near and dear to my heart called RollingTones.  Also inspired by Andre Michelle’s program, RollingTones is everything Tone Matrix should have been but never was.  Designed by Czech designer and photographer Vit Hotarek as an homage to Andre’s program, RollingTones is one of the most deceptively powerful tools you will ever find for music creation on the android market.  Taking up a measly 5mb, the program features a 16×16 grid, numerous instruments, and several playback and editing options all neatly displayed on the main screen.  There are also several other features available within the program that are made available upon pressing the menu button.  RollingTones features over 40 different instruments, fully functional saving options (limited only by the amount of space on your device), the ability to insert, copy, paste or delete patterns on the spot, octave shifting, single pattern or full song playback, audio quality output control (all of which save as highly versatile .wav files), tempo shifting ranging from 60-220bpm, a comprehensive help menu, a snappy demo song and 35+ scale types to compose in!  The best part of all is that it does all this for free. No ads, no bloatware, no microtransactions.  100% Guile loving, cheeseburger eating, ‘Murikan free.  It’s a very versatile program, one that I’ve enjoyed using to perform on Clipstream with, but it certainly isn’t without its problems.

While each song allows you to have up to 99 patterns in it, this total is mathematical and not theoretical, meaning that whether your song is composed of 99 unique, individual patterns, or maybe 10-12 patterns you’ve repeated, as long as that total equals 99 THAT’S IT!  Song’s done!  Trying to exceed that amount causes RollingTones to crash and can lead to file corruption.  Furthermore, while there are numerous options available to you for instrumentation, RollingTones lacks pitch control and modulation for individual instruments, and also doesn’t allow for mixing of different types of the same instrument in a song file.  What that means is that if you start composing a song using a square wave, you not only can’t add a triangle wave to the song to add different sounds to it, but trying to do so changes all the notes you inputted using the wav instrument from square waves to triangle waves.  It can be a pain in the ass, but exploring limits and finding ways to circumvent and push against them is what chiptune is about, and with RollingTones, it’s definitely possible to do so.  Furthermore, while he’s slow to implement changes, Vit Hotarek is a programmer that listens to his audience, and updates the program with new features whenever possible.  This leads me to believe this will be a problem of the past with RollingTones given time.  Regardless of when this happens, RollingTones is a fun app to use, and I highly recommend playing with it, cause you just might surprise yourself with what you make while using it.

Breakdown:
Functions & Features: 4/5
UI: 5/5
Bang for Buck: 4.5/5
Reusability: 4/5
Reliability: 4/5
Overall: 4.25/5

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Nanoloop 3.0 for Android

nanoloop3

Created by Oliver Wittchow, a programmer and musician based out of Germany, Nanoloop has long been the undersung little brother of the big 3 portable trackers (those trackers being LSDJ, LGPT and Nanoloop), but don’t be fooled: just because it’s been underutilized doesn’t mean it sucks.  Whether it’s one of the classic carts or the newest version for Android (and I products, as well.  This is the one program on this list that doesn’t discriminate against mobile platforms), Nanoloop is truly a powerhouse to reckon with.  Taking the already established simple and powerful design of its predecessors and combining it with the ease of use touch screens offer, Nanoloop is more than just a tool for chiptuners.  Between its intuitive 4×4 tone matrix grid, editing options such as pitch, lfo, cutoff and volume control for each instrument, and the ability to use both native instruments and samples for music creation, Nanoloop 3.0 is not only the most powerful option available on this list, it’s arguably now the most versatile of the 3 big trackers, as it’s capable of everything previous iterations of the program could do as well as almost everything RollingTones can do and more.  While I will complain that, compared to RollingTones, getting used to the symbols and song creation in NL takes a little bit of getting used to, once you’ve learned how to walk with this bad boy, you’ll be up and running faster than Sean Monistat  can put out EPs.  If you have $3 US dollars to spare and have even been slightly curious about this program, I’m telling you: take that leap of faith.  It is money well spent.


Breakdown:

Functions & Features: 5/5
UI: 4.5/5
Bang for Buck: 4.5/5
Reusability: 4.5/5
Reliability: 5/5
Overall Grade: 4.85/5

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That does it for this edition of “So You Wanna Make A Chiptune”!  Tune in next time as we take the time to review some classic, demoscene style trackers and help you determine what tools will work best for you!   Also, don’t forget to check out articles from all of our other amazing talent here, Including Adam Seats, AutoRemi-PK, Professor Oakes, Viridian Forge, Chip Mom, Hoodie, R. Morgan, and all the other talented, wonderful staff here at ChipWIN.  Last but not least, regardless of what you do, how you choose to express your creativity or who you choose to share it with, remember, Kuma loves you.

Peace!

\m| (=^(T)^=) |m/

Apps on the Google Play:
ToneMatrix | RollingTones | Nanoloop

Andre Michelle:
Homepage | Blog | Audiotool | Soundcloud | ToneMatrix (for pc)

Vit Hotarek:
Homepage

Oliver Wittchow/Nanoloop:
Homepage | Facebook | Twitter

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