Greetings, readers. Under normal circumstances, I’d have a review lined up as an article, and maybe even an interview to cap it off and give you folks a little bit of insight into the artist’s creative process. However, unforeseen hurdles caused me to scrap the review I had lined up, and I went into a creative slump. This article was supposed to publish two weeks ago today, for perspective, but now I’ve worked up the motivation to write again. So, rather than doing a traditional review or interview-review combination, I’d like to talk about something else: the community we’ve fostered for the last six or so years, and what it’s done for me in terms of my personal growth as both a writer and a human being. So, let’s start from the beginning.
The year is 2012. I’ve been in college for a little longer than a semester now, and I’m jamming out to chipmusic while studying for a math exam; specifically, Sabrepulse’s ‘First Crush EP’ and SMILETRON’s ‘DELTA EP’, my two favorite albums at the time. I had heard ‘DELTA’ at a birthday jam thrown a year prior by Chris Davidson – Dj CUTMAN – in Waffle Frolic, and at this point in my journey this was the extent of my knowledge of chiptune. I knew that ‘DELTA’ and ‘First Crush’, alongside Anamanaguchi’s ‘Dawn Metropolis’, were three of my favorite albums, and I knew that Dj CUTMAN had a mixtape of hip-hop remixed video game beats known as ‘Gamechops: Volume 1’, which I picked up at a show of his at a local bar. I remember Chris sharing around a community that had sprung up sometime after MAGFest 10, and I joined the group before it hit 1,000 members, lurking and looking at all the cool albums and tracks everyone was sharing. During the summer of 2012, ‘Chiptunes = WIN: Volume 1’ came out, and I was astounded at the album’s length and the sheer quality and complexity of the music contained within. I was inspired; but inspired to do what, I hadn’t figured out yet.
I had been struggling with a lot of negative feelings in the spring of 2013. I’d just dealt with a rough break-up, and between disinterest in my college major and the ending of a relationship, I found myself in a very distraught state of mind. Games I had once enjoyed playing became stale, repetitive and boring, and I needed to find a way to end the monotony. I came across a post by one Brandon Hood in the ChipWIN Facebook group, inquiring about people who would be interested in writing for The ChipWIN Blog, which at this point was still in its early stages. I spent about an hour writing what essentially amounted to a positive blurb about Kola Kid’s ‘Afterparty EP’, and found myself spontaneously contacting Brandon about writing for the blog. I (quite awkwardly, in retrospect) asked if I should add him on Facebook to continue our communication, to which he responded by adding me as a ‘friend’. I had no idea what I was getting into at this point; I’d had online friends before, but had never actively contributed to a community such as this one, or any at all for that matter. This guest article was the beginning of a long-running writing career with the ChipWIN team.
This community has taught me a lot about just how warm and inviting people can be. I remember shooting a message to Professor Shyguy, one of my favorite chipmusicians, while he was in my city (Ithaca, New York!) playing at CornellCon. I wasn’t able to make it to his show and wanted to know if he would meet up with me before he left, to which he obliged. I walked to the local mall the following day, and him, Jonna and I all grabbed pizza and talked for almost an hour about how he wrote his music, board games and Magic: the Gathering – I distinctly remember him talking about how he played formats like Sealed and Draft rather than Constructed ones. I picked up a few albums of his and posed for a photo with him in the parking lot of the mall before he was off to his next destination. I remember my first interview for the blog with Tri Angles, one of the most memorable and influential moments of my writing career. Talking with him about his musical process was enlightening, and the interview was less of a structured, rigid Q&A and more like a fluid, natural conversation with an old friend. It was another eye-opening example as to how awesome the people in the chipmusic community really are.
I remember when Crunk Witch came to Ithaca, and Hannah and Brandon M. sat down with my fiancée and I, and talked for twenty minutes before they got on stage. I remember having the honor of interviewing Crunk Witch, Shirobon, Nanode, Sabrepulse, sieken, Spaceman Fantastiques, and Yokemura Takeshi of YMCK and walking away from each interview more inspired than I’ve ever felt before to make a positive impact in the community. I remember writing ‘MAH BIRFDAY’ and ‘Halfpipe Gigashark’ with the wonderfully talented Izzy (aka JANX, Lil JANX or DRANKSTY JANX) and absolutely loving the finished products. I remember the sheer joy I felt when we found out we got onto ‘ChipWIN: Volume 4’, and how ecstatic and surprised I was to meet her on a weekend where we both happened to be in Pittsburgh, by chance, in November of 2015. I remember the countless hours spent typing and editing, and refining my writing craft with the help of the amazing ChipWIN Blog team, who really pushed me to become as great of a writer as I can.
I am thankful for this community, from the bottom of my heart. It’s presented me with more positive experiences and opportunities than I can count, and I’ve learned so many things about chipmusic that I’d never have known without the dedication of the artists and fans within our collective. I’ve come into contact with some of the most talented people I’ve ever known or ever will know, and some of the most dedicated, amazing writers and editors on our blogging team. Seeing fans and artists alike coming together to exchange ideas and music is one of the most heartwarming things to see as a member of ChipWIN, and after five years, being an active member of this community has never felt more wonderful.
Sending love to you, wherever you are and whoever you may be.