ChipWIN Comps Historical Context: Year Four
So I’ve covered the last Three Years of our comps in the last three days (read ’em all at 1, 2, & 3), and now it’s time for Year Four aka the”Mad Max” period. Learn all about the furious road after the break.
Okay, first off, I fucked up. If we use the Volumes as a starting point for every year, ‘Celt-tunes = WIN’ should’ve been included in the last year.
Like fuck I’m going back and fixing that now. I guess this one can just be a C-C-C-C-COMBOBREAKER! (Eh, cut me some slack. I’m writing five brain dump articles in five days in a row after all.)
On to CeltWIN. This is a themed compilation that by no means whatsoever should’ve had a chance in hell at “working” in a million gorram years. Nate even expressed similar concerns to me when I pitched the idea to him: “You’re going to release a niche side compilation featuring a niche style of music? I don’t know, maaaaan….”
But I didn’t give a shit. Oh, you doubt it’ll work? You just watch me, motherfucker. ᕙ( •̀ ︿•́ )ᕗ That and, as I’ve admitted multiple times in this series, I really love themed compilations. I’m also a huge fan of Celtic music; one of my go-to Pandora stations is a Celtic channel that I’ve curated over the years. This side comp is going down, sink or swim, IDGAF. Hell, it’s about time one of my boneheaded ideas “failed” anyway, right?
Very fortunately for my wacky, often overly determined self, there were 20 artists who took it and ran with it as hard as they damn well could. Nevermind the number of folk who expressed sincere wishes that they could’ve been involved after the damn thing was released (oh, the curse of curated comps!). Tying it to St. Patrick’s day also didn’t hurt (i.e. an excuse to write revelrous party songs).
And good ol’ doubting Nate ended up making an extraordinarily magical looking Celtic grimoire-ish dealio for the album art, which has become one of his most beloved ChipWIN art pieces to date, from myself as well. SEE, NATE? WE NEED TO DO MORE WEIRD SHIT!
Also, I finally got Solarbear’s punkass on a second compilation (he hadn’t made one since ‘Expansion Pack’), which is a notable achievement in of itself. #SolarbearSux
Moral of the story: sometimes ridiculous shit is a great idea, especially if you can find enough ridiculous folk to do it with. Also #cheers
Alrighty then. Now officially on to Year Four and, of course, Volume 4.
…except there’s honestly not a ton to talk about regarding its preparation. The judging panel changed up again somewhat (I try to rotate at least some of the judges out every year to mix things up), but that’s really about it. Other than the fact that it released earlier in the summer again (V.4 in July vs V.3 in September), and that’s primarily because I had a wedding to be in that fall. MY wedding to be specific. And yes, there was chipmusic in it, duh.
Regardless, the Volume system was firmly in place at this point and pretty damn solid, especially with the massive workflow improvement I mentioned occurring before V.3. It’s always work to manage a Volume among all the other things (oh so many things; an overwhelming feeling that I continue to battle with to this date and probably always will on some level), but nothing out of the ordinary that I can recall.
Except, of course, Nate’s Mad Max influenced artwork for this round, which does probably have the highest “badassery” quotient to any of his pieces to date.
Mad Max as fuck.
And, of course, the comp turned out pretty damn badass once again, which is always nice. That said, I don’t think there’s a single one of these Volumes that go by that I don’t worry during the process, “What if it doesn’t work out this time? What if not enough people submit? What if they’re tired of this project by now?” I’ve gotten better at dealing with that anxiety from year to year (especially within the last year of addressing my mental health; more on that in Year Five), but it rears its head every time at some point in the process. If nothing else, it’s caused me to draft a good handful of contingency plans for if/when that day ever occurs. Good to be prepared and all that.
One of the additional judges to V.4 was Sam Wray aka 2xAA (pronounced two x double AA btw …I think. Shit…). I believe Sam has been a part of ChipWIN since Volume 1. Regardless, we’d interacted over the years and supported each other’s projects, but we hadn’t worked together directly yet. [Note: Sam is also the founder and project manager of Micro Collective, and if that project is news to you, click that link immediately and enjoy, my friend!].
So, of course, it was time to fix that.
This was another very smooth collaboration (ah, the benefits of working with super cool, capable folk!), which was extra great because, again, I had some marrying to do.
The compilation turned out excellently, & the largest collaborative expansion to this day at 29 tracks. The release party for it was extra hilarious, because Sam was running around either before or after performing at a local festival in the UK, but he still called in and joined the show to chit chat with us. Somehow that made it even more fun.
Also I learned the alt-code for “µ” really, really fast with this collaboration (it’s “Alt 0181” by the way).
‘Bundle of WIN’ is unique in that it’s only part of group of releases vs truly being a standalone compilation, which is a first for us. Groupees had been talking to me for awhile about hosting a ChipWIN bundle via their service, but the timing never quite worked out. In all frankness, it was far from ideal when it occurred at this point as well, but I finally just went, “Fuck it. This is really cool. It’s time to do the thing.”
From there I assembled a varied collection of artists from in & around the community, brainstormed some really fun and fairly ridiculous “bonuses” (even if a couple of them took ages to produce…), and prepped a brand new compilation featuring a new track from each participating artist to center it around. Since it happened around the holidays, I went with the name “Bundle of WIN” for both the compilation and the project, and Nate did some Christmas-ish art for the comp cover. Hell, we even did a Jingle Bells cover arranged by Pieces of Eight aka Mr. Christmas that featured nearly everyone involved in the project singing on it, including Christian from Groupees.
While somewhat stressful maintaining a project over a lengthier period of time (Groupees bundles typically run for a couple of weeks), it was a ton of fun, and even made decent money for the artists involved, charity, and the project, which is never a bad thing. Will gladly do one again one day, although maybe further from the holidays and/or MAGFest planning; those are really crazy ass times yo.
And thus concludes the Year Four stories. Catch me one last time tomorrow for the concluding article in this series as I discuss the wonderful, terrible, fascinating creature that was Year Five. Also probably the best “Volume” release to date by a fair margin.
President Hoodie aka Brandon L Hood
Founder & Project Manager of Chiptunes = WIN