ChipWIN Comps Historical Context: Year Three
Continuing this enjoyable ramble-fest (for me at least!), today we’re on to Year Three of ChipWIN comp story-time! If this is your first read in the series, feel free to check out parts 1 and 2 and then continue after the break.
So at this point, somehow the project has survived (thrived even I suppose?) into 2014 and it’s nearing time to plan the next Volume compilation. At that period in time I was feeling about 51% “HELLZ YEAH” & 49% “aw fuck…” about it.
ChipWIN compilation prep is a lotta work y’all.
Generally worth it, but A. LOT. OF. WORK.
And by this point, the newness of fronting the project had worn off enough to cause me to feel said workload more than a bit keenly. You also have to remember that this was/is all spearheaded by myself while also managing an increasingly greater number of additional ChipWIN aspects, a regular 9-5 job, not-so-incrementally increasing involvement with MAGFest, and an attempt to try and enjoy a semblance of a personal life with my then Fiancée. Nevermind the fact that I was suffering from a litany of un-diagnosed mental health conditions throughout all this (more on that later), and of course all of it worsened by my never-ending attempts to juggle all the things.
My mental juggling skillset was in the midst of some serious experience grinding & skill tree unlocking from all of this to say the least.
The transition process from a fully open Volume 1 to a judging panel based Volume 2 had also been more mentally taxing than I let on (or possibly was even aware of at the time). By and large, most of the community understood why it had to happen (& most of the remaining detractors were quickly silenced once they listened to the phenomenal finished comp & subsequent expansion release), but it was still a really tough change to make. Nevermind the fact that all communication for Volume 2 was handled via e-mail & PMs: all 130+ submissions accepted & manually moved to a Google Spreadsheet, 51 final roster selection notifications, and, of course, the remainder receiving the dreaded rejection e-mails. It got to be more than just a little overwhelming at times, and I really wasn’t looking forward to that part of it again. But could I really justify stopping the series here? In my heart, I certainly didn’t want to, but my brain was firmly at war against that notion.
And then Google added “Forms” to their productivity suite and forever improved our lives. I shit you not, Gforms may have legitimately saved the Volume project at that point in time, or at least made the decision to move forward with it so very much easier. That and Erin, my aforementioned Fiancée, lending more and more of a hand as we progressed forward. Absolute lifesaver, I swear. And on more than one front.
I also made the choice to move away from sending out rejection e-mails and instead publish the full roster via the blog once it was finalized. While there’s no way to take all of the sting out of denying someone inclusion on the roster, it at least seemed to dull it a bit. If nothing else, it at least de-personalized the unpleasant, but ultimately necessary communication some (public list vs one-to-one “no thx” message). The response was notably better and more understanding, and once again solidified further with the album’s publication.
From there, we engaged our comp prep machine with the only additional change being a few new judges, and cranked out another killer compilation. I can still feel the relief from that one now when I really ponder it.
Speaking of new judges, James York aka Cheapshot, the curator of the Cheapbeats netlabel, joined the team for V.3. This naturally, of course, led to me offering him collaboration duties for the V.3 expansion release. He agreed with loads of ultra British politeness and enthusiasm, and thus we worked together and produced the another fantastic collaborative expansion release.
That’s honestly about all there is to say about that process, because James is such a consummate professional and wonderful human being; the experience truly was nothing but chill and good times. From that project alone, he’ll remain on the judging team until he gets bored of it as far as I’m concerned (that and him being an excellent judge of course).
Closest thing to a complaint that I can manage about it is, holy shit, V.3 released on Sept 1st and the CB expansion dropped on the 26th! Maybe we were a little too efficient! ≧ヮ≦ Didn’t hurt the release, though, so who cares in the end.
As I mentioned in the first entry in this series, ‘ChipWINter’ was one of my favorite releases. I loved it for the fact that it was a themed release and one that was just so universally identifiable; damn near tangible really. We couldn’t do it a second year in a row lest the idea become stale, which is something I strive to avoid with our compilation series. But this was the third year, so fuck it. Time to bring it back!
I can’t recall where the lovely name for it came from (probably a brainstorming session between Nate, Erin and myself), but once we settled on it Nate latched onto the “Winter Wonderland” theme and created the most strikingly beautiful album cover for us to date. It took me by surprise in the best of ways. Have to get away from that “WIN” bullshit more often so he can do it again! (although there is at least one more where he has, which you’ll read about tomorrow).
Also, shout-out to Adam Lankford aka Pieces of Eight aka MR. I LOVE CHRISTMAS MUSIC WAY TOO GORRAM MUCH for endlessly pestering me to do another wintry themed album (he missed the first to his chagrin, but sure as shit wasn’t missing the second!). The next time it happens will likely also come from him annoying the hell out of me about it, and for that I both curse & thank him in advance.
This last one from Year Three actually gets a little weird with the timeline, so bear with me here. At some point in 2014 Kilpatrick reached out to a number of different chiptune netlabels and communities and asked us all to curate a handful of singles, which they then released in the second year of their ongoing “Weekly Treats” project. It was a really cool endeavor and I was glad to contribute to it with 4 wildly different chipartists who’d previously participated on ChipWIN releases. That said, once 2014 wrapped up they closed down the primary Weekly Treats website and released all of the year’s tracks via Bandcamp. While this was cool (& I recommend checking out that full release), it lost some of the nifty backstory of the artists and their tracks that were featured on the original homepage.
So I hit up Andrew during a production lull in early 2015 to see what he thought about me re-releasing our section of tracks. Kilpatrick agreed, so I hit up S.P.R.Y. to give it a mastering pass and bring the tracks together even moreso, and then published that sucker out of the blue. Which was also a first for us, and honestly kinda fun!
I’m still really glad I released this “bonus EP” so to speak. It’s a truly excellent collection of diverse jams that well represent what Chiptunes = WIN was at the time, and still is to a point honestly, and the artists deserved the additional exposure for their stellar contributions. Definitely don’t ignore this lovey little release, folks.
And thus concludes my rambling about Year Three. Catch you again tomorrow for Year Four aka “The Year Nate Falls Deeply in Love With the New Mad Max Movie and Very Clearly Displays it in his V.4 Artwork”. I’ll say it for him: #SryNotSry.
And also, more on the (over)workload negatively affecting my mental health. Labors of love can be quite dangerous sometimes, folks.
President Hoodie aka Brandon L Hood
Founder & Project Manager of Chiptunes = WIN