Hey friends! It’s been a good ol’ while since I published a new interview here on our blog. While working on ‘A Fistful of Chiptunes‘, however, I had some lovely conversations with one of the artists that lead to my unpause-ing of this column. The fellow responsible for this is talented multi-media composer, a dual project chiptune wizard, and an all around fantastic Swede. Everyone, welcome to the blog, Oscar Rydelius!
Hoodie: Hey Oscar! Welcome to The ChipWIN Blog!
Oscar: Hi Brandon! Thanks for having me!
Hoodie: My pleasure! Before we get started in earnest, give us a quick intro of who you are and what you’re about.
Oscar: My name is Oscar Sidoff Rydelius. Been running around hunting sounds since around 2005 and still do!
Hoodie: And you’ve done a pretty good job at it too from what I’ve heard! Must be good sound hunting grounds in your neck of the woods! haha
He wasn’t kidding: he is The Sound Hunter™.
Oscar: Haha, If you know where to look and listen, there is no need for long hikes!
Hoodie: Unless, of course, the long hike is the reason for the sound hunt.
Oscar: Ha! Actually the best sounds I’ve recorded over the years are the ones that just accidentally ”happen”. Not the ones where you bring a fancy microphone.. So the idea of going out recording serves many purposes for me at least. Therefore hikes, yes! More hikes for everyone.
Hoodie: Oh man. You’re actually into found sounds. That’s rad. I LOVE doing that, and need to make a point to get out and do it more often. It’s a lot of fun, but also really refreshing.
Oscar: Everyone should! You should! I feel it’s getting more important for me in a lot of ways with the digital new era. Get out, get unique stuff, and drink hot beverages!
Hoodie: I agree 100%. And I can totally hear that vibe in the latest Ratvader album, which is phenomenal by the way.
Oscar: Well thank you. Seriously makes me super happy you think so!
Hoodie: You’re welcome! Let’s talk about that album and project for a bit. I’ve been following your chiptune duo project, Hello World, for a good while now. Ratvader I wasn’t so tuned into however. That’s more or less your solo project, right?
Oscar Rydelius aka Ratvader.
Oscar: Sure is! Well backed up by my old buddy Niklas Åkerblad (aka El Huervo), who insisted I get this stuff out there, and has gently been nudging me for years!
Hoodie: Well I’m glad he did, because it was VERY much worth putting out there. I thoroughly love the atmospheric, “natural” feel to this soundscape of an album. It’s refreshing like a walk in a park, with, of course, a bit of chiptune sprinkled in here and there!
Also, having that titan of music and art both produce the album and create the cover art is extremely cool. This is one helluva combo of talents, man! haha
Oscar: Haha I know. I’ve know Niklas since around 2007, so I tend to forget people are so familiar with his art and music!! But it’s weird, Gothenburg has so much talent with everything from Dennaton Games (Hotline Miami studio), to Goto80, Dubmood, zabutom, and although loads of people know them from all over the world, there’s not too much buzz around them from the media in our “small” town. So it’s easy to not see the titans walking around in the city. haha
Hoodie: It’s strange how that works, isn’t it? Especially in and around the chiptune realm. All the same, that is a bit of a geographic hotspot of talent!
Oscar: Yeah, it’s weird. Although you feel it’s changing, the subcultures of music and art are getting “accepted” as it pops up everywhere, and the internet can connect us even tho we live “isolated” in our cities all around the world… but the chiptune realm stands solid?!
Hoodie: While the chiptune community at large is ever-changing, and, like most things on this mortal coil, I expect always will be, the foundation for it does seem rather solid at this point. In particular, the overall high quality output of music. Whether it’s vets like yourself and the aforementioned folk continually refining their craft or new folks picking it up for the first time and diving into it, there always seems to be a vitality to it, especially if you know where to look. It’s a really rad thing, and I reckon a big part of why I stay so involved, even when it gets c r a z y.
Oscar: Can’t agree more. And that makes it so exciting! Just imagine all the great stuff that’s about to come. It’s inspirational for sure!
Hoodie: Before we get too lost down that most excellent road (which could be a fun chat in of itself! haha)…
Oscar: So ready for that road!
Hoodie: …let’s talk a bit more about ‘Ratvader’s Dream’! How did this album come album together?
Initially the name and two songs for Ratvader’s Dream came from a game called Else heart.break(), which me and Niklas worked on with some friends. Within this game, the concept of and idea of a utopia and safe haven for the player came to life, and we built a hidden room called Ratvader’s Dream, where a version of the song ‘Ratvader’s Dream’ plays.
The subtext was our discussions on stress, lack of connection with nature and friends, and people growing up to fast. So with the thread of a utopia and safe haven from our everyday stressful lives, the album began to take form, and, since my hard drive was full of stress relief sounds that I had been recording over the years, it all came together quite romantically.
Hoodie: That’s fantastic. And again, you really can hear all of that in album, even without the context!
Got a favorite song, and/or a story behind the song, on the album?
Oscar: Oh! The stupidest one must be ‘Lovinas Bagus’ , where the whole song is based on the sound of a frog’s cry. haha But I really like ‘Omberg Refuge’. The main sounds that makes the song is a campfire with wind and friends whispering sounds that were recorded on a hike in Omberg natural reserve, mixed with the sound of melted ice hitting shores where I grew up. Still find it super relaxing hearing that combo.
Come to think of it, the recording from Omberg also includes a friend shouting that my windshield kit for the Mikrofon is melting! That part didn’t make it into the song tho.
Hoodie: Those are all pretty great! Although I’m a little sad the yelling friend sample didn’t make the cut. I guess that might’ve disturbed the vibe a little bit. hahaha
Oscar: Future remix?
Moving on, let’s talk a bit about the collab project you’ve involved in that I’m most familiar with: Hello World! I believe my first encounter with the project was through the most recent Data Airlines release, and I was an instant fan!
Oscar: So Hello World is a lovely, old friendship by now. Myself and the other part of the band, Eli Hedman, met around senior high school, and after being friends for some years, Eli joined the band I was playing with at the time as the lead vocalist.
We got separated when that band broke up, but after some years we found ourselves jamming in my studio. And Eli showed me his Game Boy and things went really fast from there. I think we almost finished a song in two meetups! And via some connections, Eli got hold of Kalle at Data Airlines and we released our first album. From there, mine and Eli’s friendship just grew and we drank loads of coffee and played some shows and talked a lot. It’s been a little bit of a break since our last album release, but with the ‘A Fistful of Chiptune‘ compilation album, we took time in our schedule to hang out and play again. Love that guy to death. He also releases music under the name octapus. You should check that stuff out!
Hoodie: Ah, so Eli introduced the chiptune aspect! I was wondering where that started!
Oscar: Yep! He was the one. Lucky me!
Hoodie: And I’m stoked that the Wild West comp spurred y’all to compose a new jam together for the first time in awhile. Again, great job on that. Can’t imagine anything else opening the compilation more perfectly.
Oscar: Turned out so nice! So many talented musicians. Crazy fun! What are we doing next, Brandon?
Hoodie: GOOD QUESTION! (I don’t know yet… lol We’ll figure that out later).
Oscar: Can’t speak for the both of us in Hello World, but we are down for sure! Also out of context, I just saw Ponyo again. Have you seen it? It’s just so lovely I don’t know where to start.
Hoodie: ZOMG YOU’RE A STUDIO GHIBLI FAN! SIDE DISCUSSION: ENGAGE!
Oscar: Bring it!! So my partner hadn’t seen any Ghibli movies when we met… aaandd I can watch them again!
Hoodie: YES. That’s one of my favorite reasons to re-watch those films: enjoying them with someone who’s never seen them before. It’s almost like watching that anew all over again!
Oscar: EXACTLY like that!
Also, have you ever heard of Pippi Longstockings?
Hoodie: Omg, yes. haha Although I think the last time I saw any of those is when I was a kid.
Oscar: So, I’m not sure on all the details, but Astrid Lindgren who wrote the story of Pippi was once visited by the whole Studio Ghibli to talk about a Ghibli version!
Hoodie: Holy crap!
Oscar: Check this!
Concept images for Studio Ghibli + Pippi Longstockings.
Hoodie: Before you even linked those photos, I was already thinking about how well it would work. NEVER would’ve thought of it, but yeah, it makes sense.
Oscar: I know right!? Apparently, the story goes that they could not agree on everything, so it didn’t happen unfortunately. But, the studio visited Stockholm when they were in Sweden, and the next movie after that was Kiki’s Delivery Service. And you can clearly see where the city inspiration came from!
I need to fact check all of this, but still, imagine that movie!!
And I guess we now know what the next compilation album should be?
Hoodie: Not gonna lie, a compilation featuring either covers of Studio Ghibli film themes or music inspired by such (or maybe both!?) could be really rad if we got the right folks involved!
Oscar: That would be so much fun! Let’s do both!
Hoodie: Consider that idea officially added to the list! haha
Oscar: Yes! #stoked
Hoodie: Outside of cool compilations, any chance of a new Hello World EP or album appearing on the near or distant horizon?
Oscar: Sooner or later, absolutely! Problem with our age is work and responsibilities, but there are some ideas laying around and some works with Hello World and other artists that need to be completed! Also, for us it’s a bit of a new start, since the three albums we put out have been in a series with a common thread. So moving away from that, anything could happen!
Hoodie: Hell yeah! Although now that you mention it, I didn’t realize the previous albums were in a series. Before we move on, tell me a bit about the concept for that if you would.
So the short version is, an old friend of ours named Gudbjörn (yes, he is from Iceland), who had helped us with album covers and been with us from the start, had some great ideas for the cover art. The idea surrounding the name and first album titled ‘Hello World‘ resulted with cover art of a sunrise on a gray background.
Moving on to the second album, Eli & I spent a lot of time talking about politics, the state of the world, and animals becoming red listed. Talking about it and working around it, Gudbjörn made the concept of “||” album two, which is also the icon for Pause.
It all came together nicely, and with the third album we knew we wanted to finish the “sun goes up, we need to think this through and end”. Gudbjörn once again had the perfect idea of a triangle; a symbol for danger, the third album and the end. With the titles and and the subject decided, we set out to give the last album of the series a certain tone and vibe to it. And then Gudbjörn wrapped the whole trilogy up with the box set of all our albums. Sun, Pause, Triangle. He is a lovely friend of ours, and I would say he is a third member of the band with all the great stuff he has contributed.
You should check out the box on Bandcamp! I think there might be some left. And you can get the box with only the cassette you don’t have. Haha Shameless self promotion right there!
Hoodie: Wow, yeah, I completely missed that. Guess I should’ve read the liner notes a little more thoroughly. haha Either way, that’s awesome. I love concept albums, so this essentially being a full series of them is extra cool.
Oscar: It’s not too obvious, but it’s fun to work around stuff. That said, we are both excited to go on from here, and in any direction we feel like.
Hoodie: Whatever that ends up being, I can’t wait to hear it!
Oscar: Me too!
Hoodie: Before we move on, I’ve gotta mention the super rad remixes album that came out last year. It features quite a fantastic collection of talented folks on it! Think the Zabutom remix of ‘Hawksbill Turtle’ is my personal fav.
Oscar: Oh man! Hawksbill turtle by Zabutom! Ridiculously good. A personal favourite of mine also. So, the remixes has all been on previous albums and cassettes. But we wanted to make them available for everyone, so when the “last” Hello World album was out we put that thing together. So many great friends and musicians on there. I think our friend Zap Holmes has a remix on all albums which is pretty cool. And Martin Brändström who works in the studio complex I’m in and plays with Dark Tranquillity made a super cool remix I really love you need to check out! Gudbjörn did an awesome cover for this one also..
Hoodie: Wait. What? One of the remixes is by the keys player from fucking DARK TRANQUILLITY!?!? HOLY FUCK!!! In case you couldn’t tell, I’m a fan. hahaha
Oscar: Haha! Well the Gothenburg sound, you know? Everyone knows someone, right? Also, I guess you need to come to Sweden and visit the studio. haha
Hoodie: I think you’re right on all accounts there. hahaha Opeth are still one of my very favorite bands after all.
Oscar: Also, he (Brändström) has a sweet new side project if you are in to synth. Kennelklubben. Although it has Swedish lyrics!
Yeah, Opeth is so nice! For us it was a lot of Swedish Gothenburg metal. In Flames, At The Gates, The Haunted and so on.
Hoodie: Googling Kennelklubben momentarily. Don’t care about the language used. The music matters most to me.
And hell yes, In Flames! As you might can tell, I am juuuust a bit of a fan of this type of metal; viking/pagan metal is great too (Ensiferum FTW!). When I need a sonic palette cleanser from chiptune, it’s often some type of metal, jazz, or prog! haha
I feel like this is a key spot to ask you about your musical influences. Kinda had the segue gifted to me here! haha
Oscar: I mean Bhopal on our third album is basically an homage to Meshuggah and Rational Gaze. That song… oh my.
Hoodie: Songs that elicit the “oh my” response are always good inspirations.
Oscar: Haha Totally!
The cliché bands would be Slipknot, Deftones, Pearl Jam, Korn and all that stuff when a little younger. But when I look back on what’s still around, bands like Little Dragon, a Swedish composer called Georg Riedel (a lot of songs for Astrid Lindgren, Pippi Longstockings and so on) Sigur Ros, Jan Johansson (check out Jazz på Svenska. Translated to Jazz in Swedish), The Cardigans and the album ‘Long Gone Before Daylight’ are music all that I can come back to and just love. I’m also hoping Rage Against the Machine stops by Sweden on the new tour!
Hoodie: That’s a solid list! I’m always fascinated by other artists’ musical inspirations. At minimum, it’s a fun game to see which ones you can “hear” (if you can!), and which are more subtle influences.
Oscar: Yeah! I feel like I’m going backwards towards what my Dad used to listen to. Sinatra is still cool, right?
Hoodie: In my book he is! haha
It is interesting to observe your own musical preferences as they grow as well. I know mine are far broader than they once were in days long gone.
Oscar: Yeah totally! Also, metal and hardcore were my life for a long time, but when I left that for pop, a new world opened up with other harmonies. And not to forget film sound!
Hoodie: And we’re back to the Wild West comp! haha
Oscar: Haha Exactly!
Hoodie: Influences and inspirations can quite literally come from anywhere, and it’s super rad. This includes places other than music as well, of course (graphic art, noise, nature, industry, etc).
Oscar: Yes, totally. I have made it my goal to consume more art that’s not music just to get inspiration. It really broadens the spectra.
Hoodie: That’s a great practice! I think it’s one that everyone should engage in vs. just artists and musicians.
Oscar: Yeah, also supporting people. Just booked tickets for a “Love Walks”. It’s a choreographed outdoor walk/dance in the city with projected films on people.
Hoodie: Holy crap. That sounds amazing. Now that I’m finally in a city again, I need to find that sort of thing happening here!
Oscar: Yeah, totally down with that. Like we discussed before, the city can be quite hectic, but there’s also tons of creative people to be inspired by.
Do it Brandon!
Hoodie: I will! And I’ll just balance it out with some nature walks and it’ll be fine. ;) Do need to explore more city, state and national parks in the area for real tho. Lot of new territory for me to explore!
Oscar: Talking about inspirations, all of this factors into my work at my Soundproof too!
Hoodie: Let’s talk about that for a spell! Through Soundproof, you compose music and do sound design for games, tv, film, etc, right?
Oscar: Exactly! So right now, it’s mostly games, and loads of them! Sound design, blips and bloops, you name it. Been my only income for about 8 years now actually.
Hoodie: Fantastic! Given your level of musical competence, I’m not surprised to hear this. If I had a game or film, I’d hire you to work on it!
Any favorite projects or stories around them you’d like to share?
Oscar: I have some in the works that I’m stoked about. I’m working with game studio Denation Games, who did Hotline Miami, and that new game is just crazy cool. Also, El Huervo & I with some friends just got funded to make a new game where I have recorded some of the best stuff I’ve done. The working title is Ultros! Other than that I have a soundtrack coming out in Feb/March for a game called Wunderling that we just announced.
You play anything, Brandon? Could hook you up with a Wunderling Switch code eventually.
Hoodie: Oh snap! Switch and Steam. Hook me up however you want. I’ll gladly play test for you, as well as listen to soundtracks, of course!
Oscar: Will do! What do you play?
Hoodie: These days? Not a ton. haha My preferences are everywhere, though.
Immediate backlog include finishing Moonlighter (nifty little dungeon crawler/shopkeeper retro game), Red Dead Redemption 2 (Big surprise, right? haha GOTTA see the tragic story through to the end!), and checking out the latest big update to No Man’s Sky (this is my zen game; just explore the cosmos and chill).
Oscar: Yeah! Cool. Need to check out Moonlighter. Been on my radar! Also, fun to hear that you’re playing No Man’s Sky for chill. Record label guy Shelby also does that. I think we will see more of that with games in the future!
Hoodie: In all honesty, the most impressive thing about that game is how Hello Games has continued to support and develop it beyond the initial lackluster release. I’ve been playing it since it released in August 2016, and it has come a REALLY LONG WAY. Super rad thing to see happen.
Oscar: Oh, I did not know that! Is it on Switch?
Hoodie: Everything but, I think. haha Think it demands a little too much processing power for the Switch, although I am a big fan of that console.
Oscar: I see! Steam it is.
Hoodie: That’s where I play it. If you get into it, hit me up. We’ll explore the procedurally generated universe together. haha
Oscar: That would be dope! Until you visit Gothenburg that is?
Hoodie: A good, long European vacation/delayed honeymoon has been on my wife and I’s bucket list for awhile now. At this point, though, I think it’ll be just as much visiting international chiptune friends as it is seeing the sights. haha My plan is to combine the two. Local, knowledgeable tour guides FTW!
Oscar: Workcation at it’s finest!
No but seriously, that’s a great plan. Put that plan in motion will you.
Hoodie: Now that we’re really starting to settle in from our summer move, I’m hoping next year will see that start to come together. Here’s hoping! It’s long overdue after all.
And yes, clearly! A workcation! Visiting talented musician friends to discuss new projects and opportunities over beers. Tax write offs for days!
Oscar: Fingers crossed! Better late than ever.
Hahah! Exactly like that! Just do it.
So happy to be on this thing, Brandon. Thank you so much for having me on board! I feel like a real musician with this first ever interview! Only took me 18 years of playing music.
Hoodie: You’re super welcome! It’s been an absolute pleasure. Although with your repertoire, I am a little surprised to hear that this is your first interview! Your contributions both inside and outside of chipmusic are fantastic and deserve to be spotlit! Nevermind the fact that you’re just a damn pleasant fellow to chat with! 😊
Oscar: There might have been one with the local newspaper way back in the day, but never one this chill and sweet. Really enjoyed it!
And likewise. Keep it up with what you and everyone involved with the project and all around do!
Hoodie: Thank you! Until the next comp together!
Oscar: Take care!
And that’s it for today’s interview! I hope you enjoyed the transcript of my delightful chat with Oscar. Maybe the next one I publish won’t have an entire year’s wait in between it. (^_−)−☆