Hey y’all! =) Brandon here, back with a new edition of my interview column, Hoodie Highlights! In light of our recent collaborative compilation with DESKPOP, I hit up its project manager, Brazos Ebner, to learn more about the netlabel, and, of course, more about the curator himself. Enjoy our conversation below the break!
Hoodie: Welcome to the blog, Brazos!
To start things off, give us a quick intro of who you are and what you’re about.
Brazos: Hey there! My name is Brazos, aka Braz_OS. My main thing is directing a record label called DESKPOP, but I also run a college radio show and create album art for musicians like Mark Redito.
Hoodie: Oh hey! The last two things are news to me! That’s super cool!
Brazos: Oh word? I’m actually in my radio station right now going through submissions!
Hoodie: So, uh, the real question here then is when do you sleep? hahahaha
inb4 not enough ;)
Brazos: Yeah… all that + job + being a full time student, managing myself has become a matter of knowing what needs to be sacrificed day to day. Sleep, art, studying… this is why I enjoy the Summer. haha
Hoodie: Ye ol’ time management balancing act. I am quite adept at this often too complex artform as well. May we both continue to improve while jugging all the things! haha
On that note, let’s talk a bit about DESKPOP! Been following it for a good while now and enjoying the music that you curate and release. Big reason I’m happy to be working with y’all for the expansion release this year. First off, how’d DESKPOP even become a thing? #HistoricalContext
Brazos: I’ve always been making and enjoying music. I’d do a little self production now and then; learned some in high school. Things started to pick up for me once I started doing a college radio show. I would start tagging some underground musicians as I played their stuff on the air. It was exciting for me to be noticed by them, but it was also exciting to them to have their music on radio frequencies. Eventually, I played some FLOOR BABA, and after tagging him we got to talking a little. I had been interested in creating a platform such as SPF420.com, and seeing my ambition, BABA invited me to just work with him to build up DESKPOP. This was back in the beginning of 2015.
Hoodie: Yeah, Jesse’s how I initially came to know about DESKPOP! Have know him since his sleepytimejesse days. Got a couple of stellar tracks from him on our earlier compilations!
Brazos: It was very kind of him to invite me to the team. He got busy with personal life + impressively growing his own sound in his music, and I started managing a lot of projects alone for DESKPOP in mid 2016. Now it’s basically just me, but I always consult him for the important things!
Hoodie: Seems to have been a smooth transition, as things have continued on quite well since then!
I dig that your involvement in the radio program actually lead to this happening. It makes sense, but I don’t figure that was something you expected would come out of it. haha Life is a crazy thing like that sometimes.
Brazos: I really didn’t expect it, but DESKPOP has been the most fun ‘thing’ I’ve ever done. =)
Hoodie: High five on random projects turning into pretty wonderful ‘things’! haha
Speaking of which, let’s talk a bit about the style of music that you tend to curate via DESKPOP. While each release and artist varies quite a bit, y’all do have a ‘sound’ so to speak. A really good one in my humble opinion.
Brazos: Well, Jesse started off the label with post-chiptune music by SHY GUYS, which was this poppy blend of EDM and VGM sounds. A couple similar releases followed suit, slowly getting into a smoother/jazzier territory with releases like capt beard’s ‘Beardzones EP‘. The label was always branded as ‘fun and experimental’ tho, so once I started indulging in curation, I looked to fulfill the ‘experimental’ side of it. With additions like Space Candy, Ehiorobo, and Drainpuppet, our range of subgenres quickly expanded.
Hoodie: Right. It’s quite the eclectic mix of music at this point!
Brazos: Certainly! It’s fun to show to people I know in person. Their only exposure to electronic music is classic EDM, so hearing the quirky tunes we put out always gets fun reactions. =)
Hoodie: Have enjoyed exposing people to chipmusic & VGM in that same exact fashion. Most folk less familiar with chiptune equate it only to 4 to the floor bangers. Some of it is, sure, but it’s more of an instrument vs a genre. There’s an over-riding sonic aesthetic, but that’s it really, and even that has altered greatly over time. Any genre you can image exists in chiptune somewhere, or is waiting to be created or re-imagined.
On that note, you brought up an interesting term while we were working together on the comp. I’m talking, of course, about ‘post-chiptune’. While I’m familiar with a handful of other ‘post’ musics, I hadn’t yet encountered that term in regards to chipmusic. Which is kinda funny to be honest, because a lot of what we do definitely flirts with that dimension of (chip)musical evolution.
Brazos: Post-chiptune is really just what Jesse and I use to describe music that draws upon the next generation of nostalgia. Chiptune holds nostalgia for people who grew up playing NES and SNES, while post-chiptune draws more sounds from the N64 and Gamecube era. Instead of straight up tones, game developers made soundfonts with pan flutes or steel drums, and music producers have now been using those in their own contemporary songs.
Hoodie: Makes sense. It’s definitely an aspect of attraction for a lot of music, and culture in general if we deign to go broader. Varies how much this is true from person to person, but it’s certainly a notable part of the draw for many folk into, chipmusic, post-chip, VGM, nerdcore, retrowave, etc.
Hoodie: Ah! Very nice! HUGE fan of that soundtrack and game, as well as its composer and developer Daisuke ‘Pixel’ Amaya!
Brazos: It’s so good… if the program worked on my Mac then maybe I’d give it another shot.
Hoodie: One day perhaps. ;)
Brazos: I like to think of myself as a jack-of-all-trades! (Master of none tho haha…) My main thing is keeping up our graphic style. It’s been a lot of fun. I use photography and some Photoshop to make designs that look as if they were computer-rendered. At first, I was doing the artwork just so we could save money instead of hiring others, but then the theme caught on and I’ve been continuing with it to keep us on-brand.
Hoodie: It’s great! The uniqueness of the art style is very effective at getting attention visually. It definitely caught my eye from the start! Funny to learn its origins tho! haha But then again, our ‘art style’ was supposed to be a quickie one-off favor from a friend and look what it’s turned into! Immediately branded us for sure.
Brazos: That collab artwork was fun. =) I’ve been trying to expand our visual style just a little bit so it will be easier to evolve into video in the future.
Hoodie: That collab artwork was a BLAST. haha And the transition to video for y’all is definitely something that’ll be fun to see!
Speaking of evolution, what are your plans for the future of DESKPOP? Beyond continuing to release quality music, of course.
Brazos: Future plans… I can’t say too much, but I want to expand beyond the SoundCloud and Bandcamp scenes a bit. We will have more compilations, since that is something we are known for. But ‘experimental’ is in our tag line, so I hope current fans will be down to try out new experiences with us down the road.
Hoodie: I have a sneaking suspicion they will be. ;)
Hoodie: And while we talked about it on air during the release party (link to that coming soon btw!), again, it was a real pleasure working with you and Jesse for the DESKPOP & ChipWIN comp. It turned out just as excellent as I expected it would, both musically and artistically.
Brazos: Truly, it was! Shout out to all the wonderful musicians that contributed.
Hoodie: x ∞
On that note, do you have any concluding thoughts that you’d like to share before we wrap this up?
Brazos: Nothing else crazy important to share, but I do want to encourage anyone reading this to really pay attention to how video game music has progressed over the years, and make sure to learn who your favorite composers are so you can support them!
Hoodie: Couldn’t agree with that any harder if I tried!
Thanks for taking the time to talk me!
Brazos:Anytime, friend ~