Sup y’all? =) President Hoodie here with another installment of my ‘Hoodie Highlights’ chat interview series! This month I’m talking to a fellow doer of ALL THE THINGS, someone who’s been a friend of mine for about as long as I’ve been involved in this collective of collectives. Even happens to be a regular contributor here on The ChipWIN Blog!
Presenting the multi-talented mofo of many masks, Glenn Dubois aka Glenntai! Enjoy!
Hoodie: HEYA GLENN! We know each other pretty well by this point, but let’s assume our readers don’t! Give me a quick brief of who you are and what all you do.
Glenntai: HEY BRANDON! And uh, will you accept “as-brief-as-the-list-goes?”
Hoodie: When you do ALL the things, brief-ISH will have to do! haha
Glenntai: Hello, friends! My name is Glenn Dubois; I’m a chipmusic composer that toys around with Famitracker and LSDJ under the name “Glenntai.” I co-founded Clipstream, a (normally) monthly online chiptune showcase welcome to all levels of talent. I also co-founded The Nerdfit Network, an entertainment group based on a lot of really silly, often internet-subculture-based humor. You might have also seen me writing here on the ChipWIN blog on occasion. Regardless of where you’ve seen me, if you’ve seen me, hi again and thank you! If this is your first time, hello new friend!
Hoodie: Before we try to tackle all the aforementioned things, let’s start at the root of it! Music in general: what pulled you into that realm? And when did it branch into chipmusic? AND GO!!
Easy question, right? RIGHT. :3 One day I’ll feel guilty for blasting out of the gate with that one…. (Editor’s Note: No. No he won’t.)
Glenntai: You know, the exact memory is vague, but I think it was something related to me being three years old on the steps to my grandmother’s patio trying to play a nearby acoustic guitar like it was an upright bass or hitting things like a set of drums because Animal from the Muppets was hilarious.
Hoodie: Pretty sure Animal was many a kiddo from our generation’s first musical inspiration.
Glenntai: Around kindergarten, my father brought me to a nearby toy store and bought me a tiny Yamaha keyboard with a four-button drum pad and a bunch of demo tracks I could learn including “House of the Rising Sun,” “Yesterday” and Bananarama’s “Venus.” I still like the Yamaha keyboard’s version better than the actual version.
Hoodie: Damn. That’s some solid demo tracks. haha
Glenntai: I had an afterschool Fisher-Price-My-First-Piano-Class, and after that it was onto a real piano lesson. One. The guy was a fucking human dumpster fire that scarred me from ever going back to taking real lessons. It also made me terrified of confrontations and apt to go into panic attacks whenever someone raised their voice at me. So I refused to ever get taught professionally ever again, and didn’t take learning an instrument seriously for over a decade.
Hoodie: Wow. Well, that blows something fierce.
Glenntai: That, though, was a blessing in disguise. I immersed myself with video games and music. I loved a lot of the classics, but RPGs blew me away like nothing else. Secret of Mana was my first true love for video games, despite enjoying the hell out of most of them for years.
Hoodie: Love that game!
Glenntai: It was at that specific game where I fell in love with RPGs, which lead me into Super Mario RPG.
Hoodie: Love that game even more!
Glenntai: Which, of course, lead me into loving video games almost more for their music than the rest of their qualities. Eventually I dove into the discovery of OverClocked Remix (back when it was remix.overclocked.org for a few years before the domain name change.) I lurked on their forums, downloaded everything I could get my hands on, and then I saw their WIP forum and my mind was blown. I realized I could start making covers! I started off with general MIDI in Anvil Studio, and eventually I… bought… Fruity Loops back when I was a kid (#SupNSA). I never posted anything, though, since I both had no idea what the hell I was doing and was so incredibly intimidated by having experienced peers shit on my work.
So, realizing I never could make something I wanted to out of a standard DAW, I gave up on it and went back to learning more right-handed melodies to my favorite video game tracks and, of course, playing more games. But I was still as deep into the VGM community as I could be from years fourteen to nineteen. Years later I’d meet Larry Oji, DJ Pretzel and a few others even before my first MAGFest and it was like I just met my first famous people and I had to do my best not to fanboy out! It was also the same year I met Brentalfloss and ended up becoming friends with him through a series of events that turned out awesome.
I was also a huge nerd for comedy; new comedians, emerging comedians, famous ones, whomever I could find and laugh from I was all about it. I had a massive love for Monty Python for the absurdity and loose associations in their humor (while the rest of America was going “LOL JUST A FLESH WOUND LOL.” Sigh.)
Hoodie: Sorry about that… Sincerely, #ThatGuy. :3
Glenntai: Soon after graduation I discovered Mega64, and for many similar reasons I felt it was a very promising group of nerds who were hilarious for their level of experience. I bought their Version One (“version” being their way of saying “season”) and noticed a familiar but weird quality to the track played on Disc one’s menu. It was Dr. Poque’s theme, but… all of the tones were weird; almost bell-ish and what sounded like an “NES bass tone.”
So I asked on their 4ums (yo, their pun game is intense and I love it,) how they made that, and someone said their composer (Ian Luckey, now of Kirby’s Dream Band fame) made an 8-bit cover of the song he wrote and they used it on the DVD.
THIS BLEW MY MIND LIKE YOU COULD ONLY IMAGINE.
Hoodie: Can totes imagine it. ;D
Glenntai: I immediately thought, “HOLY SHIT, YOU CAN MAKE THIS WITH THE SOUNDS FROM AN NES? HOLY SHIT, I WANT TO DO THIS.”
Hoodie: And it begins…. ;)
Glenntai: So back to my totally legitimately purchased copy of Fruity Loops I went, downloaded Hammersounds’ Peach soundfont bank and dicked around with MIDIs of songs I liked, trying to make stuff that was awesome and just for me. Of course, despite being a perfectly law-abiding citzen who would never illegally download software for personal use (#supNSA,) I got curious and downloaded a keygen to see if it really would work after losing my Starcraft serial number. I heard this one track and I was blown away! I also realized it sounded nothing like my soundfont, so I was wondering what they used. I did some searching and found this song from one guy and it was AMAZING. It was Dubmood, of course. It got me searching for all sorts of stuff from Europe since I didn’t even think something like this was even close to being in America…
Hoodie: hahaha An understandable sentiment unfortunately.
Glenntai: Friends, for everything I was smart with, I was an incredibly fucking stupid kid; don’t let me fool you while I pretend otherwise.
So at that point I was floored! It was playing off an actual Game Boy!? I didn’t even KNOW you could do that with these things! I regretted misplacing mine and started the quest to figure out how to get this done.
A google search came up for Famitracker, one that allowed me to emulate the Nintendo Entertainment System/Family Computer and… OH MY SHIT NO WAY, I COULD ACTUALLY WRITE THEM TO .NSF SO I COULD PUT THEM ON CARTRIDGES!? WHAAAAAAAAAAAT!? NO FUCKING WAY. Time to learn this!
I was starting to get into making music with Famitracker when I discovered Autotune the News. ‘Bed Intruder’ was their huge hit at the time and damn was it catchy! At the end they encouraged people to make their own cover! So I said screw it I’ll start one!
This was intimidating since until then I had no knowledge of what a “chord” actually was, and I was about to tackle a cover from scratch. Of course then I said “fuck it” and decided to do it anyway since I saw they wrote down the chord notations in the description.
I uploaded it to YouTube, I linked it to their video like they said to… I immediately was notified about posts from Dorkly, NeoGAF, Destructoid, and Reddit. It got 40K viewers almost instantly.
Hoodie: Oh wow!!
Glenntai: I looked at that, I saw a guy who called himself InfoUplink posted my song to his YouTube channel without being credited (which got fixed almost instantly and he ended up being a super cool guy about it, hooray!) I immediately thought, “Holy shit, I got noticed by a lot of people.”
It was at that point I decided to make this a serious hobby of mine and start making chiptune music. What sucks, in one sense, is that because I knew so many people from my event management days, they were TOTALLY willing to hook me up with any chance they could to play shows.
Friends, I had literally no actual experience playing gigs, performing my set or even had my first album finished… and my friend Big Adam from MAGFest told me, “Dude, get on stage and play your stuff while Brentalfloss is setting up!”
At PAX East. In front of a ton of people after the chiptune showcase, and a bunch of randoms who were there for brentalfloss or saying hi to the MAGFest folk, including Danimal Cannon. At the time he was like, legend-tier to me with Armcannon and Metroid Metal. This was right before Armcannon’s second album came out with his debut into chipmusic, the track “Singularity.”
Fortunately for myself, I’m way too fucking stubborn to let my own shyness and insecurities let me give up. And now I’m here!
Hoodie: Damn funny that you mention that about Singularity, as that track hit me like a curve ball outta nowhere when I was deep into the VGM world but still clueless about “chiptune” per se. A whole lotta, “Whoa! WUT DIS??” Didn’t really hook me until after MAG 9 when I caught Danimal + other folk performing live, but needless to say my interest was piqued!
Also, which PAX is that you’re talking about?? Or do you even remember? hahaha
Glenntai: This had to be… 2011? Whichever the second PAX East was, because it was my first time in the BCEC.
Hoodie: THOUGHT SO. I WAS THERE. I SAW YOU DOING THAT IMPROMPTU SET.
HOW’S THAT FOR A MINDFUCK?
Glenntai: OH MY FUCK, I’M SO SORRY TO YOU AND EVERYONE ELSE WHO WITNESSED THAT GLORIOUS BAD JUDGMENT CALL.
I mean I’m probably being way too harsh on myself for the situation, here.
But nonetheless, that IS really fucking cool!
Hoodie: Seriously. After the literal lifechanging experience that was MAGFest 9, I blew pretty much all my expendable income on going to other events with live VGM and chiptune. PAX East 2011 was my first follow-up to that. I was so there, with fucking bells and whistles on, man. hahaha IT’S WHERE I DISCOVERED CHERRY WHEAT EVEN.
Glenntai: Whoa, that’s seriously friggin awesome.
Hoodie: Small. Friggin’. World.
Moving on before this spirals into a neverending trip down memory lane (as these interviews have an unavoidable tendency of doing…), so video game soundtracks lead you to the VGM remixing/rearranging communities (including, of course, MAG, as all nerdy roads pretty much lead there) which lead you to the chiptune realm. Tis kinda the yellow brick road to many of us it would seem, yanno? haha
Glenntai: A lot of us, yeah. I mean, there’s the demoscene which helped pave the way, as well as other people who stumbled upon it and are making history as we speak with it.
I mean, really, chipmusic is an international underground phenomenon based off of the celebration and enjoyment of creativity through limitations of using old computing hardware.
While my inspiration for music comes from people like Kiroki Kikuta, Yoko Shimomura, Keiji Yamagichi, Daisuke Ishiwatari, Koichi Seiyama, Daft Punk, Justice, Cherry Poppin’ Daddies and so forth… My inspiration for chipmusic still comes from stuff like Combat Dave, Dubmood, Anamanaguchi, pretty much every project from Carl Peczynski (Oxygen Star, SadNES, Steady C, DoomCloud, Rolly Mingwald, Radlib, and I’m probably missing four more but you get my point,) Zalza, Rainbowdragoneyes and even now I’m being blown away by Solarbear, by Trey Frey, by Roboctopus… I just happen to be trying to expand on what I’m understanding by implying intuition to technical knowledge, and only recently some music theory.
… Wow, admittedly that’s a surprising thought. I wonder what it would’ve been like if I approached this actually having a clue about music theory and composition?
Hoodie: MUSIC IS MATH YO. Essentially. Which *CAN* be kinda terrifying. haha
Honestly, I truly wish I had dove much deeper into theory when I was initially getting into music. Always just kinda shirked it off with, “Eh, don’t need that. I play by ear and learn by doing.” Which is great, but having some theory behind it is endlessly helpful.
Either way, better late than never!
Glenntai: Oh jeez, yeah, definitely. It helped me with ‘The Lament of the First and Only Space Viking‘.
Hoodie: LOL DAT SONG TITLE
You have a way with words, no doubt about it. Annnnd relevant segue into Nerdfit maybe?
Glenntai: Thanks! And sure, let’s do it!
Hoodie: What is The Nerdfit Network? And how does that fit into your broad repertoire of ALL THE THINGS?
Glenntai: Okay, so The Nerdfit Network started out by chance when a then-stranger when to heckle me and I came back at him with something clever. We then did a panel together with another friend and BAM, The Nerdfit Network was born. We became a team of nerds making up silly shit and tying it to the internet subculture’s frame of humor until we got big enough to start branching out our own original content without the aid of the subculture’s humor. This is why early Glenntai had pictures of a silly-ass squid hat, because you work with what you know and change it accordingly per target demographic.
Eventually we blew up from beyond just panels and started doing podcasts and articles, we branched out into inspirational entertainment panels a little, then all of us branched off into our own musical shenanigans, and would come together to write silly holiday-themed albums.
At this point we still do pretty much all of that, but now I’m working on a project within Nerdfit that might eventually turn into a physical commodity for sale in the future. One of my partners in crime, Erik, has been working hard on getting our web store online and this year we’ve officially received our LLC, so things have been only going up from here!
Hoodie: NICE. Curious to see how that develops further!
Glenntai: OH MY GOD OH MY GOD HOLD THE FUCK ON LOOK AT CTRIX’S VIDEOS ON FACEBOOK RIGHT NOW.
FUCK IT HERE’S A LINK
Speaking of gloriously ridiculous happenings, you revel in such about as much as anyone I’ve ever met. Yet at the same time, you’ve a more serious, mentor-like side to you as well, as your recent blog article proves. How do you balance that in and amongst all TEH CRAZY?
Glenntai: Well that’s the thing… I’ve always had this side, but because I was so unfamiliar and unadjusted to the chipscene both locally and on the internet, at first I didn’t know how to act, react or play things up. So I, in the spirit of Nerdfit, said “Fuck it” and did stuff until I got a reaction and adjusted accordingly.
There was, and has been, a lot of fumbling about trying to figure out how the scene and systems work within my region of the chip world. A lot of ups, and a few heavy downs, occurred. I want to help those just getting into the scene understand both how to keep themselves focused and how to avoid the fuckups I’ve experienced.
Hoodie: I can very much relate to that as well. It’s definitely taken time to find my balance between not taking myself too seriously, but taking what I’m involved in quite seriously. An ongoing endeavor it remains no doubt.
All the same, the desire to effectively communicate important lessons you’ve learned (especially the ones via “the hard way), it’s a damn good one. I’m really looking forward to your series progressing. =)
Glenntai: Thanks, man! I am too. I was a bit worried it wouldn’t have been taken seriously because of all of the ways I fucked up in the past… but I suppose it goes to show that you shouldn’t doubt yourself, huh?
Hoodie: I think if anything it gives you a bit more ground to stand on. Been through some crap, made some dumb mistakes, learned from ’em, keep rockin’ on, yanno?
Glenntai: I suppose, yeah. Granted, I’m also incredibly hard on myself whenever I make a mistake. Like, I’m still regretting a set I botched from over a year ago because of how much I like everybody there.
Secret lesson number two, friends! Sometimes you need to forgive your previous mistakes and remember to not repeat them instead of beating yourself up over it.
As silly as it seems objectively, that may be the hardest damn lesson to learn. We’re generally our own worst critics.
Glenntai: Well, when I stop feeling like I don’t deserve the positive and welcoming reactions I get from everybody at 8static, I’ll let you know how I managed to finally learn that lesson.
(Seriously though folks, you should hit them up whenever they do a show. Philly’s a damn fun city.)
Hoodie: hahaha Sounds good. ;)
And I am one of those folks who FINALLY need to get my ass to Philly.
Glenntai: YEAH, YEAH YOU DO. And let me know I’ll show you some of the places I know for like, A+ food.
Hoodie: I LIKE A+ FOOD.
Glenntai: Man, saaaame. But I’m working on not eating much of it anymore. I like losing weight.
Hoodie: I HATE THAT A+ FOOD MAKES YOU FAT.
But I digress. Speaking of cool chiptune happenings, Clipstream! I’M A FAN. Tell the peoples about it so they can become fans too!
Glenntai: Okay! So, Clipstream is a monthly online chiptune series showcasing new, veteran and up-and-coming artists from anywhere with an internet connection. We normally try to keep to it on the first weekend of every month, but that gets difficult.
It all started out of chance, actually, and I just happened to be the one who stood up and went, “No really, guys, let’s do this! That was fucking awesome.”
Last year, unfortunately, we didn’t do as much… a lot of us, being artists, had screwy conflicting schedules… and… well, let’s just say 2014 was not my year.
Hoodie: 2014 was… weird at best for a bunch of us.
All the same, it started in 2013 right? Or was it 2012? All I know is I remember getting excited about it when y’all got it rolling and started promoting the hell out of it. haha Still remains cool! Also been happy to see y’all (and work with you at MAGFest Chipspace) to livestream other events. That’s been badass!
Glenntai: It was 2012, and to this day I still can’t believe how well-received it was by so many people.
Also, it’s been nothing but awesome working with the folks at MAGFest! One day I hope I can get us all out there so we can appropriately represent and party with the whole team.
Oh which reminds me, next episode of Clipstream will be April 11th at Clip-stream.net, and we’ll be accepting artists for the lineup soon, coughcoughcough. <3
Hoodie: SHAMELESS PLUG: ENGAGE.
And wow, yeah. I guess it *WAS* 2012, huh? WEIIIIIIIIIIRDDDDDDDDDDDDDDD.
Glenntai: IT’S MOVING FASTER AND FASTER EVERY YEAR, I DON’T FRIGGIN GET IT, MAN.
Hoodie: Actually was chatting with an old friend about this very thing last night. His thoughts, “It’s because you’re happy and doing cool things. Time really does move extra fast when you’re having fun. Don’t worry about it, though. Just enjoy it!” Cheers to that, man!
Glenntai: Cheers to that, indeed! Hoorary for early spring beer while marinating kielbasa in a different beer!
Hoodie: OH MAN. YES KAIOKEN X30.
Glenntai: Which reminds me, I think I need to start working on like, seasonal jams.
Hoodie: Hey Glenn, you should, like, start working on seasonal jams.
Glenntai: Of course I say this now, but right now I’m multitasking and working on stuff for Mega Ran as we speak, and have like, 800 different pipe dream ideas I need to make reality.
Hoodie: There IS all of that too, it’s true.
Glenntai: Can’t explain to you WHAT it is, but I can at least confirm it’s being worked on and I’m super excited for it!
But really, I want to make summer jams to be played on a boat so it can be called the chip ship. It’s too easy of a rhyme to have not been used already, I don’t get it, why isn’t this a thing yet?
Hoodie: +10 for big unannounced things. THOSE ARE FUN.
Another +10 for chip ship. I want to float around on it, dance to chiptune, and drink tasty lagers. Kickstarter launch in 3… 2… 1…
Glenntai: Aaaaand “ChipShipTrip.com” is still available for sale. Also sail.
Oh, but is this the part where we mention stuff that’s happened/currently happening/soon happening?
Hoodie: Good a place as any! Let’s talk <3BRK and <3BRK accessories. ;)
Glenntai: Okay! So, my third album, <3BRK (pronounced “Heartbreak,”) came out recently. In it I’ve made a lot of songs varying in genre and emotion using both LSDJ and Famitracker, and in one song both of them simultaneously. I’m really proud of how that album turned out, although it almost didn’t even exist.
Hoodie: Almost didn’t even exist? Do tell!
Glenntai: Well the thing is, last year on the day after Valentine’s Day, my LSDJ cartridge battery died out. It was soon after that I made a track for ‘Chiptunes = #SrsBsns‘ and… then the cartridge wiped itself again.
For the most part I kinda gave up on LSDJ because that was soul-crushing to have lost all the data. The harder part about it was I woke up that morning specifically to back up the cartridge.
Thanks to a video recording by Storm Blooper and Shyabeetus’ wizardry for being able to recognize sounds, I was able to recreate the title track to the album, and therefore able to feel like I could continue making the album. At that time, most of <3BRK was only LSDJ.
So between that and coming up with some inspiration after the crash, I added famitracker stuff in and then combined the two, and the album came to life… and am I ever glad it did at this point!
Hoodie: WOW. That’s one helluva setback. Kudos for powering through and ending up with <3BRK. I think I would’ve just swapped out the LSDJ cart for Metroid 2 and called it done.
Glenntai: I almost did, but really making music feels too good for me to stop doing. Again, stubbornness at work, I suppose.
Hoodie: AW YISS. Can you share any deets about that yet?
Glenntai: Totally! I’m going to be releasing it on April 9th (so long as it’s done being mixed and such, which is should be iirc). I have remixes from RobKTA, JKLOL, DBOYD, Radionarcotix, Kommisar (which was also featured as a free download on <3BRK as an example of the remix album,) and Shyabeetus. I think of all the possible songs covered, there’s only one that gets one that gets a little overlap, but it’s a damn great compilation and I’m honored to have all of them working on this!
Hoodie: NIIIIIIICE. That’s gonna be hella fun, no doubt about it!
Glenntai: Oh man, I’ve heard most of these (and a few, like Shyabeetus, wanted it to be a surprise… which has me ready to hear how I’m getting trolled next. Since it’s Shyabeetus, I’ll consider that an honor, too.)
Hoodie: Oh, it’s DEFINITELY going to be both a quality trolling and an honor coming from him! hahaha
On that note, anything else you wanna chat about before we wrap this up?
Glenntai: I don’t think so, but knowing me it won’t be too hard to open my loud mouth if I ever need something, anyway!
Hoodie: hahahaha Neither of us have a problem talking, that’s for sure! XD
Glenntai: By all means, Hoodie, thank you! I’ve been meaning to get a few of these done since the album was finished, so I’m glad I’m finally on my way to making that happen, and this was definitely a fun cross off of the list of interviews I’ve wanted to do!
Hoodie: My pleasure, man!
And hell, while I’ve still got you here, I’d also like to take the opportunity to publicly thank you for all the support and assistance over the last few years in and around ChipWIN & MAGFest. Crazily enough, we’ve been in touch since damn near the beginning of it all and you’ve always been there to lend a hand, share some helpful thoughts & good laughs, and/or an ear to bitch in on rare occasion. Seriously, it’s much appreciated. <3
And, of course, can’t wait to see what kinda shenanigans we get into in the future. ;)
Glenntai: D’aww, you big softy! Says the pot to the kettle. <3
By all means, when we first started talking about chip, I told you how I see things– I want everyone to work together in order to make this a sustainable community that could even surpass the legend of the Deadheads. I want to encourage creativity and a welcoming, positive vibe, and you can’t do that being angry all the time, you know?
So basically I’m trying to say, any time, man. I’m glad to have been there, and I’m glad to continue contributing to the community in whatever ways I can!
Also it needs to be MAGFest again.
Hoodie: But doesn’t it always? haha