Hoodie Highlights… James York!

- Posted June 9th, 2014 by

Sup y’all? =) Prez Hoodie here with the next installment of my new monthly interview series, ‘Hoodie Highlights’. Going to kick off a special series of interviews with this one, focusing on the folk that are part of the ChipWIN Volume 3 judges panel! (sans Dj CUTMAN, as Kuma just interviewed him recently). First up on that list is James York aka cheapshot of CheapBeats.net! ENJOY! (also, prepare for lots of goofy links… ;3 ).

Cheapshot live in action. Photo credit to Chiptography, chiptography.com

(After a mild delay on both our parts in actually starting the interview…)

James York (cheapshot)Sorry, got distracted by THIS. haha

Brandon Hood (Hoodie): hahhaah HOLY WHAT?

cheapshot:  Yep. Pretty dope, eh?

Hoodie: In some way, I feel like that’s a perfect segue into the interview. hahaha

cheapshotOkay cool. I’m ready.

…then THIS happened. o_O

Hoodie: This interview is going to be a back and forth of awesome YouTube videos. BEST. RATINGS. EVER. hahaha ;D

cheapshotDem distracting videos. lol

Hoodie: The internet is a fun, and powerfully distracting, place. haha


Hoodie: And on that note, you do a *LOT* of things. And that’s within a scene that is noted for it’s “doers”. Why are you so deeply involved in chipmusic? As an artist, an event organizer, a project manager, etc?

BOOM. Big question right out the gate. #ItsOnLikeANeckbone

(To sum that up a bit, what drew you to it, pulled you in?)

cheapshot:  K. Lets see. Why? I guess cos I like music and found a real nice group of people here. I also like the sound aesthetics. And i’ve always found myself working best with boundaries imposed. Let me put it this way: with a Desktop Audio Workstation like Cubase, all those shiny VSTs distract me. Too much choice is a bad thing sometimes right?

Hoodie: Can be overwhelming, yeah!

cheapshotYeah. 4 gameboy channels is much more my thing, and I get to make beats on my way to work (2 hour train journey o_O).

Hoodie: And there’s the real reason, ladies and gentleman. hahaha j/k That is one helluva commute though.

cheapshot: Totally.

Yeah, that about explains it. I did a Bachelor degree in music tech, so I’ve always been involved with music.

Hoodie: Ah, you too, ay? haha

cheapshotThen a friend introduced me to chiptune, and I tried my hand at it with LSDJ. Met Lazerbeat and Quarta330 in Tokyo and got some good feedback, and the rest is history i guess! w

Hoodie: So the whole adventure began for you in Japan, ay?

cheapshotYeah, it did!

So, the story looks like this:

I made music in the UK until I came to Japan. Mostly techno and stuff with Cubase. Then when I came to Japan I stopped for 3 years as I studied Japanese solidly. Then I picked music back up again and this time with chipmusic! :D

Just gonna grab my daughter! brb

She’s causing chaos. w

(Sorry the “w” is Japanese for “lol”. A habit from using Japanese chat.)

Hoodie: ahaha Had no clue. Thought it was a typo. XD

cheapshotYeah. Sorry. So much more convenient! 1 letter instead of 3!!

Hoodie: Yeah, one key click. haha ;D

cheapshot: And if something is really funny — wwwwwwwww


Anyway, please continue.

Hoodie: Will keep that in mind to confuse friends in chat at a later date. ;)

cheapshot: Do it.

Hoodie: Regarding Japan, what’s the chipscene there like? Particularly in comparison to other parts of the world you’ve engaged in it (if you can make that comparison? You said you weren’t initially involved in it in UK after all). There are definitely some notable artists living there, and enough interest to start a festival. That’s a good sign! haha

cheapshot: Yeah. In a nutshell and being a little bit general, the JP scene has a larger proportion of artists that like to make 8-bit covers and remixes. Whereas the western scene is about using the tools to make NEW, original musis. If that makes sense.

In general that’s how I see it. That’s not to say that the JP doesn’t have original artists because it certainly does!

Hoodie: Yeah, I have noticed that phenomenon to some extent. But then again, yeah, you do have some pretty amazing artists like Toriena, NNNNNNNNNN, Chibi-tech, etc. who crank out some incredible original material.

cheapshot: Indeed! KUNIO is particularly worth looking out for. Guy is incredible, but again, he likes to do homages mostly.

Hoodie: Not sure I’ve heard of him. Will have to check him out!

cheapshot: Yeah, should be coming to CheapBeats soon. As will Tappy.

Hoodie: Which leads us quite perfectly to my next question: CheapBeats.net. How’d that come about?

cheapshot: Ok, so David (Lazerbeat) and I are fairly driven. Like we like to do things big and he is an unreal organiser, so we started with the CheapBeats event. Just because.

There was one other semi-regular chip event, so we thought we’d give it a go and things grew from there. David was the man that brought Blip to Tokyo and I got involved with that as the “JP speaker” of the unit. haha

Hoodie: Ah, right! That was a helluva thing!

cheapshot: And then we thought, “We should make a label from this to show the world the artists we see in Japan, and at the same time, introduce western artists to Japan.

And its so easy with Bandcamp. The first release was me (cb00), a lil tester. Then we just put the feelers out to artists we liked and they were up for releasing. And things have gone from strength to strength. The best thing about the label is that me and David have very different tastes. So I bring the Galaxy Wolfs and Monodeers, whereas he bring the xyces n00bstars, & YERZMYEYs.

Hoodie: Yeah, I love it (CheapBeats) for that fact alone: the focus on spotlighting chip in & around Japan. While the chipscene, so to speak, is connected fairly well via the internet, THE INTERTOOBS ARE BIG. It’s one place specialized netlabels like this come in wonderfully handy!

cheapshot: Yeah, we have had a bit of a void with JP artists at the minute, but they are coming. Trust me!! Some big ones!!

Hoodie: Looking forward to it!

cheapshot: Btw, time is officially 1337 in Japan right now. w
(nothing to do with the interview at all lol)

Hoodie: Or *DOES* it have something to do with the interview? 8-)

cheapshothehe Quite possibly!!

Hoodie: So, of course, this roller coaster of awesome is obviously what lead to Square Sounds happening, right?

cheapshot: Yeah, so Blip finished and the Australian Sound Bytes crew, who me and David are good friends with, started Square Sounds. They asked us if we would like to join them as official organisers and so of course we did. Strength in numbers and all that ;D

Hoodie: Indeed! ;D That is a pretty badass collaboration, no doubt about it. What I’d give to make it to one of those! Damn pricey to fly across the pond, though.


cheapshot: haha Yep.

Hoodie: And it’s ongoing too, right? As in more recurrences of it in the coming year or such?

cheapshotYeah! We did the first Square Sounds last year and it was a pretty good turn out. We are expecting more this year, cos the line up is very, very good. We’ll release details soon.

Hoodie: Good to hear! I know a few folk who jumped the pond to catch it last year and really enjoyed it. Even got Danimal there to perform!

cheapshot: Yeah, it was amazing to get Danimal over!! Our focus this year is on Japan, so we are going to be bringing more Japan talent than we have done in the past. This links to what I mentioned about the CheapBeats philosophy; we are doing an international event, and we want to introduce as much Jp talent to the world as possible.

Hoodie: That is something about the chipscene that fascinates me, and keeps me personally engaged & involved. How much passion there is among artists, fans, organizers, etc. to share the music with new folk, and to work together to do so. Especially when so much of it is generally a labor of love (i.e. not much $ involved in it). Why do you think that is?

cheapshot: Yeah, good point. I suppose for a lot of us we have jobs already and we are not doing it for the cash. Its that point PRECISELY that makes us want to do it more.

This might be off topic and boring but according to some motivational theorists (no citations I’m afraid) people that are intrinsically motivated (those that do something because they genuinely enjoy it) do a harder, better, faster, stronger job than those extrinsically motivated (those that do something for a reward).

So, within the chip scene, most of us KNOW that we are not gonna be rich off this. So that extrinsic reward is taken out of the picture. We just love it, so we put our all into it.

Did what I say make sense btw?

Hoodie: All the sense in the world. Lends itself towards the more, shall we say, genuine feeling in both the music & people of the scene?

cheapshot: Yeah, I think so.

Also, YES!

Hoodie: hahaha wut


Hoodie: hahhahhaha The Onion is THE BEST.

On a different (albeit slightly related) note, I hear you’re an avid gamer. Enjoying anything in particular right now? Dig new games, indie games, retro games, and/or any combination of the three?

cheapshothaha I’m playing a bit of Rust with some friends and calling it a “lesson” cos we do it speaking Japanese only. Pretty fun lesson I’d say! Hearthstone on the iPad is also keeping me busy, and then of course Minecraft. But that doesn’t count. cos it’s “research”. /airquotation

Hoodie: hahaha The best kind of research.

cheapshot: Indeed.

Hoodie: That’s actually an awesome idea: practicing a language while playing a game. Why not, right? haha

cheapshot: Yeah. It’s authentic language use at its finest, especially with a survival game like Rust / DayZ / Minecraft.

Hoodie: Seriously, though, if I could pick a super power the ability to communicate with everyone (i.e. sorta know all languages kinda deal) would be at the top of my list. It’s not flashy like flight or energy blasts or whatever, but pretty damn amazing all the same.

cheapshot: Ah dis question eh? w Ah, not a question.

Hoodie: hahaha Well, it is now!! ;D What would you pick?

cheapshot: I agree. Yeah, probably the ability to speak all languages would be the most appropriate for me. Dat bablefish needs to be invented.

Hoodie: Bablefish? -googles-


Spelled it wrong.

Hoodie: AH RIGHT. DUH. hahaha And hell yeah it does.

cheapshotI’d like to have photographic memory too eh.

Hoodie: Teleporation would be up there too, though. Because seriously, I needs it.

cheapshot: Indeed. Man that would be so good. I could live in the UK and Japan AT THE SAME TIME. And why not throw in some US and AUS too!!!?

Hoodie: EXACTLY. Go to *ALL* of the things without worrying about pretty much any kind of transportation.

cheapshot: Yep.

Hoodie: Anything else you’d like to mention before we wrap this up? Any announcements, hints, teases at upcoming releases/events?  And/or just thoughts on the future of CheapBeats, Square Sounds, chipmusic in general. (lemme jus ask as much stuff at once as I can wwwww)

cheapshotNice use of the “w” =)

CheapBeats 8 will be July 19th in Tokyo with some huge names. NNNNNNNNNN, Xyce, Zombectro, Minikomi. The flyer is unreal too.

cheapbeats flyer

We also have two releases coming out on CheapBeats soon. Jellica followed by Mr. Spastic. Very excite.

Square Sounds is the last week of September and, as I mentioned, we are focusing on bringing the best of the JP chip world, as well as having some incredible international artists too. Hint: UK, Holland, US… (not much of a hint eh?).


Hoodie: Everything: it sounds AWESOME.

Well James, thanks for taking the time to chat with me. Looking forward to working with you on the upcoming Volume 3 craziness. I hope you’re ready for that! hahaha ;D

cheapshotAbsolutely. Can’t want to see all the awesome tracks people submit!!!
Thanks again Brandon!

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Square Sounds Festival

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