Episode 0: A little about me
Hello! Auracle here, and this is How To WIN At Chiptune, my first contribution to The ChipWIN Blog! I’ve been helping out around the Facebook group as a moderator for a while, so it’s great to increase my responsibilities a little further! The goal of this weekly series is to equip you to become a more active and involved part of your local chiptune community, and to help bring chiptune out of tiny basement clubs and niche conventions. To be clear, “win” doesn’t mean global fame and fortune; it means the ability to realise your vision and do the things that make you happy! I’m proud of the part I’ve played in the growth of my city’s scene (Manchester, UK) along with my friends at GameFace and I’d like to share some of that useful experience with you. Before we jump in, let me tell you a little about myself and how I got to this point. Context! ⊂((・▽・))⊃
Photo courtesy of Chiptography: Auracle @ Superbyte 2014
I discovered chiptune in early 2014 (Late-comer, I know!) after playing Scott Pilgrim Vs The World with Anamanaguchi’s stellar soundtrack. After a little Google research into the band and how they work, I was super excited to get into this fascinating way to create music. I searched for the most accessible way to get started and learned the basics of LSDj’s free demo in an emulator with some Youtube tutorials. A few months later, after investing in an old grey-brick Gameboy for myself, I discovered Superbyte Festival had its home right in my city, with an open-mic stage! I was lucky enough to secure a place with just my energetic first attempts on Soundcloud, even though the open stage’s sign-ups were filled within 5 minutes of opening!
I’ve performed in a couple of bands before, but I’ve always struggled with confidence and anxiety so it was equal parts exciting and terrifying to think I’d be on stage in front of an audience with nothing but my Gameboy! I had no prepared set, just a few disordered songs, and I didn’t even know about backlit screens so I ended up with a small desk lamp awkwardly lighting up my screen! When the time came to take the plunge, I played my three songs to a crowd that was more welcoming and supportive than any heavy metal crowd I’ve played to. I remember immediately feeling like this is something I want to be a part of. Being approached by chiptune blogger Chip! Bit! Sid! and GameFace’s own Graeme Booth for post-set chats felt a lot more show-biz than it probably really was. I’d released an album with my band, but we’d never gotten this kind of support!
Making my mark
After appearing on the GameFace radio show a few times, I took up a permanent spot in the team and gradually our efforts focused on boosting the UK chiptune community. There’s so much talent that’s either being overlooked or not being taken seriously because of its apparent novelty; if we could get the right eyes and ears on it, there was no doubt it’d take off. International communities like Chiptunes = WIN have made it easy to get music out online, but to get the media’s attention, we’d have to get some local shows going. I made a few contacts for myself, booking a few gigs at club nights and gaming events (More on that in another episode!) I’ve found that once organisers get their head around the concept, they’re just as intrigued as I was. As GameFace has grown, so have our opportunities, and our quest to get chiptune out to a real mainstream audience continues.
Playing a DJ set from my Game Boys at one of Manchester’s biggest club nights: Pop Bubble Rock!
From developing a unique selling point in ChipBattles that’s seen us perform in the London Science Museum to collaborating with the BBC on a chiptune-focused documentary, as a part of the GameFace crew I’ve taken every opportunity that’s come my way. Chiptune musicians deserve as much of a chance at a creative career as any other musician! The scene has its festivals and a handful of break-out stars like Chipzel, Danimal Cannon and Mega Ran, but my personal goal is for everybody. I want to make chiptune a household name in the same way that even if you’re not a fan of dubstep or punk rock, you know what they sound like and can probably name an artist or two. Working together with the community, I want to get more attention and appreciation for everyone.
That brings me to this series of articles! I think my experiences might be relevant to a lot of people who are either starting out or wanting to expand the scene in their local areas. A lot of what’s to come isn’t strictly a “guide” but my personal experience and opinions; something for you to consider and take as food for thought rather than instructions. Just like everything else about the chiptune scene, these articles are made to be modified and shaped to fit your situation. Over the course of this series I’ll be covering topics like how to develop your local chiptune community from the ground up, overcoming a lack of confidence to get yourself booked and and how to craft an effective live set.
Be sure to follow me on Facebook and Twitter for info-posts and links to full articles in the How To WIN At Chiptune series! I’m hyped to be featuring this series both on Chiptunes = WIN and GameFaceShow.com. If you have any questions or topics that you’d like some advice on, from finding gigs to constructing a solid set, let me know in the comments below and let’s talk about it! Show your support by sharing this with your friends; let’s WIN together! Keep in touch, and see you next week! \m|<3|m/