Sup, ChipWINners? Bet you didn’t think I’d ever be doing this again, did you? I mean it’s only been like…half a season. That being said, let’s kick off summer in style with an interview of someone who encouraged me enough to get back into doing this, Cole Caron, the rising star in chiptune known as Dire Hit!
Kuma: So, let’s start with something basic. How’d you come up with your name?
Dire Hit (DH): Well, I don’t really remember. I started out as Aegyssystems, which sucked. Honestly, I’m the worst possible person at coming up with names for things.
Dire Hit is a useless item in Pokemon, but I really like it as a name, and it just stuck, and now I think it’s too late to change it.
Kuma: Ah, that at least confirms my suspicions about the origins of your name, so lets move on. Now Cole, I’m going to be direct here: while we certainly appreciate and admire younger talent and the promise people like you and your contemporaries such as Kaichan, Frostbyte and Chasing Bleeps hold, I must say, you are the youngest chiptuner I’ve ever met. You’re only, what,15? And on top of that, you started about a year ago, right? What made you wanna get into this? What made you decide you wanted to make music using video game systems us old farts had when we were your age?
DH: I started with chiptune at age 12. My sister’s boyfriend used Nanoloop and I just really liked the sound, so I downloaded MilkyTracker and went with it. The product of that is as horrible as possible. I had very little classical music training, and I did not understand the format at all. After a few months I moved on to Arkos Tracker, and I stuck with that for a while.
Why I was drawn to chipmusic was pretty simple actually. My parents are in the whole “videogames rot your brain” crowd, so if I were to get a game system, they were okay with it being hopelessly outdated. So I got a Game Boy Color, an LSDj cartridge, and an auxiliary cable at age 13ish. I tried recreating what I heard in the likes of Sabrepulse and Nullsleep. Of course I sucked, but it gave me the foundation for everything I do today.
Kuma: That answers a couple questions I was going to ask but brings up a couple more. I’ll try to go in chronological order based on the answers you gave me. First of all, you said you first got into chiptune because your sister’s bf at the time used Nanoloop and it was a sound you were drawn to. Now, you live in Seattle, a place that has a pretty nice chipscene. Her bf wouldn’t have happened to be someone notable in the chipscene there, would it? Someone like Turtlesaur or Electric Children?
DH: No one famous, as far as I know.
Kuma: WOMP WOMP.
DH: I don’t remember what he went by, but it was during the prime of 8bc, so all of that is gone. Womp womp indeed.
Kuma: Regardless, that is cool, and it does let me move on to my next question: we’ve already heard you mention that you find inspiration in guys like Nullsleep and Sabrepulse, but is there any particular reason why you’re drawn to those two artists over so many others in the scene? Is it that they sound more modern than some other artists or is there an emotional level in their music which resonates with you?
DH: I liked the pleasant poppy songs in the beginning, but I’ve moved on to different feelings and styles. Totally forgot to mention, but I was hooked on Ultrasyd ever since “move your body” and that was a major reason I picked up Arkos Tracker. The 8bc charts were a big influence on the music I was trying to make. One of the funny things about my early chiptune listening was that I never really got into any Seattle chiptune at the time.
Looking back, that’s crazy. Electric Children specifically. I remember listening to Electric Children Sucks once or twice, but not thinking about it too much. Of course now I’m crazy into electro house.
Kuma: Really? You’ve never been involved with the live chipscene in Seattle? But you’ve got such good artists in your own backyard. Hell, your city has a rich history of music, from chiptunes to grunge to college rock to grunge and…grunge…why didn’t you ever get involved with the live scene back then? Please tell me you’ve rectified that in recent years.
DH: I’ve never played live, unfortunately (unless Clipstream counts). My first chiptune live experience was X-Bit 2, because I wanted to see ovenrake and KGHB live. I just fell in love with the people, everyone I’ve met has been so nice and supportive.
They all signed my hat. I haven’t missed an xbit since.
Unfortunately Seattle live chiptune has been hibernating at the moment, but there’s a Fighter X show June 1st, so hopefully that’s the kick this town needs for the summer.
And maybe I’ll even get to play a show. Eventually.
Kuma: Wow! That sounds wonderful! Reminds me a lot of my experience at Blipfest last year, which is what first got me into chiptune. I generally have to agree: most, if not all, the people I’ve met since becoming part of the chiptune/vgm scene have been incredibly supportive and fun to interact with, and I’m very grateful for the opportunities they’ve presented me with. I’m sure as far as live shows are concerned, they’ll return the favor. That being said, you have, as you mentioned before, performed on Clipstream! Tell us about that experience man! Did you like it? have you always been a fan of Clipstream?Would you do it again?
DH: It was wonderful! My first time playing Clipstream it was like 1am PST, and I was not on the schedule in advance. It was a terrible set, I had no real equipment, just a gameboy and some audio cables. But everyone loved the tunes, and I made some great friends.
I was invited back, and I like to think I did a better job the second time. I played in the most recent Clipsteam, too! I had some webcam issues but the audio was just fine. I’m more of a recent fan of Clipstream, but it’s nice to have one day a month for chiptune and shenanigans.
Kuma: I know! I really wanted to catch it but I got pulled away for family business earlier in the day, and I wasn’t able to catch any of this month’s show! That being said, I know Glenntai must have been glad to have you perform! It is one his projects he holds pretty close to his heart and being able to see it come to fruition must have made him very happy.
That being said, I’m very surprised at the fact that you said you have no real technical or classical music training. That’s pretty unheard of in the scene, and I think you might be the first person I ever interviewed that said that. As someone who’s one of the most talented chiptuners in your age bracket, do you have any advice for any novice chipbros and sistas out there?
DH: F commands. That is all. But in all seriousness, work hard. Don’t put out songs that aren’t 100% the way you want them. Although I’d like to make a mild correction, I’ve had some musical training. Self taught piano and like 2 weeks of guitar lessons.
Kuma: That’s not a mild correction.
DH: Sorry about that accidental wrong answer then.
Kuma: I will beat you senseless.
DH: Oh shit.
Kuma: But seriously, that’s good advice. Will you be practicing what you preach over the summer? And what is next in store for you, Cole?
DH: I will be releasing music this summer. As far as what to expect from the future, I’m hoping to figure out 2xlsdj more than I have already. I also have an arduinoboy I’m going to find use for.
Kuma: Oh? Is your new release gonna be in the form of an LP or an EP? Details, man! Drop them like balls!
DH: I haven’t planned that far ahead, to be honest. It could be a bunch of summer singles, or it could be a full length album. Who knows! But lots of bass, lots of loud drums and noise channel silliness.
Kuma: Well, I’m sure whatever you decide to do beyond releasing your next album that it’s sure to kick ass. Do you have anything you want to say before we end this interview?
DH: I want to say thank you to everyone who’s helped me out! Abducted by Sharks, Boaconstructor, Electric Children, Live Animals, Orbital Strike, and Turtlesaur have been nothing but supportive, helpful, and overall great friends. You may not see it everyday browsing CM.O but there are a lot of nice people in chipmusic.
Kuma: And with that open admission about CMO, I’d like to thank you for your time, Cole! I look forward to hearing more from you, and to potentially interviewing you in the future!
DH: Sounds like fun!
You can keep up with Cole via his Facebook, Soundcloud and Bandcamp pages, which are listed below in the Relevant Links section. You can also catch up with him at chipmusic.org, if you’re so inclined to do so, as well as the Chiptunes=WIN group page on Facebook, as he’s become a staple of the community we’ve built there.
Tune in next week as I interview another person whom I haven’t decided on just yet.