Rhyphte Talks: Breaking Bread with Brick BRKer

- Posted March 7th, 2019 by

Happy March, everyone! With the epic ‘Spacetunes = WIN’ release looming on the horizon, I thought I’d take a minute to herald the publication of another excellent album this weekend.

Presenting a special guest and close friend of mine, returning for his second interview to talk about his first major release since 2014, Brick BRKer aka Neil Williams!

Photo courtesy of Ami Moregore
Photo courtesy of Ami Moregore

Rhyphte: Greetings friend, and welcome to The ChipWIN Blog.

Brick BRKer: Ayyy, glad to be here.

Rhyphte: There’s a lot to talk about, but we gotta start somewhere. So what got you into chiptunes to begin with? Let’s hear your origin story!

Brick BRKer: I’ve always been a pretty big fan of game music. I grew up with a hand-me-down SNES, and I remember pausing the Donkey Kong Country games just to listen to the music. When I would search around P2P file sharing services for various video game soundtracks, I saw the title “OC Remix” come up so often that I eventually found my way to their site. I knew there were other fans of music from games, but I had no idea there was an entire community of people rearranging and remixing the stuff. Around the same time, I started getting really into electronic music. Me and all my friends were those 12 year olds who only listened to like Deadmau5, Daft Punk, and Skrillex and we all thought we were real fuckin’ cool for it. These were the dark times.

Rhyphte: Hahaha, sounds like it but we’ve all been there.

Brick BRKer: And yet, from these dark times, I started trying to make some electronic music of my own. I learned how to use Korg’s iMS-20 emulator and uploaded some strange little tunes through the app’s Soundcloud uploader. I had to create an account, and on a bit of a whim, I put in Brick Breaker. I thought it sounded cool, and the only stuff I really knew how to make sounded pretty lo-fi and “8-bit.” I picked a name that would reflect that. I had no idea I would be using it to this day.

I made several tracks with the iMS-20 app, but eventually I started messing around in what was definitely a legally obtained copy of FL Studio. I ended up trying to stick to the “8-bit” kind of sound, mostly because I just liked the idea of making my own instruments all from scratch. I had no idea chiptune as a genre was even a thing until I started seeing that tag pop up around the internet. Eventually, it led me to the Facebook group for Chiptunes = WIN sometime around 2011. I made a track in FL Studio for a compilation they were putting together at the time.

Everything since appearing on ‘Chiptunes = WIN: Volume 1’ is kinda history.

I got way into LSDJ and haven’t stopped using it since. I’ve had the honor of appearing on several of the main releases, an expansion pack, and the ChipWIN Weekly Treats release. I put out an EP in 2014. MAGFest happened, which was fuckin crazy. And now I’m about to release an album and appear on ‘Spacetunes = WIN’. In the same weekend. Whack.

Rhyphte: This weekend is gonna be bananas, dude.

Brick BRKer: Most of all though, I’ve gotten to know so many incredible people through this community, and I’ve had the opportunity to introduce you to it, as well. Once again, it’s crazy that a Halo Custom Maps forum brought us together almost a decade ago and now we’re here. Funny how it all works.

Rhyphte: ^_^ I couldn’t agree more! How would you describe your MAGfest experience? You were a curated performer for ChipWIN, eh?

Brick BRKer: My MAGfest experience was incredible. Finally getting to meet and party with all these people I’ve known online for years? Getting to perform live for the first time for all these people? That Chiprave? That afterparty? Everything was so damn fun. Can’t wait to do it again next year. Not to mention all the other events I wanna go to now to fill the void. I’m gonna be playing PAX East later this month!

Rhyphte: Yeah I was so excited for you when I heard about that! Congratulations! I assume you’ll be showing off your new album; care to tell us a little more about it?

Brick BRKer: Thanks, man! I’m excited to play the PAX Jamspace and hang with MAGfriends again. And yeah, I’m definitely gonna be pushing my new album. It’s called ‘The Land Behind’. I’ve got it set for a midnight release this weekend as the clock strikes March 10th. It’s my 22nd birthday and the 5th anniversary of the release of ‘BRKOUT‘, my 4-track EP.

This new album’s got 7 tracks, all 1xLSDJ. They’re all songs I’ve been mulling over for like the past three to six years. I meant to put out an album ages ago, but school and work just kept taking priority. Listening to all these songs now, they’re kind of a record of this turbulent half-decade of my life out here in the middle of nowhere. Leaving home, graduating, maintaining relationships, totaling cars. It’s all there.

Rhyphte: What’s the significance of the album release falling on your birthday?

Brick BRKer: When I released ‘BRKOUT’ on my 17th birthday, I don’t think there was any real significance with the decision. Back then, I needed to pick a date and my birthday just happened to be coming up. Now, I feel like the birthday release represents growth and progression, things that this album embody. At least, that’s how it feels to me.

Rhyphte: I can’t help but ask: What are your thoughts on the upcoming ‘Spacetunes = WIN’ compilation?

Brick BRKer: First of all, I’m very hyped to be appearing on ‘Spacetunes = WIN‘ alongside you and all these other chipfriends. This compilation is stacked as hell.

Rhyphte: Anything you’d like to add about your entry?

Brick BRKer: I’m excited to show off my track for that as well. Without revealing too much, it’s a much darker track than I’m used to writing. Very slow and melancholic. There are countless galaxies and worlds forever out of our reach. This track deals with that universal sense of isolation.

Rhyphte: How do you feel about the Spacetunes release also coinciding with your big day?

Brick BRKer: I was a bit concerned when I found out that it was gonna be dropping on the 10th. I was afraid to compete with another big release, but I was already married to the idea of it coming out on my birthday. Now that I’ve had some time to think it over, though, I don’t think it’s gonna be a problem at all. My plan is to catch the ChipWIN hype-wave in this week leading up to release. And the listening party for ‘The Land Behind’ is on the night of the 9th, whereas the Spacetunes party is on the evening of the 10th, so I think they’re distinct enough events. Chiptune as a genre is niche enough that as long as the listening parties aren’t happening at exactly the same time, I think I’ll be okay, haha.

Rhyphte: For all our lovely readers, where are you hosting the listening party?

Brick BRKer: The listening party for ‘The Land Behind’ is gonna start on the night of March 9th at 10:30 PM EST. It’ll be hosted by the wonderful folks at geekbeatradio. Me and Rob and perhaps some other friends are gonna hang, talk chiptune, and stream these tracks all leading up to the midnight release.

Album art for ‘The Land Behind’ by Brick BRKer

Rhyphte: So I have this teaser track you sent to give the cool cats at ChipWIN as taste of what’s to come. Anything you’d like to say about it?

Brick BRKer: Yeah, so ‘Amber Wave’ is this aquatic kind of song that began on my .sav under the name ‘DIVE’. Whereas several of these tracks were made public as part of my (short lived) Weekly Beats run in 2018, I held this one close to my chest for a future release. The only time it’s seen the light of day until now was during my performances at MAGfest this year. I’m proud of this whole release, but ‘Amber Wave’ in particular to me represents a bit of an evolution of the song formula I tend to stick to. There’s a salty bit of dissonance thrown in with an otherwise freshwater melody.

Can you tell I have no concept of music terminology? Haha.

‘Amber Wave’ from ‘The Land Behind’

Rhyphte: I uh, think I might get what you mean.

Brick BRKer: But yeah, I’m very pumped to finally be putting an album out there into the wild. Finally getting it out of my system, so to speak. I’m excited for everyone to finally hear these tracks, especially with Stemage’s stellar mastering work. I’m just really glad I get to share this work with such a incredible community.

Rhyphte: Hell yeah, dude. What else is new? How’s your Rocket League season going?

Brick BRKer: Oh, we talkin’ carball now? I got re-ranked the other day in 2v2s with my old doubles partner. Still holding steady at Platinum 3. Trying to crawl my way back into Diamond, but I keep falling short because I refuse to actually train.

Hey what about you? Have you been training? How is the Chipgang ever going to make it to RLCS if you aren’t working on your aerials?

Rhyphte: I guess that thing that was never going to happen… is still just never going to happen, huh? ༼ つ ◕_◕ ༽つ ⚽


Rhyphte:Any parting words before we pack it in?

Brick BRKer: Shoutout to chiptune! This community is so welcoming and supportive and I wouldn’t have made it this far without such great people cheering me on. For real, infinite thanks to all my friends and family for supporting me in this musical endeavor. That includes you, Clark!

Rhyphte: Cheers man, and you’re more than welcome! You’ll see me at your release party!

Brick BRKer
Bandcamp | Soundcloud | Facebook | Twitter

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