Sup y’all? =) President Hoodie back again with another of my Hoodie Highlights interviews! Due to crazy life happenings (i.e. getting MARRIED <3 ), it’s been a few months since I’ve had the time to manage one of these enjoyable talks. And what better way to bring the feature back than with a follow-up chat with my good snarky Brit friend & initial Hoodie Highlights focus, Andrew Kilpatrick? Read along as we talk all retrospective-like, as Kilpatrick brings his 5+ years of awesome chiptune contributions to a close. Enjoy!
Sup y’all? =) Prez Hoodie here. I feel like today’s a good day as any to debut my brand spankin’ new interview column, ‘Hoodie Highlights‘! As much as I’ve enjoyed writing my beer and chip column the last several months (which I do plan to continue as I find the time), a big part of what keeps me involved in the world of chip is my direct, personal relationships with artists & fans in and among it. I’m a fairly personable guy, it’s true! (provided you can overlook the occasion dickbutts…). And that lends itself to interviewing folk! Mostly, though, I enjoy it, and think that just maybe y’all might too!
On that note, let’s get on with this first interview. Featuring none other than the snarky Brit that everyone hates to love (but generally does anyway), Andrew Kilpatrick!!
Brandon L Hood (Hoodie): So we’ve “known” each other for, what? Around a year now? In that period you’ve pretty much (in my mind) gone from beiing “that snarky Brit on cm.o who did that cool cover of the Wintersun track” to “that snarky Brit who does ALL THE THINGS”. hahaha
Andrew Kilpatrick (AK) – haha, yeah, I think it’s like a (torturous) year and a half now? It’s been too long (￣□￣) . Originally it was just Pxl-Bot but then I flew the coop to set up TWG before rolling back and working on both. Then WeeklyTreats and eventually NTWRK came out of what we viewed as holes in the scene which could be doing with filling by dedicated peeps. and voila, all the things.
Hoodie – That’s… a *LOT* of projects. And that admission is coming from ME. haha I realize it’s a bit of one thing leading to another, but why so many things? Or rather, why so much involvement in and around the chiptune/chipmusic world?
AK– I can’t remember how I actually got into chip to begin with. I think it was something to do with little-scale links on a free album blog site. Anyway, eventually I got two releases for the oldie label Betamod together. Around then Alex Kelly and I were super pals at college, and I told him about it all and it turned out he was interested in chip too. Eventually he floated the idea of doing a label and about 2 months later we launched Pxl-Bot! After about six months of Pxl-Bot, often releasing between 2 and 3 times a WEEK, I was exhausted. I eventually left the label in the hands of Alex and went off to figure out what I wanted to do. TWG came out of this, out of a want to start blogging along with a set of releases which were more eclectic, as with Pxl-Bot in the start we were both a bit young and dumb and just released shit for the hell of it, like MONODEER’s debut alongside some piece of shit 1-day famitracker EP I spat out. Young and dumb.
Anyway, TWG started doing releases, I then began blogging in what I guess is now my trademark ‘blunt fairness’ style and the mission statement of TWG slowly became tied to experimentalism in chip.
I came up with the idea of WeeklyTreats in a shower…
Hoodie – Best ideas ALWAYS happen in the shower.
AK – …phoned Alex Kelly, and then about 3 hours later we were in a Subway fleshing out what is now WeeklyTreats 2013. With artists, we wanted a mix of the ‘big guys’ we’d not worked with before, ‘smaller guys’ we thought were talented and a bunch of people from the TWG/Pxl-Bot rosters (in fact WeeklyTreats often opened doors to label releases!).
And then NTWRK is us being older and dumb I guess. realizing that these three ideas were disparate enough we decided to give them a ‘conglomerate’ name. NTWRK isn’t a fusion of the three at all, really it’s a ‘name tag’ to Alex and I as a production/curating team, and an arm of promotion that links the three for better synergy. The mixes are as promo for people from the three projects and beyond AND something to prepare people for NTWRK’s end goal; live shows.
Hoodie – Yeah, I see that now (regarding NTWRK). And it makes sense! Almost a way to “brand” the collective of projects so to speak.
More or less, this.
AK – Ps Aviel Brown says hi.
Hoodie – Hi Aviel!!
You referenced something you’ve become a bit infamous for via your album reviews & Volume 2 judging: as you said it, your trademark “blunt fairness” style. It’s stirred up some flak here and there, sure, but all in all I think most folk have appreciated the honesty. I know I have!
AK– I’ve been ‘blessed’ with a headstrong belief that my opinions matter or are in some way objectively ‘right’. They aren’t, obviously, but when it comes to being critical in my opinion there is absolutely no room for compromise, or to consider any work-relationship context when looking at another’s stuff. TWG was never meant to be a PR blog, it’s a critical blog through and through because that’s the type of journalism I want to do, and what I’ve learnt from writing on TWG has been invaluable to me from a career’s point. Not only that, but it’s that type of critical outlook that actually benefits the artist; if you’re only being told you’re great, you aren’t going to move forward as fast as when someone is telling you what’s wrong, and I’ve had many people come to me privately after I’ve reviewed and panned their release thanking me. As long as you’re not being critical as a means to get personal, I think there should be far more of it going on in the scene.
Hoodie – Honestly, from what I’ve observed the artist responses from some of the more “harsh” reviews seemed to be more appreciative than even those of the positive reviews! I think most folk do appreciate the constructive criticism when it’s delivered in such a manner: straightforwardly and without bias.
Outside of that, it *IS* ultimately just one man’s opinion after all. Grain of salt and all that jazz. ;)
AK – ᕙ(⇀‸↼‶)ᕗ yh but 1 well boss man yo
Hoodie– ｡◕ ‿ ◕｡
Regarding NTWRK transitioning to it’s end goal of live shows, anything to report on that yet?
AK– Yes! We’re sponsoring a gig in Southampton in the end of June! More info on that will be around soon. Also we’re planning a very special opening to the NTWRK live shows hopefully for the end of this year!!
Hoodie – Now THAT’s exciting! And I knew it was only a matter of time until y’all started getting involved live. haha It’s a fairly different creature, but a real blast to be involved in. Particularly to me, since live chiptune is what really pulled me in anyway.
AK– Yeah, it’s a fucking travesty it’s taken this long for us to knuckle down and go for it. Super huge big ups to Connor Fowler who asked us to help and sponsor the Southampton gig, as without him I don’t think things would be moving as fast as they are. I mean, at this point we have contacts from 3 years of Pxl-Bot, 2 years of TWG and the countless WeeklyTreats too, it seemed like such a waste not to exploit those in a live setting!
Hoodie– I can relate with that 100%. It’s one thing to rock some bombass projects (…did I really just say “bombass”…?) on the intertoobs like a BAMF, yet completely different to bring it IRL. And rather intimidating! Although I’ve found the transition isn’t quite as jarring as you might think, especially when you have other BAMFs to work with for the live shows. That makes *ALL* the difference in the world. And it looks like that’s the case for y’all too!
So best of luck pulling that off, and growing that venture into the next big thing! Will be yet *ONE MORE THING* for me to jump across the pond for. ;)
AK– oh yay. <3
Hoodie– Seriously, teleporation nodes, man. I NEEDS ‘EM.
AK – I want a jet so I can fly to all the gigs.
Hoodie– I suppose owning a jet w/limitless fuel would also suffice. :3
Or a dragon. Maybe Kubbi could lend us a couple? Pretty sure they have those in Norway.
AK– They’re not quite as practical though. Where do you park a dragon even? Can you valet a dragon?
Hoodie– Hmm… Clearly, you’ve thought this through a bit better than me.
AK– You don’t get 4 projects on swole without some overthinkin’ yo.
Also, MAGFest 13? You’re coming, right? COMMIT TO IT. RIGHT NOW. IN THIS GORRAM NTERVIEW. PINKY PROMISE IT. OR WE’RE GETTING A DIVORCE.
AK– No I wanna go Pax South. hur hur hur
Both will be damn good times, no doubt about it, but still… WE’RE THROUGH, BUB.
…after the interview is done. :3 Continuing on with such, tell me a bit about how y’all choose artists for/curate your releases/compilations/etc?
AK– First off talent. Obviously. From here it depends on the project. Overall Alex and I have always been really pro-newguys, Pxl-Bot’s main aim was always to put really new people and debuts next to more established people (Monodeer, AndaruGO and HunterQuinn and probably countless others all released their debuts with us on Pxl-Bot!). For TWG they’ve got to have that experimental edge, that ‘TWG sound/style’, but also because the site doubles as a critical blog they’ve also got to be as close to perfect as possible, hence TWG’s roster is entirely hand-picked. And then with WeeklyTreats they’ve also got to be reliable, especially last year, as it’s one of those projects that can really fall apart if an artist we’re working with isn’t into it 100%. I consider myself really lucky to work with the people I have though, ESPECIALLY on TWG were I consistently get the chance to release music by people I respect immensely. Also, this year on WeeklyTreats and NTWRK I’ve been able to work with Sebastian Tomczak aka little-scale aka the guy that got me into chiptune, and it’s been an overwhelming honour to do so (not to mention the TOMES of other incredible talent we’ve put stuff out with this year or curators that have helped out with WeeklyTreats!)
Also sending pastries helps.
Hoodie– If sending pastries fails, send beer. #NeverFails
AK– Not that cherry shit doe. Who wants to drink bread-like cherry? Why?
Hoodie– -shrugs- MORE FOR ME.
Outside of your other ventures, what’s up with Andrew Kilpatrick: the chipmusician? Anything planned?
AK– Yes actually! Minus the two recent releases under my ‘spaceaser’ alias, ‘Tangelo‘ and Singular, I’m working on a third ‘colour’ EP for the aforementioned Betamod label! Beyond that: a few more comp tracks, planned split with Vegas Diamond, continuing WeeklyBeats (managed every week so far!), hopefully putting together a super trippy live set and also Alex Kelly and I have been talking about doing a collab project for years… so watch out for ‘yumikumi’ too! ^_^. Also another alias called ‘thrones’ which is apparently cursed is making a move…
Hoodie– hahhahhahha Real secret to your success: you just get bored too damn easily, right? ;) <3
AK– hahahahaha so unbelievably close to the truth. If I had an xbox or a nice guitar then WeeklyTreats probably wouldn’t have happened.
Hoodie– I’ve said it all before, but I’d feel remiss if I didn’t mention yet again how (last year) you were also both instrumental in helping me successfully reboot The ChipWIN Blog and contributed a good deal on the judges panel for Volume 2 (your “blunt fairness” definitely helped me open up and be a bit more… honest haha). Pxl-Win was a damn fun side-release too!
AK– Thanks, working with the blog was a lot of fun and an absolute ton of useful experience for me, and while I was soppy to have to leave to focus on other things I think it was for the best and the blog is still growing! Pxl-Win turned out surprisingly well I think! The Pxl-Win release sounded oddly like a compilation Alex and I would have put together anyway, and that plus the incredible mastering by S.P.R.Y made it not sound like a mixture of ‘rejects’ and ‘oddities’ And, to be honest, most of my favourite entries were on Pxl-Win, and it opened the door to work with some incredible artists too, I really enjoyed the experience and I think it went better than it could ever possibly have gone! As with the Vol 2 judging, yeah, I loved it, but it was such hard work. Part of me is sad I won’t be able to do it again this year, but then again, I know I’ll be using the effort to focus on less stressful things and my place is being filled by some INCREDIBLE talent, so, probably for the best for everyone. ;) (Also working for Brandon for another summer? EWW).
Hoodie – Ima gonna miss u 2, bby. :*
Any other thoughts, plots, shenanigans, dickbutts to mention before we wrap this up?
AK – Got a plethora of releases out on TWG soon including new stuff from barbeque and Love Through Cannibalism, Pxl-Bot is going to re-launch sometime in the nearish future and WeeklyTreats is gunna keep on trundlin’!
Thanks for having me you dick. butt.
Hoodie– Awesome. Looking forward to pretty much all that. Almost as much as I’m looking forward to being done talking to you (j/k ilu bby 5evar <3 ).
Ho-Ho-Holy Shit. If the holiday season wasn’t exciting enough, the wonderful/not-workshy/probably mentally unstable people over at Chiptunes = WIN have graced the world with the first in a series of promised themed compilations, starting with the theme of winter. Sounding like a condensed audio personification of Christmas, if this doesn’t get you in the mood for mince pies, roast dinners and eggnog (is that actually a thing or have years of US Sitcoms been lying to me?), then nothing will. You utter Grinch. So without further ado, here is where we break it down:
BR1GHT PR1MATE – Linux and Lucy
Returning for their second bout on a Chiptunes = WIN comp, James and Lydia start proceedings with a sweet and sour swirl. Delicate melodies and jazz/funk fm influences swamp the track, and coupled with sampled voices which narrate, the track jumps between sugar and spice repeatedly; the sugar hook will stay with you for eons.
Having appeared on Fox News, released the acclaimed ‘Night Animals’ earlier this year and been credited for countless game OST’s, the Br1ght Pr1mate freight train appears to be doing the very opposite of slowing. Frequent live performances and an e-performance on the upcoming uber-web-show ‘WWCW 12’, keep a look out for this duet’s fantastic live show too.
Vince Kaichan – Midnight Snowflake
Soft and subtle seem to be the thematic qualities of this compilation, and if so then ‘Midnight Snowflake’ is the template. No jarring dynamic shifts or unannounced jolts, just blissful frolicking through winter tundra and the feeling the melodies could be icicle tendrils. Harmonically robust and beautiful, this track can be added straight to Vince’s long catalogue of fantastic tracks.
With releases as VCMG on Pxl-Bot and others on Noisechannel, Vince has shed his newcomer badge long ago and has since become a well-established name in the chiptune scene. If this is your first experience of Mr. Kaichan’s work, you’re in for an early Christmas treat.
Professor Shyguy – We Three Kings
Convention frequenter and pedlar of pop rock chiptune, Professor Shyguy brings his rather nice (trying not to sound emphatically romanticised here) to a cover of ‘We Three Kings’. How Christmassy does this sound? All of the Christmas.
Not one to do things simply, the climax breaks from the mould to provide a darker and far more Pink Floyd take on the classic carol, with screeching distorted guitars and acoustic fiddling aplenty.
With a full length and a new single both released this year, you’re more than spoiled for material to keep you happy(er than you would otherwise be) over the Christmas period.
Mark ‘TDK’ Knight – Sunrise
The prolific game music composer and BAFTA winner (!) TDK is returning to grace the chip world with his masterful compositions. With a single coming out soon on the deity house that is BleepStreet Records, Mark reintroduces himself here with a chilled and icy jam that melds eastern melodies and jazz elements into a consistently surprising and enjoyable track, with frequent nods to his previous soundtrack work.
With more skills, projects and awards than I can ever hope to cover in this short passage of text, it’d be wise of you to check out the huge repertoire of this brilliant composer and sound wizard. 20 pounds if you don’t see a game you recognise.
Storm Blooper – The Stellar Dendrite
Having been around originally as Sub-Woofer Special since 2008, the reincarnation as Storm Blooper has thus far brought with it two full lengths, a single earlier this year and plenty of live performances, morphing to a more standard chiptune affair to his present day dub inspired grooveathon. And here we arrive and Blooper’s magnum opus, The Stellar Dendrite.
You’ll have noticed the emission of anything even slightly wobble-influenced (now that I’ve pointed it out) and not one to displease, Storm Blooper handles the job solo and with gusto. Whilst not a wobble track per se, the grooves and dub flirts will have you chomping at his hyper sweet bit through the pieces duration and beyond.
Glenntai – Snowfall and Snowballs
With the fondly remembered EP ‘Silly Hats Only’ from 2010 and a new EP in the works and his hands full with the planning and leader of the newly formed and already respected ‘Clipstream’, a monthly online chip festival (it is as brilliant as it sounds), seeing Glenntai’s name appear on this compilation will likely have excited many.
And here is why: complex and experimental melodic tinkering laced into an upbeat and wintery socket, carefully crafted to the smallest degree. Feeling fuller and longer than its mere four minute play time, this masterfully conceived track is a refreshing take on the hyper-happy chiptune of ye olde.
ABSRDST – Let Me Freeze
Since July ABSRDST has released the mammoth-sized ‘Home Sweet Home’, the brilliantly received and diverse ‘Sugar Blossom and the Space Cadets’ and most recently his albumette ‘Rigby Wearing Shades’. Definitely a busy fellow.
Lending his expert meanderings to chipWINter, ‘Let Me Freeze’ takes six minutes of your time to lead you through multiple genres and styles, coaxing out memorable and tightly constructed melodies at every intersection, giving the track an unparalleled flow. Building to an incredible climax with one final violently adrenaline-coaxing twist, ABSRDST sure knows how to do ‘epic’ as well if not better than most.
Daniel Capo – Frosted Over
Featured on multiple compilations including a past Chiptunes = WIN and the fantastic Perelandra Records compilation ‘Tide’, Daniel, has been carving himself a name for professional sounding and presented chilled chiptune. ‘Frosted Over’ is no different.
Mixing EQ manipulation with subtle breakbeats and sporadic melodies, ‘Frosted Over’ has an almost glitch-like quality to its wintery demeanour. The rising a falling of the backing synth’s pitch and volume help add the dreamlike qualities of the understated piano and unimposing harmonies, creating a track that truly embodies the term ethereal.
Jay Tholen – Justice Delivers Its Death
There is a lot to say about Mr. Tholen. The prolific progressive rock and chiptune connoisseur has graced labels as respected as Pause and Ubiktune, with plenty, and I mean plenty, of self-released pieces in between. With his game Dropsy in development under the Tendershoot studio name, Tholen is truly a man of many talents.
And creating catchy chipfolk is one of said talents. Backed by female vocalist(s), the slow crescendo of chiptune and acoustic builds to a tightly woven and emotional end. The lyrics, whilst at times slightly unsettling in an obviously deliberate way, work cohesively with the music to create Tholen’s truly unique and remarkable atmosphere and style.
Vegas Diamond – The Ghost Of Christmas Dance
Featured on the Spanish equivalent of 8bitpeoples, LowToy, Vegas Diamond’s bittersweet jams having begun to tease the ears of chiptune fans everywhere, and here is no different.
Scales flow over each other jumping from major to minor to create that bittersweet tinge of sweet and sour. Starscream (Infinity Shred/Whatever) influenced chords rain from this, sending astral snow into your speakers (I’ve always said the line between space and ice themed is only a contextual one). Featuring one of the most memorable melody and chord progression dualities on this compilation, Vegas Diamond has continued their thus far unblemished record for great music.
The Bitman – Next Stop, Detroit
Visitor on the release pages of Noisechannel and with two other Eps under his belt, Bitman’s dance LSDJ boogies this time go for winter’s thorax. Pulsating drums and scales carry the first half of the track gracefully, before the mid-break switches up the formula into a wide-eyed melodic call and response as scales dance around each other in a hypnotic cycle. Memorable 3/4 hooks and dragging drums help the track stand out from the LSDJ pack, and dissonant bleeps help create and uneasily sub-zero atmosphere. Apparently Detroit is cold this time of year.
shanebro – A Chipwinter Stroll
Winter drum pumps fill the space left between the rising and falling scales of the tracks beginning. Flowering into a melodic to and fro with the beats, Shanebro spends the rest of the track experimenting with constantly shifting melodies and brief motif reprisals. The mid-drum break has a real 80s ad-vibe about it, primed to tug at the nostalgia toggles on anyone’s hearts.
With the release ‘The Sky Is Ours’ over on Noisechannel and a full length in the works, look out for this up-and-comer taking over this place.
an0va – Christmas Time Is Here
Frequenting stages in the US and teasing the general populace with only one released EP thus far, the fantastic ‘The Teaching Machine’, an0va is already a well-known name and unique talent in the chiptune field.
‘Christmas Time Is Here’ starts, sounding eerily similar to a lost song from The Snowman soundtrack, an0va uses a blend of chiptune, guitar and expert atmospheric control to create an audio personification of the festive season. Even before the jazz guitar begins, the track’s slow lounge croon carries the listener, only heightened by the presence of lucid and fluid guitar playing.
Kubbi – Polar Bear Rides
Chiptunes = WIN’s very own Master Of The Tracklisteh provides another track for another compilation in the wake of his fourth full length release, ‘ Circuithead’. With a progressive twist to the melodically founded chiptune, these 80’s-esque synths bring to mind Drive during the winter months, snow drifting and cold stares. Melancholic and with the spirit of the festive months etched into its psyche with great force, this winter paradise stands out starkly in Kubbi’s extensively eclectic as another choice cut.
If you enjoyed this track, definitely check out his other release from this year, ‘Sleet’, and last year’s full length ‘Transmittance’.
Back to back Andrew Kilpatrick write-ups! AWW YEAH!! 8) This time it’s about the artist responsible for ChipWIN track #11:
After the dark, eerie expanses of Zef’s dark-step gives way, RSM picks up right where he left off. Delivering a hard-hitting and melodically-rife cut of electro wobble-inspired chiptune, New Bedford’s newest chip protégée carries on his mission to entice anticipation for his upcoming debut on Cheese N Beer. Featuring highlights that include a wobble break with harmonizing melodies that wash over the top flawlessly and slightly dissonant chord hits every now and then, RSM manages to stand out from the pack of similarly minded artists each attempting to encapsulate the style that is dealt with here with brute compositional finesse.
Here would be the part where I explain RobotSexMusic’s past endeavours, but alas, this new sun is only beginning to spit its rays upon our collective musical earth, and as such I can do nothing but strongly recommend you hit up his soundcloud for a torrent of other equally astonishing and hook-laden tracks.
Rolling melodies with incredible attention paid to the hypersensitive boundaries needed to create tunes so cheerfully melancholic, inspiring uses of the wobble function, and brilliantly utilized kits, RobotSexMusic really has the whole package already, highlighting how incredibly frequent finding new and astonishingly talented artists is in this wonderful scene.
And now for the first write-up from the man with many, many hats, Andrew Kilpatrick, who’ll be adding “ChipWIN Blog writer” to his already long list of pursuits (I dunno HOW he finds time, but I ain’t gonna question it!! ;D ). His first post is all about the artist behind track #10 from ChipWIN Volume 1:
Zef, or Chris Penner, delivers to the compilation a track from his most recently released progressive electronic opus ‘Blackout’, the astonishing ‘Pure Voltage’. Zef staples dub influences into the flesh of dance music, whilst heaping on atmosphere until all contenders to his dirty throne choke. Drum n Bass kicks flow over the track like a tightly woven blanket of fist-pumping decadence, backed by a series of un-restrained glitch flickers that flirt with outright dissonance and melodies that hook themselves firmly in place and subtly build structure around a seemingly, at first glance anyway, free-form song flow. His style is reminiscent of the style fast becoming the new definition of what the standardised ‘chiptune’ is (a definition that changes as rapidly as artists join and leave the scene), and Zef is certainly a definer of this newly emerging amalgamation of certain popular electronic styles and chiptune instrumentation.
Being the first artist to have a solo release on the now thriving Noisechannel.org label, Zef backed up his debut stunner with the glorious and previously mentioned ‘Blackout’, wherein he improved and perfected his developing sounds and styles to great effect. Now, with rumblings of a release with Danimal Cannon in the works, Zef seems poised to place himself firmly in the chiptune lime light whilst he is organically becoming a respected figure in Chipland.
For more Zef check out his Bandcamp and download/spread/ streamwhilstcoatingyourselfinoil his tunes. It’s definitely worth the venture.