So you just listened to the meditative sounds of datacats and are feeling at ease, having found inner peace through the beauty in the simple things that surround us all. However, just before you can truly ponder on that which is to come you feel yourself starting to snap back to reality! You awaken from your gentle meditation, only to find yourself suddenly strapped into the cockpit of a badass star fighter! Before you can even question what’s happening, the lights on the take off strip transition from red to green and you’re blasting off to your next destination: Titan 2!
Kedromelon is a man who knows what he wants and goes after it with full force! Hailing from Titan (aka Maryland, the homeworld of other notable artists such as Compy Core), Noah Lemen studied music technology at NYU and has since become one the many bodacious and deftly skilled chiptuners to call the city his home. Crafting aggressive, hard hitting music such as Sky Attack, Let it Glow, and my personal favorite, Recoil, Noah is a musician who composes refrain that instills vigor in anyone who listens, and keeps the pace going song after song.
As is the case with many other artists that have come before him on this compilation, Noah is capable of incredible diversity, and even took a break from making chiptune for awhile to work on another style of music that he excels at but is perhaps less known for: post-rock. While he hasn’t produced as much music in this genre as he has chiptune, his skill as a composer shines through regardless. Songs from his EP Demos and Old Stuff such as Reflections and his most recent post-rock single, Rails, reveal a sensitive, introspective and even forlorn aspect of this multi-faceted artist that many don’t seem to know about.
That being said, don’t let the hipster facade fool you: chiptune is most definitely Noah’s joie de vivre, as he has currently put aside all of his other projects to work with Tate Gregor, a fellow NYU alum and chiptuner known as PopSTAR, to form an epic duo known as CHILLBRAVE!
actual photo of CHILLBRAVE
CHILLBRAVE has yet to release a full EPs worth of music on either Soundcloud or Bandcamp, but considering what each artist brings to the table and what they’ve put out so far as a duo, they are definitely a force to be reckoned with in the scene. If you’re digging Kedromelon in any way, this is definitely the act to follow to keep up with him.
Welcome back, Chipwinners! Judging from the good bit of positive feedback I got from you guys regarding last week’s Decktonicinterview, I’m guessing that you’re enjoying these! I’d like to thank all of you in advance for the support, and hope that you keep coming back here for more raw, unfiltered goodness!
That being said, this week’s interview lightens the mood some as we talk to Dylan Brown aka CompyCore, a dynamo of a chiptune artist and graphic designer who’s taken the time to talk to us about the finer things in life, such as art, clothing, and Skittles.
Kuma: So lets start with something simple. “Compy”: where’d this nickname come from? I’m a curious Kuma.
CompyCore : Compy is actually just short for Companion. It was an online alias that I would use for Half life 2 multiplayer. Eventually everyone started calling me “Compy” on there, and it became a thing.
Kuma: Ah, very cool. So did you come into the whole chiptune thing as a gamer first, or did chiptunes make their way into your life in a completely different way altogether?
Compy: Yep, video games have always had a HUGE impact on my life. I was raised by a Sega Genesis as a kid, and I can’t imagine what my life would be like without games. It probs would be pretty boring.
Kuma: Is it also safe to assume that video games have also had an impact on your style as an artist, as well, or does that inspiration come from a different source altogether?
Compy: Definitely. I’ve been doing pixel art now for 12 years, and graphic design for 2. My start as an artist began as a 10 year old making shitty free ware RPGs with a program called the OHR RPG Creation Engine. Most of the work I did with it was solo, but I did have a few small projects I worked on with a friend of mine that went by “spoonweaver”. It was a fun little rpg creation engine that was really user friendly, and had a great supportive community behind it, too. Highly recommend it to anyone looking to get started into indie games. Back then I used the alias “blue pixel”, so you’d have to look that up to find my games.
Kuma: Very nice. Now that we’re on the topic of your art, I’d like to take the time to ask you about it more in depth, particularly about your most recent project: ToastyCo. After years of making art for and related to video games, and even making music using video game hardware and software, what was it in you that decided to go with clothing company?
Compy: Haha! It was actually a really random idea at the time that sorta snow-balled. The “Play it LOUD!” design was a class project in college, and all my friends and I thought it would make a great tee. I mentioned the idea to one friend of mine, and his neighbor does screen printing. From there, it snow balled into more designs, more interest from friends, more people hearing about it, and before you know it, I’d have 20 different items, and a clothing store opening.
The design that started it all.
Kuma: Lets talk about this store opening. When and where is it happening?
Compy: The store’s opening Friday, March 1st in Thurmont, Maryland, on Woodside avenue. The shop was an old hang out spot of mine as a kid. It was an old skate shop in town. It was the only real hang out spot in town, so I’d end up going there almost everyday and hang out with friends of mine. The owner of the building’s a friend of mine and he’s been trying to sell it for years. I feel like if I’m gonna have any success in this town it’ll be there, through the memories me and my friends have made there years ago. It only makes sense that it should be the first place I open a retail store. It’s a real small town though, so I’ve got my fingers crossed that it goes well.
Kuma: That’s quite a gambit, considering it is a small town, but from what I’ve seen from having partied with you at 8static and MAGFest, you’ve got energy in spades, my friend. Do you think you’ll be able to bring that same kinda energy to your sleepy little town as you do to the shows you party and perform at?
Compy: Maybe. I do plan on using the building as a venue for tons of parties/shows, so hopefully the people will get pumped about that. I’m also using the back of the store as sort of a “home base” for ToastyCo., giving me a place to do my own printing if I wanted to store shirts, etc. I’m sure it’ll take some time, but things will get going.
Kuma: I definitely have faith in you and your vision my friend, but what you just mentioned now about using it as a venue brings me to something else I wanted to ask you. From what I remember, you mentioned wanting to throw a chiptune party in commemoration of the stores opening. Now obviously, you’re gonna be performing there, but are there any other artists we can expect to see out there? Can we expect to see a regular scene in Maryland now that you’re opening your store?
Compy: It’s really hard to call that one. The only other chip artist driving distance from me right now is datacats. Trey Frey moved to like, 4 hours away. Kedromelon is up in your parts these days. I’m probably going to be the only chip artist preforming there regularly, but if anyone ever shows up, they’re more than welcome to have a stage to dance upon, and an ear to listen.
Kuma: I’m definitely glad to hear that. You know, regardless of how spread out the scene is, we’ve definitely seen success in small movements that grew and grew fast. Solarbear already has the second annual Brkfest in the works and the Piko Piko guys are skyrocketing right now. Disregarding what scenes are hot right now and your current priorities revolving around the store opening; if you could be in any one place–as far as chiptune is concerned–where would it be and why?
Compy: Oh, that’s hard! Haha! I guess either Detroit or Cincinnati I’ve got mad love for everyone in both communities there. I’m actually making my way up to Detroit for the first time this April.
Kuma: Very nice! Any chance of hearing anything new at these shows? I’d love to hear more stuff along the lines of Frost Magic or Ristones.
Compy: Yes! Lots of new songs on their way! I might be releasing something tonight actually, so watch my soundcloud for that!
Kuma: I definitely can’t wait to hear it! Heck, I just might include it in this interview when I post it! That being said, I think this is a good place to end our interview, but before we go, do you have any last words or thoughts you’d like to share for our readers?
Compy: Life is beautiful. Stay positive, stay boosted. Also, Toasty Co.: Home of the best shirts in the world! All shirts come with a free packet of Skittles!
Kuma: Yo, why do all your shirts come with Skittles, anyway?
Compy: Because I can’t mail chocolate in the mail! It’ll get all squished up! Also, Skittles are better.
Kuma: Thanks for boosting ChipWin with this interview, homie. Peace.
Hope you enjoyed this interview as much as I did! Don’t forget to hit up Toasty Co. for the some of the coolest t-shirts on the planet, all of which come with a bag of skittles and stickers! Also, be sure to follow CompyCore on SoundCloud to hear the latest this spunky, sugar powered chiptune artist has to offer!
Tune in next week for Raw Cuts #4 with Jay Tholen, as we discuss his music, art, faith, and a new project he’s working on that you should definitely keep on your radar!
So you just affirmed how sexy you are with Br1ght Pr1mate, and you’re feeling good! Yet sexy is only skin deep and only lasts so long. What if that sexiness fades away? What if there’s something more to life you’re missing, something beyond the surface? As these existential questions start to plague your mind, a tune starts playing and, like the twinkling of the stars in the night sky, its soft melody whispers into your ear and reminds you that whatever this life may bring, there will always be something beautiful, and even simple, to assuage those fears if you just look and listen. Life may be an uncertain and frightening thing, but its also full “Small Wonders”.
He hasn’t been in the chip game for very long, but Chris “datacats” Connelly brings with him a very unique musical aesthetic to the compilation. Able to conjure up introspective emotion in a way similar to Diamond Machine‘s nostalgia fueled assonance, he’s also capable of making rather haunting melodies that leaves one feeling a bit uneasy. That may not sound like a desirable trait at first, but when you listen to some of his darker work, you start to understand that datacats has a very unique comprehension of what it is to manipulate a listener’s emotions and state of being with his music. This haunting, uneasy tonality is something that’s particularly strong in his song “Return Trip”: a dark ambient track that invokes a sense of uneasiness more common to the industrial scene than to the chiptune scene.
That being said, while datacats can make haunting melodies, he’s also capable of making music that simply stirs the soul and makes one feel surprisingly content and meditative or just straight up makes you feel pumped. Tracks such as “Cherry Blossom” show off his ability to make music akin to the subtle, touching sound he achieved in “Small Wonders” while tracks such as “bitrot” show off his ability to make more aggressive, dynamic music one can simply boogie down to.
Regardless of which aspect of datacats you like, this is another up-and-comer that is sure to please, so if you’re really digging his sound, I strongly recommend checking out his EP “Sentinel Solaris” and following him on Soundcloud, where you can listen to the man’s progress and see for yourself that he truly has a lot to offer to the scene.
Hey there, chipbros and sistas! Welcome to the first edition of Raw Cuts with Kuma! What is Raw Cuts, you ask? Well, Raw Cuts are unedited, candid interviews with some of the coolest, hippest minds in the chiptune scene! From big stars to up-and-comers, Raw Cuts was made to allow for a very in depth look at the thought processes of some of the artists, visualists, designers, and promotersin the scene, and maybe even a couple lols on occasion.
This first interview is one I did a while back with an artist who contributed to ChipWin’s very first compilation album, our 51 track beast of an LP. I went into it wanting to get to know and understand this artist more, but I ended up also getting some advice from him on my road to becoming a fellow chiptuner. Best known for his unique manipulation of noise, laid back demeanor, and dat luscious freakin hair, here’s my interview with Aleister M. Williams, the artist known as SKGB!
Kuma: So, lets start with something basic. Your stage name, SKGB. What was the inspiration for that? What does that stand for, anyway?
SKGB: Well… I basically needed to change my name from SOMETHING WHICH WILL NEVER BE MENTIONED AGAIN! And I wanted it to sound “cool” I guess, so I took some words that meant something to me and I turned em into an acronym. I’m sorry, but at this time my agent, Aleister Williams, will not permit me to reveal what SKGB stands for.
Kuma: Hahahaha fair enough, good sir. That being said, what first got you into chiptune? Had music production always been something that was a part of your life or did it come later in life?
SKGB: Well, when I was five I decided I wanted to be an artist ’cause I liked cutting the little stick people out all pretty-like. For a while I wanted to be a visual artist of some sort, then I got into the art of play in middle school and designed shitty little indie games with some Swedish software. Finally, I found my way into chiptunes, listened to everything I could on 8bitpeoples, started checking out tons of circuit bending stuffs, and smoked too much weed. Why paint one painting, when i can paint a billion diff paintings in every different person’s ears?
Kuma: Very true! Your music certainly has reached a wide audience, but I do have to admit you have a style all your own on stage. It seems to me you definitely haven’t completely abandoned your need to express yourself as a visual artist, particularly when the art is you, such as during your recent show at 8static. Care to elaborate more on the inspiration for that show?
SKGB: Well, Christmas is all corporate evil now, so I just figured i’d inject some electro-pagan-witch-funk into the mix of consumerist bullshit and see what happens. Also, I jokingly put “An SKGB Christmas Special” onto the official 8static bookings a while back and Emily Feder (EMFEDEX, Chipmusic Chronicle) made me follow through.
Kuma: Hahahaha! Oh dude you’re killing me! That being said, lets talk a bit more about your music. While there are a lot of chip artists who seem to find their groove after a while and seem to fit neatly into one sub genre, your music is just everywhere! Hell that Xmas set alone had the dance floor alternating between grinding and thrashing to pop and locking faster than Saturday at Blipfest! If you had to define you as an artist, what would you call yourself?
SKGB: Well I guess basstripnoisechipthrash or something like that. My brain is constantly getting bored so I have to constantly keep doing new things to keep it occupied.
Kuma: Would you say that boredom, or a fear of it, is ultimately the driving force behind what you do?
SKGB: Not really. To be honest I don’t know what boredom is anymore. I wish I had time to know it, though. Then maybe I could have more time for a good book and pipe and some pets or something.
Kuma: That’s honestly refreshing to hear, as boredom seems so pervasive in modern culture. I regress, though. Lets back track a bit though to your personal style of music. Are there any artists in particular that inspire you to do what you do,chip or otherwise?
SKGB: Yeah. A whole lot. No but really, I guess, as a kid I listened to a lot of jazz (bebop, avant guard, swing) my mom had. I grew up listening to stuff like Nirvana and Soundgarden and Alice in Chains and 1st wave ska, then a whole bunch of techno, then chiptunes, then dubstep (like 2008ish stuff). Now I just listen to a whole buncha shit.
The artists who inspire me the most now are the ones i’m in close proximity with. Dino Lionetti (and all of Cheap Dinos). The fellas on the Madwaves collective i chill with lots,
and stray chipthrashlings who make it up to Philly: Kool Skull, The Ghost Servant, S.P.R.Y.
Kuma: Very nice. Kool Skull is one noise artist in particular I’ve come to enjoy greatly, in particular for something he said to me at his last show in NYC before moving out west. He said “the one thing you always gotta remember about chip is that chiptune is about making music easy.” Would you find in your experience that sentiment to be true? That making chiptune does make the music production process easier than if you had done it by more traditional means?
SKGB: It all depends. Me and Kool Skull tend to have the complete opposite workflow when it comes to music. He likes to work on tracks real fast like, and I like to spend hours tweaking and tweaking (a song, you silly). My advice would be, don’t let anyone else tell you how to make music. I mean, personally, i’ll find any way i can to make any sort of music i can, because anything else would make me feel real sad ;_; traditional recording or tedious tracking, s’all good.
Kuma: Hey, its all good. Like you said, this is about you doing what you love and what makes you happy. You do that however you want my friend. That being said, one last question for you. You’ve been in the chipscene longer than I have. Seen its ups and downs, and have earned the respect and admiration of your peers and fans. Over the course of the year, the chip scene has seen some incredible changes, from the rise of Chiptunes=Win to the farewell of Blipfest. In your personal opinion as both a fan and an artist, what do you see yourself doing over the course of 2k13 and what do you think will come of the scene, as well?
SKGB: Well… I see myself making a whole bunch of music that doesn’t sound like “traditional” chipmusic, calling it chipmusic and pissing a whole bunch of people off (lol).
As for the “scene” as a whole, I don’t see an end to chipmusic in sight at all,
though i do believe the locus of chip hocus pocus has and will continue to stray farther from the east coast. Going to BRKfest last year blew my mind wide open to the fact that yes: chipmusic is just as big, if not a whole fuckton bigger, than it ever was. In fact, the entire midwest corridor is on hot fiyah, Piko Piko Detroit, Cartrage, BRKfest, and all the travelling artists in between are fucking shit up real proper over there. But mark my words: the 8static crew still have a few surprises on their .sav roms.