Sup y’all? =) Following up last month’s fantastic conversation with stig, I’ve another thoroughly engaging read for you good folk with yet another silly talented friend of mine (how do I find myself surrounded by these amazing people anyways, geez….).
If you’ve been in or around the chiprealm for a good few years now, you’re very likely familiar with Boston chip duo BR1GHT PR1MATE. Then again, if you’ve just gotten into it all in the last year or so, maybe not so much. This is largely because the talented team of James and Lydia Primate have both been deeply involved in the creation and development of a very unique indie game called ‘Rain World‘, which just released via Steam and Playstation. Today’s interview features an in-depth convo with James about his work on such. Really good stuff once again. Read on below.
Hey everyone! Welcome back to Raw Cuts! Before we get started, last time I know that I promised you all that I’d be dropping a Solarbear interview next time I posted! That baby is still on its way, but due to conflicting schedules surrounding BRKFest, that interview’s been postponed to a later date. That being said, I’ve got an awesome interview for you with a rising star from Virginia! Taking a cue from Danimal Cannon, this dude combines sweet guitar skills with precise LSDJ composition and is definitely someone you should pay attention to you! Without further ado, I present my interview with Jason Doss aka Square Therapy!
Kuma: So tell me, Jason: I don’t know everything about you, but what I do know is that you’ve been making music for quite a while. Furthermore, you’ve shown yourself to be quite an eclectic artist. What first brought you to chiptune and how long have you been musician in the first place?
Square Therapy (ST): Well, if we’re getting technical, I started playing piano around three or four. My mom and her side of the family have always been musicians so I kind of fell into it by default; but, as far as chiptune/8 bit music goes, a lot longer than I make it out to be. I remember when I was about 10, I asked for this specific keyboard for Christmas because it had a “square wave” tone on it. I would sit and “write” what I thought to be music for my own little video game for hours. Though it wasn’t much more than me playing simple chords that I knew at the time haha.
Kuma: That’s rather cute, actually. I can see little you on a Casio just playing simple stuff at that age. That being said, your “own little video game”? Was it something imaginary you were doing or were you at the time planning on making a game? Do you still feel like that sometimes when you’re making music? Do you still approach it with that sense of childlike wonder?
ST: Haha It was a Casio, actually! And well, my dream ever since I was a kid was to write and compose music for video games! Which is also still a goal that I will continue to push for the rest of my life. In every little solo project I’ve done it has always contained a sense of chiptune, even before I knew what chiptune actually was.
Kuma: Have you had any luck pursuing that dream so far? I know guys like Jay Tholen, James Therrien of Br1ght Pr1mate and virt seem to have found success, or at least opportunities, in making music for games. Have any come up your way yet?
ST: Actually yes! Nothing major, but I’ve written for some college students that needed music for their projects and other small indie developers just for fun. It’s nothing I ever really plan on making money off of. Just a passion I really want to pursue.
Kuma: I’m actually glad you mentioned money, because money is always an issue that comes up eventually when it comes to music, or any form or artistic expression. When it comes to your music, your craft, are you passionate enough about it that you don’t care about making money off it or is it something you’d love to make your life professionally?
ST: Well, I will never charge for my music. I will stand by that no matter what. Every album that I produce will always be free for a digital download. Always. Now, for other formats such as vinyl and tape, then yes: that’s something I would charge for. And as far as writing music for someone else, I would say you would be paying more for my time than my actual work. Everything I write comes from my heart, and it’s something that I feel I’m just thankful for someone to listen to, money or not.
As far as shows go, a little gas and food cash never hurt anyone, but playing in front of a crowd is like a drug to me. Every time I get on stage it’s like getting a fix. So if I have to dish out cash for that fix, I would be willing to do that if it meant getting to play for people.
Kuma: Thats friggin beautiful, man. I don’t think I’ve ever had anyone describe their music making or performing experience in that way in my interviews. Its quite touching.
That being said, you’ve been making music for a long time, and I remember you’ve been in a few bands before, particularly Zatsesuken (am I spelling that right?): a djenty, sorta metal band you were a vocalist for that was pretty damn awesome. Is making and performing chip compared to, say, metal like comparing a happy drug like E to a hard drug like Coke? Is each musical genre like a different high for you? And is there one high you prefer more than any, if so?
ST:Zantetsuken! ;D and actually yes! I’ve played/toured with metal bands more than anything else I’ve done, so it really is a different world and emotion. Playing metal is much more aggressive and anger focused, which is really not me at all. But then again, I have metal influenced songs that I write as Square Therapy, as well, so I guess I still go back to my roots from time to time. I never try to limit myself to any specific genre, though, which is why I love electronic music so much. I can do anything I want to with it.
In fact, I’ve already started working on my second EP which will contain many different genres. Some of what you’ll hear will include orchestral, rock, and ambient electronica, as well as singing in most songs. I’ve always felt that limiting yourself as a musician is one of the worst things you could do to yourself. It would be like living off nothing but pizza. Sure, I fucking adore pizza, but if I had to eat it every day and night, my body would hate me, as I would hate myself for never knowing anything other than pizza.
Kuma: It certainly would; although, if it were space pizza, I think I might be able to get by for centuries!
Kuma: Speaking of space pizza, let’s talk about your track you submitted for ChipWIN! First off, congrats for being one of the chosen artists to be represented on our second volume! How did it feel knowing you got selected out of nearly 150 entries?
ST:I can honestly say it was extremely rewarding. And after hearing the other tracks, I feel even more fortunate. I don’t think I’ve ever been more impressed with a collection of artists before. So many different influences and styles as well as production. You can really hear a lot of personality in each song and I feel thankful to be a part of it! Also, on a side note of the whole Chiptunes = WIN community, I’ve never felt more welcomed in my life! A lot of music “nerds” can really come down heavy on you as a newbie to a community, but not at ChipWIN. I felt like everyone was instantly a friend, and it’s awesome to be a part of such a welcoming community, even if we are nothing but a bunch of shitty dickbutts!
Kuma: Hey hey hey! Dickbutts are not shitty! Butt tacos are! And they’re delicious!!!
ST: Okay, okay! I’m sorry! You’re completely right
Kuma: You’re forgiven…but I won’t forget. *salutes* I’ll never forget…
ST: It’s okay Kuma: I could never forget you, either! Not after MAG XI at least…
Kuma: Shhhhhh! Those are things people must never find out about!
ST: AND THEY NEVER WILL!
Kuma: Getting back on topic, though: the song you contributed was definitely full of energy and wasn’t anywhere near the angry or aggreissive energy you had with your metal at all. If anything, a lot of us were joking and complimenting at how Anamanaguchi the song sounded! Was that what you were going for at the time or was this just based on a fun, happy feeling inside and you decide to let it spill forth?
ST: Haha Well, even though I am a fan of the older Anamanaguchi, I wouldn’t say that was really a focus while writing the song. That song changed so much through out the writing process that I honestly don’t even know where the original idea came from. I wanted to bring out a lot of my personal feelings with 8 bit, as well as my love for other styles like post rock, as well. Which in all honestly, I probably listen to post rock and emo more than anything else. That and video game OST’s. But I am very pleased with the way the song turned out. I really wish I could go back and add guitar to it, which there is guitar on all the tracks in my upcoming EP except for an interlude. But I put a video up on YouTube of that song with guitar so I feel a little more content now. haha.
Kuma: Oh did you? I’ll definitely have to check it out! That being said, lets talk about your newest album, shall we? How long have you been working on this baby?
ST: That’s a funny question, actually. This EP is really some songs that I’ve written in the past 2 years and just brought back and added to. I was tired of releasing song by song and not having an actual product out there for people to download and listen to. But since I’ve decided to make it a release, I would say a couple months.
I’m also lucky to have been able to make the songs flow as well as they did with each other. I’m a firm believer in writing an album/EP as an entire piece or work rather than random songs on a track list, which is why I also feel that I will never release a full LP. I am extremely A.D.D., and find myself getting bored with my own work at times. So I figured the best thing for me is to just constantly release 3-5 song EP’s, each being a nice piece in its own. It will help me stay involved with my own music, and hopefully some listeners as well.
Kuma: Of what I’ve heard so far, I think its a good gamble. You know yourself well enough to keep yourself going and when to stop, and both are important. I must say, I do appreciate your view of wanting to make albums that flow and have a shared meaning to them, even if its not a concept album. That means a lot to the listener, and I think of what I just heard, not only have you done that well, but your post rock influences definitely shine brilliantly in this EP. Is there anything you, in putting this together, felt was a maybe or an almost you’d still like to put out there, but just weren’t ready to do yet?
ST:I think this EP is a great kick off to whats going to be an awesome chapter in my life. I’m very happy with this release, but I know there is a lot more that I am capable of on a personal level that will be featured in future EP’s. As I mentioned before, my next one contains a lot more elements than just chip and guitar. I also plan on doing a few remix EP’s, as well. I love to cover material as much as I love writing my own. It’s a lot of fun to take someone elses mind of music and turn it into your own little creation.
Kuma: Speaking of covers, should I take your love of chip and guitar as a hint at a possible Danimal Cannon cover? Huh? Hmmmm?
ST: Haha as much as I would love to do that, I don’t think I could ever be as satisfied with recreating something as awesome as he does. It’s funny you mention him actually, because I would honestly like to extend a shout out his way. Danimal Cannon has probably been one of my biggest inspirations in not only chiptune, but music in general. A lot of chiptune tends to run together for me, as I am not particularly a fan of dance; so when I happened to stumble upon him, I was blown away. He made me want to do what I do now: play guitar over chiptune and make it sound fucking bad ass. I still see him as a huge inspiration and look up to him very much. I’m a Danimal fanboy all the way. Consider him my chiptune Justin Beiber. In fact, I think my biggest goal for this ep would be to hear his personal feedback on it haha.
Kuma: Hopefully he gets around to reading this and is able to let you know. That being said, regardless of what comes of this album, I know we can expect great things from you. Is there anything you’d like to say to our readers in closing?
ST: First off, thank you! Thank you thank you thank you! If you ever decide to listen to even one minute to any of my songs, thank you! On that note, my new, self titled EP is out now! Name your price on Bandcamp and all that jazz. (EDIT: Scroll to the bottom of this interview to listen to it! =D ). This will also be followed by a livestream show I am having on 08.16.13 for my birthday!! It’s going to be a hell of a lot of fun and I hope everyone tunes in for the party!
Kuma: I hope they do, too! Jason, Square Therapy, it was a pleasure getting to interview you, my friend! I hope we get to do this again sometime! Peace!
Thanks again for tuning in with us here on ChipWIN! Don’t forget to keep up with Square Therapy on your preferred method of social media, as well as listening to his tunes on either Bandcamp or Soundcloud! Tune in next time as I provide you guys with a very special post BRKFest interview with some very cool people you all know! Ciao!
Welcome back, ChipWINners! This time around on Raw Cuts we have someone that I’m very proud to have had the chance to interview! A highly popular contributor to Chiptunes = WIN who’s made a name for himself on the west coast, this artist boasts infectious dance rhythms and club beats that blur the line between chiptune and electro with spectacular results! Without further ado, here’s my interview with Jack Waterman aka Electric Children!
Kuma: Cool, so lets get things started shall we? First things first, I haven’t asked this question in a while of any of the artists I’ve interviewed, but I’m actually quite curious about your artist name. What made you decide to use it?
Electric Children (EC): Aha! I like getting this question! You’d be surprised how seldom it comes up. The name comes from the album March on, Electric Children! by The Blood Brothers, a now broken-up grindcore band from Seattle. Its a themed album so there’s all this stuff about what Electric Children are and stuff and I was like 16 and I thought, “Yeah I wanna name a music thing that someday.” So I did.
Kuma: Really? Nobody really takes the time to ask you about that? I figured it’d come up more, but considering how kick ass your music is, I guess it goes right to the back burner. That being said, lets talk about your music. I wanna hear how you got involved in all this chiptune business.
EC: Well, I had started to make really basic electronic music with a drum machine and a keyboard for awhile, then a friend introduced me to a couple of local artists who played chiptune music. Our sounds worked well enough together, so we started performing together on a pretty regular basis. I was exposed to it so often that it became pretty irresistible and I added to my music. Over time, it ended up taking precedence over everything else for a variety reasons, and before I knew it, I was full-on Chiptune artist by the end of 2008.
Kuma: Nice! I’m relatively new to the scene in comparison to you, having only been in it for a little over a year now, but I know the west coast has some strong artists out there to keep the scene going. Back when you first started, which chip artists were you exposed to that helped you get into the scene and define your sound? I’m also curious to know which ones help to define and inspire it now that you’ve been doing this sort of thing for what sounds like at least 5 years.
EC: Well the two artists who I was performing with frequently at the time were Kids Get Hit By Buses (founders of the internet-infamous CrunchyCo netlabel) and Fighter X (who just recently became active again). Aside from them, the early chip artists I was exposed to were Sabrepulse from the UK and USK from Japan. From there I learned about like 5,738,216 more chip artists from 8bitcollective, and the story goes on.
Oddly enough what has always influenced me over the years of producing is non-Chip music. It’s really fun for me to try and make chiptune versions of the sounds I hear in popular club music, and be less oriented towards video game sounds. I like a lot of music by Madeon. I’m a huge fan of She. My dubstep is heavily influenced by Flux Pavilion, and I’d probably say Sabrepulse continues to be one of my biggest Chiptune influences. I draw little pieces of things from all sorts of people around me, but those are the big ones, I think.
Kuma: Very nice. She and Flux Pavilion are definitely understandable influences, as is Sabrepulse. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t still listen to First Crush on a daily basis. That being said, as time has progressed, while I know you mentioned that the chip sound has slowly become more and more the focus of your work, how much of what you do is chip vs what you may do to enhance and compliment the sounds in FL studio? I know everyone has their preferences, and it’d be cool to know what yours is when it comes to producing music.
EC: The new album’s main material is made using only 2 gameboys running LSDJ, but quite a few songs have small instrumental compliments (such as a short synth or a guitar riff), and many of them have vocals over them as well. While the instrumental tracks aren’t necessarily enhanced with effects, there are small parts that fill out a few spots in the frequency ranges that I couldn’t always hit with LSDJ the way I wanted. Though to be honest, I am planning on having FL Studio be the core of my next set of work, with songs composed mainly of sounds recorded from LSDJ, but sequenced, mixed, mastered in, and complimented more by FL Studio.
Kuma: That’s understandable. For as amazing as some of these micro programs like LSDJ and LGPT are, there are def times when it takes that little something extra to give a song that final polish it needs.
That being said, since you brought up the topic of your new album, let me just say something about it first: your solo work as Electric Children has been amazing. I loved it since I first heard you and boaconstructor throw down via Frost Byte’s album release party on LIvestream. I thought you just killed it. But this new album, man. Dude, this is your Discovery, your Fat of the Land, man! How proud of you of Year Long Hangover, man?
EC: Extremely! Haha! YLH has (ironically enough) been in production for over a year now, and undergone so many changes in sound design, composition, concepts, lyrics, and just about anything else you can think of. It had so much work put into it because I wanted to release something that shows what LSDJ is truly capable of: music that stays faithful to the genre while still being very listenable to a non-Chiptune fan.
Kuma: I definitely have to say you reached your goal, because the first thing I thought when I was listening to it was: “God, I can use this to explain to all the people at my job what chiptune is without sounding crazy!”
EC: Yeah Chiptune is definitely a genre that needs to be shown instead of told about.
Kuma: It really is, and while I’ve had some success via sharing Br1ght Pr1mate and Bit Shifter, most people still look at me like “I’ll believe it when I see it”.
That being said, lets talk about some of the major differences between YLH and your other work, particularly the vocals. What made you come out of your shell this time around to lay down those lyrics? What about the lovely young lady who contributed to the album, as well? Was it daunting recording and incorporating vocals of yourself and close friends?
EC: It had its challenges, sure. When I first started writing music it actually all had lyrics, and evolved into instrumentals over time, so this was something I’ve always wanted to come back to. Writing lyrics is never easy though; you have to keep in mind that your voice is an instrument in itself, so the words can’t be too busy or lack rhythm. But it gives the songs a whole new dimension that is easy for people to grab onto and remember for a long time. Plus singing is very fun.
The two(!) other female vocalists on the album were very easy to work with and did a fantastic job, as well. While putting the vocals together was difficult at times because it involved a lot of back and forth sending song files around, in the end it was a fun experience that turned out to be totally worthwhile.
Kuma: I’m certainly glad it was worthwhile for you, because it’s been worthwhile for me as well as all your fans! People have been eating this album up like crazy and after a wildly successful album release party to promote it, I’m curious what comes next for you? Aside from the aforementioned future project involving more FL work, of course. Any shows or concerts we can expect to see you at over the course of the year?
EC: In the short term, I’m performing with A_Rival in Seattle on the 27th(!), so any locals should come and hear some crazy good chip jams. In the long term, I’ve been talked to about a couple big things, but nothing I have confirmed yet. I’m also working very closely with A_Rival now that he’s moved to Washington, and he’s got some cool stuff in the works as well!
Kuma: A_Rival is legit on all levels, and having partied with him at MAGFest, I can say its always a pleasure to be around him! I’m definitely looking forward to whatever comes of that. With that said, Jack, it’s been a pleasure conversing with you. You’re talented, kind and thoughtful and I’m honored to have had the chance to interview you. Is there anything you’d like to say in closing to your fans and anyone who might be reading this?
EC:Thank you so much for taking the time to read my thoughts and ramblings on chiptune music! Please check out the new album, Year-Long Hangover, and tell me what you think! Thank you Adam and ChipWIN for letting me do this too, it’s been awwwwwwwesooooommmeee!!!
Kuma: Thanks again, EC. I definitely hope we get to do this again. Good night.
EC: Good night!
Thank you once again for checking out Raw Cuts! Be sure to click the links bellow so you can Like, Follow and Subscribe to Electric Children on your favorite of social media outlet(s)! Also, don’t forget to check out his music on Bandcamp and Soundcloud, as well as checking out his upcoming show on the 27th with A_Rival, Dire Hit and WMD if you’re out in the Seattle Metropolitan area!
Tune in next as I sit down with Roboctopus as we discuss his musical versatility, BRKFest, and a deep dark secret he’s been keeping from us all! (I’ll give you a hint: it’s one Hoodie is keeping, too!) Peace!
Straight from the mouth of MAGFest’s very own Nick the Newbie:
“What in the ever loving shit is “Jamspace”? Jamspace is music all day every day during pax. We’ve got chiptunes, live video game cover bands, DJs, and even open jam time with provided instruments. We’ve got guitar, bass, drums, and keyboard for playing, or you can even bring your own instruments! Follow @MAGFest on twitter for updates of what’s going on all weekend.”
Boston8Bit is once again bringing a KILLER chiptune lineup to the PAX East Jamspace. In case you can’t read the SUPER SEKSAY flyer just to the left there, here’s the full Friday 3/22 & Saturday 3/23 11:30am – 2:30pm EST lineup!
Seriously y’all, if you don’t get enough VGM/chip jammage in & around PAX East this year (including the AWESOME PAX East main stage lineup HERE) IT’S NOBODY’S FAULT BUT YOUR OWN.
And if you can’t come, don’t be a sad panda about it! Just tune into geekbeatradio to catch the livestream of the FULL SCHEDULED JAMSPACE LINEUP (chip & VGM shows)& as much of the CHIPstage as they can grab! There’ll be *SOMETHING* PAX East broadcasting on the UR Fest channel throughout the whole party. GOOD TIMES.
I mean, srsly gaiz, THIS IS AN EPIC F*CKTON OF STUFF. We’re all probably going to survive PAXE 2013 this year, but JUST BARELY. 8) In other words…
So it’s been well over a week since 8Static’s 4th birthday bash, and the relaunch of this blog has been stalled a bit by equal parts Philly Flu, busy life business and, of course, procrastination. Sorry, everyone!
It’s honestly a colossal task, trying to recap an event of this magnitude. I mean, really! What can be said about this show that hasn’t been summarized one thousand times better already? Was this 8static legendary? Absolutely. Mind-blowing? Most definitely. Just about THIRTY performers shared that stage on a night that no one in attendance will soon, if EVER, forget. From the open mic to the alumni showcase, and the scheduled performers that followed, everyone gave 110% throughout. Everyone in attendance charged PhilaMOCA with a pure spiritual energy that affirmed and re-affirmed everything that makes this scene, the musicians, visualists, organizers and fans truly the best in the world.
For a few incredible hours, we were all home.
With absolutely zero regret, I roped a good buddy of mine into taking an impromptu roadtrip to show him what live chiptune is all about. That’s my excuse, anyway, and I’m sticking to it. The first 8static I’d been fortunate enough to attend was back in April, during a fairly restless time where I’d been traveling about as much as my wallet would permit. And ever since that first taste of Philadelphia’s incredibly talented and welcoming chiptune community, I had been absolutely dying to return. With 8static’s 4th anniversary coming up, and a slew of incredible acts scheduled to perform, I knew in my heart there was no better time.
But that’s enough expository rambling. You all came here for the music, and I would be honored to serve up my favorite bits.
Starting, of course, with the open mic. By chance and fortune, I actually had the great pleasure of kicking the show off! But more about that later.
There were so many performers that night, so I’ll offer my sincere apologies in advance for skimming over quite a few. Chip Music Chronicle has the entire show documented, as always, and I can’t urge you strongly enough to check the entire 8static 2E playlist. The recordings are very much essential in understanding just how stellar this show truly was.
The first of my highlights for the open mic would include Pixel8ter‘s fantastic Beastie Boy’s cover of “I Don’t Know”. Check out those shades! This track is also featured on the 8-bit Beastie compilation, which I would definitely recommend checking out.
Shyabeetus was a new face for me, and he did not disappoint. Busting out a killer Castlevania medley that was both entertaining and aptly-suited to the atmosphere and approaching Halloween season, he earned himself a new fan that night. I’m very eager to hear more.
And how about Storm Blooper? Definitely in strong form at this event, he delivered a blood-pumping dance-inducing performance that continued to raise the bar for the night ahead. I don’t think anyone was expecting the open mic session to be THIS strong! This kind of material portends a bright future for chipmusic.
The Alumni showcase soon followed, featuring a variety of veteran 8static performers doing exactly as expected: dazzling the crowd with a slew of memorable performances. Personally, I found Joey Mariano‘s speech and performance to be a poignant reminder of the multitude of ways in which a creative and willing mind can approach the chiptune aesthetic and use it to express their own creative spirit.
Bright Primate‘s performance was quite unique this night, but that may owe a lot to me expecting material from their most recent album. Instead we were treated to a new track that brought rays of sunshine and thoughts of summer days to my mind. I should shut up, but seriously, they completely switched everything up in the most welcome way. Very impressive.
Chipocrite had plenty of surprises in store himself, starting with a track I cannot begin to classify. Awe was induced! But seriously, his performance was fun, mesmerizing, and hell if I can find the words for what more! Dude’s one of a kind and it was perfect having him back in Philly for this one monumental evening. So glad he could make it.
I’d just be foolish not to mention the legendary Alex Mauer, who captivated the entire audience with a mastery of composition and execution that is largely without rival. I don’t know what wavelength he operates on, what space he’s occupying, but he continues to blow minds and open ears.
And I’ll close this portion out with Decktonic‘s “chill” performance! Not simply because he was great out there, but because he was equipped with the single best zinger of the night.
The scary thing? All of this: barely scratches the surface!! But it’s all I have the time to write about this go-round, so be sure to check out Emily Feder’s Chip Music Chronicle Youtube channel for footage of everyone else from the show (& SEVERAL other shows).