ChipWIN Comps Historical Context: Year Two
Time for part two of this rambly, nostalgic blurb on ChipWIN comps “historical context”. If you missed the first entry, go read that
and then come back and continue on here after the break.
Hey there, ChipWINners! The name Twistboy might ring a bell if you recall his track from Chiptunes = WIN: Volume 2, ‘Springs‘. You may also know that his last official release was the album ‘Applesauce‘ in late 2013. Coming back with a more polished sound than ever, Twistboy’s put out his latest EP, ‘Kittens in Space’, as the premier release for a brand new chipmusic netlabel, ‘Tracked‘. Let’s see just what Twistboy’s been up to since 2013!
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.
AK – Exactly!
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.
Hoodie – #RealTalk.
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
Hoodie – ……………………………..DIVORCED.
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.
Hey, all you lovely readers! It’s been a while since I’ve written for the ChipWIN blog, but it feels great to be back now! With the first official day of spring behind us, I couldn’t think of a better way to welcome the season than by checking out The One Electronic’s latest release, ‘April Showers & May Flowers’. You might recognize Michael Vallejo’s stage name from ChipWIN: Volume 2, but he’s been a part of the Piko Piko Detroit crowd for quite a while. So, without further ado, let’s dive in!
The first track, “Nimbonebula”, opens calmly and quietly before blossoming into its simple-sounding, yet effective melody. A multitude of different sounds are utilized effectively throughout the song. From the sparse notes of the xylophone, to the chords strummed from an acoustic guitar, nothing sounds out of place in this melodious piece. The second track, ‘The Warmest Week’, also has a soothing melody, and The One Electronic’s lyrics make the song all the sweeter. ‘The Warmest Week’ is aptly named; just listening to the song warmed me up inside.
‘It’s Spring and I’m Thinking of You’ is another one of Michael’s tracks that uses live instruments in addition to chipsounds. The light-hearted chords in the beginning of the piece, while not necessarily the focus of the listener once the electronics come into play, are an aural treat and provide a wondrous backdrop to a well-written song. The rewinding effect used on the chords at about the midway point caught me pleasantly by surprise. The melody ringing over the acoustic chords could have just as easily been replaced with vocals or another instrument, in my opinion, but doing so would have changed the overall feeling of the song, and I feel that it’s perfect as is.
The third and fifth songs on this release are differently paced than the other three songs; they’re faster and more energetic. ‘Carpig’s Wild Ride’, the third track, utilizes a kick that reminds me of Kommisar’s music. The vibrato-esque pitch bending at 2:17 is one of the small things about this track that makes it truly excellent. The 32nd-note drums used in a few places give the track an even more energetic feel. Closing out the release is ‘Sushi with Raeko’, a track that opens rather modestly in comparison to the rest of the songs. ‘Sushi with Raeko’ builds slowly into a carefree, danceable vibe that’s sure to have you bobbing your head to the beat.
You can nab this release for just $3 on Piko Piko Detroit’s Bandcamp page, more than a fair price for an album this lovely. But before I sign off, I’d just like to point out that The One Electronic is trying to become the first chiptune artist to play on Vans Warped Tour, but he can’t do it without the support of the community! Check out his campaign page here, listen to some of his previously unreleased tunes, and make sure to share the link around and show your support!
It’s time to get classy tonight on The ChipWIN Blog! And by that I mean, of course, I’m going to do my first “manifesto” with a focus on booze & chip from Great Britain. Aren’t you thankful you can’t hear the extraordinarily terrible British accent that I’m absolutely affecting on this entire article as I write it? Because I totally am. In my head. Jolly good show & all that rot. Sounds just like the beer fox actually (don’t worry; you’ll meet him soon).
At any rate, Beer & Chip Vol.6 is going to be all about…
Morland “Old Speckled Hen” Ale & Mark ‘TDK’ Knight
I initially picked up a sixer of Old Speckled Hen on my brother’s suggestion. While we don’t always see eye to eye on beer choices, this one was a pretty good call!
Old Speckled Hen is a smooth, easy drinking, refreshing ale with some tasty malty flavors. Just the slightest bit of sweetness, but not enough to “ruin” it in my mind. With that rich amber color, it’s a beautiful looking beer as well, especially poured into a tall pint glass and left sitting in the window for the sun to shine through (which is a terrible damn idea; your beer will get warm way too gorram fast!).
This could easily become a go-to beer for me, particularly in the warmer months; except as an import it’s a bit too pricey to be a regular grab (around $12 for a sixer in my neck of the woods). I expect I’ll still buy it on occasion, and would definitely be willing to try its counterparts (“Old Golden Hen” & “Old Crafty Hen“) were I to run across them.
But nevermind what I think about this tasty ale! Why should I waste words talking about it when you can listen to a fox puppet tell you all about it?? (brilliant advertising campaign).
Truth be told, while I like this English beer pretty well I mostly purchased it to assist in making a smooth segue to my UK chipartist, the demoscene legend Mark ‘TDK’ Knight
(nevermind the fact that his chosen alcoholic beverage isn’t beer of any kind…).
If you’re unfamiliar with that name (or have only seen it popping up around the intertoobs within the last year-ish), don’t feel bad. TDK has only recently returned (2012) to making chipmusic after a considerably lengthy hiatus (approximately 19 years!!!). And while I could delve into his considerable back story of early chipmusic creation (he began in 1984), in depth demoscene involvement (google Anthrox and Melon Dezign) & subsequent video game music composition (skim his Bandcamp bio for that impressive list), I’d rather focus on his current efforts! In particular, his aptly titled full length album ‘Reawakening’.
This excellent 11 track chip album is a combination of brand new jams & revisited tracks from his past, all created using a mix of his well established Commodore chip savvy and modern music production skills appropriated in more recent years. As a whole ‘Reawakening’ screams of compositional experience and refined talent; covering a gamut of musical styles, every single track is an engaging and addictive listen. Were I forced to choose a favorite from the release, I’d likely go with ‘Erethism’; there’s something about the crazy, happy energy of that jam that gets me grinning like an idiot every time!
To complement his return to chipmusic, TDK has begun performing it live as well, incorporating his talented & frenetic fiddle playing. This unique addition enhances what is already a quality live set. In a short time, TDK has performed at a solid handful of European events over the past year, up to and including SuperByte 2013, with a spot at NINTENDOOM 3.0 coming up the last weekend of February.
To top it off, Mark’s a genuinely delightful character (sorry to out you, bro! <3 ). The 8 Bit Power Hour release party we held for ‘Reawakening’ is still one of the most enjoyable shows we’ve had to date (as well as one of the snarkiest; damn Brits!! ;). And working with him on both ‘chipWINter’ & ‘Volume 2‘ was an absolute honor & a joy. Check out the most excellent end result of both of those contributions below:
I say, I suppose that wraps up this unusually British edition of my beer & chip review! Here’s hoping you get a chance to sample the tasty brew, preferably while listening to TDK’s excellent jams. If you need more British-ness for the night, just go watch a Doctor Who marathon or something, I dunno. Cheers!!