Just as the month comes to an end, I bring to you a cool little surprise. Released on September 29, WMD is combining their ability to create atmospheric sound textures and presenting a record paired with straight up chiptune. It’s been quite a while since something like this has been released, and judging by the comments on their Bandcamp, I’m not the only one excited about it.
Last March I wrote that “…we should be so lucky to get a follow-up album in the future” from Marissa Hapeman after reviewing her chiptune debut ‘Pretty in Pixels’. Forget luck. Marissa Hapeman returns with explosive fervour with her second major chip-release ‘Solstice’.
Tease your musical palette with ‘Waiting For Good News’–
–then dive into the full ‘Solstice’ review continued below!
Hey everybody, Glenntai here again with another round ofhype and opinions loosely based on minor credibility and experience passing off as expertise album review! This time, we’re going to a subject very relevant to most of the internet forum subcultures as a dedication to the shenanigans of old and respectively new… or for those familiar with the term, old/newfa… arts. DAMN IT, those terms are just too offensive to innocent people. I can’t say it. We should be more careful of the words we use these days. After all, this is going on the internet, and the internet is…
Chiptunes = #SrsBsns (Serious Business) is a 22-track compilation comprised half of veterans and half of newcomers to the compilation series dedicating songs to a meme of their choice. That was the only guideline aside from no direct covers (an exception being made for one song in particular… you can most likely guess which one.)
We know you’ve been asking for every artist’s information, so we made sure to add all of their links to each specific song’s info section. If you dig the jam, you can…
Click on the track name on the bandcamp page!
Click on the lyrics/info link for each song to keep it all on the same page!
Google it if you’re too lazy to click links yet somehow not lazy enough to google it! <3
Now enough of my rambling, let’s get onto some reviews and opinions on each track!
Glenntai – FUUUUUUUUUUUU (Apple Day Surprise)
The smooth, alternating jazz chords at the beginning with the monologue seemed appropriately cheesy for a compilation based on memes. What he then brought was something completely different than what we would expect from this fan of funk and swing beats… he broke out his first attempt at chip thrash. wait wait wait, this is about Glenntai?
He gets the award for the only two references to SomethingAwful made throughout this album, though.
coda – PLS GO FAST
A highly-respected musical machine in his own right, as well as a veteran musician from the *chan pre-popularity-peak era (as well as the originator of the 8bit cover of Chocolate Rain… youtube it, you’ll thank him later;) Coda hardly needs an introduction to people who have known him from his soundtracks or some of the finer pieces now stored within the /f/ archive.
If you haven’t, be introduced to his very tempo and syncopation-shifting FM track based off of primarily Sonic-series instruments in only OpenMPT (and as he specifically states in the info section, “No VSTis.” Purists rejoice!) With elements of anything from funk to ragtime and your average four-bar EDM track, coda has proven almost timelessly that he can deliver even some of the hottest jams.
YZYX – I nyaned for hours ( ‘ w’)‼ YZYX has somehow managed to take the monotonous, almost droning earworm associated with Nyancat and made it actually listenable. Nyancat has been a tried, true and tired meme for a few years, and there are plenty of covers that take it towards an EDM route (ahem, guilty as charged, your honor;) but YZYX has offered enough variation to the song to make a tiring and repetitive track into something danceable, not repetitive in nature and playable in clubs that play more than Avicci’s “Levels” eight times in a row and try to bank their money off feigned-nerd clubber culture.
Here Between You and Me – Forever Alone HBYM has rhythm expected from the early 2000’s-era pop rock bands and made a song exceptionally fitting to both the mood and spirit of the Forever Alone meme. Plenty of us can relate to the feelings (not necessarily the tales) within the lyrics while feeling the encompassing NES pulse channels’ vibrato and pitch slides that make one reminiscent of older Anamanaguchi tracks.
Theory of N – Bow Chippa Wow Wow
This electronic slow jazz with two-step percussion by Theory of N will keep you nodding your head the whole way through, especially with that deep square channel bass. It almost sounds like it could be a solid original track until you realize that it shares the same key as Careless Whisper and Sunstroke Project’s Run Away (sigh, yes, the epic sax guy song,) leading into some humorously well-timed licks of the famous sax solos.
Fun fake facts: 89% of people don’t recognize Run Away is Moldova’s only publicly-recognized hit. 99% of the people that did don’t know its originating country is Moldova. However, 100% of the people surveyed could see why kids love Cinnamon Toast Crunch. I’m predicting 100% of you will also thoroughly enjoy this track.
SingkongBalado – IDOUBLEDAREU SingkongBalado starts off softer with a vocal sampling and duty-cycling arps providing a melody to soft chords right before SingkongBalado went full-force aboard the glitch/grime train to deliver a heavy, tension-focused track; appropriate for the meme. One could even imagine a dramatic scene, suspense building as you await the reaction to someone being double-dared.
Professor Shyguy – Helix Prophecy Any fan of Clipstream (</shamelessplug>) might be familiar with this fantastic artist’s performances both on our web series and at our live showcase at MAGFest, leaving those uninitiated to Professor Shyguy’s golden voice and expertise on the simple pop song (as well as more complicated, not-as-pop songs) to enjoy this fantastic song giving tribute to Lord Helix and the prophecies within.
Maxo – Top Doge
Such Maxo. So doge. Much top. Wow.
On top of using chip elements to comprise the majority of the song, Maxo incorporated a similarly avant-garde and equally-painstaking practice of the K.K. Slider soundfont. In fact, the incorporation of K.K. genuinely puts the meme theme to the song, which is an otherwise light and bouncy, staccato-filled happy jam.
James Landino – lol, Chiptunes
A delightful reference to the only thing that people remember from YTMND except for its constant ripping-off of /gif/, James Landino brought Running in the 90’s back to life by keeping the Running in the 90’s rhythm and incorporating lyrics to replace the verse melody, returning to a simple and pure Running in the 90’s chorus. Although short, it was a fantastic moment to reminisce to times I almost received speeding tickets to this song.
Urizen – Ask Not for Whom the Jimmies Rustle (They Rustle for Thee)
When originally approached, it was expected that one member of Urizen was to do a track. Then I was presented with this track with the entire band portraying the dramatic tale of a valiant hero’s quest to prevent his Jimmies from rustling. The entire track is very reminiscent of a NES era action game, but the part I feel that really takes off in the song is once the rest of the band starts accompanying in lyrics, then immediately everything drops into the trollapalooza known as Guile’s Theme.
Rustle in peace, little jimmies. 4/1/2014 – 4/1/2014. There was no need to be upset.
Also, on a personal note, thanks for the free remaining handle of whiskey at NatsuCon, Urizen. If we cross paths again I’ll try to return the favor. I still don’t know why they scheduled me after you guys. <3
An0va – President Hoodie’s Theme
If you need an introduction to one of Philadelphia’s finest and busiest in the American chiptune scene, go find any of his tracks and prepare to feel silly for being left in the dark.
This track is a delightful little ditty depicting the light-hearted, adventurous follies of a mid-1900’s cartoon character opening tune. A notable difference is that, unlike the rest of the tracks, an0va specifically recorded his track to be at a lower quality. In addition, this track has no specific meme referenced to it, unless you count Hoodie’s typing language to be a walking meme in itself. I could almost imagine Hoodie himself replacing everyone in Steam Boat Willie, if it weren’t for the immediate anxiety of the idea of having more than one of that crazy man around in this world.
Watashimo – tfw no gf
For those of you who knew watashimo under his previous alias, shanebro, you’re in for a wild ride through the inner-workings of LSDJ. A two-channel chorused pulse echo leads the introduction and takes a step back to let the wav channel take lead, interchanging at different points. The song overall brings a reflective, sometimes nearly sad and nearly dreamy atmosphere, as if one was lost in thought absorbed over their own loneliness.
1000 Needles – Lost Lobos
When I was told this was about Insanity Wolf, I had no idea what to expect. Fortunately for all, 1000 Needles doesn’t disappoint. Period. I was pleasantly surprised by a lyrical verse encompassed by heavy guitars and noise that almost felt like it could keep you from being able to concentrate if you let it. The lyrics were humorous in nature by asking about Insanity Wolf’s child-stage history as if he was being evaluated.
K.O.M.H. – Y U NO PLAY 128 BPM Kitty on My Head is a great example of playing with typical electronic music forms and putting them where he sees fit, all while maintaining a smooth transition from one to the other. This is a track filled with deep bass kicks and an infectious sliding WAV channel bass while the two pulse channels compete for which is the catchier melody. Once again a solid track from KOMH! Sam Mulligan – The Coolest Story Bro Sam Mulligan’s delightfully bouncy chip rock has taken on a life of its own in the last few years, but you can hear the polished results of his efforts in this song about a story that went nowhere. The sarcasm may have been lost on him, but his use of other popularized ironic phrases weren’t lost on me nor did they ever lose their charm coming from Boston’s resident Nerd Rock expert.
Shyabeetus – Chiptune Poop
I don’t care what anybody says, Shyabeetus is Philadelphia’s LSDJ WAV channel wizard, and if anyone tries to prove him wrong they’ll be smote by the barrage of custom kit instruments he has put into his tribute to the popular concept Youtube Poop.
Whether you’re all about Japanese Ronald McDonald, Pingas, Spaghetti, Gentlemen, Octagons or countless other YTP references, Shyabeetus has managed to put them all in there and manipulate each sound as if you were watching the video directly on youtube, itself.
Together We Are Robots – Pools Closed A subject closely tied to several good memories of mine, Together We Are Robots manages to take the Habbo Hotel Raids and depict the story of many men’s struggles against MOD-Cleo and her band of (allegedly) racist moderators preventing their enjoyment of the pool, and later on protest due to the high levels of AIDS.
The use of a raspy voice to go along with guitar, wav channel bass, arp pulse chords and a highly effective hybrid between wav sample kits and the noise channel produce a very clean third wave ska element. The track itself is one of the few attempts of Chip Ska that have been made publicly available, period. I certainly wouldn’t mind more of this existing, friends, let’s get on this. 8BitJin – Click Here!
I only wonder what this could be, employing the tactic of click-baiting to reveal– DAMN IT. RICKROLLED AGAIN.
The evolution of the Duckroll, the Rickroll consisted of clicking a youtube link that promised one thing and then led you to the music video of Rick Astley’s pop hit “Never Gonna Give you Up.” This was highly over-popularized after it became not funny, as with every example the mass media has pretended to be “hip” with the “new crazy fads.” However, 8BitJin uses a wah lead that really takes precedence over the remainder of the track, much akin to how Rick Astley’s voice became a bigger focus of the song back in the 80’s. Very well-done cover, would click there again!
DJ McGranaman – Don’t Say His Name! DJ McGranaman has made a hauntingly catchy track out of the famous Freakazoid skit, managing to incorporate custom cricket noises and the noise channel to introduce the track with a deeply syncopated hip-hop rhythm. While this occurs, the melody slowly evolves into an ominous overshadowing of the dire consequences should you utter his name. The end is sure to remind you of a childhood nightmare, and it felt so uncomfortably good.
Michael Zucker – Unstoppable
The one thing I can say, without a doubt, is that Michael Zucker has channeled the spirit of a T-Rex with grabby-claws and put it into music. May it have mercy on your flesh-snack of a body once it finds you.
Extent of the Ham – You Spin Me Around Extent of the Ham (Jam) most certainly gets the award for the most challenging topic to spin a song from. Using VOPMex to bring in the tonal synths and a very funky bass line, it’s easy to get the feeling of an 80’s era pop song that was intentionally created to be too “weird” for audiences to follow. Regardless, Extent of the Ham did a fantastic job singing the stressed pleas of the misunderstood spider. However I will admit, much like the spider, I misunderstood the lyrics of the chorus for the first listen-through. At first I thought he was singing about Meatspin.
I’m incredibly glad I didn’t have to write about an ode to Meatspin. Thank you, Extent of the H/Jam. <3 D&D Sluggers – Slam Jam (of the Year) D&D Sluggers manages to take a tried-and-true Quad City DJs track and throw into it various references from the secretly-required Guiles Theme to Jam of the Year, Storm Blooper’s “Somebody Stole All the Icecream!”, another reference to Epic Sax Guy, to the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air theme song, to Trolololololing until halted by President Hoodie in the “production” booth.
Final Thoughts This compilation is surprisingly delightful to all of those who would roll their eyes to all the abundant overusage of memes, a fantastic 22-track soundtrack to cause some shenanigans to, and a delight to all of us reliving days when the internet was a simpler (and easily much more offensive) time. Download it for free off of the Chiptunes = WIN Bandcamp, and make sure you have stairs in your household.
…DAMN IT HOODIE. I DIDN’T ADD THIS PICTURE. THIS IS WHY WE CAN’T HAVE NICE THINGS.
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!
Hey guys! Welcome back to another edition of Raw Cuts With Kuma. Did you enjoy the last interview with SKGB? I sure hope so! That being said, this time we have an interview with a very well rounded figure in the scene (he came from a background in game design and has found a home in music production), and who’s rather well known on the east coast. I took the time to talk to Christian Montoya, the man also known as Decktonic. We chatted about his music, the state of the current chipscene, and some recent events that have shaken it up in the past couple weeks. Lets get to it!
Kuma: So what got you into music in the first place?
Decktonic: In 2009 I was making my own Flash and iPhone games and I thought I might try to make my own soundtrack music as well, and it was right around the time that KORG DS-10 came out, and I just picked it up on a whim while at my local Gamestop.
I had no intention of making dance music, I was just thinking I would make simple loops for my games, but as I started exploring the program, I realized I could do a lot with it, and that tipped me over the edge of the rabbit hole with electronic music production.
Kuma: Very cool. That being said, as you just mentioned, you did come into this with the intention of doing it originally just to make loops for games you were working on at the time. Would you say that since then, your passion for music has over taken your passion for gaming?
Decktonic: I would say the two have diverged. I still design games for a living, but music is a hobby that I like to pursue when I want to relax while still flexing my creative muscles. My style has also diverged, since I don’t do soundtrack work at all. I’ve been obsessed with electronic music for as long as I’ve been obsessed with video games (as long as I can remember) and I think music production has allowed me to get in touch with this obsession in a very deep way. It’s also very important for me to look at music on its own, not as part of another creative work but for the purpose of making songs that stand on their own as just “good music” (whatever that is).
Kuma: Hahaha. Well so far, I can definitely say of what I’ve seen [of your performances] and heard of your music that you definitely know what good is, but you express a sentiment that I’ve heard echoed a lot among people in the chiptune and vgm scene, which is this dichotomy of wanting to make music for the sake of music but also acknowledging the video game roots that this genre of music has because of the hardware and software used to make it. As someone who’s been on both sides of the fence creatively, was it easy for you to separate the two or is that something you think-even if it doesn’t particularly apply to you- may be a hurdle for the genre in general? Is it not possible for the masses to be able to separate the music from the gaming culture?
Decktonic: That’s a loaded question, so forgive me if I ramble in my response.
Kuma: I’m aware that it is, so pardon me if you feel like I’ve put you on the spot.
Decktonic: No this is good, lemme see… The way I see it, any producer under 30 grew up with video games. Their influence is present in all styles of music these days. Hmmm… there’s chiptunes, and then there’s music made with old gaming hardware. I don’t fall into either of those categories. I make music with a Nintendo DS program that emulates a classic KORG analog synthesizer that was all the rage in electronic music production before the NES existed. If there’s any nostalgia that I’m to associated with, it’s the raw underground electro music of the 80s. The early days of synth music, maybe. That’s what a lot of my work has been compared to.
At the same time, I’m totally comfortable with the EDM community and have been known to play in modern software like Ableton Live and Traktor a few times, but I do call the chip scene my home, whether I fit in or not, and I’ve seen this issue quite a bit. It’s something everyone is still figuring out.
There’s a lot I could say about it, but here’s the best way I can put it: if producers want to take advantage of that retro game nostalgia, that’s cool. There’s nothing wrong with it. I wouldn’t be afraid of that. If producers want to keep their distance from it, then chip music needs to establish it’s own culture. Not just an underground Internet counter-culture, but something that speaks to the nature of the music itself. I think chip music was meant to be the new punk, but I haven’t seen enough of that. I like getting down in the pit to some Nullsleep or Monodeer, and if that’s the culture we like, let’s put that at the forefront. Let’s wear it on our sleeves.
Oh, one last thing I was going to add to that. I don’t think the two are mutually exclusive. I think it’s fine if some producers go in one direction and some in another. There’s this false notion that the community needs to be one scene with a common mindset. That would be a mistake. It’s a big community. Niche, maybe, but there’s a lot of potential. I like that things are going in a lot of different directions. It lends itself to more creativity and freedom of expression. We should embrace that.
Kuma: I like that sentiment. It’s very thoughtful on your behalf and I like that you aren’t afraid to tackle the fact that regardless of how chip is accepted or interpreted that its roots are what they are and there’s nothing to be ashamed of, no matter which direction we choose to take it in.
Speaking of directions, I and a few other artists have noticed that-especially with the end of Blipfest (RIP)- chip seems to be migrating out west and seems to be finding a very comfortable spot in Detroit, a state well known for producing and embracing new and cool music historically, from classic Motown R&B and Soul to Punk Rock to Acid House and D&B. As someone who’s been primarily out on the east coast, how do you feel about the focus of chip shifting towards these other states and how do you feel the shifting of the spotlight from the east coast to the midwest will affect what’s happening here in places like NY and Philly? And yes, Detroit is a state now.
Decktonic: (LOL) Honestly this is something I’ve thought about a lot. First of all, it’s great that chip music is finding more “homes” in the USA. It makes sense that collectives should be springing up in different areas, and let it be said that what’s been going on in places like Detroit or the Midwest US (see: BRKfest) is totally home grown. These are local movements that are entirely grassroots born and raised, we are talking about a bunch of young chip heroes just getting together and throwing shows however they could. It’s impressive what they’ve been able to accomplish in a short time, I look up to these guys.
As for New York City and Philadelphia, let’s face it… the music scenes here are very commercial. There are a few established chip monthlies (8static, I/O, Pulsewave) that are doing well but otherwise there isn’t much interest among promoters to do what I will call “weird music.” This is considering that these two cities have a lot of electronic music, but it’s all in the club scene and if you aren’t making dubstep, trap or dutch house and DJing all the top 40 hits then you won’t be getting much attention around here. The chip scene is still just a handful of people throwing shows when they can and usually doing it as a labor of love.
I’ve seen a lot of independent music venues and art spaces come and go in the past few years… it’s hard to make the “weird music” venue thing work when rent is so high. Now I’m not complaining… I love this area. We just have our work cut out for us in terms of growing the audience, taking on bigger risks and ultimately carving out a bigger scene around here. I’m very optimistic. And who knows? If I get a chance to take my brand of bass beats out to Detroit or Kentucky or some other corner of the globe, that would be awesome
Kuma: While I’m definitely optimistic about the future of “weird music” as well, I must admit I’m glad you bought up the idea that New York’s music scene is very safe because it brings us to a much more recent event. I’m sure by now you’ve heard through the grape vine about what happened to Oliver Hindle aka Superpowerless. While -like him- I’m not necessarily surprised by the fact that the judges on Britain’s Got Talent didn’t let him through into the next round, what I am disconcerted by is the idea that he and his friends were made to look like damn fools by the mainstream media. Do you think this recent experience will be a hindrance to the scene and act as a sort of scarecrow, keeping chip and vgm artists away from the spot light of mainstream media fame, or do you think we’ll actually break through that barrier and be commercially accepted? Furthermore, do you think -considering the fact that some of us have found relative success just by being “internet famous”, so to speak- that current main stream media success is even necessary for us to survive and thrive as scene or genre?
Decktonic: First of all I respect Superpowerless for taking such a big risk in all this. I’m kinda torn about the whole thing. On one hand, if I had a chance to be on a show like that, I’d probably jump at the opportunity. On the other, I wouldn’t expect anything different. I see it as a combination of a negative perception of electronic music and another negative perception of “nerd culture.” I don’t really have any advice in this matter, other than to say that we aren’t the first ones to go through something like this. The earliest computer musicians were looked at as a novelty and a sideshow act. For a while nobody was willing to accept synthesizers on stage. I guess all I can say is don’t be ashamed of it. I think it’s futile to try and get validation from people that obviously don’t get it. Do I expect the judges on Britain’s Got Talent to appreciate chiptunes? No. I think it’s a matter of finding the audience that does appreciate the kind of music you are doing, and focusing on them.
For a while electronic music just existed in underground clubs. It was totally separate from mainstream pop / rock / jazz. They had their own labels, their own shows, their own scene. The electronic music movement even had to do their own festivals. It was only recently that we’ve seen electronic producers and DJs sharing stages with rock and hip hop artists. Basically what I’m trying to say is, let’s build what we have and not worry about the people who just don’t get it. It’s an exercise in futility to do anything else.
Kuma: Well said. That being said, there is one last question I do have for you, and that concerns the scene itself. No outside influences or interpretations. None of that crap. It involves age, and I’m not simply talking about the age of those involved in the scene. I’ve met young cats like Chasingbleeps from Ireland who’s only 15 whipping out some great stuff for a first LP and I’ve seen guys like 4mat who have been doing the computer and chip music thing for more than 20 years now, which is astounding to me and makes me respect him and his music even more, but I digress. When I say age, I mean the lifespan of the scene itself.
While there is definitely a lot of life popping up in a lot of places, there are also little pockets, little murmurings here and there already about people concerned about how long chip will last. How long will the Game Boys keep ticking? How long do they really have until it becomes something tired, and they’re talking like it’s already on it’s deathbed. While you’re not a Game Boy user, and you yourself even stated that while you feel chip is your home that you see yourself more as an EDM artist, how do you feel about chip where it is now? Does it feel healthy to you, or do you feel it’s starting to die out a bit too, or do you think this is just the beginnings of familiarity breeding -not necessarily contempt- but perhaps boredom? Boredom of seeing the same people perform or on the dance floor?What’s your take on this?
Decktonic: Man, people have been playing pianos for centuries and I still like to hear a piano when I can! I think when people put forth these kinds of sentiments, like, “chipmusic is dead!” they need to put a big “IN MY OPINION” at the front of it. I think before you can even get the words out of your mouth, some kid you’ve never even heard of is going to come along with a Game Boy and play something that will catch your attention. If people are tired of chip music, they can go elsewhere. I’m still having a good time.
Kuma: I’m definitely glad you are having a good time, because that means a lot more music from you, as well as just the general enjoyment of your company at these venues (although, admittedly, it has been some time since I’ve seen you.) That being said, Mr Montoya, I know there’s a lot more that could be said and could be asked about you, including about your other projects such as Miami Slice (which I still don’t believe exists, just like Ricky Brugal), but I think here’s a good spot to end the interview. Before we go, do you have any closing statements or remarks you’d like to make?
Decktonic: I don’t know if that answers your question at all, but to answer it directly: “LA LA LA LA CAN’T HEAR YOU CAN’T YOU SEE I’M LISTENING TO RICKY BRUGAL GO AWAY.”
Kuma: Hahahahaha! Wonderful! Christian, thank you very much for this interview and for a little more insight about you and your views on this wonderful scene we’re in. I look forward to conversing with you again.
Decktonic: Same! Oh, wait! I missed that last question! One sec! I’m trying to think if I do have any actual last words… Oh! Just, I’m always looking to meet more people that love chip music, so if you see me at a show, say hello! That is all.
Kuma: I’ll definitely pass it along. I have to admit this makes an amusing little addendum to our interview.
Decktonic: ha ha OK! Yeah the LA LA LA part was in response to the second to last question!
Kuma: But it worked so well for the last one, though!
Dectonic: LOL NO!
Hope you guys enjoyed the interview! Tune in next week as I take the time to talk to CompyCore, a chiptune artist and entrepreneur that’s looking to make a name for himself in fashion and in chiptune!