Posts Tagged ‘DAW’

Raw Cuts With Kuma #14: bryface

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Welcome back, ChipWINners!  It’s good to be back at the blog after a short hiatus.  That being said, I hope you’re ready for another interview!  This week, I managed to get a hold of one of the most versatile talents in the scene!  Using a bevy of tools over the course of his career, this artist took the time to sit down with me to talk about his new album, weapons of choice, and his recent performance at Toy Company Festival!  So without further ado, here’s my interview with Canada’s very own bryface!

Kuma:  So I got to listen to a large part, if not all of, your musical catalog, and I have to say, you are one of the more versatile talents I’ve ever had here on rawcuts! How’d you get your start in all this?  Where does your journey begin?

  Good question.  I like to begin the story at the age of 9.  It was the early 90’s, my brother and I just recently got a modem for our 486 PC, and we had started foraying into the world of dialup BBS’s (which served as the precursor to the internet).  Some of these bulletin boards held collections of all kinds of files, including 4-channel and MODs. Somehow I stumbled onto one written by 4mat, and I was blown away by his style of composing!  That’s pretty much the earliest influence I can recall on my style.

Kuma:  Wait Wait Wait Wait wait wait wait!  Stop here for second!  Stop!  Are you another one of these deceptively old chiptune people?  BBS? early 4-Mat?  Are you TDK aged?


bryaface:  Haha not quite that old!  Those guys had lives and careers to live while I was still trying to learn how to do long division.  But I’d consider myself maybe just above median age as far as the current chip community Is concerned, if that means anything at all.  Too young to be oldschool, old enough to be cantankerous about juvenile chip tastes.

Kuma:  Ah, so you’re Kuma age. Good. I thought my brain was going to explode again, the way it did when I found out Glomag has a 17 year old son.

bryface:  Anyway, fast forward a few years and I find myself writing tracker music in impulse tracker.  Then, I stopped writing in that program because I found it too unwieldy and couldn’t finish anything.  It wasn’t until 4 years ago that I got started again, via a copy of KORG DS-10 and focused on short little ditties.

I think all the while, I found myself really connected to the demoscene/tracker chiptune aesthetic because of its uniqueness and focus on melody and harmony more than instrumentation, so stylistically I try to champion that ethic as much as I’m able to.

Kuma:  I’m glad you have, and I’m especially glad you’re doing it with DS10, because while there certainly talented DS10 people out there, I find the ones I’m most familiar with don’t carry that aesthetic the way you do.  kloudygirl makes noisey, dank industrial, and decktonic focuses on using it it the way a club DJ would use a synth to make disco, so when I got to hear your work, especially on “how to dodge lasers” I creamed my pants a little.

bryface:  That’s very kind and horribly disgusting of you to say.  But yeah, I mean I _could_ do music on those styles, but I feel like it’s a waste of time to trod where others can tread easily, you know?  (not that it’s NECESSARILY easy
but yeah I like a challenge.

To clarify, I feel like, ‘why waste time covering territory that others are covering ably already?’.  What excites me is the discovery of new things, and that desire is best met by me doing composition that is challenging.

Kuma:  Very true.  There’s nothing wrong with making similar music, but I definitely enjoy that, as far as DS10 is concerned, you’re walking your own path.  That being said, the Korg isn’t the only program you use to make music with.  Tell me, of the tools listed on your WAVEFORMTOWN page, which is the one you like most outside of DS10?

bryface:  Impulse tracker, Famitracker, Sunvox, korg m01 and LSDJ all have their strengths and weaknesses as far as sound shaping is concerned.  The DS-10 was a great portable platform as far as portability and control over sound is concerned, but over time I felt it was too restrictive compositionally. 16 notes x 16 patterns was not enough for the complexity of the songs I really wanted to write.  I hate to be cliche, but LSDJ has become a favorite because it combines the familiar tracker interface with portability and a degree of sound control. (at least, control within the confines of the hardware)

Portability is super important to me because I can’t stand sitting down at a computer to write music anymore. too solitary, and too remote to capture musical ideas that flicker to life in a short moment.  I haven’t touched a DAW in years lololol

Kuma:  Really?  That’s surprising, as I know a lot of artists, even if they’ don’t perform using DAWs, they’ll use them to refine and touch up their songs for album releases.  Are you saying you don’t master your music at all?  That all the stuff I’ve heard is raw DS10 or LSDJ?

bryface:  All the DS-10 and LSDJ stuff i released before this newest album has not been enhanced with a DAW.  I simply lacked the knowledge/perspective to consider post-production a big deal.  ‘VARIOUS TOPICS’ marks my first use of a DAW (Reaper) for legit EQ/mastering.

Still though, the post-production is quite minimal as far as altering the spectral content of the music is concerned  because i believe in maintaining a kind of verisimilitude whereby i didn’t resort to underhanded tricks to make my music sound unnaturally impressive. I want to be more or less on the level with how i present my music.  It’s more impressive that way.

Kuma:  I respect that.  I respect that a lot, especially because it’s clear how much effort you put into making a high quality production.  So much so, that it seems to have paid off for you in a big way, seeing as you got to play at Toy Company Festival earlier this year! Talk to me about that, man!  Were you nervous? Excited?  Was this your first time playing a large scale fest like this?

bryface:  It definitely was my first experience playing a multi-day show on that kind of scale!  As far as the “exclusive opportunity” of getting to play the show was concerned, I do want to clarify that by pointing out that there aren’t nearly as many chiptune artists in Canada, even less so in Vancouver where i am.  So when i heard about the festival, i figured, hey, if ever there was a +30% chance of me getting involved, why not??  So I got in touch with XC3N and the Toy Company guys and they were like, ‘yeah let’s make it happen!’!

I was definitely excited to play.  I wasn’t really nervous though, because i believed that my music was worth sharing, and also because a lot of the artists I had met previously at other events (Blipfest 2011 being the first of them).

To me it was more about the excitement of getting to hang out with all these awesome peers/heroes/brothers-in-arms again (which doesn’t happen often at all for me, given how remote I am).

Kuma:  Oh c’mon!  You’re not that remote!  Vancouver may be far, but it’s not like you’re in the middle of nowhere like jmr in Newfoundland!

Regardless, I do get that feeling.  Festivals are often the only time a lot of us get to see each other in person, so being able to take advantage of the opportunity to attend means a lot beyond just being able to play.  Was there anyone in particular you were happy to see?

bryface:  Haha i feel for that guy, being where he is.  On a related note, jmr was hanging out at Toy Company Fest too, so i got a kick out of meeting him in person and seeing the same thrill he had in meeting IRL peoples! (previously only knew of him in IRC channels and whatnot).

Hmm… in general it was great to see some artists from the Ontario chip scene, and the Wuebec chip guys, all in one place.  Twofer!  Saved me a bunch of flight money for sure. Btw, I gotta hand it to the Quebec artists: I was really impressed with how they banded together to make this show happen, and it was evident that they’re genuinely excited artists who are able to put personal ambitions and politics aside to have a good time. They deserve praise and continued support.


bryface:  I wanna offer kudos to Danimal Cannon.  I’ve had the pleasure of seeing him play live several times and I’ve always wanted to return the favor to him and many of the artists that were at TC fest.  We always seem to run into each other a lot, too, and for a guy who has every reason to be all “pssh i don’t need to talk to you” chip star style, he’s always been very generous with his time and attention.  I’m thrilled that we’re labelmates, but more so that I can just call him “Dan” and not by some contrived pseudonym.

Kuma:  Huh, that’s cool, but honestly that’s the first time I’ve ever heard such. That being said, let’s talk about your new album, ‘VARIOUS TOPICS’.  What were you looking to create when you set out making it?  Was there a certain sound or change within yourself you were looking to make when crafting it?  What was the bar you set for yourself with this LP?

bryface:  Well, I originally had never set out to make an album proper, but as more unfinished music became closer to being done, it seemed a more viable goal.  But no, there was no “thematic core” or imagined story behind the album.  The music’s album is basically me going, “what’s the kind of music that I personally would like to hear more of from the chipscene?”, with the added guiding principle of “try not to do anything that’s been done before.”  So the music I’ve written is very much my reaction to trends and norms that I see in chipmusic today and trying to challenge them.

If I’m to be honest, I kind of feel that the average person’s interest in chipmusic could stand to be less myopic, stylistically.  Sometimes I feel that “current chiptune” is more about recreating mainstream music tropes rather than carving out unexplored territory, so my goal here is to try and provide some demonstration of what that unexplored territory could look like.

Kuma:  While I’ll admit part of why I fell in love with chip was because I was initially blown away with how lush and similar to traditional instrumentation this music could be, I have to admit I do admire your creativity in wanting to venture off in the other direction.  It takes dedication to do so, even in a scene as small as this. Will you be doing anything special to promote this EP?  An album release party or a concert?

bryface:  Oh yeah!  Of course I’m not knocking anyone’s taste in chipmusic per se, but if there is any statement that I would want for my album to make, it’s that there is indeed even more headway to make in this territory!  One thing I’ve tried to do specifically was to imbue an organic/human quality so as to almost make people forget they’re listening to chiptune.  I’ll be interested to see if this actually ends up ringing true with the general public.

While I suspect this conversation will get published after the fact, this Thursday (Sept. 19th) Noise Channel Radio is hosting a Listening Party!  I’ll be chatting it up with TrueStar and anyone else who happens to be on IRC at the time about the album.

I don’t really have any other plans for a release party, as there aren’t many people I’d celebrate proper with here in Vancouver.  It’s more likely that i’ll get right to sharing the album with people, maybe making supplementary content for it, BUT, a mere week after the release, i’ll be heading to japan to party with the Square Sounds crew in Tokyo!  I also have a few shows lined up there, in Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka!  So that’ll be my “release party” so to speak!  Hard to top that!

Kuma:  God damn, that sounds awesome!  I’m incredibly jealous, but I’m sure you’re bound to have a great time!  That being said, I’d like to thank you for your time, bryface.  It was a pleasure interviewing you and getting to know you better, as well as listening to your music.  Do you have anything you’d like to say to our readers before we wrap things up?

bryface:  Hmm…

Kuma:  Hmmmm?

hmmm cat

bryface:  I would just like to ask for you all to listen to my work and to share it with others.  But to be clear, I wrote this music not because I necessarily want to be “known” or anything.  I wrote this music because I have a love for the process and for the result.  I wrote this music to continue and celebrate a proud tradition of being invested in your craft and finding fellowship with those who similarly understand the relationship between sweating technical details and the creation of a product that is more than the sum of its parts.  That is what I feel is at the heart of the chipmusic community, even all the way back to my days as a nine-year-old, and it’s important that we continue to cherish that.

That and, if we meet in person, and you tell me you like my music, you get an automatic beer.

Thanks for doing the interview, Kuma, this was indeed super fun.  I also wanted to give a shout out to C-jeff for allowing me the opportunity to continue Ubiktune‘s fine tradition of musicianship and hopefully not run it into the ground!! (tugs at collar nervously.)

Kuma:  Run a netlabel into the ground?  I doubt anyone could do that, especially someone as talented as you!  bry, once again, it was a pleasure talking to you. Take care and good luck with your future ventures. I look forward to doing this again with you.

That’s it for this week’s edition of Rawcuts!  Don’t forget to tune into NCR tonight to be a part of bryface’s listening party for his new album, as well as heading over to bandcamp to not only pick up his new album, but to check out his older stuff, as well!  ‘Til next time!


Relevant Links:
Facebook | Bandcamp | Soundcloud | Twitter | WAVEFORMTOWN 

Fb Event for Listening Party

Raw Cuts with Kuma #7: sleepytimejesse

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Hey what’s up, Chipwinners!  Welcome back for another installment of Raw Cuts!  This time around I managed to get a hold of a young man named Jesse Martin, a musician who not only makes chipmusic, but also plays in an increasingly popular alt rock band called The Zou!  Without further ado, enjoy my interview with the chiptune artist called sleepytimejesse!

pic semi-related


Kuma:  So, lets be straight up: you’re quite a force to be reckoned with in the chiptune/vgm scene, as well as in the indie rock scene.  You’ve put out albums under Ubiktune, you’re in a kick ass band and you’re a rather prolific musician who lives and breathes his passion. Where did it all start for you, Jesse?  What made you want to start making music?  Lets hear your story.

sleepytimejesse (stj):  Oh man, that’s a lot to live up to!  Haha!  Well really, it started around maybe [age] 12 or 13.  My parents were getting a pretty nasty divorce and I broke my arm really bad skateboarding.  So I kind of picked up guitar as a form of rehab and to try to connect with my dad.  Music became more of an escape than anything and I kind of knew I wanted it to be my life from then on.  You caught me off guard with your awesome question, haha.

I can't help being awesome

Kuma:  I’m glad.  Now, lets take it a step further.  Making music with a guitar is one thing, but making chiptune is another.  Was there a certain experience that made you decide that this was something you had to do for yourself?  A game soundtrack that touched you or a song you came across that turned your head?

STJ:  Yeah, eventually I got frustrated with only writing for instruments I could physically hold.  It felt like there was more out there to do.  So I started working with VSTs and soundfonts and the like.  Probably around like 2006-07.  This, coupled with a love of video game music and hoping to some day write for games, sort of started to manifest itself into music for imaginary games.  Over time I got more and more interested in the actual limitations of scoring for games, and inevitably found my way into FamiTracker.  Which I then just obsessed over for like three months straight.

Kuma:  Praytell, was one of your many albums the fruits of this three month obsession? Also, regardless of whether or not that was the case, as a person who transitioned from acoustic guitar to DAWs to a tracker, were you pleased with your results?  Did it come naturally to you with your experience prior in making music in other forms or was it a more daunting experience than you expected?

STJ:  Yeah, I had most of an album of covers (which I titled, “CVRS“) by the end of my sort of head first jump into 8-bit.  A couple of the originals either ended up on 8bc or, but most of them have been getting touched up here or there over the years.  I have another chiptune album in the works that includes these and some new tunes and collabs, but honestly the transitions through work spaces wasn’t too bad.  I’d say the move into trackers went pretty smoothly.  I love to focus on the microscopic details while composing and that’s really what a tracker is best for anyway.

Kuma:  That’s really quite wonderful and unexpected to hear, as even a few of my friends now who are just getting into chiptune for the first time after years of guitar or drums are just like “Welp! I seem to have made a terrible mistake!” and are comparing the process of making a song in a day in guitar to maybe doing the same in a month on something like lsdj.  It is rather entertaining.

mmmm!  so tasty!  so amusing!

That being said, you mentioned your new album.  Lets talk about that.  What can we expect to hear on it?  Will it be anything like some of your more recent releases, such as what you put out for the Yoshi’s Island tribute album or the Earthbound tribute album, or should we expect something darker?

STJ:  I wouldn’t necessarily say darker.  To be honest a lot of it is inspired by jazz tunes. So there’s maybe some moments of bittersweetness but nothing downright depressive.  At least not yet.  And a couple of tunes on those albums weren’t all cute.  I think I titled the one “Brimstone’s Bone Cavern”.  hahaha!

Kuma:  True, your album Tending the Mines, while it does have a few dream like songs, also feels dark not in the sense that it feels foreboding, but that it has a lot of emptiness to it, enough for the listener’s imagination to play around with the space between notes to fill in the void.

That being said, while I’m sure you’ll always find time for chip as it is something you generally love, lets be honest: there is another project you’re a part of that is becoming more popular. Lets take a moment to talk about it, shall we?  The Zou.  How did it start, and considering how popular the band is becoming, where do you think it’ll go from here and how will that affect what you’re doing as a chip artist with aspirations to compose for video games?

STJ:  Ah, thank you.  Tending is some of my favorite music I’ve ever written.  I’m really flattered when people say they’ve enjoyed it.  You’re spot on, empty is what I aspired for.  The Zou is a band I joined about three years ago and it’s been an amazing three years. They’ve always been pretty established and when I moved back to Ohio after high school they were in need of a guitarist.  They knew of me because the singer, Khaled, is my cousin and once he showed the other members my online stuff I was offered the gig. We’ve toured each summer and I’ve met some of my best friends while on the road.  The people you meet, crash at their houses, eat at Steak and Shake with at four in the morning, these people don’t forget you and you don’t forget these people.  Not to mention you learn so much about interpersonal communication, about crisis aversion, about working under stress.  Our new album, “Kills, Part 1” just dropped on iTunes and who knows where it goes from here?

Kuma:  That’s awesome.  I take it that those skills are what allow you to balance both your music and the bands, then?  It’s never been an issue balancing the two then, has it?

STJ:  Haha we used to have a strict “no side projects” rule but with my music being work related I partly obscured that hard no.  But the cool thing about composing so frequently on your own and also being in a band is you get to bring what you’ve learned to the table and apply it to songs what will be played and recorded by a group of actual people.  Really cool to hear what subtle changes take place to these moments which were once purely electronic.

Kuma:  Nice!  Any chance of seeing and hearing those subtle changes live this summer, as per tradition?  And will you tour for your individual project, as well?

STJ:  Ah, plan on maybe doing some touring circuits in the next two years but not quite yet.  But for now I think the best way to hear this process is to listen to the new album and its subsequent follow up Part 2 with some headphones on.  “Soon! Okay?” and “Ain’t There an Easier Way” are pretty good examples of this for now.

Kuma:  Awesome!  I’ll definitely listen to it after I get through listening to all your other amazing shit!  Seriously, man: both individually and with the band, you’re an incredible talent.  That being said, I think this is definitely a good place to wrap things up for now, but I do look forward to hearing more of your music, as well as interviewing again in the future, should circumstances permit.  Do you have anything you’d like to say in closing to our readers?

STJ:  Thanks!  That’d be lovely.  For now, if people want they can follow me on Twitter and maybe follow the indie game studio I just joined–rawrsoft–for some future happenings. We’re working hard behind the scenes, some big announcements in coming months.

Kuma:  Awesome! I’ll be sure to help pimp you out to my friends on Facebook and Twitter, as well!  With that being said, Mr. Martin, it was a sincere pleasure.

Thanks again for tuning in with us here at Chiptunes = WIN!  Tune in next time as I interview shanebro and we talk about his upcoming new EP, BRKFest, and things we regret doing at MAGFest maybe!  Peace!

sleepytimejesseRelevant sleepytimejesse Links:
Bandcamp | Soundcloud | Twitter | Facebook | The Zou | Rawrsoft (Twitter)