Today, I finally got the chance to sit down with the man, the myth, the legend; Mr. Brandon L Hood aka “President Hoodie”, the founder of Chiptunes = WIN! Brandon has been helping us not only bring great chiptunes to the chipmusic community, but also moderating our community to be the best that it possibly can be.
Uh… Brandon L Hood, everyone.
I’ll skip the pleasantries and get right to the nitty gritty, and ask the hard hitting chiptune questions!
It’s hard to believe that it’s already been over two years since Kubbi (Vegard Kummen) released his last full-length album, ‘Circuithead’, and just over a year since his legendary late-night live performance at MAGFest 12. Time sure does fly, and so does Kubbi. During the interim, the dynamic dragon whisperer has descended upon the Norwegian landscape in order to drop his most dramatic album to date, ‘Ember’.
Hey what’s up, ya’ll! It’s your boy BronxKuma, and today I’ll be taking the reigns as we continue our coverage of Chiptunes = WIN: Volume 3, which is the ninth compilation album we’ve put out in the past three years! Crazy, ain’t it? Time flies when you’re having fun though, and today, we’re gonna continue our fantastic aural voyage as I guide you through tracks 27-31 of this immaculate collection of music! Let’s get to it!
Vince Kaichan — In The Stars
This song is Vince’s third contribution to Chiptunes = WIN (technically 4th if I include the fact that one of those songs inspired a tear-jerking postrock cover by Cory Johnson) and there is a damn good reason for this. From the first time I heard him perform live during Frostbyte’s album release party in 2012 to the various tracks he’s contributed to ChipWIN, Vince has proven himself to be a deftly skilled composer, and this song is further proof of said musical aptitude. Diverging from from the playful, pure chip melody of his last contribution, In The Stars is a thoughtful, urban, subdued track that made me swear I was listening to Joshua Morse album. Perfect for unwinding after a long day, if In The Stars doesn’t fill you with mellow, you and I can never be friends.
Proving that even the purest, simplest means of composing can produce high quality music, Shinoboy’s first contribution to ChipWIN lives up to it’s name in that it destroys everything! Starting out with a nostalgic arpeggio straight out of Link’s Awakening, the song opens up and becomes a fist throwing, shoulder thrusting, I’m-sorry-I-almost-gave-you-a-concussion-in-the-moshpit-at-8statifest-last-year-Auxcide head banger that feels like equal parts Unini and FearofDark. If you like your chiptune hard, dirty, and full of BRKs like it’s giving your day job the finger, blast this on repeat and revel in all the fucks you don’t have for anything.
Polygon Horizon’s offering to the compilation is another song whose title perfectly embodies what this song is in and of itself as well as what it is in relation to the tracks before and after it. Offering a brief reprieve after a few moments of pure idgaf, he has crafted a song that not only allows a moment of stillness, but slowly escalates into a song that inspires hope. In fact, the song does it so well that I had to ask during the listening party if this was the last track on the album, because the amount of nostalgia, tears and optimism it invokes is so striking it rivals even PROTODOME’s offerings for ending tracks on the previous annual compilations. Quite an accomplishment for an artist no matter who you are.
Another unfairly talented individual who is contributing a fourth time to ChipWIN, Auxcide’s track is the musical equivalent of a meeting between Yojimbo and Kozure Okami. On its own, it invokes the sense of desperation to cut down another, as well as the hatred two must have towards duel to clash so passionately. Combined with the songs before it, Fateful Encounter acts as the second slice of bread in a tasty, thoughtfully made sandwhich that allows one to enjoy the sharp tastes of the moshpitstravaganzas both this and Detruire have, but further accentuates itself and the subtle pallet cleanser that Breath was. This allows all three songs to stand on their own and truly seems unique, despite being part of a larger whole. If you were looking for another reason to throw elbows, let Auxcide take you to the promise land.
By the way, Auxcide, I’d like to apologize again for almost giving you a concussion last year at 8staticfest. Sorry.
Gracing us with his second appearance on a Chiptunes = WIN compilation, sleepytimejesse shows off his creativity with a song that combines a sense of humor, style and even a nod to a classic R&B hit all rolled into a nice lil morsel of a tune. From the pleasantly unexpected urban flair that strays from his normal compositional style to the use of everyone’s favorite musical canine–K.K. Slider– this low tempo chiptune is the kind of stuff I’d really love to hear more of in the scene. The kind of song that, despite some of its sillier flairs, resonates with fashionable goodness such as Vince Kaichan’s aforementioned “In The Stars” and Joshua Morse’s “Just Missed You” off of Chiptunes = WIN Vol. 2. If you haven’t listened to sleepytimejesse before now, I highly suggest changing that pronto. The man is not one to disappoint regardless of what genre he chooses to dabble in.
Well guys, it’s time for my leg of the tour through ChipWIN Vol 3 to come to an end. I hope you enjoyed your time with me and that I helped make this part of the album as memorable as the one’s before it. I now bid you adieu, and would like to remind you to check back with us tomorrow as my friend Aydan takes over as captain of our musical escapades, as he’ll be guiding us through tracks 32-26 with considerably more skill than me. I hope. >.>;
Keep on chippin’, and don’t forget: Kuma loves you.
You know, it’s not every day that the kindness of friends can take you on unforgettable journeys filled with laughter and memories to last a lifetime, but when those times come, you relish the moment and cherish all that’s given to you. This especially rings true to my latest adventure with my dear friend Bertrand Guérin-Williams (also known as their pseudonym Russellian) to BRKFest 2014, which took place from July 25-27 in Cincinnati, OH.
Starting as a casual idea thrown around our Facebook pages, Bertrand and I both expressed interest in attending this third annual chipmusic festival, an event conceived by Curtis Ware in 2012. Quickly striking the idea down as physically impossible (due to a number of monetary constraints and traveling distance), Bertrand and I took to the idea of a fundraiser as a way to raise funds to get one another to this up and coming Midwest event.With an equally silly fundraiser campaign over on Kickstarter to make potato salad being wildly successful (and still raising money), we swallowed our fears and crossed our fingers.
And it happened.
Bertrand and I received half of our funding goal within two days, and then two-thirds several days later. Within a week, we were fully funded.
Unable to comprehend the generosity of the donors, the tweeters, and the ‘likers’, our once casual and thrown-around interest became reality. Through the help of 18 people (YES! only 18!), our donations were ranging around $20, and the highest being $250 (which was donated by Ken Gould, Andrew Gould [event co-host]’s father). Through the help of some great friends, anonymous donors, and complete strangers, Bertrand and I began solidifying our travel plans and booked my flight.
Flash forward to July 24, 2014.
This was happening. I don’t think I’ve felt that much excitement for an event since MAGFest, because in 7 hours, I was going to be touching down in Lexington, KY with my good friends Curtis Ware and Alex Wimmer welcoming me at the gate. With the cost of the trip paid for through the fundraiser, and free lodging at their house (with Max Dolensky and Tri Angles also crashing there), I knew this was a weekend I would never forget.
Without any doubt, all three days of BRK had solid lineups. With the visualists bountiful, and talent strategically dispersed, each day of BRK paved the way for my chip dreams slowly becoming a reality. With performers new and old, and two days of open mics, BRKfest kicked off with Chris ‘Storm Blooper’ De Pew with accompanying visuals from ohhainaifu. With his performance packing a powerful punch, De Pew spent the entire night beforehand writing new songs and finishing up others. His set didn’t suffer, however—he opened up BRKFest with much needed energy and a sappy cover of ‘California Gurls’ by Katy Perry; his performance was surely a great way to start off an even better weekend. Other acts of notable mention that performed the first night include Radiograffiti’s Illinois Amigacore artist CCDM (who, after conversation with him, mentioned he participated in an Amiga battle with Stagediver during the Shadowtravel tour in Chicago), the rockin’ Virginia bitpop/punk duo Square Therapy, Solarbear (accompanied by crowd surfing in a red button up dress shirt), and Tri Angles, a ‘wandering artist, dreamer, and storyteller’ whose music is a soulful, galactic, and out of body experience. With the first night coming to a close, BRKFest day one concluded with an official after party about three miles out. With DJ sets by Diode Milliampere (who was on the bill for the third night) and Max Dolensky, and LSDJ sets from Defiant Systems (also playing day three) and my cohort in this fundraiser, Russellian, this was surely the icing on the cake to close out such an eventful first day.
SKGB performs live at BRKFest 2014 on Saturday, July 26.
Day two rolls around, and it’s even better than the first. Despite some technical set backs that presented themselves early in the evening, performers and the crowd pushed through. Day two was by far the most intense, gear-heavy nights, with set ups being noticeably more intricate. With a surprise back-to-back in tandem performance from Sean ‘Awesome Force’ Baker and Bryan ‘Auxcide’ Dobbins (who used a DMX ‘X Gon’ Give It To Ya’ vocal sample and covered ‘Where My Niggas At?’ by Cassidy during their sets respectively), a live read of a meditation guide for spiritual travels to the anti-material planets during SKGB’s performance, slamming Game Boy Advance jams from Detroit’s boaconstructor, and a Trey Frey reactive light installation, day two was by far my favorite night. Muscles sore and body dehydrated, Curtis, Alex and I headed back to Lexington to prep for the third evening.
With the weekend coming to a close, the dawn of day three began. My cohort Bertrand (who again was staying closer to Cincinnati) enjoyed all that the city had to offer Sunday morning—with a group of chip musicians and friends (including ChipWIN’s own Hoodie and Chip Mom, Awesome Force and Auxcide), the group of them went to the Cincinnati Museum Center where they explored a fake cave system (and reenacted the Matrix Reloaded’s Zion dance scene), learned about evolution, extinction, and optical and microwave telescopes and the stars and galaxies of which astronomers have found. While I did not partake in this adventure, I’m going to make a wild guess that those folks had a wonderful time based on the information passed down to me. As for me, I make it to the venue, and the sadness started to set in. I could already feel it—I’ve come down with the BRKFest depression bug WELL BEFORE BRK was even over. It is always the hardest feeling having to cope with spending an incredible weekend making memories with friends, and then having to jump on a plane to go back to real life the day after. However, mopiness aside, I made every minute count. Hugs exchanged, laughs reciprocated, and outside patio relax sessions imminent, I spent most of the evening taking it all in (where as I raged the first two days).
Defiant Systems performs live at BRKFest 2014 on July 27. Visuals by Formidable Witch
Popping inside for Shitbird’s chipthrash set, Defiant System‘s lo-fi, dark FM jive (with INCREDIBLE visuals by Formidable Witch using NES hardware), and glomag, who emerged in the community at the dawn of the 21st century, day three concluded on an incredibly high note, an ending that any music festival could ask for.
All in all, this festival was surely unforgettable, and it was quite an adventure to experience this as an event attendee rather than behind the scenes (like I did for Frequency 3.0 with my cohorts in 8bitLA). Artists, albeit visualists or performers, put their heart and soul into their work, making for an incredibly exciting weekend getaway. The vibe was great—the friends magnificent. Thanks for a stellar time, all, and thank you from the bottom of Bertrand and I’s heart, for donating/sharing the fundraiser around.