Hey, there, ChipWINners, and welcome back to SYWMAC, a column dedicated to helping you be the best chiptuner you can be. This time around, I’m going to be talking about music hosting websites because of SoundCloud’s recent financial troubles. Despite the fact that a couple financial firms seem to be in late-stage negotiations to keep the service alive, it’s yet to be seen if this intervention on SoundCloud’s behalf is truly a life-saving measure for the company. As such, I’ve taken it upon myself to scour the net to find alternatives to SoundCloud that might be more suitable to your needs. In doing so, what I’ve found is that while I wasn’t able to find a perfect substitute for SoundCloud, I have found some spaces that offer benefits that might make you reconsider your dependency upon it. If you’re someone looking for a back-up space because you don’t want to pay for SoundCloud Premium, you’re skeptical of SoundCloud’s longevity, or simply feel the site isn’t suiting your needs, then read further. I may have found a solution for you.
Hey there, ChipWINners! Chances are you’ve probably heard Crunk Witch from one of their previous releases, most notably 2014’s ‘Heartbeats in Hyperspace’, their most recent album. When they’re not busy working on new material,Hannah and Brandon are known to tour around for a large portion of the year, playing shows all across the country at almost any given time. I had the chance to meet up with them at a show they played in Ithaca, NY, during theirrecently wrapped nation-wide tour, and asked them if they’d be willing to do an interview for your reading pleasure. They happily obliged! Without further ado, here’s our Chiptunes = WIN EXCLUSIVE interview with Crunk Witch!
Whenever I think of the late 90’s and early 2000’s, I think, “MistakesWereMade.jpg should’ve been my coat of arms,” just like many other young nerds who didn’t fit in anywhere. However, to others, it was a magical time where people were pioneering the new ways to access music, communicate, and pretend you weren’t ugly with the help of tilting a camera. The album in which I came across happens to be an album remembering nicer times of the early 2000’s, and after the jump, you can compare this to your current Top 8 and see who you’re bumping off to make room.
Artwork and design by Maru303 (maru303.bandcamp.com).
Our current chapter presents a twist in our wandering tale of discovery. On the surface, we have what appears to be an extremely talented and eclectic jazz fusion group, but, as we dig deeper, 8-bits emerge from the musical depths! ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Chapter Four: The Reign of Kindo
Hailing from New York, The Reign of Kindo is, for me, a little indescribable. You see, I don’t have a whole lot of formal education when it comes to music, I don’t know what the “right” words are to describe things. It’s a lot like that quote: I may not know art, but I know what I like. Well, listening to Reign of Kindo is similar to looking at an impressionist piece of ‘Whistler’s Mother‘, painted by Seurat while he was blindfolded, taking direction from M.C. Escher, which was then saved in 16-bit in Microsoft paint. The band’s musical styling is described on their Facebook page as “music with words”, but it is so much deeper, so much more engaging, and so much more gloriously unique than that description implies.
While the band’s usual fare is, if I were forced to pigeon hole, more akin to Jazz Fusion with a pop/funk/Latin twist, two members, Steve and Mike, have managed to translate it all into two flooring revisions in 8 bits. ‘This Is Also What Happens‘, released in 2010, was the first such offering. What struck me was the faithfulness with which they were able to capture the original tracks, from the booty-swiveling Latin rhythms of ‘Now We’ve Made Our Ascent’ to ‘Soon It Shall Be’s slow, melancholy, Fiddler on the Roof-esque feel. Each of the songs captures the spirit of the original. The offerings all conjure a distinct image, as if you are transported vividly to another place and time. When listening to one of my favorites from this album, ‘Blistered Hands’, I can almost taste the salty sea air and feel the sand between my toes!
‘Play‘, which is a rearrangement of Reign of Kindo’s latest, ‘Play With Fire’, is just as varied and deliciously fun as the first. (And that cover artwork, right?) This album feels more like an OST, transporting you not into reflections of your reality, but to distant fantasy. Something about each song feels like I’m being pulled through a story. The unlikely hero sets out on their quest with the opening track ‘The Hero, The Saint, The Tyrant & The Terrorist’. With ‘Dust’ you are beaten down, but not beaten. Battles are won (‘Make a Sound’, ‘I Hate Music’), adventures had (‘Romancing a Stranger’), and new friends made (‘Sunshine’). By the end you are left feeling fulfilled and excited for more!
Also of note is their remix album ‘8 bits’ which features tracks by the artist Sleeping at Last. This album is a completely different texture from the upbeat bleep bloops found in ‘Play’ and ‘This Is Also What Happens’. Pulling from a completely separate array of textures, Mike & Steve offer an experience reminiscent of sleepy, sunny days, laid out in the grass, filled with child-like wonder. My favorite track is ‘Porcelain’. Listening to it, I’m overwhelmed with memories of running through the sprinkler until I was too tired to stand.
I was so surprised and blown away by the proficiency of their unconventionally conventional music; the instrumentalism and vocals are spectacular. I was equally impressed by the chiptune remixes on both of the albums, which are eclectic, exciting, and beyond expectation. The Reign of Kindo is a must listen for fans of either style!
And remember: the little things count. Show your love to the artists! Post, Share, Like, Give <3
Yo! Welcome back to Raw Cuts With Kuma! This time around, I hit up chipmusic.org to scope out some talent to interview, and oh lawd, did I find someone special! A young man with skill to spare, this underrated chiptune artist shattered his silence to great acclaim when he popped his performance cherry earlier this year at North Door! This highly adept musician recently took the time to sit down with me and talk about his music, the people who inspire him, and the dedication he has to the craft of chiptune. So without further ado, I present to you my interview with Matthew Rodriguez, aka Star Fighter Dreams!
Kuma: So before we get started, there’s something I gotta say. I spent time listening to your music on SoundCloud and I gotta admit, not only did I like what I heard, but I’m now saddened by the fact that I missed your open mic session at Blipfest last year!
Star Fighter Dreams (SFD): oh no that one was from 2011! I was on the roster open mic 2012 but never got called. I was disapointed but no worries
Kuma: Well at least now I can say I didn’t miss an awesome set I could have made it to, ’cause god damn man! Your stuff is good, bro! It’s lively as hell, and it’s got more polyphony to it than a lot of other chip I’ve heard, but I take it that’s on account of your set up! Tell me, what exactly do you use to make your music and how’d you get into chip in the fist place?
SFD: Okay. Let’s start with getting into chip music.
I got into chiptune around early 2008. March, I think, while I was browsing around on the then relevant MySpace for electronic powerpop bands, I came across a profile picture of Sabrepulse jumping off a table.
I thought to myself “What is this guy all about?”. So I clicked on his profile and when it loaded up, some of his early chiptune works started playing. At first I was pretty meh because I had no idea of what the process was.
Kuma: I think I know exactly which picture you’re talking about. What was it that was the turning point for you? When did you go from saying “meh” to “whoa”?
SFD: There was link to the 8bitpeoples website on his profile, so I clicked on that. At the time, 8bitpeoples and 2 Player Productions had just finished their collaboration documentary called ‘Reformat The Planet’. On the 8bitpeoples website, the first page was the trailer for the documentary that was being premiered mere weeks away in Austin for the SXSW film fest.
That trailer changed my life.
In it was the framework for me to find out what kind of music I wanted to make and the ethos I had been looking for all along. It didn’t glorify nostalgia for video games, it glorified people and their creative abilities to make this technology do what it was never designed to do.
After I saw that trailer I began collecting. Information, trackers, albums, anything that could help find out more about this awesome creative force seemingly brimming beneath the surface. After much deliberation, I bought a Game Boy and my first LSDJ cartridge in late August/early September 2008
Kuma: Wow. That’s quite a story. I’m glad you took that from that movie. While, admittedly, I’ve yet to get around to seeing that documentary myself (gasp!), that philosophy behind the tech we use to make the music is one I’ve always held: that we as a disposable society aren’t pushing our tech to it’s fullest potential. Chiptune represents us pushing to the edge.
When you finally picked up that Game Boy, how did it feel in your hands? Was using LSDJ intimidating or did you have prior musical experience you could carry over into chiptune production?
SFD: I had used an emulator to run a demo of LSDJ to try and figure out the controls. Trackers have a huge learning curve, and I admittedly had no idea what I was doing most of time using the emulator, but I eventually figured out how to input notes and move between screens.
Other than that, though, I was working from a non-music perspective. I hadn’t used an instrument or read music since I was in 8th grade so it was also daunting in that respect. Luckily, I took a music theory course in college and that laid a good ground for me to experiment with music theory while also learning it
Kuma: Very nice. Now, when you first started to feel confident with what you were making on LSDJ, did you decide you wanted to play live soon after, or did you feel there was still something missing?
SFD: I had my first full set as Star Fighter Dreams this June so I guess you could say there was something missing. Lurking on 8bitcollective and CM.O, I’ve learned there were plenty of people willing to get into chip and write music but only because they thought it was cool.
I felt that my music should show respect to those that came before me and at least make people feel good, which is I have only just started playing shows and still haven’t released any proper EP or album.
Kuma: I noticed that, actually. I scoured the net for more music of yours beyond what was on your SoundCloud, such as Bandcamp, NoiChan, ucollective, CM.O, and even Myspace. Nothing. Nothing at all. But from what I did hear, it was definitely very cool.
Who would you say are your biggest influences musically? Is EDM something you were always into prior to chiptune or did it take chiptune to get into it?
SFD: I was definitely a fan of electronic music before hand, but I really got much more into it once I started making it. My biggest influences currently are: IAYD, Bit Shifter, Rage Against The Machine, Bath Aide, Saskrotch, Arcade High and many more artists.
Oh just fyi, I have song on TX Chip Compilation 1 and there is a super old song still on MySpace somewhere. That one I believe is like the third song I ever wrote on LSDJ! LOL! Memories.
Kuma: Oh, I’ll have to look up the Texas chip one, but when I went looking on Myspace, it gave me a broken link page. That, in turn, resulted in profound sadness.
Is there anything we can expect to see of you in the future? Any appearances at major festivals, or perhaps an album form you in the near future?
Kuma: Nice!!!! After having seen IAYD recently, as well as listening to your music, I can definitely say this is a show I wish I could hit up!
SFD: It’s in December, so save up and come on down and see how we do it down here
Kuma: Oh man! December? That’s so close to MAGFEST! Oh man, don’t do that to me, bro!
SFD: Peer pressure! Peer pressure! Peer pressure! Y’know you wanna!
But yeah man, next time I’m in New York, the drinks are on me dude.
Kuma: Like wise, bro: next time I’m down south and I know you’re around, all the pabst 5 dollars can buy…I’m pretty sure that’s all of it! Anyway, is there anything you’d like to say in closing to our readers out there?
SFD: It’s Star Fighter Dreams here saying it’s three words, not Starfighter Dreams, that’s dumb.
But in all seriousness, expect some pretty cool things coming up and remember TX Chip is alive and we have some stellar talent here so don’t overlook that Lone Star State when thinking of chiptune.
Love from here in San Antonio,
Kuma: Awesome, bro! Thanks for doing this interview! This was a lot of fun!
SFD: Haha! Same here, man. You take it easy and keep being awesome.
Thanks again for tuning in with me here at Raw Cuts! Don’t forget to follow SFD on SoundCloud and like/follow Lazybit Collective so you can keep up with all the cool happenings in TX!
Yo, welcome back ChipWINers! This week I managed to get a hold of a very popular artist from the Philly scene, Chris de Pew, aka, Storm Blooper. Having started out doing open mics and quickly becoming an anticipated and often booked live act over the past year, this young man is a force to be reckoned with! So without further ado, I bring you my interview with this talented, charming and amiable artist, Storm Blooper!
Kuma: So, lets start with something I noticed shortly after we first met. One night after 8static, you, Doppel-Gengar and Shyabeetus let me crash at your place after of night of partying. While I was at your humble abode, I noticed a keyboard and plethora of other music equipment, belying how long you’ve been making music. Tell me, where did Storm Blooper get his start in all this musical hoo ha? How did your epic journey begin?
Chris de Pew (Storm Blooper): Well I guess I’ve been involved with music and everything since I was really young. There was always a piano of some sort in every house I grew up in and so I just naturally gravitated towards that wherever it was. Although I didn’t start really making music until about 2006-2007. I taught myself everything, so I can’t really read sheet music or anything like that.
Kuma: I can respect that. It seems self taught instrumentation is a lot more common that I first gave credit to the scene when I started doing these interviews. That being said, did you have any early music projects prior to chiptune? Anything on Newgrounds or OCRemix, for example, or did you not start sharing anything until much later in your musical career?
SB: Yeah, it’s really kind of nice to see that in this scene. I always thought for years that I was alone in that aspect. As for earlier music projects, yeah I had this silly “band” called Sub-Woofer Special where I made music in FL Studio. It was really terrible stuff. Like, really terrible. You can find that project on the internet in a few different places if you just search for it. Other than that though I was in a ska band called Castro Fiasco in high school where I played trombone (again, self taught). That was a fun time. But as I spent more and more time with the Sub-Woofer Special project I began to add different instruments that tried to emulate chip sounds. Then eventually, I decided I wanted to focus on making chiptune music, even if it was “fakebit”.
Kuma: Very cool. Now, during that time, when you were SWS, was there a particular artist, song or moment that gave you that spurred that catharsis? The one that made you realize that chiptune was what you wanted to do?
SB: Well for years I had watched this online animated series called Bonus Stage by this guy Matt Wilson and he did all of the animation, music, and voices for it. A lot of the backing tracks to his epsiodes were chiptune sounding (he makes his music under the name SAVESTATES) and that’s what initially made me want to start incorporating some chip elements on top of some of the orchestral instruments I was using. Then a few years after doing that I just ended up using more chip instruments than string instruments.
Kuma: Was the transition from VSTs to trackers on Game Boys like LSDJ difficult for you? Were you surprised by how much Game Boys were capable of when you finally got your hands on one for musical purposes?
SB: Oh, I was blown away! I had been listening to people like glomag, Bit Shifter, Sabrepulse and all of them for years before, but I just never knew exactly what their whole setup was. So I was always under the impression that there was more than just the Game Boy going on in their tracks. I tried a demo version of LSDJ when I was still in high school, and when I say tried, I mean I basically opened it up, stared at the screen, moved the cursor left and right, put in a 00, then turned it off. Then when I actually sat down and tried learning it about a year ago, I was just proud that I was able to get to the instrument screen and change the duty cycle.
The great thing about a piece of software like LSDJ is that I can continue to learn and do so much more every day, whereas a VST just has these set parameters for the most part and that’s that.
Kuma: LSDJ is certainly a beast of a program, but I think a lot of us have that moment with trackers at one point or another, no matter how much we want to try to make music. I remember before getting into Piggy Tracker, I tried making music with Milky Tracker. I opened it up, looked at it, was liked “cool!” and then I tried using it, and I was like “nope” and I never used it again.
SB: Haha! Yeah I never thought I would be able to get a handle on any type of tracker at all. I haven’t looked at Milky or anything but I’m sure I would do the same thing
Kuma: That being said, lets go back a bit to what you mentioned before, about being inspired by Bonus Stage. Now, recently, in fact very quickly after coming onto the scene as Storm Blooper, you found popularity through another group of internet celebs called Continue?. Let’s talk about how you first met these guys, the song they used in one of their videos, and your feelings about that song now that it’s out there.
SB: Oh god! God damn it! I knew this song would be brought up!
Kuma: What’s wrong Chris? You sound as if there’s some intense emotion towards the song.
SB: Haha. MANY intense emotions.
Kuma: Well…why don’t you tell us?
SB: Okay, so I used to be a teaching assistant for Nick Murphy for his film course that he used to teach at UArts for high school students. I’ve known him for a few years but I didn’t meet the other guys until MAGfest actually. Anyway, the song that they used was the second song I wrote in LSDJ. The song that people seem to love for some reason (I think it’s pretty terrible myself).
Kuma: Well while it’s very cool you’ve known Nick for a while and they chose to use one of your songs for their video, I still don’t understand why you dislike that song so. I suppose to each their own, but you gotta admit: aside from being semi-youtube famous for it, now, it’s also seen it’s fair share of remixes in the scene, particularly by a few good friends of yours who are rather talented. Does it bother you that they chose to remix that song, or are you indifferent towards it?
SB: You know, I don’t think I’m anywhere near as good as him, but Josh Davis (Bit Shifter) said in an interview with andaruGO (I believe) once something about “Reformat the Planet” and how he feels about everyone loving that song and requesting it. I think he said something to the effect of “it’s like the chipscene ‘Free Bird’ ” and that he kind of just wants it to fade away or something like that. I think I know exactly how he feels now.
Haha… I’m sort of indifferent to the whole thing now, I guess. They’ve remixed it and covered it in so many different forms it’s a little ridiculous. You have to give them a lot of credit for that. Mainly Shyabeetus, who will find any way possible to cover it…even in Mario Paint.
Kuma: You know it’s funny you mention that song and Bit Shifter. While I certainly understand it’s popularity and that sort of vibe it has in the scene, for me, personally, “Reformat the Planet” was never that pinnacle, Free Bird song to me. For me, it was always “Strange Comfort”. But hey, what do I know: I didn’t get into chiptune until Blipfest 2k12.
That being said, I’m glad you at least feel indifferent to the remixes and requests for “Someone Stole All of the Ice Cream”, especially because one of those friends who helped remix it is also someone you’ve performed with fairly often. Lets talk about your relationship with DJ McGranaman for a bit, such as how you two first met and what made you guys want to work together, as well as any impact musically you two may have had on each other.
SB: Strange Comfort is A+. Ah, yes, DJ Bananahands. We actually met at 8static. I want to say it was my second or third 8static. I had seen him play open mic the first time I went back in May 2012. Actually before that, I saw him at this presentation I attended about music in video games. Dain Saint and Chipocrite held that during Philly Tech week. But I didn’t speak to DJ McGranaman then, I just noticed that metroid hat he had.
Kuma: Ah yes…that hat that he no longer has and now he cries every time it’s mentioned because he is without it.
SB: Jeffery was a special boy. RIP.
But we started performing this hour long combination set thing at MAGfest. It was a weird idea we came up with I think to save time on the chipstage that Piko Piko Detroit had set up.
Kuma: Was it? It seemed like you two had planned it a little more than that. It worked pretty well.
SB: Yeah I think we did maybe like 5 minutes worth of planning before we actually went up and did it haha! We would just do back to back songs so there wasn’t a whole bunch of dead time and instead constant music happening. We just kind of guessed which songs would flow well right into the next, and luckily for us it worked the first time.
Kuma: Well enough that you guys performed together again a couple months back in Philly. Tell me, how did that performance go? Did you actually prepare for it?
SB: Yeah! We’ve performed a couple of times as that duo since MAG. We played a set down at T-MODE and a few other places. The performance at TooManyGames went really well! We prepared a bit more before that show, yeah. Haha and by that time we had been playing so much together already that we sort of knew what to expect, although we constantly communicate just to give each other updates on what songs are coming next and such.
Kuma: I’m glad to hear it! That being said, lets get back to your solo career. You have an EP coming out very soon! Lets talk about it! What can we expect to hear on it? Is there anything new musically you experimented with when making this album? Will it have that definitive Blooper sound or can we expect to be surprised by this new baby of yours?
SB: There’s definitely no “Someone Stole All of the Ice Cream on it.” I can guarantee that. But yeah, there’s some weird different sounding things that I tried out on a few of the tracks
Kuma: I’m definitely looking forward to the album. Are you doing a listening party for it, by any chance?
SB: No listening party for this one (the next one though I promise!). And I don’t know if I have a certain sound at all. To me everything on the album sounds like it was written by a different person or someone with a multiple personality disorder. It’s kind of all over the place really.
Kuma: Wahhhh! No listening party! That feels so naked, so raw! But I’m happy to have something new to listen to soon. That being said, I think here is a good place to wrap things up, my friend. Before we go, is there anything you want to say in closing to your friends, fans, readers, or the chiptune/vgm community at large?
SB: I’d just like to thank anyone and everyone who’s possibly interested in my music in the first place! It’s really amazing the amount of people that actually care about what I’m doing, and in such little time! I honestly don’t think my music is that great, but for whatever reason there are people out that still want to listen to it and support me. So really, thank y’all thank y’all! Especially the Philly chipscene,Bryan Dobbins, Chris Burke, Josh Davis, you, EVERYONE!
Kuma: Thank you for making the music you do, and for being the cool cat you are, as well. it’s been a pleasure seeing you perform, hanging with you and being your bro since joining the scene. I definitely look forward to interviewing you again. Peace!
Thanks for checking out this week’s interview. Don’t forget to follow or like Storm Blooper on your preferred social media and check out his new EP, Jawn-Dis, which drops this weekend on 8static’s bandcamp page, as one of the first albums to be released under their new record label since joining foces with Dj CUTMAN!
Also, check us out next week for the long awaited release of next monster LP, Chiptunes = WIN Vol. 2, as well as another (possibly even two) awesome new interviews!!!!!!!!