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!