Hey y’all! =) For this month’s interview, I’m reprising a 2014 blog chat that I had with a very talented Norwegian friend of mine whose music you’re very likely familiar with. Unsurprisingly, the man has accomplished more than enough in the four years since then to warrant yet another sit down with me here on the blog.
Everyone welcome back to the blog, Vegard Kummen aka Kubbi!
Not entirely sure what’s going on here, but it sure makes for a pretty sweet picture.
The last month has been pretty insane for me. I just moved from Boston to the glorious concrete jungle of NYC for work, and part of my plan is to be closer to the scene here, and other great music scenes I love. New York City is a breeding ground for inspiration if you look in the right places. There’s always something to do, someone playing a gig, someplace hidden that’s DIY filled with passion projects. There are young people and people who’ve become worldly throughout the decades, taking what they know and using it to hopefully inspire others. This brings me to this month’s article: I wanted to cast some light onto some of the people in these converted warehouses and buildings to showcase the positive difference they’re making with art, visuals, music, sound, and booking.
Last month, I had a really cool opportunity to play at a Kick.Snare event, held in Bushwick. The event is hosted and run by Kris Keyser (also known as ‘Onism’) and Christophe Richard (also known as ‘Note!’). I’ve also had the opportunity to attend my first PULSEWAVE show, which was the second time I was at Babycastles. This article is about the last month and the kind people I’ve come across at a few NYC events.
Sup y’all? =) It’s President Hoodie here again with yet another edition of my Hoodie Highlights interview column! Today’s an extra special version (to me at least), as I’m interviewing both one of my favorite people and closest friends in this crazy amalgamate of different, yet related scenes. In all honesty, he’s pretty much the primary reason I’m involved in any/all of this delightful insanity(thank or/and curse him appropriately). Everyone welcome to the pages of The ChipWIN Blog, Mr. Grant Henry aka Stemage!
Grant “Beer Bottle Slide” Henry
Hoodie: HEYA GRANT! To kick things off, give me a quick rundown of what/how/why/where/when/who you are. And… GO!!
Stemage: WHAT: I’m Stemage – a yo-yo enthusiast that dabbles in music production, arranging, and songwriting.
HOW: Coffee and beer – one usually followed by the other.
WHY: I HAVE NO IDEA HELP ME.
WHERE: I live on the west coast, but my music lives mostly on the internet. So, EVERYWHERE.
WHO: I go by Grant Henry in real life. I want to be a chip musician when I grow up, but I only know how to play guitar and drums. That doesn’t help my cause. Or, I’m lazy and new instruments scare me.
Hoodie: hahahah Perfect.
And welp, guess that wraps things up! Great interview btw. See you next time!
Stemage: THANKS HOODIE! Always a pleasure!
That would actually be hilarious (to end the interview now). But not so informative
Hoodie: ….don’t give me good/bad ideas like that. :3
Stemage: Start by stating your name: John. Well thanks for stopping by! lol
Hoodie: Start a new interviewing fad. I LIKE IT. Makes my column a helluva lot quicker to prep too. (y)
Maybe next time, though. People might actually care to read what you have to say. ;)
Speaking of that, music, video games, Metroids, MAGFest, wut? How in the spaghetti-os did you get involved in all of these crazy worlds and/or become a wizard at music/audio engineering/beer?
Stemage: Well, you start arranging metal Metroid music on a Tascam 8-track.
Then all these conventions start happening, and I meet so many musicians that are better than me at everything. As a bonus, it turns out they are all nice people. Then you get inspired and push yourself. Then you start collaborating, and things will spin out of control.
Years later, I’m still writing, arranging, and offering my services (yo-yo if required) to people and their projects.
I’m still working on the whole “stop time” thing, so I can finish all the pet projects that are in my head.
Hoodie: Was about to say. You forgot something. ;)
Can I admit that none of what you said sounds crazy anymore? It all sounds absolutely, perfectly reasonable. haha Kinda, sorta everyone/everything within all of this is inspirational.
Stemage: The years and events are all sort of jumbled in my head, but here we are. Ya know?
Hoodie: Yeah, I do (I think?). o.O
Any particular highlights worth sharing/reminiscing here? And I realize this question is terribly unfair, because there’ve been a lot, lot, LOT of them at this point. haha
…seriously, I ask this thinking that it’s WAY more fair than a quick timeline request, but on second thought it may be even harder. Sorries. :3
Stemage: – Playing Metroid Metal with Chunkstyle at MAGFest for the first time (never thought that would happen)
– Writing a soundtrack for a video game (never thought that would happen)
– Feeling confident enough to arrange the entire TRON soundtrack by ear (never thought that would happen)
– Writing a song with Manami Matsumae, the composer of Mega Man (never thought that would happen)
– Mastering a chiptune album containing some of my favorite songwriters (never thought that would happen)
– Never thought that would happen (never thought that would happen)
Hoodie: I dunno. Never thought about it.
Metroid: “OMNOMNOM” Grant: “Wuh happun?”
Hoodie: Obviously, you’re still going strong & there’s more highlights to come.
New IRL location, but as busy as ever from what I hear. Even mastering chiptunes nowadays. WTF!?
Stemage: WTFN? (why the fuck not)
I LOVE CHIPTUNES. I’m not in a place to learn a new instrument, so mastering some makes me feel like a part of the scene. It’s in innest of the in crowds. Ya dig?
Hoodie: I DIG. And WTFN is a good a reason as any in my book!
Had a feeling the Solarbear gig would open doors for you there (& what a way to open it; HELLUVA ALBUM!!). Just made all the sense.
Stemage: Solarbear is my familiar.
He goes with me everywhere now.
He won’t leave.
But he’s charming.
Hoodie: And that makes even MORE sense.
But seriously, it does. Prog is basically, like, your essence, right?
You don’t have to answer that. I already know it’s true.
Stemage: I’ve never been to Prague, but I love their music yes.
Hoodie: See, I didn’t see that one coming. Mostly because I’ve always pronounced the place as “Prayguh”. I’m southern. It happens.
Stemage: Like the spaghetti sauce? YUM.
Hoodie: No, that’s “praygoe”. Typing things out phonetically is kinda tough.
Stemage: keighnda tuff
Hoodie: Keira Knightley?
Stemage: Yes she makes great Chiptunes.
Hoodie: And spaghetti sauce.
Wears the V.2 shirt so well. Almost as well as the TMNT bottoms
Is the yo-yo thing legit?
Because that shit is haaaaaaaaard. I tried learning tricks as a kid. Only ended up breaking things in the rooms I was practicing in. Bad times.
Stemage: I have a few go-tos, but yeah, I can yo-yo. Like an old man though, not the new kids. The latest generation of yo-ers are NUTS.
Hoodie: Yeah, they’re basically martial artists using yo-yos as their weapon of choice. I wouldn’t fuck with ’em. Nosirree.
Stemage: I admire them, but I do plan on killing them all.
Hoodie: You… should probably stick to music. Because they would eat you alive.
Speaking of music, what’s in the pipeline? Anything you can talk about? Or is it all classified “I could tell you but I’d have to kill you” kinda stuff?
Stemage: Everything I’m working on is classified CIA KGB shit, but I don’t have a problem being fired. I’ve actually been doing lots of contributions recently. I just recently moved into a new place, so the full studio is still being set up. But I’m playing guitar all over Keiji Yamagishi’s new album (Ninja Gaiden composer) as well as some guitar projects for Cartoon Network. I’ve also got some original music in the works as well as other collabs, oddities and arrangements. I’m also curating a new album – something I’ve always wanted to do! That is finally getting started.
I also just finished restoring a cocktail pinball machine from ’89, and I’ll be dammed if those late 80s pinball sound chips aren’t the best damn thing. They sound like variations of the FM chip. PINBALL HAS CHIPTUNES TOO YA KNOW.
I really need to quit playing The Crew and get my new website up. Dammit. I feel like “life” is a WIP at this point.
Hoodie: But life is a WIP, right? I mean, nobody really wants it to be finished, yanno? Or perfected. That’d be boring & stuff.
BOOM. DEEP PHILOSOPHICAL SHIT RIGHT OUTTA NOWHERE.
Stemage: BRANDON WHY YOU GOTTA GIVE ME A HEADACHE
Hoodie: Now you sound like Erin. :*(
…and now I’m in trouble. O.O
Nah. She never reads this stuff anyways. haha
(damn, I think I pulled this gag last time; I need to get new material.. :/ ).
Stemage: Would you excuse me for a moment? I have to go reach enlightenment.
Hoodie: REACH FOR IT.
Stemage: I also just bought an acoustic guitar, so maybe I’ll do a Hootie cover album. *spoilers*
Hoodie: No. Sixpence None the Richer. Obviously.
Stemage: HAHA! Three ‘C’ chords you better believe it. Who knew?
Hoodie: That’s all it takes to Kisssssss Meeeeeeeeeee~
I always really liked the harmonica in that song.
…that song had harmonica, right?
Stemage: I think you’re thinking of the Rosanne theme song. Talk about PROG!
Hoodie: Something relevant to the blog before we wrap this up (I guess that’s important, right?):
What did you think about working on the chipWINter Wonderland project? Was it fun to master? Are chiptunes fun for you to master, and/or something you can see yourself doing more of?
Stemage: It was SO much fun to master. There’s a wintery theme across all songs, but it’s a pretty wide collection of chip subgenres. Some of my favorite people are on this thing.
I love to contribute to the scene in any way possible.
Hoodie: Well, you did a stellar damn job, that’s for sure. Unsurprisingly, of course. You good-at-doing-things jerk, you.
Stemage: Thanks Pres Hoodie!
Hoodie: You’re welcome, Cowpie Henry.
Hoodie: So when’s that taking off anyways? I want my country music millions. And cheap lager sponsorship. I want the beer sponsorship mostly. That’s how I’ll let everyone back home know I made it. It’s how it works in the South.
Or you make it in Nascar.
Stemage: I bought an acoustic guitar didn’t I? Working on it.
Hoodie: Right. Good man.
Aside from imminent country music stardom, any parting thoughts before we wrap this chit chat up?
Stemage: I just can’t wait for everyone to hear the album. It’s definitely one of the strongest ChipWIN releases. I’m proud to be a small part of it – even though there isn’t a lick of country twang therein.
Hoodie: Happy to hear you say that, man. I feel the same way. It really turned out quite magical, even moreso than I expected (as usual haha). And I’m really happy that you were a part of that, even if there’s no yeehaw in it. Maybe next time.