Ciro Mendoza is, in his everyday life, a 37 year old Information Technology professor, Software Developer and a Student of Multimedia and Sound and image careers. From the bowels of the west of Buenos Aires, Merlo, he can never stay still: he has also worked as a columnist for the video games section at a local culture mag known as ‘Los Inrockuptibles’ (a branch that previously existed in Argentina, that stemmed from the french magazine ‘Les Inrockuptibles‘) and participated in a project (that never came to fruition) trying to develop a game based in the popular argentinian comic book “El Eternauta” (The Eternaut).
With his chiptune project, going by the name of Cinematronic, all of this geeky exterior explodes into a punkish rage of noise, as I realized when witnessing his live shows. He is everything but meek. He sometimes makes me wonder what would have happened if The Stooges had incorporated chiptune music created to go alongside to the beats of Iggy’s frenetic and contorsionated stage moves from the 70’s.
Ahoy, ChipWINners! It’s great to see you again during this magical time of year. You know, the holidays — regardless of whether or not you celebrate them — can be a great time to give to others you care about. Whether it’s through direct gift giving, a Secret Santa, or a charitable donation, taking the time to help bring some joy to your loved ones is a truly noble act, but it can be trying, as well. This is especially true for people who are new to the scene or are outside of it and are trying to find the perfect gift for that special lil tracker composer in their lives. If you are someone who finds themselves in this position, fear not! For I’ll be listing a few things I’ve found throughout my years in the community that are meaningful, essential, and genuinely appreciated by those in it.
Sit back, take some notes, and get ready to figure out what to do with that time I helped you save, because it’s time to stuff some stockings with Kuma!
Another month has passed, good knights of the chiprealm, and that heralds the time in which another musical adventure is shared with you. I recently got wind of DataPort, a monthly chip show held in Portland, Oregon. This month I managed to scrounge enough free time to hop in my car and drive north to check it out. In short? Totally worth it. Everyone within carshot of ol’ stumptown ought to head on over and check it out.
DataPort is put together by the immensely talented Matt Hunter, co-organizer Sasha, and a select team of powerhouse aides. The show originally came into existence in mid 2011, with Matt giving 2 Player Productions (yes, THAT 2 Player Productions) a hand putting together the first shows in the Backspace. Their mission? To bring the love of Chipmusic to the fine citizenry of Portlandia. The stories told paint a beautiful picture, but alas, the Backspace had its own issues, forcing it to close. Left without a regular venue, the event floated in limbo until February of this year. It happened that Matt found himself opening for the band Stepdad, and they loved the chipsounds he was throwing down. They suggested that Matt ought to try reviving DataPort to share the awesome with the world, which brings us to roughly where we stand today.
This month’s show was held at the Hawthorne District‘s historic Alhambra Theater. I cannot stress enough just how welcoming this party was. Before the venue had even opened, Matt spotted my partner and I (thanks fresh ChipWIN merch!) wandering Hawthorne Street, and gave us a heads up on how things would be going down. Once we got inside, between the cozy quarters and the plush leather couch, it was hard not to simply feel right at home. It wasn’t long before the barkeep was serving up beers and the show was getting underway.
Welcome back, ChipWINners! This time around on Raw Cuts we have someone that I’m very proud to have had the chance to interview! A highly popular contributor to Chiptunes = WIN who’s made a name for himself on the west coast, this artist boasts infectious dance rhythms and club beats that blur the line between chiptune and electro with spectacular results! Without further ado, here’s my interview with Jack Waterman aka Electric Children!
Kuma: Cool, so lets get things started shall we? First things first, I haven’t asked this question in a while of any of the artists I’ve interviewed, but I’m actually quite curious about your artist name. What made you decide to use it?
Electric Children (EC): Aha! I like getting this question! You’d be surprised how seldom it comes up. The name comes from the album March on, Electric Children! by The Blood Brothers, a now broken-up grindcore band from Seattle. Its a themed album so there’s all this stuff about what Electric Children are and stuff and I was like 16 and I thought, “Yeah I wanna name a music thing that someday.” So I did.
Kuma: Really? Nobody really takes the time to ask you about that? I figured it’d come up more, but considering how kick ass your music is, I guess it goes right to the back burner. That being said, lets talk about your music. I wanna hear how you got involved in all this chiptune business.
EC: Well, I had started to make really basic electronic music with a drum machine and a keyboard for awhile, then a friend introduced me to a couple of local artists who played chiptune music. Our sounds worked well enough together, so we started performing together on a pretty regular basis. I was exposed to it so often that it became pretty irresistible and I added to my music. Over time, it ended up taking precedence over everything else for a variety reasons, and before I knew it, I was full-on Chiptune artist by the end of 2008.
Kuma: Nice! I’m relatively new to the scene in comparison to you, having only been in it for a little over a year now, but I know the west coast has some strong artists out there to keep the scene going. Back when you first started, which chip artists were you exposed to that helped you get into the scene and define your sound? I’m also curious to know which ones help to define and inspire it now that you’ve been doing this sort of thing for what sounds like at least 5 years.
EC: Well the two artists who I was performing with frequently at the time were Kids Get Hit By Buses (founders of the internet-infamous CrunchyCo netlabel) and Fighter X (who just recently became active again). Aside from them, the early chip artists I was exposed to were Sabrepulse from the UK and USK from Japan. From there I learned about like 5,738,216 more chip artists from 8bitcollective, and the story goes on.
Oddly enough what has always influenced me over the years of producing is non-Chip music. It’s really fun for me to try and make chiptune versions of the sounds I hear in popular club music, and be less oriented towards video game sounds. I like a lot of music by Madeon. I’m a huge fan of She. My dubstep is heavily influenced by Flux Pavilion, and I’d probably say Sabrepulse continues to be one of my biggest Chiptune influences. I draw little pieces of things from all sorts of people around me, but those are the big ones, I think.
Kuma: Very nice. She and Flux Pavilion are definitely understandable influences, as is Sabrepulse. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t still listen to First Crush on a daily basis. That being said, as time has progressed, while I know you mentioned that the chip sound has slowly become more and more the focus of your work, how much of what you do is chip vs what you may do to enhance and compliment the sounds in FL studio? I know everyone has their preferences, and it’d be cool to know what yours is when it comes to producing music.
EC: The new album’s main material is made using only 2 gameboys running LSDJ, but quite a few songs have small instrumental compliments (such as a short synth or a guitar riff), and many of them have vocals over them as well. While the instrumental tracks aren’t necessarily enhanced with effects, there are small parts that fill out a few spots in the frequency ranges that I couldn’t always hit with LSDJ the way I wanted. Though to be honest, I am planning on having FL Studio be the core of my next set of work, with songs composed mainly of sounds recorded from LSDJ, but sequenced, mixed, mastered in, and complimented more by FL Studio.
Kuma: That’s understandable. For as amazing as some of these micro programs like LSDJ and LGPT are, there are def times when it takes that little something extra to give a song that final polish it needs.
That being said, since you brought up the topic of your new album, let me just say something about it first: your solo work as Electric Children has been amazing. I loved it since I first heard you and boaconstructor throw down via Frost Byte’s album release party on LIvestream. I thought you just killed it. But this new album, man. Dude, this is your Discovery, your Fat of the Land, man! How proud of you of Year Long Hangover, man?
EC: Extremely! Haha! YLH has (ironically enough) been in production for over a year now, and undergone so many changes in sound design, composition, concepts, lyrics, and just about anything else you can think of. It had so much work put into it because I wanted to release something that shows what LSDJ is truly capable of: music that stays faithful to the genre while still being very listenable to a non-Chiptune fan.
Kuma: I definitely have to say you reached your goal, because the first thing I thought when I was listening to it was: “God, I can use this to explain to all the people at my job what chiptune is without sounding crazy!”
EC: Yeah Chiptune is definitely a genre that needs to be shown instead of told about.
Kuma: It really is, and while I’ve had some success via sharing Br1ght Pr1mate and Bit Shifter, most people still look at me like “I’ll believe it when I see it”.
That being said, lets talk about some of the major differences between YLH and your other work, particularly the vocals. What made you come out of your shell this time around to lay down those lyrics? What about the lovely young lady who contributed to the album, as well? Was it daunting recording and incorporating vocals of yourself and close friends?
EC: It had its challenges, sure. When I first started writing music it actually all had lyrics, and evolved into instrumentals over time, so this was something I’ve always wanted to come back to. Writing lyrics is never easy though; you have to keep in mind that your voice is an instrument in itself, so the words can’t be too busy or lack rhythm. But it gives the songs a whole new dimension that is easy for people to grab onto and remember for a long time. Plus singing is very fun.
The two(!) other female vocalists on the album were very easy to work with and did a fantastic job, as well. While putting the vocals together was difficult at times because it involved a lot of back and forth sending song files around, in the end it was a fun experience that turned out to be totally worthwhile.
Kuma: I’m certainly glad it was worthwhile for you, because it’s been worthwhile for me as well as all your fans! People have been eating this album up like crazy and after a wildly successful album release party to promote it, I’m curious what comes next for you? Aside from the aforementioned future project involving more FL work, of course. Any shows or concerts we can expect to see you at over the course of the year?
EC: In the short term, I’m performing with A_Rival in Seattle on the 27th(!), so any locals should come and hear some crazy good chip jams. In the long term, I’ve been talked to about a couple big things, but nothing I have confirmed yet. I’m also working very closely with A_Rival now that he’s moved to Washington, and he’s got some cool stuff in the works as well!
Kuma: A_Rival is legit on all levels, and having partied with him at MAGFest, I can say its always a pleasure to be around him! I’m definitely looking forward to whatever comes of that. With that said, Jack, it’s been a pleasure conversing with you. You’re talented, kind and thoughtful and I’m honored to have had the chance to interview you. Is there anything you’d like to say in closing to your fans and anyone who might be reading this?
EC:Thank you so much for taking the time to read my thoughts and ramblings on chiptune music! Please check out the new album, Year-Long Hangover, and tell me what you think! Thank you Adam and ChipWIN for letting me do this too, it’s been awwwwwwwesooooommmeee!!!
Kuma: Thanks again, EC. I definitely hope we get to do this again. Good night.
EC: Good night!
Thank you once again for checking out Raw Cuts! Be sure to click the links bellow so you can Like, Follow and Subscribe to Electric Children on your favorite of social media outlet(s)! Also, don’t forget to check out his music on Bandcamp and Soundcloud, as well as checking out his upcoming show on the 27th with A_Rival, Dire Hit and WMD if you’re out in the Seattle Metropolitan area!
Tune in next as I sit down with Roboctopus as we discuss his musical versatility, BRKFest, and a deep dark secret he’s been keeping from us all! (I’ll give you a hint: it’s one Hoodie is keeping, too!) Peace!
Welcome back to the blog, fellow ChipWINners! As I’m sure you’re largely aware of at this point, we here at Chiptunes = WIN have taken the time to release another EP to hopefully sate your undying gluttony for music that is, quite frankly, awesome yet monstrous.
While our next colossal compilation will be here before you know it, I’d like to take the time to talk to you about this little amuse-bouche we’ve put together. Because it needs to be understood just what an epic undertaking this was.
You see, we here at ChipWIN pride ourselves in putting out some high quality music. We also take great delight in being part of a community that–along with other net labels, internet communities and artist collectives–has helped foster growth in our little corner of the world and has brought us all a little bit closer together. It is with this spirit of collectivism in mind that we are proud to have reached out to some of the most well known and promising artists in the VGM community and asked them to interpret some of our work as their own.
The results of this ambitious undertaking are absolutely astounding. Don’t just take my word for it though: take the time to listen to the fruits of our labor as I reflect upon why these artists live up to their titles.
Track #1: Tommy Did The Walkin’ by The World is Square feat. Sam Mulligan & Ryn
The first song on our EP was originally done by The J. Arthur Keenes Band (feat. Crayona and the Colorettes) and has quickly become one of the most popular and beloved songs released by ChipWIN thus far. Between the catchy lyrics, funky blips, classic west coast guitar tone, and vocals that sound like a they’re coming from a car radio, the song invokes memories of 60’s surfer and jukebox rock that would make even fans of the Slime Girls giggle with glee. It’s really no wonder this song caught on like it did. It’s one of the biggest departures from traditional chiptune we have ever been presented, and it’s these qualities that prompted a few very special people to do a cover of this song for us when asked to step up and help out with this compo.
Enter The World is Square: a video game cover band that’s made a name for themselves by specializing in acoustic and folk instrumentation of classic video game soundtracks by SquareEnix. Nick, Josh, Lauren, Dave and Joe make up this motley quintet of multi-instrumentalists from Massachusetts who have taken their love of the games this incredible company has produced and turned it into a successful, well recognized act in the VGM community, and in a relatively short amount of time at that!
Since the release of their premiere album in 2012, No Phoenix Down Can Save You Now, the band has gone on to play numerous shows, including notable events like MAGFest 11 and PAX East 2013. It’s been during their shows that the band came to make friends with a couple special people who would lend their talents to this cover: namely Sam Mulligan and our very own Chip Mama, Erin “Ryn” McQuisten!
Chip Mama makes everything better! waitaminute…
The combination of this amazing band’s instrumentals, Sam Mulligan’s pure awesomeness (the guy plays 6 instruments, sings, plays in multiple bands and DJs his own radio show: Nerd Rock Radio) and Ryn’s surprisingly smooth vocals (the result of years of competitive ensemble and church choir singing) culminates into an interpretation that not only embodies the catchiness of the original, but bottles the combined enthusiasm these people have for this song as well. The incredible energy everyone brings to the table helps turns this funky jukebox tune into classic TWIS goodness with vocals (a first for the Squares). The song comes across as a combination of drum circle hippydom and an almost bardic retelling of the epic tall tale of Tommy, whom you really shouldn’t mess with lest you end up a chalk outline at the scene of his crimes. It’s practically a tease to adventurers passing through his town who happen to hear this jaunty crew, warning them of the ultimate tough guy, and that they best just pass through if they know what’s good for them; but if they don’t, at least they can’t say no one warned them. Warned them about Tommy.
Tommy: a man who, in his later years, would legally change his name to Samuel Gerard and redeem himself by hunting fugitives such as Han Solo and Simon Phoenix.
If this song tickles your fancy, you should definitely check out TWIS’ debut LP, as well as work by Sam Mulligan such as Big Hand Band Van Man, and NickelPunk’s All I Could Do: a heart breaking, powerful and deeply personal EP which features a track with Ryn called “The Longest Two Days”.
Track #2: The Lunar Whale by Tim Yarbrough
Speaking of tall tales, no one song strikes as a tall tale, or better yet, a myth, than The Lunar Whale. Originally composed by Danimal Cannon, a man who really needs no other introduction, because, c’mon, he’s Danimal Cannon! The Lunar Whale isn’t so much a song as it is an invocation of this intense being of myth that simultaneously strikes awe and fear into those who bare witness to its glory.
Wind Fish, Lunar Whale, poTAYto, poTAHto.
With it’s deep, punching bass line, pulsing tri-waves, and intense, syncopated melody that continually builds against some incredibly slick drum rolls, The Lunar Whale is like listening to a wizard summon forth an unbridled force of nature & attempt to control it, only to be dumbstruck by the majesty and sheer power of the creature he’s called forth in his failing struggle to become its master.
So what do you do with a piece of music like that? How does one take a song that’s essentially an invoking spell and turn into something of their own? Well, in Tim Yarbrough’s case, the answer was simple: take it, strip it down to its most basic components, and focus on the melody underneath the complexity that is The Lunar Whale. And what better way to do that than with Mr. Yarbrough’s weapon of choice: the acoustic guitar.
Sexy, beautiful acoustic guitar.
Having played the guitar since he was 14, Tim has since gone on to become one of the most recognized figures in the VGM scene. A member of multiple bands, including The Altered Beasts, Space Camp, Another Place in Time, and–most notably– The OneUps, Tim has made music his life, as he not only performs in several bands and at several venues, including MAGFest and PAX, but teaches guitar as well. This intense skill and passion shine through in his interpretation of Danimal Cannon’s song, as Tim’s playing goes back and forth between styles such as classical guitar, western, and even Spanish guitar, sounding at times like a flamenco guitarist’s homage to the great beast in the sky. The result is a song that produces the opposite effect of the original, in that it comes across as a song meant to lull the cosmic behemoth to sleep beneath the calm waves of a silent sapphire sea.
Tim’s work is nothing short of amazing, and while I highly recommend checking out all of his acts, if his acoustically driven sound is one you’re especially drawn to do not miss The Altered Beasts. Their recent LP, Transfiguration, features a delightful selection of jazz guitar duo VGM arrangements.
Delight like a… a werewolf baby…
Track #3: The Hearts of Everyone by Jameson Sutton
The Hearts of Everyone is a dream like farewell of a synth lullaby composed and performed by Dmitry Zhemkov, the musician better known as C-jeff: founder of the Ubiktune record label. A keyboardist and composer by trade, C-jeff has helped turn his label from a site that specializes in micromusic to one that encompasses numerous genres within the VGM & chipscene. Furthermore… I just gotta gush a little bit. I don’t know what it is about Russians and their synths (seriously, Dmitry is among some good company with the likes of Alexander Zolotov and Mikhail Ivanov), but when you put the artificial ebony and ivory at their fingertips, magic just comes spewing forth like a water miracle from a Judeo-Christian Prophet.
If Russia could turn their synth music into miracles, they’d all be highlander jedis.
So how does one take the musical equivalent of a water miracle and turn it into something even more special? Simple: take that water and–with the help of some classical piano and string orchestration–turn it into wine. In the case of this cover, our miracle man is Jameson Sutton: a deftly skilled pianist, composer and singer who goes by the name Shadix. A man who would turn the simple, clean melody C-jeff constructed and convert it to a fine, cool climate merlot. One with a deep, barely translucent plum color which is sipped slowly while lounging pensively in a throne, pondering what a man is.
Dracula has a theory revolving around secrets. It’s based on a song by Sam Mulligan.
In all seriousness, what’s perhaps most touching about this piece of music is how well it embodies what Mr. Sutton seeks to create as a musician. Jameson, having been inspired by the Xenogears soundtrack as a child (a gift his father sent him from overseas while on tour of duty in Korea), decided that he wanted to make music that moved people the way he was by the game’s score. Taking that into account, it becomes abundantly clear as to why he chose “The Hearts of Everyone”. Making a cover that’s an arranged version of an already beautiful song not only allows Jameson to pay tribute to C-jeff’s incredible musical ability, it also allows him to pay homage to composers such as Yasunori Mitsuda: the man who created the soundtrack that inspired him (and many others, including TWIS) to make music in the first place. In doing so, Shadix creates an experience that resonates as deeply as any piece of music that Yasunori has produced. I wouldn’t be surprised if one day you find Jameson’s name on the cover of an album featuring arrangements of the next big RPG.
If Mr. Sutton’s music has had the desired effect, I highly recommend you check out his Soundcloud for more of the same.
If you aren’t moved by Jameson’s music, you’re obviously a shoggoth.
Track #4: Papercut You Into Little Pieces by VikingGuitar feat. Cory Johnson
That being said, even if you are a heartless, unloving, Lovecraftian monstrosity (bastard), or you’re just a badass who prefers his music have a little more ooomph to it, we do have something may be right up your alley. See, there’s this song called Papercut You Into Little Pieces. It was made by a chiptune duo named Marshall Art–which is comprised of Jeffrey Roberts aka jmr from Canada and Mikhail Ivanov aka Streifig from Russia.
Taking their name from an inside joke that refers to something having to do with a supposedly racist drawing of Eddy from Chromelodeon as a wild west sheriff, the duo’s combined 21+ years of musical experience has made slow progress putting out music together, due to both time and distance constraints on both their behalves. However, when the two do find the time to produce music together, the result is awesome. “Papercut You Into Little Pieces” resonates with the excitement of exploitation film tropes such as the classic Mexican Standoff, as well as Mikhail’s “intention of turning it [jmr’s original song that became Papercut] into a Pink Floyd jam from the very beginning”. The result is a song that sounds a lot like something you’d hear in a film by Quintin Tarantino, Robert Rodriguez or Quintin Dupieux, such as Rubber: a movie that makes fun of and indulges in said tropes as a tire gains sentience and psychic powers, which it then uses to kill people.
You thought I was making that up, didn’t you?
In short: it’s an awesome song. So awesome, in fact, that when Erik Peabody chose to cover the song, he knew he couldn’t do it alone. So he summoned the help of another awesome musician by the name of Cory Johnson to help him do this cover justice. Now you have to understand something, Erik Peabody isn’t just anybody. He’s the man known as VikingGuitar: a musician who’s made a name for himself doing incredible metal covers of some of video gaming’s greatest music, including Ghosts ‘n’ Goblins, Megaman X2, and Cave Story. He’s also the founder of the Viking Guitar University, an entity which allows Erik to give back to the community that made him famous in the VGM scene by teaching people through video lessons how to play guitar and record from the comfort of their own home. So when Erik decides he can’t do it alone, he really can’t do it alone.
Enter Cory Johnson, a man who’s made only…one album? Yeah, that’s right: Cory’s only made one album, but that album is the result of years of music and a degree in audio engineering that came together to make one of the coolest interpretations of classic Zelda music to have ever been made. An album so cool, in fact, that not only is he going to another post rock album covering other Zelda songs, but he’s also working on an Earthbound postrock album, as well.
So what happens when you combine these two titans in a musical collaboration? The answer is a cover that sounds like an audio summer blockbuster to the original’s exploitation film origins. The difference is like comparing the first Terminator film to the second: the first may have established an awesome story, but the second took it over the top and just makes you go “Whoa!”, like watching a badass walk away from an explosion. I really don’t think I need to say anything more because seriously: WHOA.
Even children look awesome walking away from explosions
Track #5: Bahamoot by Stemage feat. Travis Morgan
We all know walking away from explosions can’t be the only badass thing a hero in a summer block buster does. That hero’s gotta fight. They gotta grit their teeth, give a dirty look, and when someone or something comes along that actually can knock them on their ass, they gotta ball their hands into fists and beat the shit out of the monster that thought picking a fight with the hero was a good idea.
Just Like this.
That’s exactly what happens when we’re talking about a song like Bahamoot by Stern Fucking Zeit: a chip metal duo out of Germany who kick as much ass as Blade does in a vampire nightclub. Having made a name for themselves in their home country and abroad by performing at over 70 live venues, these guys make music that combines the best aspects of multiple genres to craft a sound that’s as unique and refreshing as listening to Abducted By Shark’s Ronin. As such, it’s only fitting that some of the most amazing people in VGM get the opportunity to cover a song of this magnitude.
Grant Henry. Travis Morgan. Two of the most well renowned artists in the VGM scene and some of the most respected names in metal as well. Grant Henry is the artist most well known as Stemage, the multi-instrumentalist who founded the VGM beast that is Metroid Metal. The band features some of the best musicians in VGM/chiptune, including Danimal Cannon, and have become so legendary that they’ve become a regular feature of several gaming related festivals over the past 5 years, including PAX East, Nerdapalooza and and the last five MAGFests.
The Last. Five. MAGFests.
Not to be outdone, the partner in crime he chose to work with, Travis Morgan, is also a beast of a multi instrumentalist, as well as a singer, with 10+ years experience under his belt. If that’s not impressive enough to blow your skirt up (you jaded mothafu–), Travis has also had the profound distinction of having performed in over 14 countries world wide, and with multiple bands, including Atheist!
Yeah. Zombofriggin’ Atheist!
The by product of this collaboration is a song that manages to stay very faithful to the original but still kick ass in its own way. If the original Bahamoot by SFZ was about watching the tireless hero fight his one true nemesis, the metal cover Stemage and Travis whip out is the equivalent of watching said hero look out on the horizon after that battle, only to realize that his next fisticuffs session isn’t so much a battle as it is a one man war against a horde of the undead. A war he’s going to fight with his bear hands, at that.
And you thought that “bear hands” was a typo.
Track #6: Midnight Snowflake by Cory Johnson
Regardless of how you chose to fight the zombies, whether it be with bear hands or bare hands, you’ll find that somehow you’ve survived, and it’s suddenly…Christmas? Yeah, that last battle lasted so long, it’s time to forgive and forget all the bad things that have happened to you and find peace within yourself as we approach what is both the end of this ambitious album as well as the year, apparently.
Yippee ki yay, mother fucker, and a happy new year.
And what would Christmas be without our very own Vince Kaichan: a young man who’s become well known for being disproportionately talented for his age. Having been classically trained in piano and violin for 11 years, Kaichan took to composing his own music about 4 years ago, and has since gone from making ambient trance to chiptune and performing before a worldwide audience through Glenntai‘s monthly web concert series, Clipstream. So when a teen of this immaculate talent and skill makes a Christmas song so lovely that it transcends that holiday season, what is one to do to make it their own?
Well, sometimes when someone covers or remixes a song, they slow it down slightly, extend it, and turn what is a meditative moment into a journey. One that allows you to breathe, take everything in, and even enjoy the small, beautiful things all around you. Who better to do this than Cory Johnson.
Cory’s ready for the holiday season. are you?
Wait, wasn’t he on the list before? Didn’t he do that thing with that guy who does the badass covers of the Cave Story stuff? Yep. Cory made a comeback on this album and in a big way. Remember when I said that, despite having only released one album, that he was an amazing musician? You really couldn’t tell just how skilled he was while he was working with VikingGuitar, could you? No, it’s okay. I don’t blame you: that was primarily Erik Peabody’s song so it had his signature sound. But now it’s Cory’s time to shine, and let me tell you: if Kaichan’s original composition makes you stop by the woods on a snowy evening, Cory cranks up the existential factor and turns it into a fork in the road as you decide if you should walk the road not taken. Through this piece’s gradual build up, Cory proves that road is worth taking, because you’ll be amazed at where you end up. As amazed as reading Robert Frost while looking at photographs by Ansel Adams.
As you walk off on that seldom beaten path, this EP comes to an end, and you may be wondering whats next. Well, what does come next? Before you continue on your journey, I’d like to take to a step back and say something. The release of this EP marks a very special moment for us here at Chiptunes = WIN. Approximately one year ago, a young man named Brandon L Hood fell so deeply in love with chiptune that he too decided to walk the road not taken by starting not only what would become a netlabel, but one of the fastest growing and supportive communities in the chiptune & VGM scene.
Over the course of the past year, we’ve released four albums, with a total of 94 original songs having been released through our label. We’ve also been involved with several festivals, been featured on numerous internet radio shows, and have grown to amass 875+ members in our Facebook Group, 1150+ likes on our Facebook Community page, & 760+ followers on Twitter. We’ve been sponsors to numerous album releases, had some of the most in depth and also derpiest conversations in the chiptune community at large, and have become a respected name in entertainment.
All of it is thanks to you. You have made ChipWIN what it is today. You’re the reason we blog, promote, and travel as far and as often as we do to not only enrich chiptune and VGM as genres, but as communities and forms of artistic expression as well. To say thank you for reading our articles, listening to our albums, and generally supporting us Chiptunes = WIN is an understatement, but it is the only right thing to do. Brandon may have taken the first steps bravely on his own, but it’s because of you guys: the fans, illustrators, musicians, promoters, bloggers, gamers, visualists and DJs, that we even exist, let alone thrive, and have even become an extended family for one another.; a family I couldn’t be prouder to be a part of.
Since having joined this community, I’ve been witness to incredible acts of artistry, creativity, hilarity, thoughtfulness, charity, humanity and humility. I’ve seen people who have been on the verge of homelessness get help in the form of album purchases and donations through the page. I’ve seen younger fans get advice from their older chipbros and sistas on how to deal with bullies, liars, and the struggles that come with growing up. Most importantly, I’ve seen people come together and share their ideas, creativity and passion for what we do and what we love in ways others can only dream of.
In short: you put the “WIN” in Chiptunes = WIN. To that, we say thank you, and ask you to stay on this journey with us. There are great things in store for Chiptunes = WIN. We’d like to continue to be a part of your lives, as well as have you as a part of ours, as we make those great things a reality.
Thank again for reading and listening.
Kuma, Chiptunes = WIN
Amazing album artwork, as always, by Nate Horsfall.
Hey there, chipbros and sistas! Welcome to the first edition of Raw Cuts with Kuma! What is Raw Cuts, you ask? Well, Raw Cuts are unedited, candid interviews with some of the coolest, hippest minds in the chiptune scene! From big stars to up-and-comers, Raw Cuts was made to allow for a very in depth look at the thought processes of some of the artists, visualists, designers, and promotersin the scene, and maybe even a couple lols on occasion.
This first interview is one I did a while back with an artist who contributed to ChipWin’s very first compilation album, our 51 track beast of an LP. I went into it wanting to get to know and understand this artist more, but I ended up also getting some advice from him on my road to becoming a fellow chiptuner. Best known for his unique manipulation of noise, laid back demeanor, and dat luscious freakin hair, here’s my interview with Aleister M. Williams, the artist known as SKGB!
Kuma: So, lets start with something basic. Your stage name, SKGB. What was the inspiration for that? What does that stand for, anyway?
SKGB: Well… I basically needed to change my name from SOMETHING WHICH WILL NEVER BE MENTIONED AGAIN! And I wanted it to sound “cool” I guess, so I took some words that meant something to me and I turned em into an acronym. I’m sorry, but at this time my agent, Aleister Williams, will not permit me to reveal what SKGB stands for.
Kuma: Hahahaha fair enough, good sir. That being said, what first got you into chiptune? Had music production always been something that was a part of your life or did it come later in life?
SKGB: Well, when I was five I decided I wanted to be an artist ’cause I liked cutting the little stick people out all pretty-like. For a while I wanted to be a visual artist of some sort, then I got into the art of play in middle school and designed shitty little indie games with some Swedish software. Finally, I found my way into chiptunes, listened to everything I could on 8bitpeoples, started checking out tons of circuit bending stuffs, and smoked too much weed. Why paint one painting, when i can paint a billion diff paintings in every different person’s ears?
Kuma: Very true! Your music certainly has reached a wide audience, but I do have to admit you have a style all your own on stage. It seems to me you definitely haven’t completely abandoned your need to express yourself as a visual artist, particularly when the art is you, such as during your recent show at 8static. Care to elaborate more on the inspiration for that show?
SKGB: Well, Christmas is all corporate evil now, so I just figured i’d inject some electro-pagan-witch-funk into the mix of consumerist bullshit and see what happens. Also, I jokingly put “An SKGB Christmas Special” onto the official 8static bookings a while back and Emily Feder (EMFEDEX, Chipmusic Chronicle) made me follow through.
Kuma: Hahahaha! Oh dude you’re killing me! That being said, lets talk a bit more about your music. While there are a lot of chip artists who seem to find their groove after a while and seem to fit neatly into one sub genre, your music is just everywhere! Hell that Xmas set alone had the dance floor alternating between grinding and thrashing to pop and locking faster than Saturday at Blipfest! If you had to define you as an artist, what would you call yourself?
SKGB: Well I guess basstripnoisechipthrash or something like that. My brain is constantly getting bored so I have to constantly keep doing new things to keep it occupied.
Kuma: Would you say that boredom, or a fear of it, is ultimately the driving force behind what you do?
SKGB: Not really. To be honest I don’t know what boredom is anymore. I wish I had time to know it, though. Then maybe I could have more time for a good book and pipe and some pets or something.
Kuma: That’s honestly refreshing to hear, as boredom seems so pervasive in modern culture. I regress, though. Lets back track a bit though to your personal style of music. Are there any artists in particular that inspire you to do what you do,chip or otherwise?
SKGB: Yeah. A whole lot. No but really, I guess, as a kid I listened to a lot of jazz (bebop, avant guard, swing) my mom had. I grew up listening to stuff like Nirvana and Soundgarden and Alice in Chains and 1st wave ska, then a whole bunch of techno, then chiptunes, then dubstep (like 2008ish stuff). Now I just listen to a whole buncha shit.
The artists who inspire me the most now are the ones i’m in close proximity with. Dino Lionetti (and all of Cheap Dinos). The fellas on the Madwaves collective i chill with lots,
and stray chipthrashlings who make it up to Philly: Kool Skull, The Ghost Servant, S.P.R.Y.
Kuma: Very nice. Kool Skull is one noise artist in particular I’ve come to enjoy greatly, in particular for something he said to me at his last show in NYC before moving out west. He said “the one thing you always gotta remember about chip is that chiptune is about making music easy.” Would you find in your experience that sentiment to be true? That making chiptune does make the music production process easier than if you had done it by more traditional means?
SKGB: It all depends. Me and Kool Skull tend to have the complete opposite workflow when it comes to music. He likes to work on tracks real fast like, and I like to spend hours tweaking and tweaking (a song, you silly). My advice would be, don’t let anyone else tell you how to make music. I mean, personally, i’ll find any way i can to make any sort of music i can, because anything else would make me feel real sad ;_; traditional recording or tedious tracking, s’all good.
Kuma: Hey, its all good. Like you said, this is about you doing what you love and what makes you happy. You do that however you want my friend. That being said, one last question for you. You’ve been in the chipscene longer than I have. Seen its ups and downs, and have earned the respect and admiration of your peers and fans. Over the course of the year, the chip scene has seen some incredible changes, from the rise of Chiptunes=Win to the farewell of Blipfest. In your personal opinion as both a fan and an artist, what do you see yourself doing over the course of 2k13 and what do you think will come of the scene, as well?
SKGB: Well… I see myself making a whole bunch of music that doesn’t sound like “traditional” chipmusic, calling it chipmusic and pissing a whole bunch of people off (lol).
As for the “scene” as a whole, I don’t see an end to chipmusic in sight at all,
though i do believe the locus of chip hocus pocus has and will continue to stray farther from the east coast. Going to BRKfest last year blew my mind wide open to the fact that yes: chipmusic is just as big, if not a whole fuckton bigger, than it ever was. In fact, the entire midwest corridor is on hot fiyah, Piko Piko Detroit, Cartrage, BRKfest, and all the travelling artists in between are fucking shit up real proper over there. But mark my words: the 8static crew still have a few surprises on their .sav roms.