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!
Welcome back to Raw Cuts, ChipWINners! First and foremost, I’d like to take the time to thank you all for stickin with me over the past few months! This is my 20th edition of RCwK and to help celebrate this special occasion, I decided to do something special and interview not one, but two very awesome artists who not only run an incredible netlabel, but have recently put out a stellar compilation that’s a celebration for them as well!
5 years ago, Chema64 founded 56KBPS, Mexico’s premier chiptune netlabel! While his start off was small, with only a handful of artists contributing at first, Chema64 would soon be joined by another awesome artist by the name of Atoms or Faeries! Working together, they not only put out albums that do the chipscene in their neck of the world justice, but they would go on to found and curate a chiptune music festival called Format.DF: a 3 day event that would go on to be the Blipfest of Latin America!
To celebrate, commemorate and immortalize the beauty of that festival and achievements thus far, the guys put out a bombastic 30 track compilation that manages to set itself apart from other chiptune/lofi comps over the past 2 years by being dynamic, diverse, culturally flavorful and easily accessible! From the grimey sounds of Crab Sound’s “Nooby Clairvoyence” to the intermittent wubs of Coleco Music’s “Irak Undo” to the trance/house korg inspired goodness of Anwar Sanchez’s “What’s I O”, there is literally something on this album for everyone. In short, this is one of the few times where an album so lovingly captures lightning in a bottle that the sum of the parts is truly equal to the whole.
But don’t take my word for it; sit back and relax with it as I take the time to talk to Chema64 and Atoms or Faeries about their music, the scene, the album and what comes next for them.
Kuma: So lets get started at the beginning. How’d you guys first get started in chiptune and how did you two meet each other?
Atoms or Faeries (AoF): Would you like to go first Chema?
Chema64: I accidentally came across chipmusic in 2005, I don’t even remember how, but the first chiptune I heard was by Tugboat. I made my first tunes by 2007 and in 2009 I founded 56KBPS Records, because there were no Spanish-speaking presence at the time. I met Marco (Aof) in 2013. He’s only been part of the net label since 2014 but so far he has been a invaluable piece to the label.
Kuma: I think that’s the most brief history of someone’s background in chiptune I’ve ever heard. XD Well done, Chema! What about you, Marco?
AoF: I’ve always loved videogame music. I used to listen to it every day and sometimes I just played a game because of its tunes. I studied Music Production and while I was doing so some of my electronic music teachers told me the music I made sounded like something out of a retro videogame XD I started making bitpop in 2010 under the name Atoms Or Faeries. I released my first EP on May 2013 and I came across Colectivo Chipotle. I contacted them and met Chema in person during the FORMAT DF. We got along really well and sometime later a curator position was available at his label. I jumped at the oportunity and here we are today.
Kuma: Now correct me if I’m wrong, but wasn’t Format DF that shindig Virt performed at down in Mexico? If so, I’m glad it was you guys who organized it, because if this album is any indication, you guys must have kicked ass live!
Chema: No, those were different guys, we brought Danimal Cannon, IAYD and MENEO to a 3 day free music festival, Format.DF. It’s the biggest event of its kind in Latin America so far.
AoF: It was great bro! We played at an abandoned chapel that belonged to the Spanish Inquisition. And it was sooo cool! I wish you were there!
Chema: The ambiance was magical, all brotherly love and all!
Kuma: Oh man that still sounds awesome! like a South American Blipfestival or 8static Fest! I’m so glad the chip love is spreading and that you’re making it happen! Are there any plans to include more overseas artists in the future to the event or for you guys to travel into the US and play up north in NYC or Philly?
Chema: I’m going to do some visuals next week in SXSW, thanks to IAYD. It’s going to be my first show outside of my home country!
AoF: Regarding this year’s FORMAT we’d love to invite international musicians again, of course! We’re still in the early stages of planning, though.
Chema: And talking about bringing people, we are making slow but steady progress for this year’s Format.DF. We already selected some musicians from South America and United States. Last year we wanted to bring someone from Japan but it didnt happen
Kuma: Do you have plans on inviting some of the artists on this compilation? Cause I have to say, a lot of the people on it I’ve not heard of and I feel bad for saying that cause this albums really legit! And if so, are there any in particular you liked working with that contributed to the label that you’d like to see have more exposure?
Chema: Yes, I guess the Chilean artists have a record of exporting excellent music.
They are very professional and from what I know, they need more exposure. Talking about mexican artists, we get some top quality acts, starting with Crab Sound, such a young artist, but one of the best.
AoF: Most of the people who participated in the album will play on this year’s festival. I can’t say I enjoyed working with any one person in particular. Everyone was great in their own way and though there are people who are way more developed than others I enjoyed working with them all. A chip labor of love!
Kuma: I’m glad to hear there’s as much love where you guys are as there is where I am, and I’m glad to hear that love is starting to become more interconnected and international. Going back a bit to interconnect that idea, how did you get your gig to do visuals for SXSW, Chema? And how long have you been doing visuals for? Is it something you took up after getting involved musically or something you always did beforehand?
Chema: I started doing visuals in 2011 because the chiptune shows require it. Being a graphic designer really helps in this department. I absolutely love doing them, it`s like a natural extension of the music and the way I do it is really like playing a live instrument. IAYD was kind enough to invite us to his hometown, and what better time than during SXSW. He also got me the gig, I’m so exited to see Danimal, IAYD again and get to know the Tx Chiptune scene.
AoF: IAYD is such a great guy! He’s very talented and friendly and he parties like there’s no tomorrow! It was difficult to keep up with his partying levels I’ll tell you that XD
AoF: Yes. I have a list that’s longer than Santa’s. I especially love bitpop, so Fantomenk, Dunderpatrullenand Bossfight are high on the list. I really love Omodaka‘s work as well, the way he combines traditional japanese folk music with electronica and chiptune is so original and fantastic! I like to include hints of Mexican folk music on my music so I feel really connected to Omodaka in that sense.
Chema: Yeah I was thinking exactly that, Marco. Also in the graphic department the “Mexican style” is pretty evident. It’s not about nationalistic feelings, but about the style, that you don’t see very often in chiptune/demoscene.
Kuma: Those are some big names, and of those, I’ve only seen Omodaka, but I can def say he alone is worth the cost of a ticket if you guys can get him to come to play for you. That hint of the traditional was something I did notice in your music on your Soundcloud page, AoF, and I thought it was pretty cool to hear something with a somewhat traditional flavor in chip. Conversely, I gushed over how typically chip Chema’s Shatterhand remix was, so I’m glad I got hear a bit of both from you guys. That being said, was diversity something you were def going for when you put the compilation together, or did you have other feelings/thoughts in mind when you put it together?
Chema: I knew from the start, with this many artists, it was going to be a mess in form and style. The only criteria for this albums was: “Let’s invite our friends that make the most awesome music in the area”. I guess quality was the definitive criteria. I can finally be confident that the scene in this part of the world really matured in the last couple of years
AoF: Thanks Adam! And yeah, the music from our friends is so diverse there was no way we could’ve limited it in form or style if we wanted to remain true to what FORMAT was about. Yep, I concur with Chema. Quality was the main criteria in this case.
Kuma: It def shows. Every song on the album is a lot of fun to listen to, and even some of the songs that are in styles I generally don’t listen to are still rather enjoyable. The whole compilation is just dynamic and it’s something I love and want to hear more of in the future from every net label that puts out collections like this. That being said, once again, I’d like to thank you guys for your time. Is there anything you two would like to say in closing before we wrap this up?
AoF: I personally enjoyed working on this compilation very much. It was great to experience such diversity and growth from our friends at the scene.
Chema: I would say we still have a long road ahead of us and that this is only the beginning. I also wanna thank you and Brandon for the interview! It means a lot!
AoF: Thanks so much for having us Adam! It really means a lot to us. We’ve been struggling to get a footing on the international scene and I feel like we’re finally making it happen! Chip love for everyone! Also, have you heard the phrase “Chido-Chip”, Adam?
Kuma: No, I can’t say I have.
AoF: Chido is a slang word that is very similar to “cool”. So Chido-Chip means something like Cool Chip and it carries all the energy and enthusiasm we feel for chipmusic. I feel it represents really well the feeling and state of the Mexican scene.
Kuma: Nice man! Chido…I’ma have to remember that. I’ll def spread the Chido-Chip love and vibes here, man! Thanks again to you both for the interview!
Thanks for tuning and keeping up with us on the blog, and especially for sticking with my derpy butt for 20 issues of Raw Cuts! It’s been a truly fantastic ride and i can’t wait for what the future brings! That being said, don’t forget to check out 56KBPS as well as Chema64 and Atoms or Faeries individual work! And if you’re at SXSW, check out the chiptune and vgm showcases this week for a chance to meet Chema as well as some of the other awesome artists from across the world who are performing there! ‘Til next time!