This Month in The Overworld: Cyanide Dansen

- Posted May 30th, 2019 by

This month’s artist is Cyanide Dansen, an avid chiptuner who crafts deliciously catchy melodies. Based on Paris, France, her latest release, “Do no harm”, will have you swinging through the dance floor in no time.

Cyanide Dansen performing live.
Cyanide Dansen performing live.

But was Paris where it all started for her? Marie P., whose alter ego is Cyanide Dansen, was born on Epernay, France. She grew up in Rheims, where is where she met the people who encouraged her to create chiptune music for the first time back in 2011.

Marie met a squad in Rheims called “L’Ecluse” that pushed her to create music once more (since at the time she was taking a break to focus on her studies), and the rest is history. Cyanide Dansen was born, and with it all the sweetness and also stickiness of her beats!

What do you feel makes your take on Chiptune personal in terms of music production?

I generally don’t bother too much about advanced tricks or techniques. When people make videos or posts about “such or such” trick they found, I take a look at them, but that’s all. I don’t think I’m in some kind of race towards the most intricate sound design possible.

I just make melodies I find pleasant, and try to write something that I would enjoy listening to at that moment. These days, I’m more about songs with very distinct parts and catchier rhythms, which is different than the old 128-bpm electro I used to make all the time. :’)

What is, in your opinion, the most powerful weapon on a Chipmusician’s arsenal?

I think the most powerful thing in a Chipmusician’s arsenal is their friends, and/or their local scene. Seriously. I can’t say “it’s such-and-such machine” or “it’s such arps”(arpeggiators).

I genuinely think it’s the people around you. We obviously meet all kinds of awful people in our scenes, but as soon as you make one good friend or find yourself a healthy little gang, off you go! You’ll inspire yourselves, you’ll think of each other when you see such-or-such cool music-related thing online, you can push each other forwards, you’ll find each other spaces or gigs to play, you’ll make sure you feel safe in your scene, etc.

What drives you as an artist to compose Chipmusic?

I really like the fact that I’m able to make a full song on a toy or what you would call a small portable device, and to play the song directly from that device. It’s comfy, it’s perfect for writing on the go or in your bed, and re-using old gear like gameboys happens to avoid creating extra demand for new machines, so I think it’s a win-win! I obviously also like how it sounds.

Cyanide Dansen performing on a live show.
Cyanide Dansen performing on a live show.

What are your views regarding the local Chiptune scene?

Despite its small size, there are tangible fractures and distances in the French chipscene between the North, Paris, and the South. Whether it’s about attitudes, online presence or actual IRL gatherings and events. I don’t feel fully comfortable in some parts of it.

It’s probably because since I spent time within the punk scene, I kept some principles about safety, inclusion, having clear positions on issues that can harm or benefit your community, etc… And I can’t settle or associate with people or gatherings which are too morally or politically ambiguous (or simply uncool) for me, I can’t immediately trust people or places. You never know if they will take an actual stand in difficult situations.

In the French chiptune scene, I witnessed gatekeeping, harrassment, the “usual” sexist biases, irresponsibility, “casual” LGTB+ phobic views, lack of support when facing abusive situations… And all of this stuff wasn’t always called out or even questioned.

Despite all this, I obviously have a little group of friends and artists that I hang with and to whom I owe a huge lot. The scene is not HELL either, but I personally think liking the same music is not enough for durable safety and actual growth as a person or as a scene.

While I see things that make me hopeful or reassured here and there from time to time, I still find this global uncertainty pretty frustrating, because I always have the feeling that Chiptune is to electronic music what punk is to rock in general: since both are kinda DIY, “friendlier”, harsher and more “primitive” sound-wise (to some extent). The ethics and habits could match more, which is why Kenza B. and I try to promote such values and behaviors in the Chiptune, Chiptune-adjacent shows and workshops we organise in Paris. We’re not losing hope, there’s lots to do, and we aim to make this place as welcoming and exciting as possible! :)

When was the first time you heard Chipmusic played live?

The first time I heard Chipmusic played live was in Paris. I was doing an internship there, and 2xAA was playing with Please Lose Battle in 2015. I was still musically “hibernating” at this point because of my studies and I hadn’t met the squad yet.

Do you have any instrument that you ever wanted to incorporate to your sets, but never got around to?

I want to try playing along with a guitar or a small keyboard at some point, but I can’t really afford it yet, and it would go against the very lightweight aspect of 2-gameboys-only setups that I love so much. :’)

I also thought about using vocals or the use of vocaloid along with some “extras” on Ableton Live, and this already seems much more doable.

What online streaming places do you prefer, to download or listen to Chiptune music?

I’m a huge huge fan of Bandcamp. It’s got a solution for everything. I also love the spotlight articles they publish regularly, I ALWAYS discover new bands and genres every time I read one.

Could you mention some present day french artists outside of the Chiptune genre that you feel have influenced your work?

Present day, non-chip french artists, hmm… I absolutely love Justice‘s first album, I really, really like Phoenix, Pneu, DAiKiRi, Moe Shop, Louisahhh, Pluie de Bisous, Flavien Berger, Panteros666 and Salut C’est Cool, but I don’t think it actively influenced my music in a noticeable way, hahah!

What do you think is the future of Chiptune music?

I have no idea of what the future of chiptune music could look like, to be perfectly honest! There are very exciting styles, bands and genre-blends; people seem more aware and vocal about the scene’s issues, which is nice and very promising.

But about the music itself, when I look at musicians around me, I have the feeling that gameboy-only setups are going to be out of fashion pretty soon: people want to incorporate more instruments and ways of performing, which is cool!

Cyanide Dansen’s Overworld Map

Cyanide Dansen's Overworld Map by Pixel Syndrome.
Cyanide Dansen’s Overworld Map by Pixel Syndrome.
  1. Rachel Goswell (Singer).
  2. Travelling!
  3. Sweet food and drinks.
  4. Taiko no Tatsujin (Video-game).
  5. Bryan Lee O’Malley, comic book artist.
  6. Linda Linda Linda (2005), a japanese feature film.
  7. Car Seat Headrest (rock band).
  8. The Prodigy (EDM band).
  9. Puyo Puyo, (Video-game).
  10. Frank (2014), a british/irish feature film.

If you want to check out some of Marie’s latest work, you can check out the links below, and also take a peek into her last album’s video teaser on Youtube:

Marie P. a.k.a. Cyanide Dansen
Facebook | Twitter | Bandcamp | Latest Album

Please join us next month in The Overworld, where we will take a look at Chile’s very own, Una Niña Malvada (UnaMalva)!

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