I made a zine perhaps 8 years ago that included an article about chiptunes. I thought since the zine only was read by about 100 swedish people, I'd post the interviews here as well. I understand that a short interview that is eight years old isn't that exciting, but I think it'd be a shame if it didn't get read by more people. smile Disclaimer: Since the zine was in black and white I didn't save the colored versions of the images. Sorry for that.

----------------------------------------------------------------------


COVOX

You've been playing live a lot, and world wide! What do you think of the traveling? Is the audience, engagement and reactions different in other countries?

-To get to travel and meet new people is probably the best thing about this whole project. If it wasn't for Covox I would've seen much less of the world and probably not met as many people. So, even if it's about a gig somewhere in France where they can't pay more than the travel cost I usually do it. If I had the time and energy I'd tour much more.

-The audience is pretty much the same world wide. What kind of response you get is often depending on what kind of event it is. An inauguration to an Andy Warhol exhibit in Berlin doesn't create the same kind of audience you'd get if you performed in a cargo space on a flatboat in Ghent, Belgium.


The first material of yours I came across was the Final Mission EP. You were the first to introduce chiptunes on vinyl for me, I loved that concept. How come you haven't done more vinyl records since then?

-Traditionally this music hasn't got much physical releases, at least not before 2000-2001. People have went with the internet and mp3's. The reason CD is more popular than vinyl at the moment is due to people not having record players as much these days. If you're going to put out a vinyl record it needs to sell at least 500 copies for it to be viable. And if you feel you're not big enough, that's a cost most people want to avoid. That goes both for artists and labels.



How come you got so "big in Japan" as it were? Perhaps I should put it this way instead; how did you spread your music in Japan? Did you know of any particularly good netlabels?

-It was mostly a coincidence. I played there in 2003 and got to know a few people. Then I was approached by a newly started label that wanted to release my debut album. Since then it just worked out. But I wouldn't call myself "big in Japan" really. Sure, a few people might know of me but the scene in Japan, and the cultural climate, is so special and so enormous it's hard to feel like anything else but a drop in the sea.


A lot of the people I've been talking to that makes chiptunes have mentioned Covox as a source of inspiration. So, naturally, I'm curious of what your inspiration is. What have influenced you?

-I was very much into synth when I started Covox. It was a lot of Boytronic, Bakterielle Infektion, Sista Mannen På Jorden, Page and so on. It was in the melodies that I felt I'd finally found my home after doing so much different music. I tried everything from industrial music to triphop before Covox. I was attracted to the fact that you couldn't hide behind the production in this music, the ideas and the melodies made a great song, not the other way around. I didn't have the patience to tweak the songs for too long though, I think that's pretty evident in my early tracks.

-If I were to mention a couple of bands that has meant the most to me it'd be Ministry, Sisters of Mercy, Devo, Boytronic and Frederik Schikowski.


The theme of my zine is inspiration and creativity, so one question you all get is "What inspires you?". So, what inspires you? And this time I'm not thinking about influences to your music, but what inspires you in general, in life?

-Everything inspires me. I can't really point on one single thing as to where the creativity comes from. I read a lot and get fascinated by a thousand things at the same time. Right now it's amateur astronomy, transparant HCI, how to defuse creativity/creation (this is work related), bicycling, improving my bass guitar skills and cooking. I try to squeeze as much fun stuff as I can in to my free time and then I feel bad that I'm not spending it all on Covox. But every once in a while something happens, a creative spark comes out of nowhere, and then you write a song or two.


FIREBRAND BOY

I really like the mix of chiptunes and song/guitar! I have heard mixes of chiptunes vs hardcore/punk/rock and so on before, but not this kind of stuff. Where did the idea come from?

-It was kind of natural, I guess. I collected a small orchestra of chip instruments and put them to use in a way that I liked. I didn't really have a preconceived notion of the sound.


You are going to New York for the Blip Festival on november 29th, and this is your first performance outside of the UK. Did you originally think Firebrand Boy would get almost 100,000 played songs on myspace, take you overseas etc?

-I'm still convinced that the majority of the 90,386 listens are by my mum. The amazing part of the chip scene is that the diy ethic is applied to all aspects of the movement and not just the technology. People are very keen to arrange concerts, festivals, workshops, releases and parties. Its really inspiring.



Are you a big fan of Gargoyle's Quest/Demon's Crest or is the name just randomly selected as every project needs a name in the beginning?

-YES! It is still my favourite Game Boy game. I bought the NES game but haven't really gotten round to playing it.


You have released a vinyl 7", personally I think that's the way to go. You could imagine chiptunes being at it's top as mp3 or something, but it's so awesome on vinyl. When did you decide to make a 7" and is it selling well?

-I played a gig in London and there was a guy there who had put out another band's first single. He was interested in the music and it really went from there. Its certainly one of the coolest artefacts of a musical recording and there's certainly something very wrong, yet very right, about the output from the headphone socket of a Game Boy being cut into a wax slab. Its selling steadily!


What inspires you?

-My girlfriend and my family.


BIT SHIFTER

What is your music about? Maybe a pretty wierd question, I'll explain it.) You get a certain feeling when you are listening to a song, right? What's the feeling you want your listeners to experience?

-Good question, this isn't something I've ever really thought about consciously. I guess I don't have listeners other than myself explicitly in mind. I think I'm trying to write music that an alternate version of myself would enjoy hearing. That's a clumsy way to phrase it but it's the best I can come up with. In other words, I'm trying to write music that would hold some kind of fairly immediate, visceral appeal for me if I were hearing it for the first time. There's also an indirect hope that, statistically speaking, there will be other people with similar enough musical sensibilities that the music would appeal to them too. The intention is to trigger some kind of visceral response, an immediate sense of engagement with one or more levels of the music -- energy, melody, absence of melody, structure, rhythm, etc.  The closest I come to a conscious awareness of an audience during the creative process is to sort of externalize myself as a listener, asking "what if I heard this for the first time, would I like it?" I imagine that's probably true for any musician working in any style, so it's probably not a very insightful answer.


Were did you start? For example, did you start experimenting on LSDJ, some NES-tracker etc? And for how long have you been in to this? I know it's pretty hard to put a song together without a good deal of practice.

-I've been involved with music, informally, ever since I was a kid. So I've had a good amount of time to work out basic music fundamentals, establish some basic technique and so forth. By the time I discovered Nanoloop and LSDj (in 2001 or 2002), I'd been in a lot of bands, done a lot of home recording, and I'd logged a lot of hours with hardware sequencers -- so I knew what I liked and disliked compositionally and I was familiar with the basic concepts of pattern-based song construction and so forth. Nanoloop and LSDj each have their own learning curves of course, but I wasn't coming to them totally cold, so it wasn't too bad -- I guess what I'm trying to say is that, some people come to trackers first, that's their first exposure to creating music, so not only are they learning the technical aspects of a tracker, they're also learning the fundamentals of melody, harmony, chords, note relationships, rtythm, song construction, arrangement, etc., at the same time. That blows me away. I had a chance to work the music theory out ahead of time, so I was able to just focus on learning the programs' interfaces. Compared to people who take it all on at once, I feel like a cheater.


I saw that Bit Shifter had a lot of things going on especially during 2003-2004, you were in the news a lot. What happened after that? It seems like it stagnated a bit judging from the Press-part of your site. Why is that do you think? I mean, it feels like chiptunes are coming on strong, but the media seems to have given it up already. Maybe I'm way off, but that's the impression I get. (I know it's still active, not least with the Blip Festival in mind, but I feel that it's kind of underground none the less.)

-My site is a bad reference point. Around 2005 is when I got so busy - mainly with music on top of my day job - that I just didn't have time to update the site beyond the absolute necessities like show announcements, etc. So media coverage has still been pretty active, my site just doesn't reflect it. Just as a recent example, about two weeks ago the New York Times ran a piece on the front page of their Arts section about the Blip Festival. Big color photo of Random with his fist triumphantly in the air too -- it was great. Even so, I think you're right that chipmusic is still under the cultural radar. Which is fine with me. I take a sort of neutral stance about the scene "blowing up," if it happens it happens, if not, no problems. So I think right now, the chipmusic movement is enjoying a kind of perfect balance in terms of visibility. Those who understand it are hearing about it, partly with the help of these little murmurs in the media, but the full-on spotlight hasn't been trained on it yet so it remains refreshingly free of idiots and assholes.



The day this interview was written (26 nov) you participated in a radioprogram called Bentwave, were you played "selected music from the global chiptune underground and discussed the whole phenomena with host Miss Eleanor". How did it go, any interesting thoughts? Maybe it's even recorded for download somewhere?

-Yeah, it was great. WNYU is a college station so it's free from all of the bullshit of American corporate radio. And Miss Eleanor is a DJ with great taste (obviously), who has a real interest in the chipmusic/micromusic phenomenon. She invited Nullsleep and myself to come in for two consecutive shows as a sort of countdown to the Blip Festival. It was a lot of fun, and it was cool to have a chance to expose radio listeners to these sounds. The shows are archived on http://wnyu.org, listed under the program's name, Bentwave.


The last release from Bit Shifter is, what I know of, Information Chase EP. This was in early 2006. Is there something new on it's way?

-Not really. Information Chase came out in early 2006, and that marked the beginning point of a pretty busy period for me. In the time since that was released, there's been a world tour, the first Blip Festival, the 8BP050 compilation, a pretty heavy local gigging schedule, a Japan tour, a Europe tour, and now the 2nd Blip Festival. So organizing and coordinating all of these things has been a pretty significant undertaking, and it's been a struggle to find time to write new music in the last two years. My plan though is to scale back some of these activities, in the hopes of working toward a new full-length. We'll see.


What inspires you?

-At the risk of sounding like a hippie, as busy as the last few years have been, they've also been the most inspiring and exciting time of my life. In defiance of all logic or reason, 20-year-old game consoles have given me the opportunity to travel, release music, perform shows, and most importantly, to participate in a global community of musicians and artists that's characterized by mutual admiration and respect, moreso than any other music scene I've ever known of. It's fucking amazing, it keeps me going, and I am really, really lucky to be a part of it.


SPAMTRON

(Spamtron didn't have a logo at the time of the article, so we ended up using a logo for his netlabel, Megatwerp, instead.)


First off I thought I would ask about your live-clips on YouTube. It's both with you alone, and with some other guys, what's the dealio? Two different bands or what?

-Well, ESD is the rock band version of Spamtron. There has been drama with ESD in the past so, I had to do the last show as just a solo act. ESD is currently working on some new stuff, though. We are going to attempt to play Jamspace at Magfest 6.


When did you decide to mix rock with chiptunes, are you a guitar hero at heart?

-Definitely! I love playing guitar. I started with guitar, and started making chiptunes in 2004. When ESD is perfected, it will be guitars, chiptunes, bass, and drums.


What is it now?

-It is currently made up of several members of TheShizz.org forums. We have a few guitarists and a drummer. For example, the drummer is from Chicago. I am from Portland. The guitarists are from all over the place, too.


Haha, that sounds like a tight lineup. But back to your chiptunes, you started in 2004, how come? Love for videogames, similar genres, what?

-Yeah. I have been a big fan of video game music for a long time. I grew up with videogames and have always loved the music. I love all kinds of music, but I often think that video game music will be my favorite. I started listening to Video Game Cover Bands at one point, such as the Minibosses. That got me really into making music. So in 2004, this guy called Norrin Radd taught me how to make VGM-style music. I love Covox, btw. He was one of the first chip musicians I ever heard.


Yeah, Covox and Minibosses are both great! VGM-style?

-Yeah, I mean music that is influenced by video games. Such as covers of video game music and chiptunes. I seriously believe that video game music is the future of music at this point.


How is that? Don't you think it's just us "nerds" that believe that?

-Well, I feel that everyone is becoming a nerd now, because of the internet. Recently I was at a party and a girl was playing Final Fantasy 7 music on a guitar. Also, with chiptunes, you can do things that instruments cannot do, such as certain types of pitch bends and such. My friends WizWar and Riders and Shawn Phase are great examples of this.



How did you... "advance" in the music, like, how did you learn all the stuff? Programs/manuals/experience, you know. Were do a beginner start? Personally I think FamiTracker is fun, but I'm not getting the progress I was hoping for.

-Hehe, I am personally a big fan of Modplug. Famitracker is great, too. However, Famitracker has some limitations which are somewhat useful AND complicating. Phlogiston and Alex Mauer make amazing music with Famitracker. I think it's a good idea to stick with one program, by the way, and get very good at it.


What is megatwerp.com?

-Mega Twerp is sort-of a net-label I started. However, I am working on updating it at the moment. It got stressful, went down a few times, but now I am planning to get more of my music back up on it. I am hoping to get on other net-labels as well. I have done a song for the Pause net-label. I'm also hoping to get on record labels. I would love to have my music put on CD or vinyl (or mp3).


What inspires you?

-Hm... Love and peace, positive energy. That's what I base my life on, hehe, basically just smiles, laughs, and humor.


SUPER MULTIFAROS

What does Multifaros mean?

-No idea. When I was in fourth grade we used to play an online game called Robot Fight, and when I had to create a new robot I named it Multifaros. I've no idea where that came from. Since then I've been using it as my nick to all the sites I've registered myself on and when I started to create chiptunes Multifaros was the obvious choice! I added "Super" in front of it to separate "internet"-Multifaros from "chiptunes"-Multifaros. Something I regret a bit now...Simply "Multifaros" would maybe have been better?


What made you tackle this genre? Some people come here through video games, some through synth or techno and so on.

-I had been making music for a while before starting with chiptunes. But I think the reason I went with chiptunes at last was my love for video games. Especially the sound of my old Game Boy. One day my friend told me to listen to this band called Slagsmålsklubben and while it wasn't my kind of genre I liked it anyway. These later years I've been listening more and more to traditional chiptunes such as Goto80, Covox, Random and so on.


Was it to kill time or did you have a plan from the beginning with this project?

-As stated I was making music since before, as a hobby. So when I started creating chiptunes it wasn't something serious really. It was more of a fun thing to do. With time it did however become more and more "serious" but since I'm not making any real money on it I still see it as just a fun thing to do.


You have already put out a lot of albums and singles despite the fact that you are very young. Did you start early in life or do you work really fast?

-I've only been doing this seriously for 18 months so it has been pretty tight between releases. 5 EP's/LP's in a year, and there's more to come! So yeah, it's been pretty intense. When I get in the zone I create music fast.



Were you a musical child? Did you play any instruments?

-I started to play contrabass when I was seven years old. I've been playing it ever since and I'm pretty seriously into it right now. With the contrabass I'm classically trained but I also play a whole lot of jazz. I play the guitar and drums in a few rock bands with friends as well. To answer "were you a musical child" is pretty difficult, it wasn't like I was traveling the world touring as this prodigy, but I have played music pretty much all my life, I went to a music school and I've been developing my skills actively. Music is absolutely a huge part of my life.


I noticed you had some trouble getting your latest tracks out on a netlabel, is it generally speaking hard to get your music out there? I thought the interest for this genre was on the rise big time, but maybe it's all in my head?

-There's a lot of netlabels out there. Imagine gathering all these netlabels in a pile. Then subtract the ones not fitting your genre (around 80%). Then the label must be active (there's a lot of dead labels as well) and lastly you have to like the label and the label has to like you. That leaves a pretty small number. I also have a fair bit of bad experiences when it comes to netlabels, a lot of them never answer, some go out of business, some are a bit rude to be honest and so on. I think it's a bit of an inflation in this genre at the moment if you ask me. A lot of the things out there are not very interesting at all.


What inspires you?

-My primary source of motivation is other music. I listen to, and play, almost every genre at this point. I'm inspired by everything I see and hear!

Last edited by Starfighter (Aug 28, 2017 2:27 pm)

Thanx for this post, very inspirational.

These are great!

Woho!

Timewarp! This is great.

Oh, hi Josh! smile I'm glad you all got something out of this!

nice!