Great friend, musician, and writer, Dot.AY interviewed California musician 8 Bit Weapon a few months back. This is the first in a fantastic five part series of interviews Dot.Ay has done, and allowed us to host on our site. So check out the first of five interviews with this 8 Bit Weapon Interview and enjoy!-------
1. What equipment do you use to create your music?
2 PC's for sequencing and recording, some old 8-bit computers such as the Commodore Vic-20, Commodore 64, Commodore 128, Commodore Amiga 500, and the Apple II, as well as game consoles such as the Nintendo Entertainment System, Game Boy, Atari 2600, Intellivision synthesizer, acoustic drum kits, various vintage synths and drum machines.
2. Does this differ between live and composing context?
Yes, live gear is simplified. We (ComputeHer, MelBot, and myself) aren’t a huge act like the rolling stones, so we still get the standard/sub-standard 30 seconds to set up and tear down at gigs. For this reason we can only afford to bring the minimum, which is: C64, C128, Nintendo Gameboy classic, Yamaha DD5 drum trigger pads & Ensoniqe Mirage Sampler combo, and a Microkorg Vocoder. The music backing tracks is run off an old laptop. We usually bring our own mixer too, since most clubs we play are rock band oriented and want to EQ our c64 like a Gibson guitar. lol so we send them a stereo pair from our board and I mix the sounds during sound check. That is, if we get one...lol
3. Can you outline your compositional process?
I usually meditate for a moment and go to my safe place. Then I contact my spiritual animal guide, my guide is a duck. Then I shoot it and prepare it in a cherry glaze sauce and eat it. J/K! lol I start by programming a beat in the style of song I’m going after. For instance, if I'm going for a disco number, I throw down a 4 on the floor bass kick and some fun hats with a quirky vintage set. From there I almost always hit the ground running with a fresh bassline. Then I build a lead melody. Depending on how much I like the new melody, or if I think I can do a better one later in the song, determines if that segment is going to be the Chorus or just a verse. So if I decide it’s a chorus, then I try and do something with the same vibe, but toned down to become a verse. Once I have both a Chorus and a verse, I do my bridge. In the bridges I build (also known as a middle 8) I like to take the song somewhere new for a bit then bring it home again. I can then choose a formula for my songs overall structure. SO do I want to do "Intro" +"Chorus" +"Verse" +"Chorus" +"Verse" +"Bridge" +"Chorus" like my song "One Last Mission"? Or do I want to go "Intro" +"Verse"+"Chorus" +"Verse" +"Bridge" +"Chorus" like my song "Sk8 Bit"...so many options. I even do weird combos like my one of my new songs "FUNDAnalogue" that has "Intro"+"Chorus" +"Bridge" +"Chorus"!
4. Does the technology used affect this?
Not at all.
5. Do you post-produce, mix and master your own recordings?
I mix and produce my own music, but I outsource my mastering.
6. What is your musical and technical background?
I took one semester of Piano in College in 1993. Then in 1994 I took fundamentals of music. I got an A in both. Then I taught myself everything else like Midi, Sequencing, trackers, various performance techniques, and recording and production techniques.
7. What music other than chip tunes, if any, have you been involved in?
I have done Rap music, Classical, Jazz, Techno, Drum n Bass, Trance, Punk, Rock, New Age, World music, IDM and others. I like to do whatever I feel like at the moment of inspiration. If you listen to any of my albums, not just the chiptune ones, you will hear many different styles on each of them.
8. Why do you think you compose chiptunes instead of some other form of music?
I have done the others forms, but I get the most pleasure out of Chiptunes, personally. Even really heavy dark chiptunes have a warm friendly vibe at the base of it, imo.
9. Do you feel particular loyalty to the chiptune community?
I do to the Micromusic.net part of the scene, but not to chiptunes in general. The only people that have stood behind what I do, for the most part, are my friends from micromusic.net. Friends like ComputeHer, FirestARTer, Poke aka The C-men, MelBot, and a few others are true friends for life. I do what I do because I love music, all of it, period.
10. Do you feel there is a 'generation gap' between the demo/mod scene and new artists who don't program/hack?
not at all. Just different levels of experience and style.
11. What in your opinion makes a good chiptune?
same as any music. Does it sound good or does it sound bad...that’s my high-tech equation. lol I think you just need a bit of structure, a key to play inside of, and that's it. Doesn't matter if you made a song with an Atari 2600 sound chip tied to your nipple while taking a shower with your finger in a power socket..if that sounds good to you, then it’s good. Doesn't matter what anyone else thinks.
My pleasure, you have asked some of the best questions I've ever been asked! -Seth :)
About the Artist: 8 Bit Weapon is Seth, ComputeHer, and MelBot. This trio has performed across two continents and have a number of high quality commercial releases. Often seen outside the Chip scene appearing at gaming conventions, the I Am 8bit art show and everywhere in between. They are currently on the Nerdcore 2007 International Tour.
This interview was performed by Alex Yabsley (Dot.AY).