Dot.AY interview with Pixelh8

Guess what folks! we have a surprise interview from Dot.AY, in where he talks to famed chiptune artist and good friend Pixelh8! Why is it a surprise interview? Why because I went on and on about the 5 interviews (two of which are still coming) Dot.AY was submitting to our site, then just a few weeks ago, him and pixelh8 tell me about this sixth interview! So Alex AKA Dot.AY sent it over, and now you may all enjoy!

Pixel H8 Interview

1. What equipment do you use to create your music?
-Does this differ between live and composing context?

Very much so at the moment, I use the actual machines to compose with, and
often at the moment although it will soon change I am using a sampler live,
as it would be nearly impossible to play all of the instruments at once, but
with my new live set up yeah the original consoles and computers will be
there with me on stage.

I do and have been using the game boy synth a lot live though not just for
notes but to add special effects and crowd participation.

2. Can you outline your compositional process?
- Does the technology used affect this?

Yes for my 2nd album every note on it I have made from scratch I have
programmed the NES, the Gameboy, Sega Game Gear, ZX Spectrum & Commodore 64
and about 10 other machines to make real time synths so I can make it make
the sounds I want, if you were painting a picture you wouldn't ask someone
else to choose your colors would you? When I finished the Game Boy synth it
was so useful you could just throw on a beat and jam along to it, and I was
able to come up with loads of stuff almost instantly.

3. Do you post-produce, mix and master your own recordings?

Yes, but there are no effects like phaser or reverb etc on my recordings as
the original machines were not capable of it for the most part so I have
left them out to make it even more authentic. I did use reverb on one track
on my first album and I have regretted it ever since as it doesn't feel
right, but I have learnt that lesson.

4. What is your musical and technical background?
-Please include what music other than chiptunes, if any, you have been
involved in?

I am a classically trained musician having studied music theory and I have
an appreciation of all music, favorite being modern concert music like Cage,
Ligeti, Penderecki, Schoenberg mixed with Sly & The Family Stone & Marvin
Gaye. On the technichal side I am self taught from just opening up machines
as well as finding technichal documents on the internet.
My other alias's are Hidden Fortress (Electronica), The Autum Cult (Ambient)
& Matthew C Applegate (Modern Concert) all are very different in the style
of music they are known for.

5. Why do you think you compose chiptunes?
- Do you feel particular loyalty to the chiptune community?

I like chiptunes for their nostalgia, it always brings back happy memories,
I also like pushing machines to their limit, I love taking something
intended for one use and using it as a musical instrument. I am loyal to the

6. Do you feel there is a 'generation gap' between the demo/mod scene and
new artists who don't program/hack?
- If you agree, what does this mean for the future of the scene?

I think we can all get along, we all love the chips, but yeah in any
generation gap there will be confrontations, i.e. I really dislike people
who sample entire theme tunes for games put a drum beat behind it and claim
it's theirs and even worse claim it's chiptunes. It's not chiptune, it's
lame and I think that laziness is true of all music not just chiptune. I
think eventually people will get bored of the tetris theme tune with
different beats and start looking eleswhere to more original chiptune

7. Do you compose with the gameboy portably in public/irregular
-How do you find surroundings effect composition?

Yeah I have my gameboy synth and a minidisc player and I make up riffs as I
travel around, having something portable and musical is a must when doing
long journeys. I don't think it effects it much but it is a very useful set

8. What in your opinion makes a good chiptune?

Fun it should be fun, it's a simple rule, but I like it.

9. any further comments

Make music, make friends & have fun.

Pixelh8/ Matthew C Applegate

This interview was performed by Alex Yabsley (Dot.AY) on 08/08/2007.