Interview with UK chiptune musician Superpowerless


Recently a good friend and hardworking chiptune musician Oliver Hindle, better known by his moniker of Superpowerless won a big contest to get a music video on MTV in the UK through the MTV/Vodaphone Fast Track Competition. The video debuts on television today and to commemorate the event I asked if Oliver would want to take some time to answer a few questions for this here site. He gladly agreed and now you can read below to see what makes this musician tick!

When did you first start writing music?

I've been writing electronic music for something like 5 years, but I've only been doing Superpowerless since the start of 2006. Before this I'd been in a few pop punk bands with high school/college friends but they never really went anywhere. Mostly because I couldn't find people that were as committed to music as I was.

What was the first instrument you learned to play?

First instrument I learnt to play was drums. Since then I've learnt guitar, bass, piano and synth.

When did you first start performing your music live?

First Superpowerless gig was on May 4th 2008. I've been keeping a list on my website of every gig I've played, It's a pretty cool thing to look back at! Since the first gig the people I've played live with have changed around a lot. It's been hard to find people that are dedicated to being in a backing band as it's meant they don't get chance to write the material. It's working really well at the moment!

When did you decide to start mixing guitar with chiptunes? What gave you that inspiration?

When I started writing chiptune, I wrote the songs with the intention of playing live. Guitar was my main instrument at the time and I'm not a massive fan of instrumental music, so it just seemed logical to mix in vocals and guitar. I also didn't really want to gig on my own so I wrote parts that I could get friends to play by forming a live backing band. I don't like being limited in what music I can create, so this way I could leave my options open to try different things.

Who are some of your musical influences? Both in chiptunes and in mainstream music?

Some bands that have had a massive impact on me are: Modest Mouse (favourite band), Mew, Million Dead, Jimmy Eat World, Postal Service, Placebo, blink 182, metric... etc! In chiptunes, I tend to prefer the artists that cross chiptune with vocals/guitar/other instruments. My favourite chiptune artists are Cat Cocinelle, I Fight Dragons and Combat Dave. I have quite a lot of chiptuning friends as well, you know who you are *high five*

What made you choose the song "Wasting My Time" to be your first big single?

I didn't think I'd win the competition when I entered, so I just picked one of my songs randomly, there are quite a few that I think would have made good singles, I really like how wasting my time has turned out though.

Any American tour planned if you make it big?

Oh definitely, we'll do the biggest tour everrrrr!

How was it remaking the song professionally? What parts of the song changed and which parts stayed the same?

It was really awesome, i usually don't spend very long on a track, so getting the chance to sit down with someone that knows as much as Andy about producing was amazing. I learnt so many little techniques and ways to get things sounding as good as possible. We kept the track sounding lofi and 8bit but just really tidied it up and gave everything it's own space. We added lots of little drum fills and drops to keep the track interesting and split the different sections up more. We also put in a bit using a vocoder to break up the melody of the choruses. Really happy with it!

How did you react when you learned that your song won the MTV Contest?

I was really surprised! It's such an awesome prize, the amount of exposure it offers is insane! If you'd of told me a few years ago when I started writing these songs that I'd be at the stage where I'm filming a music video with a professional director, I'd of not believed you in the slightest. All my friends and family were really excited about it all as well, they've all seen how hard I've worked to get this far and been behind me all the way.

How did the idea for the "Wasting My Time" music video come about? How did he director contribute to that idea?

The idea for Wasting My Time was the director Luc Jannin's. He talked me through his initial ideas and I loved the sound of it and so he developed it into what it ended up being. I had no idea how much was involved in shooting a music video, and how many people were needed on day of the shoot. It was crazy that they were all their for my music!

Who came up with the idea for the Robots Need Love Too" music video and how did that video come to be?

I had a brain storm with my friend Colin Odd Greenall about what would look cool and he agreed to direct a video for us. We wanted something that would be really fun to film and also a feel-good video. The lyrics and song go with the ideas we had perfectly. We're all really happy with how it turned out!

How much money and time was necessary to create the "Robots Need Love Too" music video ?

We stole a load of cardboard from ASDA/subway took it all back to my friend colins house. Made the costumes (took a few hours!) then the day after we all met up and spent the day filming. We managed to get all the footage we needed done in 1 day, Colin spent a few weeks editing it all together. The only money we spent on the video was paying a busker to let us play the track through his amp so we could dance to it.

Are you already working on a new album? If so can you let us know how it's shaping up and what your plans are for it?

I've written and recorded about 30/40 songs, I have a habit of getting them recorded as fast as possible and then leaving them. At the moment I'm going through finding the best tracks and then spending a really long time getting them sounding as good as possible. I'm not setting myself a deadline with it, I'm a bit of a perfectionist and I want to make sure it's absolutely perfect before I release it.

Any plans for future videos or any songs you would like to make a video for?

We're involved in a local project that's pairing film makers up with bands and over the next few months we'll be filming another music video, to a totally re-recorded/reworked version of an old song I did called "zombie survival plan". At the moment, we're thinking of trying to get as many people dressed as zombies as possible into Leeds train station (which is pretty big/busy) or re-enacting Ghostbusters (Be Kind Rewind style). We'll see what happens!

Are you going to forget about all of us small guys when you are big and famous?

Haha I'd quite like to get big and famous but there's no telling what's going to happen. If anything like that does happen, I'll still be contactable through myspace/msn/hotmail/facebook all of that. I'll do my best to reply to as many people as I can. I've always liked it when bands I like, reply to my messages.

Any shout outs, thanks, plugs, or mentions you would like to add now?

Massive thanks to everyone at Vodafone and MTV for the competition, it's really given me some motivation when I really needed it! Thanks everyone that listens to my music and has got in touch with me about it over the last 3 years! Also massive thanks to anyone that's bought my CDs, showed my music to their friends, wrote about it, you're all awesome! Thanks to everyone that's been part of the Superpowerless Live band, you've all been really cool to work with! I could go on thanking people for ages, haha.

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I would like to send out a big thanks to Oliver for being nice enough to answer the questions and getting them back to me so quickly. Be sure to check out his official site superpowerless.co.uk. Also I want to say Congratulations to him for winning the MTV video contest. Glad someone with such an enthusiasm for good music and video game inspired art got such a chance! You can check out his MTV music video for Wasting My Time in our older article, and enjoy his Robots Need Love Too video below!