Our third week's offering is an 8 minute epic from Kubbi! Remember to check back next week for more Weekly Goodies!
WT: Could you tell us a bit about your first exposure to the chiptune scene please?
Kubbi: I was assigned to make soundtracks for an independent game a friend of mine was working on. Somehow the games I make music for always ends up in the trash, but though the game was forgotten pretty quickly I felt the need for more video game music. After doing some surfing I realized how much I enjoyed the raw and headaching sound of the good ol' game console soundchips, so I ended up on 8 bit collective. Wasn't very social on the forums, but the lurking was fun and after listening to chiptune music for a couple of weeks straight I was in love. Unfortunately, since I live in Skyrim I would have to travel waaay too far to go to a show, so all the chiptune socializing has always been on the webs for me. "Skyrim chiptune community, population; me".
WT: Is there a story behind the name ‘Kubbi’ at all?
K: Hehe, not really. I was just really unlucky and never dared to change it. It started with me signing up for an 8 bit collective account, using the internet alias I was used to. I never thought it'd be my artist name and I never thought I'd even be an artist, as I kept to posting boring GXSCC songs and just lurked around. The word Kubbi was a nickname a friend of mine gave me for a short period of time, and it's a twist of my actual name "Kummen" (which sounds even funnier). The moral of the story is that once you sign up for an account anywhere with a stupid alias, you have to release 4 albums under that name.
WT: What pieces of software do you use and what went in to creating ‘Is It Over Yet’?
K: As I'm not much of a console modder nor have the budget to buy equipment, I do it all with Renoise, sampled instruments and plug-ins. I've always preferred tracker interfaces and Renoise offers just that combined with DAW features, which makes it easy to both write, mix and master with it.
When I wrote 'Is It Over Yet?' I was looking a lot more for an atmosphere that makes your imagination run wild. I wanted the listeners to be able to close their eyes and feel like they were in a rainy urban setting hiding under an umbrella waiting for something. That's also the reason why I let it build up over a long time and have such an eclectic sound. To write this song I started of by listening to the ambience field recording and finding my place in the atmosphere. I tried to find the best way to share the feelings it brought me. It was a tough song to write, but perhaps one of my most successful ones ever in terms of atmosphere. The reason it's titled "Is it over yet?" is up to the listener to decide as it's their story, not mine. Not in this song anyways. They might ask if "the song is over yet" if they happen think the song is too long too, so I thought it would be a proper title.
WT: What music influences from in and outside of the chiptune scene, and how do they directly reflect within ‘Is It Over Yet?’ ?
K: The chiptune artists that influence my music the most would probably be Smiletron, J. Arthur Keenes and C-jeff, but when it comes to writing Kubbi music, I like to find my inspiration in other genres. Ever since I started the Kubbi project I've been a huge fan of progressive rock, ambient and jazz so I find it a lot more comfortable to write music inspired by those genres. I think you can hear all of the genres I mentioned in this song. The progressive arrangement, the symphonic sound, the Jazzy chords and drum groove and the heavy use of pads and ambient samples.
When I think about it, there's not space a lot of chiptune left in it, but I've always felt the need to do something new every time I want to write something and getting influenced by so many genres and artists I don't feel like I have a problem with that.
WT: What has been your favourite release to write so far, if you have one, and why? Also, are there any particular approaches you take to writing?
K: The one that was the most fun to write was definitely Sleet, but the one I've put most of myself into is Circuithead and there is no doubt that one is my favorite. After releasing Circuithead I felt completely drained and knew that I had put way more of myself into it than I thought I would, but though I had a hard time writing it I have never been as excited about releasing an album as I was about releasing this one. It's an artist cliché, but I feel really uncomfortable listening to my own music for any other purposes than finding flaws and knowing what to do and what not to do next. When I listen to my earlier albums I find way too many flaws and mistakes to be able to enjoy the music, but since I spent so much time avoiding what I did wrong on my previous albums, Circuithead became an album that I'm actually able to enjoy. I am proud of what I've done so far, but I know and hope that I can do even better.
The thing that annoys me about my composing techniques is that I'm never able to sit down and write a tune. I can't push the music out of me, I always need a new idea and some sort of inspiration to start the writing process. I think few composers ever wrote their masterpiece because they told themselves to, and therefore I always let the music come to me instead of searching for it. Planning the song in my head and knowing what I want to make out of the idea is a very effective approach for me, and it gives me a lot of room for experimenting. Ending up with something completely different from what I planned is usually a good thing though.
WT: You also do some work for Chiptune=Win, right? Could you tell us a little bit about that and how you became involved?
K: Oh yes, the work with Chiptunes=Win has been an interesting experience! Though I have only been communicating with the peeps behind Chipwin on the internet, I can easily tell they are some of the most awesome people I've been in contact with. Shout-out to Brandon 'President Hoodie' Hood for getting me involved in all of it. Basically he left enough comments on my facebook page for us to start a conversation. He promised me magical Ice cream and I was sold (STILL WAITING FOR THAT, BRANDON). Now I am completely under his command and have to do all the sequencing for all the huge ass chiptunes compilations we give out. I love it! It feels amazing to be part of such a big, yet bonded community. Chiptunes=Win filled my 2012 with amazing listening parties, a tad bit more listening party invitations than I could ever reply to (thanks Hoodie) and opportunities I never thought I'd have.
WT: And finally, can you tell us your future plans for ‘Kubbi’ or where you plan on heading next?
K: Well, right now I'm having problems deciding what to do next. There is just way too much I'd like to do. First of all I want to start composing more outside of the Kubbi project and focus more on progressive rock for a period of time. When I have the gear I need I will start producing a new record with a completely new sound and concept. I'm still very drained from Circuithead, but I know it won't be long before I need to start on the next big release. Perhaps not everyone will be able to follow me in the direction I'll be heading, but hopefully people will find interest in this as well and give it a chance. Don't misunderstand though, I'm not quitting chiptune and I'm not quitting Kubbi. I won't quit music until I've tried everything.