Friday, 1 March 2013

Week #09| 505- Chipjacker

Week number 9 and we're featuring YM Rocker and all-round demoscene and chiptune demi-god 505! Listen to the track here! Also the catch-up zip for February is available over on Pxl-Bot.

WT: Could you tell us a bit about yourself please, and how you first came in to writing chiptune?

505: Well, my name is Nils and I am 32 years old. My first contact with chipmusic was back in the 80s and especially in the beginning of the 90s when our family got an Atari 130XE computer with a tape recorder as a Xmas family gift. Back then my brother and I spent countless afternoons playing all those lovely 8-bit games such as Zybex, International Karate, Fort Apocalypse, Dropzone or Henry's House. The included game sounds were naturally produced by the soundchip (Pokey in this case) and actually I don't think we really thought specially of chiptunes back then. Chipmusic was simply the only computer music available beneath our horizon and it was stunning. Sooner or later we stumbled about the sound programming possibilities of BASIC and later even better and more impressive a music program called Black Magic Composer. With this program I remember to have made my first chipmusic composing steps. Sometimes, I wonder if the old 5.25" floppies still work.

WT: What influences from inside and outside the chiptune scene goes into your own musical productions?

505: Hmm, I guess more or less everything I have ever heard goes into my own music. Of course there were all the classic game musics and I am sure my listening habits from earlier years flow into it (e.g. 80s pop, 90s techno and various newer independent bands). Sometimes I go to a concert and get an idea but to be honest today I don't listen too much to any special kind of music. What I do however is following the demoscene with all its great productions and musics on different computer platforms. Personally, I think the demoscene was also an important shelter for chipmusic throughout the "tough" years. There is this sort of competitive structure between friends which resulted in an impressively high level of skill in this scene - no matter if it's on Atari, C64, PC or Amiga platform. To give a few examples, the works of composers like AMJ, Jeff, Dane (C64), Heatbeat, Lizardking, Nuke (Amiga), Little Bitchard, Paniq, Xerxes (PC) or Scavenger, Tommy and X-Ray (Atari) were certainly very inspiring for me, and there are many many more.

WT: For readers not familiar, what are the ‘YM Rockerz’ and how did you come to be involved with the collective?

505: YM Rockerz is a collective of Atari ST musicians in the demoscene and we occasionally release music compilations in the shape of music disks for the Atari ST. The group was founded around 1999 by Lotekstyle, when the chipmusic scene was just about to grow bigger again. Back then the left active Atari chip musicians joined the group to keep Atari chip composing alive. Many of us know each other since long time due to Atari demoscene activities and still meet today sometimes on demoparties. Basically, the idea behind YM Rockerz was to offer a platform for us Atari chip musicians to release our material more freely, more independent from traditional demo group activities. From a nowadays perspective, I can see quite some parallels to the netlabel approach, although this has never been our main objective. Our latest compilation “Seven" however was released both as Atari ST demo and also on 8bitpeoples netlabel.

WT: You also recently released an album on Ubiktune, could you explain what went into creating this and how it came about?

505: The album is called "Interlude" and with this one I wanted to leave the pure Atari chipmusic sphere a bit by combining both Atari and other sounds as synthpop or electronica elements. The album was planned to be released on Ubiktune since several years but for some reason the required creativity did not show up - you probably know the story :)

However, most of the raw songs were suddenly composed and edited during a long term stay in a very cosy hostel in Tbilisi, Georgia. In this beautiful country with its welcoming people and great food there came this surprising swing of productivity. When I listen to the tracks today, I sometimes mentally bounce back into lovely vacancy mood.

At the hostel, I also met Heinz Rossi with whom I spent some good times and food. He is a great guy and very talented graphician. The picture you can see on the album cover was painted by him right at the kitchen desk of the hostel during many days. As I totally adore these skills, I asked to use this as cover art (thanks again, Heinz!).

The finalization work on the album back home took quite long, mostly due to intensive fine-tuning of the mix and balancing. Accordingly, it was released about one year later, but after all I am very content with the final result.

WT: What has been your favourite release to work on and demo to create up to this point?

505: Oh, this is tricky to answer as I enjoyed the work on a lot of projects. Speaking of netlabel releases, "Interlude" was definitely my favourite project.

Regarding demomaking, for me the experiences were particularly good when the involved people had a similar vision of how things should work out, especially regarding design and synchronisation details. Another important point is a compatible style of communication as well as a certain degree of skill. It really all depends on the people involved.

My favourite demoscene collaboration of the recent years probably was the work on the Atari ST demo "Base Case" by Live! with the outstanding French coder and graphician Ukko. We put quite some work into small details of this demo and it honestly was partly also annoying work. But during the process we both tiredly agreed to keep on struggling, so now it is a production we are both really content with.

WT: What was your process for creating this track, ‘Chipjacker’?

505: The idea for this track came after I accidentally listened to some house music. That's why you get this kind of beat and rhythmic behaviour. Also the rather lengthy arrangement came from having club music in mind. The chippy parts were added later on top of that and finally reshaped the originally dry character of the track. This also explains the song title.

WT: Where do you hope to take ‘505’ in the future? Any plans for releases or live shows?

505: Well, just to keep on creating music for demoscene and other prods, whenever there is the right time and mood. There are plans for another chipmusic compilation and in the long term also a new album. But this won't be too soon. Beside I will possibly continue to play my Atari chiptune sets from time to time.