Friday, 7 June 2013

Week #23| Smiletron - TRINITY

Week 23 and we have a great track to kick start your summer. So crank your speakers and enjoy this excellent track from Smiletron!
Grab it here!

WT: What was your first contact with the chiptune scene?

Smiletron:  I guess the first exposure to chipmusic I would have had would have to have been... about seven years ago now, through the now-mostly-defunct 8bitcollective. It gave me the opportunity to explore a world of music I had never known of before. Basic waveforms, archaic technology, focus on compositional prowess... It sucked me in. I had the chance to exchange knowledge and techniques with other artists, as well as provided an output where I could get external opinions on the music I was writing.

As far as the first chipmusic people to run across in life's travels... Probably Goatslacker! He showed me a number of things while I was homeless down in Florida four or five years ago. I owe him much gratitude.

WT: What influences go into creating your music stylistically?

S: Well, as far as influences for techniques... My musical peers have shown me so many tips and tricks. I have to say thanks to so many artists, but notably Trey Frey, Misfit Chris, IAYD, and Henry Homesweet have taught me a lot about writing music with their music. As far as influences outside of chip music... Gotta give it up to... Vibrasphere, Boards of Canada, a lot of assorted trance and dnb... I don't know, I feel that everything I listen to has the opportunity to teach me something new!

In regards to theme and imagery, however; I can safely say that the roots of both my music these days and the imagery accompanying it are rooted in sacred geometry, shaped by my own personal journey.

Simple shapes, perfect angles, symmetry; the math of the universe and of my own soul expressed as best as I am able. I guess it's an exploration of both inner and outer universes, and a chronicle of things that I’ve experienced.

WT: In terms of both gear and compositional technique, what goes into creating a Smiletron release?

S: Well, that's a lot easier asked than answered! 

In terms of gear, I have used everything from LSDJ, Trippy-H, Nanoloop, MSSIAH, and other old systems; however, over the course of my wanderings I’ve had a lot of my old stuff lost or damaged, or simply just sold it off to further the journey. In lieu of that, I've built up a pretty sizable collection of sampler fodder from archaic systems, as well as just about anything else I can get my hands on... Whether it's been gathered from friends, the internet, or synthesized and recorded myself. Currently it's at about 200,000 files, about 35 gigs worth... A veritable universe of sound just waiting to happen. These days, I put all my stuff together in Logic because of its super clean interface and powerful sampler options. For live stuff, I separate everything down to 8 tracks, cut everything down to workable sections, bounce them out at full quality, and import them into Ableton. Ableton's great because it provides a low-latency, really accessible way to manipulate audio in a live setting; I wouldn't really write anything with it though...

As far as compositional technique, whoo... It's gotten a bit complicated as of late. All the way back to the very beginning of SMILETRON, each record could be described as a type of sigil: a piece of art or a symbol imbued with a conscious intent. After deciding on a purpose, a more focused idea begins to take shape. Once I can hear some inkling of music in the back of my mind, a frame is made: a few loops, some drum sections, a few samples, anything to give some kind of base from which to work off of. Once there some kind of listenable 8-bar loop, it slowly grows and changes into a 16-bar loop, then two 16-bar loops, then 4 different sections, etc. It just kind of grows organically depending on what each specific track needs. Every song is written in this same expanding-loops method. Often times there are sections of audio that are run through algorithmic sequencing, producing a re-organization of audio within a specifiable set of parameters. It really allows projects to take on a life of their own, as there is this idea of a song writing itself after a certain point: every time it plays through it will have a tiny amount of variation within the specified set of parameters. Past that... Figuring out how to actually transcribe the musical ideas in your head to a piano roll and effects chain is probably the hardest part. Just takes a lot of practice, really...

Sound design is definitely where I feel I have the most opportunity to flex both intelligence and creativity, visualizing the way sound is created and then moved through a room, and then the way it affects the listener... It's cool stuff! I could get lost in it for a really long time. The fundamental nature of the universe is one of tones and frequencies, and I find that creating fantastic sounds is one of the best ways for me to explore that for myself.

Once the majority of a song's compositional structure is done, it's just a matter of fine tuning everything... perfecting the visual aspects of everything, automating all the effects, imaging and mastering, you know... General post-production stuff! It's all a lot of fun.

WT: You talked about playing live, do you do this often? If so, what have been some of the more notable gigs you’ve played?

S: I play out a little bit! I tend to enjoy just wandering rather than touring, but I do often find myself playing for people. 8static always shows me a good time. Headlining BRKfest last year was an immensely moving moment to me. I think the most incredible party though has to go to Blipfest '12's afterparty, MINT JAMS 2K12... Ctrix, Sabrepulse, Doomcloud, Knife City, Smiletron, and the EINDBASS guys at 285 kent down by the water in NYC, sweat raining from the ceiling, amazing people, insane tunes; I'll never forget that night.

It's kind of weird to be thinking about finishing up SMILETRON. There are only two official shows left... Both unannounced as of yet, but both promise to be unforgettable.

WT: What’s has causing you to end Smiletron?

S: After more than 20 records and almost 7 years, I'm suppose I'm just ready to move on to the next chapter of my life. It's been a great story to live out, but every good story has an end, and I am writing the end of this one... Not to worry though, the end of any journey is simply an opportunity for a new one to begin. I aim to continue writing music forever... but I am an old, tired soul and I just need to rest! I'll begin a new journey under the name Tri Angles as soon as the time is right. :)

WT: Seeing as the end is nigh, what would you say has been your highlight so far?

S: I've met a lot of wonderful people and played a lot of amazing shows with incredible people, but man, I have never felt anything like the feeling of playing my heart out to my friends a couple of weeks ago in Music City. I had just come back from a much-too-extended journey this spring... Ended up being gone way longer than I ever meant to... Anyways, poured every ounce of my soul into that performance. Seeing everyone right there on the same wavelength with me was perfect. I'll never forget it.

WT: And finally, any big send-offs planned to say goodbye to Smiletron, a new release or show?

S: Three releases, two shows, one magical summer. ;)