Friday, 22 November 2013

Week #47| Vegas Diamond - Vampires of Dirt

How have we made it this far? I have genuinely no idea. As the end draws scarily closer, we're trying our best not to slow down... luckily what we have planned these last six weeks are some of the strongest tracks and biggest names yet. Explosive end anyone? SO without any more overzealous self-patting; As a taster of what to expect on the upcoming release here on TWG, we're bringing you a track from the neo-hop dark-bient king Vegas Diamond!!! Grab it here.

WT: What was your first introduction to the chiptune scene?

Vegas Diamond: I've always been interested in making "lo-fi" or experimental music with lots of distortion and bitcrushers and what not. I used to play in a 2-piece (bass and drums) rock outfit and I was always busy experimenting with effects stompboxes and feedback. I don't recall when I discovered that making music on old hardware was a thing. I knew about demoscene music from cracks and hacks of popular games but I never really connected the dots. In 2005 I tried to make some sample-based hiphop in Milkytracker but failed miserably (I can provide the .XMs). I then quit making electronic music for a couple of years. Late 2011 I bought a nanoloop cart out of the blue and I just started tinkering and making simple tunes.

I guess what attracts me most about the Gameboy is the 4 channel workflow and trying to make a lot out of very little. In a DAW you have so many options that I get swamped and usually end up doing nothing musical at all. My involvement in the scene basically stems from me being a chiptune musician myself. I really didn't listen to a lot of chiptune before I started making my own music but I am VERY glad I discovered it. There's so much great music to listen to.

WT: Could you tell us a bit about your debut on LowToy, how this partnership started and what went in to creating the release?

VD: I made an EP worth of tracks in Nanoloop in August last year and I was looking for a label because I liked the idea of being on a label and having this sense of belonging. I picked Lowtoy because they seemed to have this experimental aesthetic going on. I just sent it in, had a really aggravating 3 weeks of waiting and then got an E-mail saying they accepted it, there was no prior contact really. When I listen to the EP now I'm amazed it got accepted. The songs aren't bad but they're all so rough, you can definitely hear they could've used some more polishing.

WT: What influences you musically?

VD: I have 2 big sources of inspiration. The first, and the one I use most, is when I read a book or see a movie and I try to put whatever I like about it into song. I know it's kind of cliché but it works! The other is when I listen to a song and hear something I want to replicate. This is usually not a sequence of notes but a more like a specific sound or a rhythm. I then build a song around this motif or rhythm and it invariably ends up being something completely different, unrelated to the original.

WT: You recently switched from nanoloop to LSDJ for compositions, what were your reasons behind this? Was one specifically restrictive to you?

VD: I was no longer happy with my nanoloop output and was stuck in a rut musically because, and this was my own fault, I kept doing the same things. It all sounded so similar but it wasn't heavy enough. I tried switching to LSDJ a couple of times but that was a huge turnoff because of the complexity. This summer I finally persevered and went through the motions, followed Danimal's & Andarugo's tutorials, tinkered a lot. Finally got it though! I don't want to pick sides or say nanoloop or lsdj is unequivocally better than the other but for me discovering how lsdj worked was a blessing. Looking back, I wished I switched earlier.

WT: What’s your stance on the purity of chiptune debate?

VD: When it comes to chiptune purity I think I am fairly conservative. I don't get why anyone would put themselves in this position of compromise and make modern dance music (or EDM) with some slight chiptune elements and try and market it to the chiptune community. We all know the scene is very small and I simply do not get why anyone would take part in it without adopting the thing that defines that scene, there are far more lucrative places to go. To clarify, I am not condemning music that is made in a DAW or that doesn't use the original chip, I don't care about that, although the music I don't consider chiptune invariably is made in a DAW.

WT: Do you play live often? If so, what set-ups do you use, and are there any key shows coming soon in the future?

VD: I think it comes to once or twice per month… There's busy months and months without gigs, you know how that goes. There's a show with Roccow and Jotie in Ghent next week, probably going to be a small gig in a small cosy venue but it's great to play out and meet old pals again. About setups: my nanoloop setup was very intricate, I hard panned all of my songs, the leads on L and all the rest on R and then used the inserts of my mixer to send the L through filters, chorus and delay. Ultimately this was a lot of hassle because I couldn't really play on a normal system. Nowadays my setup is simpler and now I can play with just my gameboy. Fo a typical gig, I'd use I have 2 prosounded gameboys, a Casio VL-1 through chorus and filter guitar stompboxes and a delay on aux send.

WT: What went, specifically, into creating your WeeklyTreat?

VD: I was taking a walk while singing a bassline from an older unreleased nanoloop song. When I came home I put the bassline into LSDJ and tried to make this hip-hop groove out of it, which turned out fairly well I think. I also started experimenting with doubling the pulse channels in the same octave to get phasing or chorus effects. I considered including on the EP but, while it is comparable in sound, it somehow didn't fit in next to the other tracks. 

WT: You have an EP coming out very soon, could you tell us a bit more about that please?

VD: The motivation for making another EP came from my switch to LSDJ. I switched in July this year and had a gig at BITGRID in October so I needed to come up with 45-60 minutes of material fairly quickly. There were a few good ideas in those 45 minutes and I started working on fleshing out some of them and that resulted in 4 tracks. The EP will release on The Waveform Generators on Nov. 30th and will have a sound that is similar to the Weeklytreat; lots of beats and hiphop mixed with experimental sounds. I'm also going to look into producing tapes because I like tapes.

WT: What  else lies in the future for Vegas Diamond?

VD: A lot I hope! I'm still looking for new gig opportunities. There's still a lot of tracks and snippets left over from Hyper. I'm going to try and make something that is a little more chilled out, a little less dance-floor oriented. I also bought a nice Yamaha keyboard from the 80's and I'm going to try and incorporate that to get some more non-chip elements in my music. I'm also still looking for a nice rapper to collaborate with so if you know anyone hit me up.