Friday, 6 December 2013

Week #49| Maxo - Chalktopia ~Chipmix~

First up this week... a HUGE announcement! We are massively excited to announce to you that WeeklyTreats WILL be returning in 2014, but in a newer, more exciting and far bigger way!! First up, we have a dedicated site now (which will be launching in full force VERY soon), Facebook and Twitter pages and, most importantly, a new way of giving you weekly treats. This year, each calender month will be taken over by a different curator (label, festival, blog or community) that we, the WeeklyTreats team, have hand picked, and they will be choosing the artists for their month. Even more exciting than that simple fact? We can also announce that January will be curated by none other than progjazz label legends UBIKTUNE! So, bookmark the site, follow us on twitter and Facebook, and get ready for an even BIGGER year than last (and trust me, we have far more waiting up our sleeves.... ;) ). 

As for this week's WeeklyTreat: I'm inexplainably excited to be introducing to you one of my personal all time favourite chip artists, the fantastically talent Maxo. Bringing us a re-wroking of one our favourite tracks from his Level Music series, Maxo is, as usual, flaunting the insanly high levels of talent he posses. Grab the track here!

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

Maxo: I've always loved 8bit music, ever since I've owned a Game Boy, but playing shows with Anamanaguchi and Starscream (now Infinity Shred) with my band in high-school really introduced me to the DIY chip-scene.

WT: Who influences you musically?

M: I grew up around a lot of prog rock and jazz fusion records, so many of my influences reflect those styles.  I really try and listen to a wide variety of music, so at this point influence can come from almost anywhere.   I always try and keep up with video game music however, so that's one thing that remains constant!

WT: What soft- and hardware do you use to create your music?

M: Currently I use Logic Pro 9 and Famitracker (through Wine), running on a pretty new iMac.  I've been using Logic for about 5 years now, but I only recently started using Famitracker (I love it).  In terms of hardware, I use a 49-key MIDI keyboard, and an mbox if I decide on recording live instruments.

WT: You’re back-catalogue is huge, could you walk us through a standard compositional process and how you can create so much high quality music please?

M: I love writing, so I try to do it a lot, but I can always write more efficiently when I have a concept to work around.  That's why there are so many Level Music tracks!  In terms of quality, I try to make music that I personally enjoy first and foremost.  It took me several years to get to the point where I was satisfied with the quality of my writing, but most often just the thrill of having created something is gratification enough.

WT: You’ve also been moving towards using Famitracker, what has caused this shift? Do you prefer it to your old ways of working?

M: I originally started making 'fakebit' music because I wanted chip-y sounds without having to contend with tracking software (it seemed insurmountable at the time).  But recently I had decided what a stupid reason that was, so I bit the bullet and went for it.  It's hard to say which I prefer.  I'm still experiencing the "new gadget" charm of Famitracker, but I've been using it in tandem with Logic so both are equally important to my writing process.

WT: Could you tell us a bit more about the background for ‘Fakebit 2010’, how it was created, and how it came to be on Ubiktune?

M: Fakebit 2010 was a compilation record (as is More Fakebit), essentially putting most of my fakebit material I'd written for 8bitcollective on one release.  I got in touch with Dmitry (C-jeff) of Ubiktune, who had heard some of the material on 8bc, and pitched a release to him!  I've appeared on several amazing Ubiktune compilations since then, it's really an incredible community!

WT: You also do a series of releases called ‘Level Music’. What prompted these, are there any specific influences to their creation and how does the process of their creation differ to that of your more ‘standard’ releases?

M: As soon as I was made aware of the existence of 16bit soundfonts, I jumped on it.  There's a pretty wide variety of them on the internet, but I got my first several (Kirby's Dream Land 3, F-Zero, Super Mario Kart, Secret of Mana) from Dave Harris's website. Working with these sounds really inspired me to emulate video game music, more so than any other type of sound I had worked with before then.  The 16bit era is probably my favourite era of video game music, so I fell in love with the idea of writing massive amounts of music in that style.  Again, the concept is what drove and continues to drive me.

WT: Could you explain a bit more about what went into your WeeklyTreat and its background?

M: I got into the habit of posting Level Music tracks on 8bitcollective, and the track that got by far the most love was Chalktopia (off of Level Music 6).  Normally, I wouldn't use that as the only excuse to make a remix, but I thought that the tune would lend itself very well to NES sounds.  I'm really happy with the result!  It's definitely the longest track I've made in Famitracker as of yet, so it was also an important learning experience.  

WT: Do you play live often, and if so, what set ups do you use? Also, how do you decide which songs to play from such a prolific back-catalogue?

M: I didn't for a long time, but recently I've been trying to play out.  My setup is pretty bare bones right now, I use a backing track on a laptop and I shred on a MIDI keyboard over it through Logic.  This is certainly subject to change however!  Choosing songs is a little tricky.  A year or so back, I chose a handful of my favourite tunes that I knew I could perform well for a senior recital (took a really long time), and I guess I ended up running with those.  I try and throw in new material when I have it though, so you can definitely expect to hear the Chalktopia remix next time I play!

WT: What lies in the future for Maxo?

M: Some cool stuff I probably shouldn't say too much about, but I'll just leave out the specifics: I've got an exciting live band collaboration coming up with some rising artists in the Jazz scene, a collab release with two sweet trap artists, one or more remixes of friends' tunes, and I'm working on music for two cool indie games a friend of mine is developing!  Of course, I'm gonna try and continue to release Level Music on the side, so look forward to that as well! 

Thank you Andrew! And thank you WeeklyTreats~ <3