The penultimate week of 2013, and Jay Tholen is keep things festive with this outstanding piece, taking time out from creating Dropsy to give us this track. Grab it here!
Also! This week we're extremely excited to be launching uCollective's competition to be voted onto next year's WeeklyTreats! More information and entry forms can be found HERE.
Happy Holidays! xoxo
WT: What was your first introduction to the chiptune scene?
I used to download chiptunes from MODArchives to use in my terrible games when I was active in the Klik community as a wee 13 year old. From there, I got into tracking and the rest is history.
WT: You’ve got a huge back catalogue of releases, could you talk us through some of your favourites and why?
Oh man, that's a really difficult question. There are like 25 releases now, and I think they were all pretty necessary for my growth as an artist, even if I'm embarrassed by some of them now. My favourites are The Low Drone of Earth, Epidemic Deluxe, and Control Me. Low Drone is my most recent album, and I feel like it works well as a cohesive work. Epidemic Deluxe is a revamped version of an album I released in 2008. I think the Zombie association is holding it back a bit, but musically I feel it has a few of my strongest tracks. Control Me is close to my heart because I worked tirelessly on it. So many hours put into recording that one.
WT: What influences you musically?
Lots of stuff! Prog rock, krautrock, rap, shoegaze, and many of the sonic elements from dub/roots reggae. I love how Lee "Scratch" Perry did things.
WT: Also, what influences you lyrically?
It's no secret that the majority of my lyrics have to do with God and/or concepts surrounding Him. Save for a few of my goofier light-hearted tracks, most of them are making some kind of theological statement in one way or another.
WT: For those who don’t know, could you tell us a bit about Dropsy, the influences behind it and its current status?
Dropsy is an open world adventure game where you play as a clumsy, childlike clown who embarks on a surreal adventure to clear his name following a deadly fire. The gameplay is some weird combination of elements from Myst and more traditional adventure games like Monkey Island. Aesthetically, it's pretty heavily influenced by Earthbound - though that may not be evident by looking at it. It looks a little strange initially, but there's an undercurrent of pure joy that I'm hoping will weave throughout the entire experience. My programmer, Justin, is currently working on getting world building tools ready while I work out puzzles and background art.
WT: Do the influences going into the music for Dropsy match those of your ‘standard’ chip output?
I'd say yes, though there's definitely more of an FM flavour here. Also, Chris Schlarb is composing the bulk of the OST, so there will be way more properly recorded 'real life' instruments involved.
WT: What instruments and software do you make use of when composing?
I have a whole slew of jacked up keyboards and guitar pedals that I slap together in various ways to generate sounds with. Though any Moog or Mellotron sounds you hear are generally 100% software, as I'm too poor to afford either. My three primary software tools are Ableton, Famitracker, and Modplug Tracker. I don't use MPT as much these days, but it's still around if I need it.
WT: Linking to Dropsy, another big part of what you do is art. What influences this side of your life, what do you use to create and how important is visual art to your creative expression?
Colours! I love studying colour theory and subverting expectations. Shoving as many hues as possible into a piece is tons of fun. This probably relates to the way I record music as well, because I tend to pack the spectrum full of audio in spite of my better judgment. While I love pixel art, don't like the process. I get bored easily while pixelling.
WT: Could you talk to us a bit more about what went into your WeeklyTreat specifically?
Christmas cheer! Well, it opens up with an FM trumpet riff, followed by a small sample from an Amon Duul II song and a voice sample from some 60's Jesus Music record. Eventually "Oh Come Let Us Adore Him" pops in, and comes back at the end as a round. I just had as much fun as I could recording it, and I hope that comes through.
WT: What lies in the future for Jay Tholen and Dropsy?
Good things, I hope! The entire next year will be involve trying to survive while finishing the game, so I probably won't be putting out much new music until 2015.