Six years ago, I had never been to a chip music show in my life. I had no clue how to use a tracker and I didn’t know what a “hexadecimal genome” was (I still don’t, but I’m known to stagedive when 10K asks loudly into a microphone). Nevertheless, I reached out from my academic prison in upstate New York to channel what I could of the radiant energy that seemed to pour from a tiny subculture in my neighboring childhood urban sprawl of New York City.
Tirelessly pursuing my soon-to-be-worthless B.A. in Digital Media Art, I began to uncover what I could about this vibrant music scene that repurposed outdated computer hardware to make music. I hosted a radio show, which was really quite terrible, and let the sounds of artists like Bit Shifter, Glomag and Nullsleep inspire my early art projects, which were also really quite terrible.
Finally I secured my useless degree and fled to New York City. But my daring escape came with a price: 9 months of unemployment, extreme poverty and all manner of disheartening misfortunes lay in wait for me.
Somehow I survived, thanks mostly to the moral support of a number of individuals, many of whom were the very artists I had once admired from afar, and all of whom I now consider some of my closest friends.
As expected, saying it’s been a surreal pleasure to perform at the Blip Festival this past weekend alongside so many absurdly talented and generally amazing people rings harshly in my head as an obscene understatement. Even if I were to play dozens more music festivals in my lifetime, I simply can’t imagine they’d include the sense of unfettered camaraderie that Blip so effortlessly provides.
Consider this letter my giant THANK YOU to everyone that made this happen. Stand by for massive GREETZ:
To Jenn, Ricardo, Dustin, Adam & Kris K - I couldn’t have found a nicer and more supportive set of core bros if I had combed every street of all 5 of these boroughs (even the Bronx, lol)
To Josh Davis, aka Bit Shifter & Chris Burke, aka Glomag - Your friendship, support and enthusiasm has proven to be just as inspiring as your music
To all the organizers, artists & volunteers at 8bitpeoples and The Tank - Thanks for keeping this shit going long enough to make this part of the story possible.
To Emi - You don’t deserve half of the shit I make you put up with. The other half is fair game so DEAL WITH IT.
To all the visualists who have given sight to my sound: NO CARRIER, Invaderbacca, vade, Batsly Adams, et al - Don’t let anyone ever tell you that your shit is less than half the reason these things are so incredible. (in fact, sometimes it’s probably more)
To all musician-friends from near and far: cTrix, minusbaby, Animal Style, Nullsleep, little-scale, Starscream, TOO MANY TO MENTION - Being able to see all of you perform (some more times than I can count) throughout the years has provided an unparalleled creative energy that’s as exciting as it is inspiring.
To the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Tim Wu and DIY’ers everywhere - You are an inspiration for creativity and freedom in a world where our technologies are otherwise owned & enslaved by an unfeeling corporate hand. Never give up the fight.
All supporters on the journalism front: Peter Swimm, Matt Hawkins, Samit Sarkar, Topher Cantler, Leigh Alexander and everyone else who has helped spread the word out of genuine love for the scene.
Everyone who has ever come to a show and did not ask me if I’m playing videogame music - Your informed appreciation makes me feel better about making music with shitty electronics.
See you all at BLIP FESTIVAL 2012: MAYAN LONG-COUNT APOCALYPSE EDITION™
I attended my first Blip Festival in 2008, after completing my undergrad work in upstate New York. Despite being the focus of my studies for the past 2 years, I had used a tracker maybe once, and had been to exactly two chip shows. The fest was vibrant and exhilarating, and I was perfectly content with watching from the sidelines.
Now, by some strange twist of fate, I’m slated to perform at that very same festival as it celebrates its 5th anniversary as the largest chip music event on earth.
The schedule is absolutely massive — I’ll be followed by a swarm of international demoscene legends like Ultrasyd, cTrix and 4mat, plus a whole mess of insanely talented New York area locals: Anamanaguchi, Bit Shifter, exileFaker et al. To top it off, some incredible visual artists from all over will paint the walls with pixels during all three nights of performances: Racquel Myers, NO CARRIER and m7kenji, to name a few.
Get your tickets now at http://blipfestival.org/2011/tickets/
Full schedule, below:
I’m still not fully recovered from all of the rad stuff that went on last week at GDC in San Francisco (see some of my coverage here, here and here), but nevertheless, I’m headed to Boston this weekend for PAX East.
The chip showcase we had there last year was pretty legit, but this year it’s going into overdrive: Local allies Boston8bit have teamed up with MAGFest to organize a 3-part chip showcase featuring 15 performers and 3 visual artists at the PAX East Jamspace on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
I’ll be giving a presentation on the history of chip music Saturday morning at 10 AM in the Jamspace, then performing alongside AdamGetsAwesome, Danimal Cannon, Bright Primate and Smiletron from 11 - 2 PM.
I’ll be bringing some merch with me too: Micro-CD’s (the same ones I premiered at PAX Prime - only a couple left) and 1” Zen Albatross buttons, brought to you thanks to the
slave labor hard work of Jenn DLV:
Other must-see acts like NY chiptune forebears Bit Shifter and Glomag will also be performing throughout the weekend. And if you’re still around on Sunday, definitely don’t miss casio/gameboy duo The Shortsleeves, who are on tour this month.
Here’s the full lineup:
=== FRIDAY ===
=== SATURDAY ===
=== SUNDAY ===
glomag and Corset lore
=== VISUAL ARTISTS ===