Think you’ve got dance music covered? Think again. Liverpool-based CalmDownKidder might just teach you a few new moves. James Bentley’s label-cum-gig nights champions the city’s resurgent chipmusic scene, bridging the worlds of gaming and raving with a roster of thrillingly inventive acts. From Japanese ‘rave dance pop’ to ‘breakcore insanity’ chipmusic has all the bases covered. Forget your DS, this is as 3D as gaming gets.
Bentley’s Chipfests regularly show up our more traditional club nights for the four-to-the-floor dinosaurs they’re sometimes wont to be. Chipmusic – the creation of original music on various old school computers and gaming devices – might have started live as a homage to the Commodore and Game Boy, but these days it’s at the forefront of electronic music, used by some of the world’s most innovative and thrilling producers and performers (Robyn’s a fan, so that’s instant validation in our books).
Think it’s all geeks and gamers? Forget it. These are some of the sweatiest, most euphoric nights in town.
For Chipfest 6, Bentley’s secured the services of iconic game composer Tim Wright (main pic – who composed music for Lemmings, Wipeout, Shadow of the Beast…). Playing under his CoLD SToRAGE moniker, this will be Wright’s first live gig in over 20 years. A show of respect for Bentley’s devotion to the cause.
How healthy is the chip music scene in Liverpool right now?
James: It’s looking pretty bright at the moment! I’ve been discovering a few local acts recently, it appears our little scene is growing and flourishing by the week! I’ve been putting on shows of this nature since 2007, and whilst there has been a variance in attending numbers, this number has been growing with each gig though, so I’m hoping loads of people will come and party with us!
I’ll list four from the local scene, as I believe they’re always due a shoutout!
I don’t think I’ll need to do that for Chipfest 6 though, as I’m hoping to stick to my original work. As for hardware, it’ll probably be a laptop and a MIDI Keyboard. I’m not really set-up to use 3 Gameboys and a C64, something like that would take a lot more preparation, and at the end of the day, I think people would want me to be ‘me’, rather than trying to emulate other people in the scene. I was tempted to rig up my AMIGA for the gig, but my old A1200 is feeling it’s age, so I wouldn’t want to count on it and have it fail!
What are you proudest of in your career?
Wow, that’s a tough one. I’ve had such a fortunate working life so far. Not everyone can say they’ve managed to (mostly) do what they love for a job. I’d probably say the launch of MUSICtm – Music Creation for PlayStation. Designing and developing that ‘game’ was all-consuming. I didn’t sleep, go home, or think about anything else for nearly nine months. It didn’t do my personal life much good, and that’s when my son was born too, so it was really stressful and awkward, but rewarding in so many ways. That time in my life was such a roller coaster, but the final product was something that changed so many people’s lives in ways I couldn’t have imagined – including my own.
Designing and developing music creation software on consoles, handhelds and PC has been a good 50% of my career so far, and it’s something that most people don’t know that much about, or don’t associate me with. They generally know me as Tim Wright who composed the music for Lemmings, or CoLD SToRAGE who wrote the music for Wipeout, but from 1997 to 2007 I spent most of my working days developing the MUSIC / MTV Music Generator / eJay products.
What games stand out, currently, for their chip samples or soundtracks?
I don’t have any particular favourite just now, but I’m really enjoying hearing a revival of chip style tracks in loads of iOS and Android games. The whole ‘back bedroom’ developer vibe is alive and well again, and I really think this will be the last time we see it happen.
I recently composed the soundtrack for a retro game called Gravity Crash for PS3 and PSP, and the musical style was almost chiptune on steroids, so that was great fun to do. I’m also making good use of the SID Player on my Android phone to listen to all the great demo scene music that’s out there just now, with a new wave of people writing inspiring and innovative tracks using a real C64 or GoatTracker on a PC. Great stuff!
CoLD SToRAGE / Maru / BSK (pic 2)/ DS-10 Dominator /
HarleyLikesMusic / Comptroller (pic 3)/ Chipzel
Saturday 27th August, 20:30 doors open, £5
Bier Keller, Dale Street/Stanley Street, Liverpool
Full details available @ http://calmdownkidder.com/
Main pic: Tim Wright
Pic three: James Bentley