Saturday, March 31, 2012

Composer Spotlight on Mirby

Taylor Brown aka Mirby is perhaps best known in the video game music community for her journalistic pursuits. She has written numerous articles reviewing arrangement albums as well as interviews with remixers. Mirby has also collaborated with members of the community for original material and for VG-based fan works. More recently she is heading the Final Fantasy remix project Audio Engineering, covering all the Cid themes from the series. I asked Mirby a few questions about her influences, her creative goals, and her short-lived ReMixing Bout compo.

Mirby revealed that her earliest exposure to music was probably as soon as she came into the world. She explained that, My dad was a bassist in a band, so music has always been a big part in my life. The band was disbanded before I was born, and due to a drunken mishap they weren't signed. That said, my brother and all his friends (henceforth referred to as my brothers) are musicians, so through them I learned all sorts of things. In fact, if it weren't for them I might not have any interest in making music at all.” She felt that this early experience influenced her current work: “Since all my brothers did was jam sessions, all my music is basically just made as I go. Adding in what sounds good, tweaking things to make it just right... they definitely influenced me as a musician.”

It's been noted that Mirby’s solo work carries a heavily improvised style, sometimes implementing on-the-fly keyboard riffing. She elaborated that, “When I can, I like to mess around with whatever music-making thing I can; keyboards are usually what I use, but I did recently make a nice rhythm via the ocarina in Ocarina of Time 3D, and have since figured out how to play it on a keyboard. When I'm actually recording, I stick to FL Studio and soundfonts. I've found quite a few good ones, and am slowly getting more familiar with the track. I also have a friend who is willing to record live violin, so that's cool too.”

Mirby has participated in a number of compos, and eventually organized her own, Mirby's ReMixing Bout. When asked what her motivation for joining compos had been, she said, “I think I first learned about them because of JHCompo. I'd never really made music in a short time frame before, so having that restriction really inspired me. One Hour Compo is also great fun because it's half the time and thus double the rush.” She also explained why she started her own competition: “I just have a lot of tracks I want remixes for. That's literally the main inspiration for it. But thanks to my Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story remix of Plack Beach, I have been inspired to make my own remixes now instead of purely original stuff.”

She is currently organizing a Final Fantasy Cid tribute project, and described the experience of bringing artists together for collaboration: “I have a few WIPs so far, so it's going well. Considering I got all the main Cid tracks claimed in just ten days, I'm rather amazed. I guess that everyone likes Cid, so that's good.” At the time of the interview, the album was simply known as the Cid Tribute Project. She joking mentioned she had an idea for a fake cover: “Everybody Loves Cidolfus with FF12 Cid on the front.” It was later given the title Audio Engineering: A Cid Tribute Project.

Mirby revealed some of her current plans for her outlets, known collectively as Mirby Studios. “I'm always up for an interview with a remixer. Other projects include the numerous games I've been working on and have never finished. Whether I do finish those someday or not is still up in the air.” She noted that her collaboration with Wildfire remixing Subrosia’s theme from Oracle of Seasons is coming together. Regarding composition competitions, Mirby concluded that, “Basically, compos are good. If you're looking to improve on your skills, find a compo and participate. I didn't learn as much in FL Studio just messing around as when I had time restrictions. There are plenty of competitions, so it's not hard to find one.”

Friday, March 30, 2012

Sing Gently

This week was a double dose of nostalgia for Punchfest 17, since it required that participants remix tunes from games they each received on their respective birthdays. As a result, the round brought about five entries from a variety of titles. The tracks covered a wide range of approaches, from Rexy’s frantic koto work, to PoD’s fart tribute of Snappleman, to Obtuse's plucked bass, and Plank's acoustic soloing. The World Warrior Remix Royale also began the voting stage for round 1 of the Shoryuken Bracket, releasing a slew of Street Fighter remixes into the wild. This past Sunday saw LLCompo celebrate its tenth round by setting its theme to “Yourself” and asked contestants to “look inside” for the answer.
JHCompo on Tuesday was put in a forbidding chamber with its “Torture” theme. After my music-backed introduction, dusthillguy admitted that he was not at his best and thus put up a brief, familiar riff. liquid wind’s atonal sonorities evoked the sense of “tortured phantoms” including piano, scratching effect and a steady kick. bjkmenu's funky pop got a thumbs up from superjoe when the music stuck closely to the written description of the night’s round. Clockwerk expressed the torture that a lot of composers go through: “Daw Crash Freeze”, in his case an ambient electronic piece ending with an unintentional recording of my intro. Finally SonicThHedgog worked out some acoustic strumming, electric shreds and searing lead to wrap things up. 

Thursday’s OHC spoke of its audience not making progress by way of its theme, “Wasting Time”. The listening party began with an introduction by The Stuff of Legends, reading the theme description with a mellow musical backing. dusthillguy followed with a series of noodled guitar arpeggios set to no particular tempo. DucksUnlimited had fittingly “Totally Forgot” about the compo and put together a patchwork of twangs, clanks, piano, and synth bass. CJthemusicdude pondered a brief history of time, and then whipped out his Theremin to rock. General Mumble used a catchy hook to sing about wasting time to a tuplet-centric, swingy electro beat. sci sampled “The Rockefeller Skank” as the basis of his epic mashup, using all manner of elements including wub-wubs. HarryNilsson'sGhost feared entering the chat because of the perceived quality of his improvised piano-and-vocals entry. 

analoq stated that “hemo is over” and settled in chilled-out Rhodes for the “socal sunset”. Forty-Two soared above the clouds in a flurry of electronic harmonies, sweeps and pads. DDRKirby(ISQ) collaborated with Acuity and set about a bunch of experiments whilst getting nothing done, per the theme. A-zu-ra inserted his vintage cartridge Procrastination Fighters and thus raged against the chips. Misael.K traveled to a “Sunny Park” and decided to burn daylight in 3/4 time. scibot9000 transmitted its entry for CJthemusicdude by sampling his pre-flatulatory grunt and colliding into dubstep. OMGitslewis wrote his entry description in all caps to emphasize the rise of Ultra Nintenga, the world’s most advanced time waster. Fusion2004 busted out his percussion for a freewheeling acoustic entry with dollops of flute and guitar. Trancient settled on a trip hop rhythm dotted by 8-bit blips “Wasting Happily Away”. 

Kaxon revealed that he attended a Zelda-themed concert the previous night, perhaps influencing the mood for the strings and piano of his composition. MandraSigma woke up at an inopportune time and maneuvered around a gauntlet of glitch effects before reaching his workspace. Arcana established a tense, dancey tune, waiting until just the right moment to realize time wasted. Toward the end of the night dusthillguy and Destroid suffered a teleporter accident to become the freak of nature known as desthillroid; the violent clash of chord progressions and nostalgic instrument sets may be too much for the average listener to bear. Finally the night ended with a second entry from DDRKirbyISQ thanking OHC for being host to his many productions. 

As a personal note I’d like to thank OHC myself as an entrant and follower for many years. Although my behavior and mindset had taken a regretful turn, I nevertheless enjoyed being a part of the community. The feedback and advice I received for my music I uploaded each week was invaluable, and is part of my workflow to this day. I grew as a musician thanks to the positive reinforcement of my peers. For a long while I took my connection to this community for granted, but now I see the situation with clearer eyes. My experience in compo-ing and interacting with others has made an indelible mark on my creative life. I hope that others continue to discover this experience too, and benefit from it as I had.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Made of Pieces

People’s Remixing Competition 214 started off with its chosen source material, Castlevania III available for participants to remix. A trio of entries came about as the round wrapped up: Zerothemaster worked out some reverb-heavy piano interpretation, surrounded by deep synths and lo-fi high end. chroxic’s drum and bass has perhaps too much sub-bass as well as a half-rhythm indicative of dubstep influence. Yami rounded things out with his first entry for PRC mainly out of love of the source, beginning soft and tearing a hole in the soundscape for a trance-y take. The World Warrior Remix Royale also began the voting stage for round one of the Hadouken Bracket, which brought about seven entries. LLCompo: Battle 9 followed shortly thereafter with 15 compositions related to its theme of “The Sea”.

JHCompo on Tuesday invited entrants to ascend “The Throne” and compose in a royal manner. After my Conker’s Bad Fur Day-sampling introduction, a wild dusthillguy appeared for a session of bass playing. Jakesnke17 came back to JHCompo after some time away, serving up his usual tribal percussion, strings and horns. ShinnyMetal similarly returned and made his “Contemplation of the Throne” by way of somber solo piano. Obtuse took his present drum beat and made a competent dance tune despite not being fully sober. Both he and Jarski admitted that their music were unrelated to the theme and made some untz for the sake of untz. Kay Faraday broke out of the cage for a “Battle Royale” of chips that lasts a full minute. skyndileg riled up the orchestra for “Coronation of the Damned” that takes a quiet turn before coming in full force. Listeners noted that oginome’s 8-bit track suffered from an unusually swing beat, but otherwise garnered complements. At the end of the round SonicThHedgog put up his characteristic Sonic-infused rock licks, while MandraSigma set his spaceship coordinates to electro. 

Thursday’s OHC once again had a theme presented by an epic introduction by The Stuff of Legends, this time set to a lush orchestral backdrop. AutomaticJack created a four-second track in two minutes, bringing in quality rather than quantity. Misael.K’s clashing harmonies are centered by a synth bass and eventually a chime to “Remember the Future”. DucksUnlimited generated a chorus of pitch vocal clips leading into mellow industrial. JackTHerbert unintentionally continued the vibe of the previous entry by retaining the key, but picked things up with some fast drum and bass. isidor3’s studio hiss established the stirring mood pervaded by acoustic guitar, bass and distant piano. Acuity fell into a deep sleep and entered a “Dreamscape” somewhere within the bowls of a Game Boy. General Mumble pulled the listening party back to the realm of ambience and heavy effects, eventually slamming down drums. OMGitslewis traverse a long tunnel of reverb emphasizing each beat of every measure until finally laying a drop. 

sci pondered the mixture of jazz with brostep, the result sounding like a scratched jungle breaks CD. Fusion2004 stumbled upon a keyboard shortcut activating a quantum leap of blips transitioning to orchestral. Forty-Two’s bell-like pads and minimal structure adequately represented a voyage through “Alien Landscape” punctuated by piano. cyberjet189 deftly experimented with compression to make a hip hop piece with hints trance chords. The clanging of bells rises in CJthemusicdude’s entry and melds with layers upon layers of arpeggios. Arcana lifted the low-pass filter just enough to let the sonorities and dance beats fill the listening party’s ears. A-zu-ra’s sparce intro belies the eventual dense arrangement of 8-bit elements. Foozogz layer together recording of a multitude of musical sounds topped with an incomprehensible song title. jarski began with just bass, and the other pieces of the brass-filled electronic soundscape fell into place. Roseweave's track apparently followed the established bass-plus-reverb pattern of the night.  

Trancient made the plunge from a life of piano to that of boom-pat, and back again. DDRKirby(ISQ) celebrated his 100th OHC entry by incorporating techniques old and new and spanning nearly nine minutes MandraSigma pondered a conspiracy and glitching some lo-bit instruments and ramblings along the way. Jakesnke17 found himself in the Matrix as evidenced by the slow ebb of trip-hop beats and spacey pads. MisaelK put in another track from the future claiming “This Happened Tomorrow” with a compressed musicbox. After dusthillguy’s eight minute loop, munchi discovered that he submitted on time in a parallel universe, thus allowing him to submit it to the party. Duosis entered with a mixture of sampled and pitch-shifted elements, most notably from the Mark Ronson production "A La Modeliste". At the end of the party bjkmenu expressed failure, but delivered his signature quirky humor rock in spades.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Composer Spotlight on Shael Riley

Shael Riley has made waves both as a solo artist and through his various collaborations over the years. From his 2005 debut album Toybox to the seismic Double Ice Backfire release Ultimate Songs from the Pit – not to mention a certain Castlevania arrangement by some guy named Diskmastah SmokabitchShael has worked his way into the consciousness of the video game music community and beyond. I asked him a few questions regarding compo, his musical background and the upcoming Grammar Club EP he’s a part of.

He admitted that he had trouble pinpointing the exact moment that music first came into his life. “My dad was in a rock band and my mom was into musical theatre and opera, so there was always music on in my house. It was probably that. Or maybe nursery rhymes.” Regarding his more recent methods of composing, Shael said that, “I used to use a lot of software synths and junk, mainly in Reason, so VSTs were never much of a thing for me. These days I usually just write chiptunes or do MIDI pre-tracking and let Ty Guenley handle the instrumentation. I haven't written full-fledged-DAW music in a couple of years, barring a few experiments with Reaper. I'm happier focusing on the essential elements of songwriting and letting Ty handle the production.”

Shael had first heard about compos in 2003 through Kwakfest, and participated in one sometime later. He expressed the virtues of composition competitions: “Compos can be a valuable exercise and they can be fun. They can give you some needed time-pressure to create something, when you want to create something but don't know what, and don't care if it isn't very refined.” He eventually started his own series of compos called Doubles’ Dash (DDC), in which participants team up in pairs to create songs with at least one team member providing vocals. After a couple of loosely organized rounds, it later returned as part of Compo: ThaSauce and has been run more or less consistently on a monthly basis. One particular round required both team members to sing for their submission, leading to an inspired duet between Shael and diotrans called “Radio Unts Tiss”.

He explained that his interest in DDC faded after the first year or two: “I'm not too big into compos at all these days. An OHC once in a while is fun, but that's all I'm up for. I feel like I'm pretty well self-directed right now, so I have my own projects to work on whenever I feel inspired to make music.” The responsibilities of organizing DDC were transferred over to Level 99, who continues to run it to the present day. Regarding Shael’s solo material, a collection of his compo entries can be found at a site that may or may not contain Russian spyware. One of those compositions, “Rarest of Elements” went on to become a Shael Riley and the Double Ice Backfire song on their debut album, released in 2011.

Another DDC track, “A Team by Myself” by Ty was reworked as Grammar Club song included on their 2010 EP MC Horse Rides Again. Shael is currently working on new Grammar Club release, out this year. He described his progress and the experience of collaborating with other artists for the EP. “This is our third time around, so everyone pretty much knows how to make a Grammar Club album now. The guest vocalists we're working with are pretty well experienced too.” He also noted that the tone and theme are closer to that of the Grammar Club debut Bremelanotide. Whether through compos or other collaborative efforts, Shael’s work leaves a lasting impression.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Most Dangerous Game

The past week marked the start of Street Fighter: The World Warrior Remix Royale. For the tournament, each entrant selected a character theme from the Street Fighter series and will battle by way of a “vs remix” merging the theme with that of an opponent. Unlike previous competitions held on OverClocked ReMix, the royale will feature involvement with Capcom for potential inclusion of music in its promotional releases. SDCompo ended round 65 with a handful of entries, and its first place entry agargara gathered much approval despite its unorthodox structure and inexplicable snail-themed lyrics. LLCompo: Battle 8 similarly was home to some unusual verses due in part to its “Robot” theme. Saif in particular teamed up with a friend to create a speed metal song about the rise of the machines. 

JHCompo on Tuesday invited everyone to a “Game Show” where the big prize was perpetually hidden in a question-marked box. My introduction track featured my usual narration, this time set to the Match Game theme song. Duosis chose to make a theme song for a reality show, cutting a sampled rock riff to a pounding house beat and funky bassline. SonicThHedgog in his typical fashion put out a pair of Sonic arrangements and asked listeners to identify the source material. Finally rwarman007 worked out an electronic piece that served to propel his spoken-word instructions about the game show and its progression. 

Thursday’s OHC was preceded by the hype built up at Compo Stadium, detailing the “Battle of the Heroes” theme amongst the flaring of NFL on Fox horns. A-zu-ra demonstrated that overthinking is a mixed blessing, thus leaving his entry untitled and creating a brief chip entry. CSWorks worked out a bouncy, off-kilter battle theme in the style of Final Fantasy. Acuity’s track “Summoner’s Rift” asked participants to select the protagonist and go off on an adventure of lo-fi synths. Miru’s post-piece requiem focuses on playful fights between friends, set to rhythmic orchestral music. DijiTwitch said simply “Kill’em Dead” and ventured to the dance floor with his stabbing piano. BrandonS decided to forgo actually composing a song for the round and instead offered an infomercial for his new EP. DDRKirby(ISQ) similarly promoted his compilation album, but made a new song containing church bells, strings and many blips.

Flik made a rare appearance and submitted a short but effective mixture of industrial and ambiance. Arcana felt that his tune was too upbeat to be about war, so his orchestral jaunt summarizes the joy of victory. CJthemusicdude whipped out his keyboard to rollick among the ivories in a somber composition. Trancient noted that his electronic track sounds better with headphones, which is not a problem considering the listening party’s large percent of producers. Shadix’s entry is possibly shorter than the time it takes to read the track description, but what is heard fits the context. General Mumble arrived an hour late due to a Daylight Savings Time snafu, but shook the dancefloor with arps and a lumbering beast of some sort. sci uploaded another mashup of his that manages to sound cohesive despite the wild mixture of sources. 

munchi made a sly nod to DDRKirby in his entry title and presents the glitched blurbs he worked on as practice. OMGitslewis also sent out a chippy electro tune complete with a chilled middle section and some wubs. Forty-Two soaks his reflective “No Man’s Land” in reverb and subtly played off of his harmonies in a soft manner. Roseweave sang a bit for her submission, seemingly falling onto her microphone in the process. I wrote an original song in OHC for once, with the help of a rhythm guitar recording that I chopped to create chord progressions. At the end of the listening party MandraSigma submitted his “hero theory” for approval, combining keyboard jabs with vocal samples and a patchwork of other elements.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Candle in the Wind

The past week saw a new round of Double’s Dash Compo, which returned after a hiatus. This time around it included a theme of “beer” that everyone indulged in, at least conceptually. Obtuse’s bass and organ teamed up with MandraSigma’s vocals to pay tribute to the art of juking and driving. As The Hrmmmingbirdz, Mandra tackled the production side of things, coupled with Mirby’s noisefloor-filled singing. Starla and suzumebachi took on a team name originally conceived with Clockwerk in mind, but his early departure from the round caused it to migrate; the song “S.M.O.B.” blends suzu’s moody soundscape with starla’s reflective lyricism. Level 99 and Xenon Odyssey met halfway by merging the worlds of pop-punk and chiptune, planting the banner of beer firmly. Finally Gario’s cinematic composing was topped with Wildfire’s vocal for a “Drunken Waltz” that brought the night to a close. 

People’s Remixing Competition 213 brought entrants to the realm of modern-day first person shooters. The Battlefield 3 main theme was selected for remixing, and thus the tune’s brooding pulses became part of the PRC continuity. Sir_NutS came back after along break to turn the track on its head with an 8-bit influenced arrangement. DusK on the other hand had other plans, and gave the source material the metal treatment ending on a patriotic march. LLCompo: Battle 7 featured a dog-related theme, which perhaps for the first time allowed coda to submit a canine-imbued song after countless dog references in his past track titles. SolidComposer also was home to the debut of the #cobol Comp, a multi-day compo that at one point asked contestants to write a program to generate music.

JHCompo on Tuesday informed the listeners that school s’cool, with mixed reaction. I set the mood for the evening with a read-though of the "School" theme backed with beatnik jazz accompaniment. chunter discovered that “The Tuition Check Bounced” and had to make due with a piano piece augmented by bass and synth. MandraSigma’s distorted electronics represented denied entry, and he posed a question before answering it himself. Kay Faraday started off soft, but then threw in a burst of church organ. skyndileg looked back on his days at school with lyrics and plenty of arpeggios. Shadix wrote about sex education, and retitled his funky pop track to “Super Galactic Automatic Sensual Education” after a second thought. Rounding out the entries that night were MaxVdub with a quick improvised vocal-only piece, and SonicThHedgog who sent along a substitute due to problems uploading his 20MB track. 

Thursday’s OHC chose a “cold mountain wind” theme at a time when certain regions began to warm up, and Roseweave served to introduce the festivities. starla sang a rambling tale through Microsoft Songsmith, which transformed it into a Classic Pop Rock song. MandraSigma urged listeners not to think when hearing his composition, lest they see the title and have thoughts of flatulence. frkygp continued the concept of biological emission by having to pee on top of a mountain, and then made some chillout as a sign of relief. Zovi created gentle wind sounds with his mouth, but put together frantic electronic sounds to jolt listeners awake again. isidor3 somehow brought his grand piano to the summit to become one with the rock face. AutomaticJack used white noise as the basis for his industrial ambience and noted that “all you have to do… is listen.” Fusion2004 prepped himself for a mountain bike race by ingesting carb-rich strings as well as chip elements, which probably contain electrolytes. 

Forty-Two called upon the orchestra to express his interpretation of the theme, bringing to mind Zamfir’s “The Lonely Shepherd”. General Mumble decided to ride down the cliff in a continuous tumble of electro house. Arcana detailed a harrowing experience as a spaced out mixture of synthesizers, violins and woodwind. HarryNilsson'sGhost began his entry with what sounds like an approaching vessel, followed by a headbobbing chip-hop beat. PsychedelicBrony rushed out a combination of jazzy double bass and a bit of incongruent accordion. sci pitched some wind samples for his 100th entry and proceeded to mash up several elements, including starla’s entry from two weeks prior. OMGitslewis worked out the math by determining that he can create a 30-second pizzicato laden dance tune in 60 minutes. Destroid made a noisy soundbed depicting the tale of Mirby undergoing a mountain climb. Trancient’s method for the night involved simply thinking about wind as he composed, the result of which merged the ivories with strings.  

DDRKirby(ISQ) is known for his expansive tracks, but this time the length required his lush work to be uploaded at 96kbps. A-zu-ra resumed the wind-sounds theme of the night, but did so with an 8-bit noise channel before going to work on bloops. IXI admitted to losing an idea shortly after getting one, but managed a mellow tribal tune with occasional chuckles. Misael.K enjoys getting hit in the face by wind and displayed this affection via piano and flute. Hapi-San took in the majesty of the zenith by way of sliding basslines and oboe. Acuity hates his computer but loves composing, so he made the effort of getting his harmonies submitted despite a render error. munchi appeared just as rain started to fall on the mountain and the Joker took over the dance club. At the end of the listening party my Elton John cover served as a closing theme of sorts, wrapping up both the round and my compo experience in a satirical package.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Composer Spotlight on Clockwerk

I had the chance to speak with Clockwerk, who has been involved in music production for roughly a decade and made his mark in various creative competition communities. He is best known for his ambient and electronic music once described by a listener as “braindance”. His online output is largely channeled into his SoundCloud page. More recently he has elected to further his education and delve into a variety of areas, possibly including audio production. Clockwerk shared with me his influences, his compo experience and the problem with putting a laptop on a stage.

A common question asked of Clockwerk is the origin of his name. He explained that, “It’s basically not influenced at all by Kraftwerk… Not in the least, really. It was simply about making good moments and times last and all about drawing a comparison between that of losing time and gaining it. Whether that be chilling out to some of the music, or being productive and preferably doing something with your time, and having it there as a soundtrack to your productivity. It’s a rather simple idea: chill out and have fun.” Aside from his electronic work, he is also a self-taught guitarist. He elaborated on this point, and summarized how his current style came about: “I put that down to my nature of kind of isolating myself. I have this quirk where I like to work things out for myself most of the time. However a lot of parts can be put down to monkey-see-monkey-do. Mostly, it’s improvisational stuff.”

Clockwerk discovered tracker software in the early 2000s and became interested in electronic music. “I love it myself, more so the mixing between IDM genres and ambient styles, which is eventually where I’m finding a lot of my music fits now. Somewhere between chillout and ambient; artists like Aphex Twin, Squarepusher, U-Ziq, and some underground artists like Nifflas Nygren, Lackluster interested me. This is before the days of the Internet where social networking sites like SoundCloud were around, and underground MP3 labels were around throwing together compilations of IDM styles. I listened to music from those and I was inspired by it. Ever since then I’ve been composing and I find all these artists quite inspiring because they all seem to have such diverse styles within music. I like music that has a lot of layers and textures going on and, needless to say, drew upon a lot of inspiration from those areas.”

He later discovered composition competitions and enjoyed what they had to offer. “I find they are a really good place to express ideas and show them with other artists. Listening to their compositions, it’s nice to hear others work and get praise and feedback from other artists. These sorts of things also help to better the artistic community as a whole I’ve found, and I welcome any opportunity to join online in a friendly workshop of creative minds. It’s far too easy to lose yourself in isolated places artistically and socially when it comes to a free flow of ideas from other artists. It’s great to have some place to go that is like a welcomed cup of coffee and conversation with these people. Also I certainly wish these competitions were available more frequently as well. It seems to be something I want to do more and more these days.” 

Outside of compos, SoundCloud remains the center of Clockwerk’s web presence. He shared his thoughts about connecting with online circles: “Sure I have a social network and stuff, but if I could release an album in the future with a label without having to worry about that pesky live performance stuff I would be more than happy. I was talking to a friend James Shain about releasing on his label Cold Fiction Music in the future. From most places I’m getting a lot of positive feedback. I really like the idea of people just chilling out in their homes and listening to this music or any music. Musicians have their place in society regardless of the pressure they might have from their families and friends or even loved ones. Where I’m living at the moment, job opportunities simply aren’t there, but in all honesty the way things are with the music industry I think everyone’s finding it tough. Many people end up getting screwed by people who want to make a cheap buck from people’s artistic works.” 

Clockwerk also elaborated about conventional stage performance versus the use of a laptop. “It might be time society takes a good look at itself and reevaluates, you know, the laptop musician thing: people are all like “this isn’t a live performance!” It is one thing I simply do not get. People might not like the live performance artists with their laptops on stage, but people sure as hell aren’t stopping themselves from downloading MP3s or jumping on SoundCloud to consume all this music.” He noted the unlikely prospect of his own live show by saying, “I wouldn’t, simply because I like writing music in my own time in my own space. I exist almost totally as a completely online artist aside from the occasional jam session with a friend when I play some guitar.”

Regarding his experiences with both Internet people and real-life peers, he concluded: “The people online are far more interesting. It’s just a shame the locality is all wrong when you step away from the laptop and you realize you’ve been talking to people from all over the world and you’re like oh yeah… and then life comes back and you’ve got friends in your home town. Certain things in life can’t be avoided, and it’s a bit of a problem when you meet someone you totally dig and they are over the other side of the world or something.” Sometime after this interview occurred, Clockwerk enrolled at a university to further his studies. As a result, he might have to put his online adventures aside and devote his laptop to homework.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

The Long Year

This past Monday marked the one-year anniversary of My Compo Life. What began as a journal of my activity in music competitions went on to become a general wrap up of the compo communities. Also dealing with a milestone was OLRmageddon LVII, with its “over 18” theme: participants could remix music from games that were released eighteen years ago or more. Brunzolaitis became the default winner of that round and recorded a monologue in an Austrian accent about Super Metroid. Dwelling of Duels seemed to bring in a smaller-than-usual turnout, as suggested in Paragon’s comment: “Gonna be a small month.” DoD’s theme that month invited entrants to arrange music from the Kunio franchise of games; titles such as River City Ransom, Nintendo World Cup and Downtown Smash Dodgeball could be covered. SDCompo reached its 64th round with six entries, one of which was disqualified for using sounds not included in the provided sample pack. Perhaps most significant in compo news, OCRE won the cookie compo on IRC by creating circular “Catch-Me-If-You-Can” gingerbread cookies. 

LLCompo: Battle 6 dealt with the impending disaster of a “Volcanoes” theme. The night’s introduction came from Kay Faraday narrated by WVI, who greeted the Luelinks community and damned it one swoop. Smooth Suck made use of a deepened voice pointing out the existence of a volcano under glass before getting into some funk. Delphinuss melancholy piano set the mood for a series of eruptions and a bit of hip hop. MKC reasoned that the volcano is a final boss and thus set his chip music to the appropriate tension level. Ananth Ram sent the listening party to the next level with his pounding filter house, declaring “Angels are born from Volcanos”. Saif sent along his signature metal stylings, this time with lyrics about a sacrificial offering to the lava chasm. sonicmax’s track consists of a soft growl and tinkling on the ivories thereby solving the equation “Piano + DSP = ?” 

Maxximum called General Pepper, who alert Fox McCloud on the dangers of the volcano planet. Run DMZ peered at “Vesuvius” with the aid of trip hop material that led to a brick wall of compression. Raj Flow let the horns roar and spit his rhymes to extinguish the magma. Bipolarbear hired Microsoft Sam to read a soliloquy regarding the night’s theme, backed with irregular rhythms. Chase Irwin woke up late for the compo, but nevertheless cooked up a song and some guitar strumming. PowerFail’s entry begins with a guttural “I AM POMPEII” and chants verses over a distorted rock backing. Jerkwater used a heavy dose of low end to symbolize the volcanic eruption via disco. Rounding out the entries was incorporator who worked his drum machine while LD bared his soul with voice and acoustic guitar. 

JHCompo on Tuesday was under siege from aliens who ordered Earth to “Evacuate the Planet”.  Following my reading of the theme, dusthillguy put one up of his own as a result of 200000000 hours in MS Paint. skyndileg chronicled the “Fall of the Empire” with a wide swatch of synths and dramatic voice acting. will90 wondered “What the hell we're going to do” in the midst of bouncy brass, strings and rolling timpani. Shadix started with a bang and cooled off until shreddage resumed. Beigh’s usual composition confused even him, and perhaps this was fitting considering the chaos of leaving the globe. SonicThHedgog grinded his axe to his namesake, noodling a Sonic the Hedgehog tune with a dramatic pause halfway through. irrelevnt made his plea to have the Earth spared and murmured a stirring set of lines to that effect with bass guitar. Finally mu marveled at the “two suns” and pushed his electro to the limits, then took a breather with a downtempo electronic piece. 

Thursday’s OHC began its theme with a response: "No, in fact, you can't", and the participants were free to interpret the "Stand Your Ground" theme however they wished. Brandon Strader pulled two entries out of his hat for the night: as Oinkness he uploaded a vocal narration, and as BrandonS he recorded his own parody of the song Honolulu Baby” based on the Duosis version. Afterward dusthillguy sampled my voice once more for his tribute to Deven Gallo. Roseweave created an intro narration from scratch, ending with the cry of a thousand nightmares. Fusion2004 rode on tupleted bass with sprinkles of Billy Mays to make his blue notes white. Garian revealed his lack of imagination and unfurled a monologue over a serviceable beat. Hapi-San Again stood his ground against a wall of Nyan Cat doo-wop for a "brief interlude". Acuity took the opportunity to test out some electronics and glitch, thus excusing the listening party for it. Forty-Two's arpeggio meshed with the pads and sweeps making up the soundscape. CJthemusicdude settled on a waltz ping-ponging between its various harmonic elements. Trancient melded solo piano into a trip hop number and urged the audience to "Bring It".  

MandraSigma pitched a sample to create a chord progression, and then slammed down on it with accompaniment and hints of theremin. sci similar achieved a staccato effect with its sample and included an 808 drum machine. DDRKirby(ISQ) elected to chill for his compo session and delivered his usual dense composition in a slow tempo. Misael.K provided inspiring words for his entry featuring strings, guitar and rock percussion. A-zu-ra fired up his chips and found "The Will to Persist" among the lo-bit harmonies. Bren defied his claim of not being a Bren song by sending along distant chugs that support searing leads and ear-catching chords. OMGitslewis made his first entry and held his ground from those more experienced. Torzelan fitted his motivating quotes into a cartridge for 8-bit action. Arcana went through his orchestral collection and called the troops to maintain the "Steel Lines". In a burst of speed IXI made his best shot as a newcomer to the compo with frantic dance music. Destroid rocked the drum machines and boasted of a longtime commitment to techno beats. At the end of the round Hapi-San checked his watch whilst tilting to a laid-back tune, followed by munchi who waded in and out of low-pass filters.