On Sept. 14, 2013 we met up with DeadBeatBlast during Boston Plays Indies at The Middle East in Cambridge, Mass., a special concert put together by the Boston Festival of Indie Games. This chip tune performer used booming bass lines featuring video game music as well as a screen projecting colorful videos. Like a true entertainer, he was charismatic with the audience and danced energetically to the beat of his music. DeadBeatBlast is a down-to-earth musician. He invited anyone in the audience to talk to him, buy him a drink or make a donation to his cup. We took him up on this offer and snagged an interview:
Marjorie LaPrade: "I noticed that you had some really fun videos up there of skeletons that reminded me of "Terminator." Is there any significance to that?"
DeadBeatBlast: "My visuals come from a lot of anime flicks (some of which may be explicit) as well as circuit bending that I've done at home. I did some digital mash-ups. I take a fork and stick it in a circuit board, recording the video output of whatever I'm messing around with. I obviously have a little station at home that I make my visuals with. I cut things together and do whatever I feel like."
LaPrade: "Are you more inspired by more modern games or retro games?"
DeadBeatBlast: "Well, as a child I had a Nintendo as well an Atari ST, which is a home computer. It made me interested in programming. I was also in a thrash metal band for years and years in addition to a punk band. I never really thought about chip music until I stumbled upon it again many years later and discovered that people were making it still. I really didn't know people were still doing it. In 2007, 2008 I was searching the net for metal bands and I found a song called "Sky Fire Ace" by SabrePulse. Lo and behold the date on the song was recent. There's a whole small community online that are video game music enthusiasts. I knew how to make music on a computer, but not in the old way. I found a community that did know how, with the correct technology and I got my hands on it. I'm a musician. I play a dozen instruments. It was really easy to pick it up."
LaPrade: "What else were you inspired by?"
DeadBeatBlast: "Metal and punk bands like: cannibal corpse, slayer, gwar, the exploited, and the misfits."
LaPrade: "What's your favorite game?"
DeadBeatBlast: "I only play one video game at the moment. It's "Starcraft 2." I'm a big fan of games like chess, checkers, etc. Anything where I can play one-on-one with somebody. I'm a very sore loser and sore winner. I like to beat people at things. "Starcraft 2" is the ultimate stick- it-to-somebody game. In summation, I like strategy games.
My favorite old-school video game was "Batman:The Video Game." That was the first game that I played that you could jump off of the walls. It had great cut scenes and I loved the music. Since Nintendo games were made in the 1980s they had metal sound tracks. Many of the Atari games did, too. I got into heavy metal by listening to video game sound tracks."
LaPrade: "What was your progression with music?"
DeadBeatBlast: "As a child, I played the violin and thus played classical music. Then, I moved onto guitar. When you do that you get into Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix, Bob Marley, etc. What's next? Megadeth, Metallica, Marilyn Manson, and so on. It's an evolution of music at it's finest. Now, I can play a dozen instruments: violin, cello, stand-up bass,piano, drums, xylophone, mandolin, 7 string guitar, 5 string bass, recorder, and clarinet.
LaPrade: "What is your favorite instrument to play for fun?"
DeadBeatBlast: "The Guitar, mostly because I have a bunch of them laying around. Plus, everyone loves a good thrash solo, now and then.
LaPrade: "With the type of (musical) work that you do, do you use both found beats and create your own?"
DeadBeatBlast: "The stuff you heard tonight, the Gameboy music, that was all written from scratch, every little note. Every instrument is hand crafted in the software.There's no template or samples. It's all what you can do with programming. I use hex code. On other occasions, I do use sampling, synthesizers, and so on. I've been using music software since I was about 14. I've got about 14 years under my belt."
LaPrade: "I hear that you are from Canada, did you come here tonight because of the music scene?"
DeadBeatBlast: "I live about an hour outside of Toronto. I have good friends in the band Bright Primate. I've played with them at a few chip shows and we both were offered a gig here and I went for it."
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