Today we gave our first workshop at SA Hackerspace (10BitWorks) to a pretty good turnout. It was largely over making music using FamiTracker and the NES audio capabilities in general. Though a few things could have gone better (I think the hands on bits could have used more structure), I think it went well. We seem to have turned a couple of people into Chiptune monsters, which is awesome!
Slides (in PDF Format) are available here for those that could not make it. Video was taken as well but it’s a large amount of video that may take a while to edit (and I am not yet sure how it turned out) so that may take some time to post.
In any event, we had a blast and, if there is enough interest, we definitely look forward to doing more! I suspect the next workshops will be more hands-on with the hardware. That was something we wanted to do initially but thought it best to be a bit more conservative since cost was a concern without knowing what people might think of the material. There is plenty of ways to go though and we would be glad to share our knowledge with anyone that is interested!
A big thanks to 10BitWorks for the opportunity! Also thanks to Mike P. who approached us initially and helped drive this to fruition!
At long last, we have finally launched our Kickstarter Project to put Chipsurf Pipeline onto Vinyl! Whether it funds or not, we are extremely happy and proud to even have the opportunity to do this! More information to follow, but if you want to know more about the project, check out the video below or head over to our Kickstarter project page
Though we have been spending quite some time in pursuits other than our next album, we have been making slow but steady progress on it. This weekend we spent some time adding some ideas to a few of the songs we are working on while also filming our Kickstarter video and preparing for our Chiptune Workshop next weekend.
While we are not quite yet ready to reveal too much about our next album, we can say chiptunes will remain a big part of it and that we will likely be able to start doing live shows at some point around the new sound. We will be taking things in a different direction while still preserving the things that made Chipsurf Pipeline so unique. As one hint we will say that open mic recording will be more prominent in this album (which is one of the reasons progress is perhaps a bit slower than it was with Chipsurf Pipeline). Either way, we think we have something very special and are really excited about it and can’t wait to share it with you (when it’s ready)!
Though it has been in the work for some time, we finally have confirmed a date for our first workshop at the 10BitWorks (the San Antonio Hackerspace). This workshop will cover making music with the NES using Famitracker. Should there be further interest, we hope to make a series of workshops centering around a variety of topics but we are going to see how things go.
Both John and I are quite excited! We already owe quite a bit to the 10Bit folks so many thanks to them for inviting us to do this, and for their help in making this a reality! Though the time has not been decided just yet, we do know the date will be April 21st. It is free and open to the general public so if you happen to be in the area around this time and like chiptunes, by all means, please come by! If interested, you can RSVP on Facebook here.
Today, John and I took some time away from writing songs for our next album to check out the dub-plate we had cut for our eventual pursuit of getting Chipsurf Pipeline on vinyl. The dub was cut at Aardvark Record Mastering who did a great job, were patient with us, and were super helpful as well! I had received the dub last week, much earlier than we thought, but had been waiting to spin it until today so John could check it out.
So how does it sound? Really good! Even John was impressed by it. We cut the same song (The Genesis Machine) on both sides – One side was cut like a 7″ single, and the other more like an LP. The single side, being a bit louder and running at 45RPM, had a good amount of clarity. The highs were not quite as defined as on the digital master it was cut from. How much of that is my setup and how much the medium is hard to say. Still, it sounded quite good. The bass was surprisingly punchy as well. The LP side, which spun at 33 1/3 RPM was surprisingly smooth. Smoother even that the 45RPM side, although it did lack further clarity on the highs and the bassbombs didn’t dig near as deep. The two sides were much closer in sonic quality than I thought they would be.
We are quite happy with it, all in all. Something magic about hearing music you created coming off a record. It was almost surreal. Big thanks to Aardvark Mastering, and Louis, for getting it out to us so soon! You can be we’ll be using them if we can get the funded to do a real record pressing. On that note, we will likely be putting the dub-plate up as a goodie to get for Kickstarter. We are not sure how to give it away, but I suspect since we only have one, it will go to the person who gave us the largest single contribution.
All that said, if you want to check it out, we recorded the festivities and threw it up on the YouTubes!
This morning I finally put the finishing touches on ShieldBoy, an Arduino shield to aid in building an ArduinoBoy, a device built by Trash80 to enable MIDI functions with various GameBoy music sequencers. I ran into a few minor issues along the way – the diode was in the wrong orientation according to the silkscreen on the board (oops!) and I’m having some trouble getting MIDI out working. Using LSDJ as a MIDI slave, though, works like a champ! I’m also fairly excited to try out mGB and will likely tackle that later today.
I plan on adding the build instructions, parts list, video etc. to our ShieldBoy page soon as well, but for now, check out the purty pictures!
On Saturday, I sent off the paperwork to have our very first dub-plate made! I’m not sure how long it takes but it was an exercise in what the world was like before the Internet for sure. Paper forms, paper checks, physical media. In a world where most things are demanded instantly, it was almost a nice change – I guess. This will be our first 7″ single test. Actually one side will be cut like a 45 RPM single, and the other like a standard 33 1/3 RPM LP. We did that so we can compare the quality of a single versus the inner grooves of an LP which will help us gauge which songs would fit onto what part of the LP (since the outer tracks will sound better than the inner ones). Should be a fun test and a great collectable. Chances are that we will offer this up on Kickstarter when we get that going.
Also I think my ArduinoBoy shield board should be in the mail as well. I ordered it from DorkBot. They do a fantastic job for an extremely reasonable price and, usually, with a much faster turn-around time than BatchPCB. It is also much easier to submit boards as well. In short, if you need to have prototype boards fabbed, look no further than DorkBot. In any case, the parts for the board arrived last week so once I get it in, I can finally start assembling it and seeing what comes of it.
Lots of stuff to look forward to in the mail! Hopefully next band practice we can also get back to working on Kickstarter so we can get that off the ground. We won’t do anything concrete until we have our dub-plate back so we can make sure everything will work out how we want, but I would like us to make some progress on our video. We’ve been trying to enlist the help of some RTF students but that has not materialized, so we may just have to go it on our own.
It took a few weeks and a minor mess-up on my part, but we’re now on Spotify! As a bonus, we are also on a number of other online stores as well, but we would really much prefer fans buy our music off Bandcamp as it offers the highest quality and takes the least cut off the top. That allows us to put more money towards neat things like vinyl releases, equipment (we’re going to need some for the live shows we want to do for the next album), t-shirts, etc. But, if you prefer using another music store, now you can! And, of course, now you can listen to us on Spotify as much as you want!
Big thanks to CDBaby for helping make Spotify happen. We went with CDBaby for their Indie friendly attitude towards album sales since we only had to pay for the service one time. Most other music distributors required yearly fees and that didn’t make much sense to us.
Anyways we hope you enjoy the new found options! And thanks, as always, for the support!
No, it’s not up yet unfortunately, but we do have an update!
After some thought, we have decided to set our initial sights on producing a 7″ single from Chipsurf Pipeline. 7″ singles can be really fun, can sound pretty good (better than an LP in some cases), and still allow us to connect with our fans in a more physical way. They are also considerably cheaper to produce than a 12″ LP. While a 7″ single is our minimum goal, if we raise enough money to fund an LP, we will do that instead. In this way, we have a good shot at being able to do something fun while still having the possibility of being able to do a full album.
More exciting, however, is that we are going to let our fans vote on what songs end up on the single or LP! Fans that pledge a certain amount will be able to pick one song for each side of the single, or pick the songs for the LP up to the maximum amount of music we can fit per side without impacting volume. The neat bit is that it stacks. So if you really want to have a particular song on the single, you can pledge more to get more votes. The only way John and I will be participating in this is if some folks don’t vote. We will use their votes for our own selections in those cases, which means there is a bit of an incentive to participate and vote!
This would be in addition to the normal rewards for pledging. We are still working on those details but we know we will offer signed copies of the single or LP, probably test pressings, and will likely put up our test dub-plate for the highest pledge (as we will only have one copy of this). Depending on how much extra we raise, we may add t-shirts, NESA boards, maybe even a “Chiptune Pipeline” EP on a real NES cartridge!