Ben Landis Makes Amazing Chiptune Recordings

Ben Landis

Ben Landis

The thing about chiptune music is that there are still those outside of the gaming community who are still trying to understand the genre.. But here comes Ben Landis who gives it a twist. His innovative approach has already won him a lot of audience. His compositional style has a universal appeal as it draws listeners forward instead of alienating them. There are classical, jazz funk and other ‘flavors’ in all his tracks.

I really like Breakthrough and Adventures in Pixels. This 28-year-old graduate of Berklee College of Music currently resides in Los Angeles California and is comfortable on the label of Pop-Rock. His album Adventures in Pixels is out. It is :

…an album/comic hybrid that works in iTunes. Each comic page is embedded as album art for a particular track. The visuals tell a story reminiscent of the classic gaming era, accompanied by a catchy, nostalgic 8-bit soundtrack.

http://AdventuresinPixels.nethttp://soundcloud.com/benlandis

http://twitter.com/thebenlandis


B3nny: Opengl and Ursonate

Also in this edition: Picture of the day and Aphex Twin

Benny Pedersen

Danish electronic composer  merges visuals and music, with dada poetry.

A great middle of the week wish for you dear readers! I am in the middle of chronicling the musical lives of interesting artists that you are now starting to hear when you go to this site. It is important to me to be in depth when I write something about a musician because it can be a meditative work and also an engaging one. They put many hours  on the task to bring out an interesting kind of music. This isn’t something you hear every day.

It’s been a few weeks since I posted something about Danish electronic composer B3nny. These days it’s hard to catch up with him because he is very preoccupied with the project he is doing.  But he left a lot of musical materials for me to explore.

One of the compositions he just made is this  audio version of the  dada poem called “Ursonate” by Kurt Schwitters. The poem doesn’t make sense..well it is not supposed to make sense anyway! It’s Dada. What he did was this: he recorded a few readings of the Ursonate and then edited it into an audiomovie. He stated: “The development goes from chaotic to relatively structured and back again …sort of like the development of sounds and noises surrounding humans since the beginning”. Here is the link to that composition: http://remix.emix.dk/files/bennybomstaerk/721

He is also in the middle of working on an Open GL project. This is one of the graphics/music he mastering in the course of a few years. This is also a part of his artistic development. Other artists would just be contented doing music. This man has a LOT of things in his mind and he has new ideas coming up. I saw a sound animation he made where the cubes explode. I think it is fascinating to create something like a computer game only that it is Art. It is still in its early stages and B3nny feels that it is too soon to upload it anywhere on the net:

“ Well opengl means open Graphics Library and its made to draw those boxes or cubes in the video. This file I sent you is graphics and music because the cubes react to music…because I made them do that. Those percussive sounds make the cubes “explode.”And accentuation in the mid-range changes the camera position, and acceleration in the treble range changes the lens angle. I still think it’s pretty basic but I am just getting into it. Hopefully I will be able to make a cool display for the music.”

To give you an idea of something he already did, here is the link to a visual/music project he created using java script. You need to wait a bit to let the browser complete the loading process. There is a ‘start’ icon that you need to click and you will see it:

http://b3nny.eu/ans/drasc.html

His secret in making these things work? A combination of Mathematics and Acoustics.

Here are the good examples of his other projects via soundcloud:

B3nny

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Picture of the day:

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Featured Video : aphex twin – come to daddy

Aphex Twin introduced me to a ‘new world’ of electronic music.

Music as a Universal Language-Richard Gablick

I have another  special guest today. His name is Richard Gablick and he is recognized as a musician and filmmaker.  I asked him about his musical thoughts and this is what I got. Enjoy folks. I am having a blast posting this. And I am sure you can get something memorable out of this series of guest postings.

 

Music is the universal language that human beings from all over the world can communicate with. It is expressive and healing to the senses. Music has always been a big part of my life whether I am driving in a car or recording my own music.

I remember pretending I was Paul McCartney from the Beatles and I would use a tennis racquet for the guitar and sing. Later in my life, I would become a self-taught guitarist and Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin became my biggest musical influence.

I learned how to use open & alternate tunings of the guitar from Jimmy Page and Michael Hedges. The guitar strings are more richer with a resonating texture when I use alternate tunings. My best friend Jeff Pogas will play the lead guitar using standard E tuning over top of my alternate guitar tuning and the mix of it is quite unique.

IN2 THE MYSTIC is a musical project I started years ago so I could record music for my films. IN2 THE MYSTIC consists of a variety of musicians though it is mainly myself, Jeff Pogas on lead guitar and sometimes Bill Baldwin on lead guitar.

I love middle-eastern music and dancing. It expresses the soul! I also love Rock, Folk, Jazz & Classical music. I like to fuse cultural music with Western music. I love tribal percussion with an electric guitar. It creates an eclectic sound, add a layer of synthesizer strings over top and you can create your own groove. The key to writing is to have people grooving on it too-then you have a kindred spirit with your audience.

I currently have a electric guitar-Fender Squire, a acoustic/electric Ovation, a classical guitar-Yamaha G-65, for strings I use an Alesis QS6.2 Synthesizer and Alesis drum machine, I record on a Fostex MR16 Digital Recorder. I use various percussion drums.

The videos I did with my own music are Trance Dance, The Electric Garden, The Divine Universe, and What If? These can be seen on You Tube under pagerox1
http://www.youtube.com/user/pagerox1?feature=mhee

 More about Richard:

Richard Gablick-Filmmaker, Musician, Songwriter and Make-Up Artist.

Musical Project – IN2 THE MYSTIC –Songwriter, guitarist, producer. Performing music for films.

Musical Influences- Jimmy Page-Guitarist for Led Zeppelin. The Beatles. Beethoven.

Film Influences- Stanley Kubrick-Director; Alfred Hitchcock-Director;
Akira Kurasawa- Director.

Favorite Actors- Cary Grant, Christopher Walken.
Favorite Actresses- Ginger Rodgers, Jean Harlow.

EDUCATION
Santa Fe Community College –Santa Fe, New Mexico 2005-2007, 2011-Present
Dean’ List
Film Major

Community College of Allegheny College – Pittsburgh, PA 2008-2010
Dean’s List
Studio Art

Notable Achievements
2012 – Make-Up Artist for a CBS series (Untitled) starring Dennis Quaid and Carrie Ann Moss.
2012 – Film- A Moment of Bliss appearing on television in Santa Fe, New Mexico every weekend in April.
2012 – Film – As The Rush Comes – a music video that will star Anais Gonzales dancing ( In production)
2011 – Films- Jessica Maria, Mi Carino, Love Wave and The Divine Universe appear on television in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
2011 – Films – Mi Carino is showcased in the SFCC Film Showcase, What If? is selected on the website of Coast to Coast the #1 Late Night Talk Show in the world-generating over 34,000 views- voted Best Rated Video & Most Watched Video in the Entertainment Section.
2008 – Films – VIDA won Most Watched Video in the Earth-Spirit-Love Film Festival.
2007 – Films – Morning Embrace is nominated in the Santa Fe Film Festival – Art Matters Section-also Morning Embrace is showcased in the New Mexico Film Expo.
2006 – Films – Clown In Trouble- Won Best Comedy in the Santa Fe Reporter Film Festival-Richard was an actor in it-Boss Clown.

Richard was an Expressive Arts Counselor facilitating groups for disabled adults for many years. He has been studying Film for 7 years. Richard was a model for John Casablancas (Elle Ford) in his early life.

Composer, Producer and Remixer:The Peter Rainman Interview

In Paris

In Paris

I met Peter Rainman through Loic . As a fan of bands like OMD, Erasure, Wolfsheim and VNV Nation among others, you can imagine how excited I am. Peter turns out to be a friendly guy with a great sense of humor. He also lives in Brittany France which is a plus since I also blog about Celtic music. This interview has been done through facebook. So it took us  around three days to put everything up together in case I got follow up questions. I can visualize Peter setting opposite me in some distant future talking like this with his  French vivre bien. I love this! There’s nothing better than getting inside the mind of a musician, where inspiration comes from and of course the quirks that all come being what he is: Compose, Producer and Remix artist.

1.You are involved in interesting projects now. Would you care to give us background information on them?

Well at least I can try! Some of them will have to remain secret until it’s official … I’m producing Red Industrie’s forthcoming album, helping some bands in production (technical advices, but also chats about creating, etc…) such as Buzz… And I do take care of my first album, which is nearly ready. I also support and help my friend Ingo who deals with Electropop compilation. Meanwhile I had some remix request I must work on, at least one a week. So , in order to sum up things, this week I made one remix, two mixes, and I’ll soon after the interview, focus on productions…

2. What’s the music of People Theatre and when or how did it start ?

It started too late comparing with teenage bands. I was 20 years old when I founded People Theatre. Almost too old. I  recorded some grunge music with friends of mine then… gee! They all started so young and stopped two years after or something… Whereas I knew I had music in my veins. It’s not a hobby, it’s my life.

The big problem was to find someone as crazy as me, with music in his head. I was the lead singer in a pop/rock Quatour, so I pictured I’d be the same with another guy composing tunes… I was wrong. I found no one living with my madness so I remained all alone, playing instruments and singing. I used to be very humble : I wanted to be the Erasure or the Pet shop boys of the nineties(wink) !!!

My music is made of songs I have on my mind since my early childhood. They are like bubbles in my head. The only instruments that play my sounds were electronics and still are : keyboards, drum machines… I guess my friends would tell you it’s a mix between club culture, poplife, dark feelings and classic music tips (I do love piano and strings). A good bass line with heavy beat, and something you can remember… Lyrics are not those soulless lines I used to hear in clubs… I write automatically, I’m trying to make a kind of poetry… I say I TRY, huh?

3. Your music is closely associated with William Orbit, Monody, Diary of Dreams, Cause and Effect, Buzz, VNV Nation, De/vision, Partenaire Particulier (as you described). I find it melodic, groovy with a bit of that Gothic atmosphere. So it must be interesting to check out your collection. what were the artists you listened to when you just discovered music?

Thanks for those words about my music. The names you mention are both people I admire and work with. Your list is quite incomplete though. My collection should help you…

First I have hundreds and thousands of CDs since I begin to buy music in 1987. I dislike mp3s unless for demoes.

Second, well i have a very electro-pop British collection : Depeche Mode as many of us (I stopped after Ultra,started with 101 then… well I loved everything from 1981 to Violator!), Pet Shop Boys (complete discography), Erasure / Yazoo (same thing), OMD, Oasis, Blur, Chemical Brothers, New oOrder and I’m a huge fan of Rollo ! (of Faithless and Dido’s brother, etc…), and some CDs from Northern Europe : A-ha, U96… I have some more underground stuff, but bought it later : Psyche, Front 242 to name a few, and some synthpop compilations. I came to that style only few years ago, so I missed the Wolfsheim and Namnambulu era. However I know have some good releases from that period. I also collected some cool French bands in the eighties, such as Partenaire Particulier by the way.

Down below my desk I also have thousands of 12 inches of club remixes, as I’ve been a DJ for 16 years. Daft Punk, white labels…

4.You are a composer, producer and remixer. how do you juggle the three?

I have a strong coffee machine, loooooooool ! Seriously, that’s my job, so I’m quite organised : day after day I know what I have to do, and give me enough time to do it : a remix requires a day, production sometimes more, composition less. But when it’s finished it’s finished ; I don’t often come back on a past work. Actually I hate that.

However my plans are changing a little as I have more and more requests as singer, so I now need to find time to write lyrics and record them… And gigs are coming.

I think I’ll accept less remix requests. I’m making #266 right now, I guess people know I’m a remixer now, especially since the releases with IAMX or the bootleg of Depche Mode « Lilian », or several good works I have very good feedback about : !distain, Psyche, Foretaste, David Carretta…

Don’t worry I sleep and even have a life, a normal one… well if you consider someone singing tunes every time as normal, lol !

5. You mentioned having a wide collection of sounds and your dislike for mp3s. What do you think are the challenges of a musician in this era compared to say…10 or 20 years ago?

Before, let’s say, year 2000, the challenge was quite simple : a band needed to be signed on a label that would take 50% but it included promo, distribution, artwork, mastering, and even production. We used to say : « if we sell 10 000 copies (7 or 12 inches) at 6 or 7 euros, we could have 3 000 bucks at least. If we have 3 or four releases a year, that’s a pretty good income! » We all thought « should i stop working at the factory/office? »

But that was before….

Now it’s much more complicated. Why?

– First because anyone could make music with a simple laptop, or think they could. Daw cost around 500 euros and tons of plug ins are free. My drum machine costs three times more in the nineties, just to make a « poum / tchac!). So you have millions of people making music now… However, let’s face it, 95% are still making useless and soulless stuff.

– Second, the market has change : we don’t think about music, we think about data, we forget about the sound quality. My students are listening to electro music on their phone, it’s hissing all the time and there is no comparison between what the musicians composed and what my guys are listening to… ::sight::

– Final, labels are still working the same way, and as they are losing money, they stop many things : no more promo, for instance. We now all have a « normal » job, and music is only a hobby… I’m one of the few who work in studio everyday.

Nowadays the good equation is : good music + good promo + respecting the people = sales and buzz. It’s a constant pressure.


6. What’s your advice to people who are new to this business?

Advice? Well… According to my little experience, the first advice is WORK HARD. If you come with a demo you made in 10 minutes while discovering your sequencer and you claim to be pro, you are a liar or naive. Every time someone asks me how many times it took me to make the remix, my answer is « 20 years and a day. » It takes ages to understand how to program, compose, record decently. Learn for 2 or 3 years, then start to be known, but before, be humble!

My second advice would be : BE HONEST. Answer your mails, send the work on time, learn about the others.

My final advice is BE PATIENT. You won’t succeed in a year. What people need is time to discover you, to write the name of the band somewhere. I’m now after five years of intense work reaping what I sow… In the end, you’ll see : you won’t be mailing every famous band to work with them, they will write you instead…

But basically, just ask yourself : why are you making music???

if it’s for money, no way. If it’s for fun, well you’ll have fun , but not a longtime fame. If it’s your life, your blood, then welcome on board !!

7.Please give me that top 10 records you’ll bring with you if ever you are marooned for a week on white sandy beach.

I’ll take nothing actually… i can sing along ! But if you insist… well…

any Depeche Mode record before Ultra,

Erasure « Chorus! »,

unreleased song from Vnv Nation,

a decent compilation of the eighties with Bobby O, Divine, Dead or Alive… ans some french songs.

Pet Shop Boys – Introspective or Behaviour (finally, i’ll take them both!)

OMD – SugarTax

New Order – Substance… and Republic, by the way

And, finally, Allegri – Miserere

aaaaaaaaaaaand a compilation including !distain, De/vision, Wolfsheim, the Garland Cult / Empire state human, to name a few!


8.How does your day in the studio starts and ends?

If you don’t want to be mad within a few weeks , you have to mix unexpected moments with routine.

I start evey day by waking up my machines and pcs, of course, around 6 -30 savouring the first of my five coffees. After an hour, mails are checked, inspiration has to come. Dawn is coming. I often use to go for a walk, especially when i’m in my favorite town, Saint Malo. The sun, the sea, the grass and the birds… this motivates me a lot! Songs are not the same when you work in a cave or a hotel room. My songs are Brittany made, the stones are speaking still.

Day ends with… well it depends. It ends with a smile when I composed or remixed and I’m proud of the result. There can’t be a better day than a day of creation ! If it’s a « diem perdidi », well i’m transparent like a ghost and i need a movie or a book. Jane Austen’s would make it. I need feelings and human beings to get inspired from.

9.Tell me about your new song Fallen Stars. I had the opportunity to listen to it, I love it and I want to know what you did to it.

Well first of all, thank you ! It’s one of those stories that just couldn’t exist without internet. I discovered the instrumental song by Mental Discipline months ago, and, I still wonder how, tunes came to my mind, so I took the microphone and sang all the things I had on my mind. ONE take. A kind of magic occurred. I finally put the song on my soundcloud page and few hours after I had a reply from the band saying they just love it, though we tried to contact them for month, that was amazing ! I have a lot of plays on my page, I guess the magic I felt touches some people. What I like in music is, despite some ignorant people, we don’t know how to touch deeply the listeners. The birth of every song is a mystery…


10.Plans before 2010 ends and what will be expect from you next year.

As I have at least one release a week, the best would be to check my facebook page or my website ( www.people-theatre.com ) Electropop compilation volume 5 will be released soon, with a track from Coloured tears I mixed. Digital single from Dual density « Fake » is now available, including one of the most romantic remix I ever made. Remixes for Ostrich, Jonteknik and Babylonia are released or about to be. I’m also very proud of the remix i made for Scorpio. At the beginning of 2011, there will be a very cool analogue remix for Millimetric and a VERY top secret release of song i made, gigs , my debut album…

stay tuned!

11. What your prized gadgets in the studio?

I have a few… I’m not only talking about studio stuff, no, it doesn’t cost too much : two old synths, two old drum machines… even the owner is old, lol !

I’m saying I have a secret garden that means a lot to me… a press kit from Erasure, flowers I had from a gig… memories… Actually I need a kind of imaginary shield to work, to feel comfortable… Of course there are also hundred and thousands of records, including a picture disc from Bronski Beat ( I had a mail from Steve Bronski about it!!) and some signed copies to help me realizing I really work with those guys…


12.How do you say ” Nice to meet you in Breton?”

it depends from which Breton you are writing about… there isn’t one but many… The one we speak here is close to french, very roman i would say, or the things i hear when i go to Jersey…

I guess I’ll go for « t’prendras ben une bolée? » which invites the person to sit down and have a drink… as usual here !Add an Image

13.What’s the most memorable concert you’ve seen so far?

I don’t often go to concert to protect myself and my ears. I protect myself because the stage is calling me and I’m sometimes very frustrated when I’m not singing.

In 2006 , July, Paris, I went to a gig with Waiting for Words and Foretaste. As musician i knew them all well because i remixed both bands but it was the first time we met.

Foretaste’s lead singer, XX, is a fantastic person, sensitive and hypnotic. She knew my fav’ song was « Victim’s heart » and just before the song started she stared at me saying « this one is for someone special »…

Another strong memory was a festival in Paris with Psyche, IAMX, Foretaste and Front 242… and having a beer with them was just fantastic !!! the music takes another strong dimension when you know people better I think… unless you discover they are stupid and selfish, ahem…

14.Parting words to your listeners?

Buy what you love, love what you buy, feel what you hear and share it in a positive way !


10 Reasons Why I like Enya

Picture from And Winter Came(2008)

Ok this is where I indulge myself in my most profound expression of adoration for this Lady of Perpetual Melody. Don’t smirk at me (though I know I have played her music again and again that makes you hallucinate and see intricate patterns on your wall).

10 Things I Like About Enya

1. She’s Irish and she got me started to this whole Celtic stuff (although I would really describe her music as Celtic).

2. I thought she was the new face of Lancolme  cosmetics a couple of years ago. That’s how pretty I think she was at that time and still is.

3. She made me sale away, sail away into an island of dreams.

4.I just love saying her name out loud: ENYA…ENYA.. this is my mantra when I feel so bad.

5. She does everything musically. Even how she controls the way she appears in the public. She is also stubborn(in a good way) in how she approaches her art, not allowing anybody-not even record executives-to tell her what to do. She did it her way and that’s what brought her 80 million records sold.

6. She belongs to a very musical family and grew up in a rural part of Ireland. She never let anything compromised her values. She never hang out with celebrities and lived in her own castle. And contrary to popular belief, Enya is more real than your Madonnas and Laday Gagas.

7. That beautiful voice is easily recognized due to her distinct timbre. Her voice can be simply described in two words: Ethereal and Beautiful.

8. She does all the backing vocals(layering) as well as play the instruments (otherwise, guest musicians are credited). She has maintained this close friendship with her producer Nicky Ryan and lyricist Roma Ryan. This makes up the team Enya. This is a friendship and artistic collaboration that endured the test of time, album sales and harsh critics.

9. If you don’t like the music, it is OK, but you gotta respect the craft. Enya spends years and years perfecting an album inside the studio. If she and her producer think the song is not working out, they don’t have any hesitation of deleting the entire recording(even though it was worth 6 months of their toil) and doing it all over again. See? Who can do this? Your  bands? Your so called divas? No she is the real deal.

10. Centuries from now, people will forget who topped the Billboard charts or who made it to American Idol finals. But Enya’s music will endure. Because she does it quietly. And she does it for the love of music. And I love her music.