Ok, good news, i had my first driving lesson this monday, it went really well, i'm surprised at how quickly i picked it up considering i've never really driven a car before. Awesome!!!
Bad news, i just heard that Malcolm Mclaren has died, i'm sure that some people might not know who he is...and some will know him as "the Sex Pistols guy". However, in addition to his involvement with punk, working with Steven Spielberg, making music for Kill Bill or producing Fast Food Nation, he actually had quite a big involvement with "8 bit" music. I'm sure some of the people who refer to it as "Chip Music" might not actually be aware that he was involved and some people will try and deny it, but the truth is, if there wasn't a Malcolm Mclaren then i probably wouldn't be sitting here writing this blog, I'd be in some other band or something. That's right, no : (.
In 2003 Malcolm wrote an article for Wired magazine called "8-Bit Punk" (http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/11.11/mclaren.html), I believe he was on the cover of the magazine, at the time i was working in a pharmacy, on my lunch hour I'd go and buy music magazines, I was a big NME reader back then for some reason. Anyway....something with Malcolm Mclaren on the cover is going to jump out to me, because i was a Sex Pistols fan, but also i kinda liked Malcolm because he's a bit of an oddball and if he's going to be talking about the next music revolution, then i'm gonna be interested.
The article is the kind of hype bullshit you'd expect to come from Mclaren, but it actually made sense to me, because i'd been trying to make a form of rock music that involved small sounds, something along the lines of Devo, but harder....and i couldn't quite get it right. After reading the article i stumbled upon Micromusic.net and started downloading a lot of music off there.
Now, I'm old enough to have grown up with a Commodore 64 from a pretty young age and then graduated to a Sega Master System, Megadrive and a Game Boy. So they were sounds i was pretty familiar with, but what i liked the most was how diverse the music on Micromusic was, there was nothing that sounded like what i was trying to do, but nothing really sounded that much like music on games i had been playing and nothing really sounded similar to anything else on the website. The website was also a gateway to some chip emulator software that i have used in my music....however, most of what you here isn't really an emulator, just a monosynth plugin.
Within a pretty short period of time i had written Syntax and Twin Chevron Action Flash, in that order.....there was a load of other songs that will probably never be heard again....other than Heartache of Soccer Moms.
I felt like i was really onto something, years of work and trying to get the sound that was in my head out was finally coming to fruition. A bit of a "Eureka" moment if you will. Next step...start a band!
That was a little harder to do....it took a lot of work, time and disappointed/disappointing people until it almost worked as a band (i'm not really that sure that it ever did...until now...maybe...more on this in a later blog). There was a lot of soldering leads, trying out different hardware and figuring out how to get a drummer to play along to a computer. It's very boring, so i'm not going to go into this.
So....i have some songs and a band, what's next? Try and get some attention, so i e-mailed Mr Mclaren to ask if i could send him a cd, i get a reply asking to send one out to Paris....which i did. A couple of weeks later i get an e-mail saying "Can you call Malcolm?" and it gave me his number. I thought that was pretty true to his character, the fact that i had to fucking call him! What a cheapskate! I did it anyway, how could i not? It's one of the weirdest things i've ever experienced in my life, being on the phone with someone who has that much history and character...this is going to sound dumb....but he sounded EXACTLY like Malcolm Mclaren.
If you don't know what he sounds like...then you should look him up, he's like a slightly more pompous John Lydon.
So...i phone up, i was pretty surprised he actually answered, i'd tried to get him the night before and just got the answering machine with his agent/assistant/girlfriend Young Kim giving the answering machine message in English and French.
"Hello" he said...."oh hello Malcolm, it's Mart from Colon Open Bracket here"...."Who?!!"...he said that like i was crazy, a pervert who'd found his number...."Mart from Colon Open Bracket...you said to call you", "Who!???"...."from Colon Open Bracket!, i sent you a CD"...
"Oh yes! I came into my office last week and there was this CD on my desk, i don't know where it came from, but i listened to it....and....i liiiiiked it".
The rest of the conversation wasn't really a conversation, it was just half an hour of him ranting about music. I must have said about 4 words during the whole call after that. It was pretty funny though, just the way he spoke about things. He had this plan about setting up a record label through Interscope, because he loved the work they'd done with Beck.....and he spoke about how he liked 8 Bit music, but how one guy and a gameboy or laptop was no way to have a show. He was pretty into the idea of : ( working as a band in a live situation and he was going to look into putting out a record....a proper record, on vinyl.
Over the next couple of months there was requests for music and photos, loads of photos of the band, which was a pain in the ass....and eventually, nothing came from it. I mean, it's kind of a weird thing, the guy has a pretty bad reputation from working with bands and fucking with them, so i was a bit nervous from that....but it was a pretty exciting time.....and in the end, we got to release music anyway, it was just good to have that phone call. :)
It's going to be a duller world without him and i wish he was remembered a little more in the 8 Bit community because he was a bit of a posterboy for 8 Bit for a short period of time....and he really wanted to get it into the mainstream.
It's a shame that 8 Bit has become a bit boring and bit snobby/elitist. It's all starting to sound the same and there's a total lack interesting music. My rule of thumb is that if you can do the song with just a guitar and your voice and it still sounds good, then it's worth letting people hear. Otherwise you're just making a bunch of noise with a computer.
I've also heard people blame me for the sudden influx of 8bit artists a few years ago, because if : ( didn't get popular then these people wouldn't have found out about the "sacred" genre. This of course is complete bullshit, if it wasn't us then they would've found it somewhere else. I've also heard people label us "Fake Bit", because i use software rather than a Gameboy or another "true chip" format. Here's the thing, all that dodging around crap sequencing programs on a Gameboy just gets in the way of the song. It was never about your hardware, just using small sounds....but now 8 Bit as a genre is something else, something much less exciting and way more pretentious. So i'll gladly distance myself and : ( from it.
The Fake Bit revolution starts here!