ClassicL337.com had the chance to chat with Norway’s chiptune mastermind, Kubbi, about his new album Sleet (Released: May 1, 2012). Kubbi is one of our favorite artists and it is a true honor he took the time to answer a few questions about himself and the album. If you are not yet familiar with Kubbi and like chiptune/fakebit/gaming music… you are welcome. Enjoy!
- Can you tell us a little about yourself and your new chiptune album, Sleet?
Myself? oh well I'm just a kiddo with too much leisure. Instead of studying as much as I should, I usually wind up doing more entertaining stuff, like now that I have an exam in a couple of days I'd rather sit here answering a fuckin' interview. I don't like to say a lot about myself and that's probably because there's not a lot to say about me. I'm just one of those kids who can't make an interesting self-description without jokes and un-seriousness.
Sleet? There's a lot of stuff I could say about sleet, but in general Sleet is my new Kubbi album set to release May 1st. This is the first time I actually try to be a bit serious about my chiptunes as my earlier albums have rather been a bunch of tracks put together to a compilation.
- Are there any stories, themes, or concepts that you portray in this album?
The album is based on two concepts. I won't talk a lot about them cause I feel like the purpose of the album should be interpreted by the listener, not by the artist. In general the album is about two subjects compared with each other. The two concepts are basically these:
1. How the weather and season changes impacts our emotions and behavior.
2. Something as cheesy as an odyssey through space and atmosphere, more or less literal.
- Did you have any goals with Sleet in terms of tone, feel, technique, equipment etc?
My goals of Sleet were to finally accomplish a work of music that I actually could feel comfortable releasing as an official album. I wanted to get more settled on a sound and my techniques of production were very varying. I've always relied on the simplest and cheapest of equipment, regarding the fact that I'm one poor son of a bitch. Using cheap tracker software with samples from the internet is my main method. It sure is fakebit, but I sure enjoy doing it.
I wanted the overall tone to be atmospheric, but still deep, dark and heavy.... though also a little bit happy and catchy
- How did you come to name the album Sleet?
I found the inspiration and idea of Sleet around December. Walking around in the wet snow and cold Norwegian weather made me brood around the subjects of weather change and how it affects our mood and way of thought. The days I felt it the most myself was when the wet sleet was falling. Pretty personal shit, hah, but the falling sleet was the birthplace of this album.
- How long of a process has the writing of the album been?
What I wanted to express in the album was very clear from the start and was something I had been thinking about for a long time. The music itself is rather simple so writing the tunes didn't take too long. Since December, I spent most of the time planning my way to express my thought through my style of chiptunes. It was a rather complicated process and it took me a couple of months to settle down on a method. You could say that writing the album was the easy part and myself actually understanding what I was writing was the complicated part.
- What is your favorite song on the album, why?
Oh that question is a classic. Well I have no idea cause I don't really like to see the album separated into tracks, rather the album as an entirety. The tune I enjoy listening to the most must be either Exosphere or Sleet though, because I spent a lot of time tweaking every single detail on those two tracks.
- How would you describe the type of chiptunes you make?
Heh, you know what? I have no idea. It's just a chaos of jokes and dead serious art. Musically they are all very simple. All it takes is an idea or inspiration which I express through simple melodies and overused production techniques. I don't really like to call it just chiptune though. First of all; they aren't real chiptunes cause I make them on a modern computer software from samples and VSTi's. Second of all; I think that settling down on one genre limits my ideas and creativity.
- How long have you been writing chiptunes?
About 3 years maybe. It was a weird process to start making it's hard to answer. Music in general is something I've been writing for about 10 years though, and my main focus has never been the chiptunes.
- What draws you to compose chiptune music?
Plenty of things. First of all it must be the nostalgia of the sound. Making music with the sound that you grew up with wakes a completely new and undiscovered inspiration for me. No matter how much headache I might get from the bleeps and blops I still find it quite pacifying and fun. Still I can't forget how the awesome community motivates me to keep going. So much honest feedback and talented artists still keeps me opening my tracker program to compose a new tune.
- What video games have influenced your music and in what ways?
Oh a LOT of games. Mario, Pokemon, Adventure Island, Zelda, the Elder Scrolls, Halo... even Mass Effect. All these games have amazing music from great composers. The way it influences me the most must be the way that the music puts you in such an amazing place. When you listen to the tunes from Zelda you can imagine yourself sitting on the floor by the television riding through Hyrule on Epona. This is something that I've always wanted to achieve through chiptunes. When combining the nostalgic sound with atmosphere in the music I believe you can bring the listener anywhere you want.
- What’s the one piece of music making equipment you could do without?
Hm, difficult question, but I know one piece of equipment that I don't know if I love or hate; The compressor. One of the most important elements in music no matter which genre is dynamics. Flattening the sound waves with a compressor to get the ability to raise the overall volume has dramatic side effects. The volume change is important in music and compressing too much ruins the dynamic feel. Try comparing the sound of a vinyl record with an MP3 file. The dramatic difference in volume and dynamics are just horrifying, so if you ever wonder why the overall volume on my tracks are so low it's because FUCK COMPRESSORS
- If you could do a collaboration with any other chiptune artist, who would it be?
Smiletron. No doubt. Though he's my biggest idol in chiptune music and my biggest influence I'd definitely want to just sit down and talk music with him and maybe collaborate on a project or whatever. So much inspiration has come from his works and he's definitely the reason I'm still producing this stuff.
- What has been your favorite response to a song (positive or negative)?
The best feedback I could ever imagine is negative criticism in a constructive way. I don't know what I'd do without it. Obviously I wouldn't have managed without all the awesome listeners that appreciate my music, but nothing touches me more than someone taking time to actually listen to my work in a critical way. It helps me evolve as a musician and it makes me feel like people see my music in a more serious way.