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Groundislava Doesn't Make "Chiptunes"

But his music does sound a bit like the most beautiful video game score ever composed.
September 11, 2012, 11:00pm

It's difficult to describe just what the hell is happening or where you're going when you listen to Jasper Patterson, AKA Groundislava's music, but, in short, it's kinda like getting amped on uppers with Link from Zelda, before being slingshotted through a landscape of glitched-out clouds and crash-landing, weightlessly, into a river of broken mirrors. Pretty fucking wavy, basically. An LA resident, he's a member of the and signed to label Friend Of Friends, also the home of Patterson's buddy and aptly named slow-mo maestro, Shlohmo. His latest EP, TV Dream, is a triumphant 80s pixel patchwork of old RPG tunes, but, for the love Christ, don't call him an 8-bit producer.

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After nursing some killer hangovers, cars getting towed off and a menagerie of technical difficulties, I eventually got to chat with him, to ask about LA house parties and his forthcoming album, Feel Me.

Noisey: Hey, how are you?

Jasper Patterson: Well, I was with some friends over at my brother's last night, drinking. I guess I passed out at some point in this little guest bed and woke up at like 7AM with this migraine. They're still all up partying and shit.

Your brother's keeping it going?

Nah, he's passed out, but I'm always the first one to pass out.

Speaking of house parties, I noticed from your Twitter that you're a fan of showing up at them to DJ?

It's this one house in particular that my friend lives at. He works for some architect who bought it with the plan to demolish it, but now he lets my friend live there occasionally. The last couple times have been insane, though. Shlohmo came and DJ'd and, like, two or three hundred people showed up at this one house.

The Shlohmo one was what I spotted. I think I read somewhere that you went to school together—did you both get into production at the same time?

We went to middle school together, then I'd always be at parties with Henry and we'd end up just chilling and playing each other's beats and shit we'd made. We were both into making kinda distorted saw-wave electro bangers back then.

Was that basically the foundations of WeDidIt?

There was a solid little group of us that made shit in high school, but when college started and everyone went separate ways, WeDidIt began.

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So everyone would just regroup and jam at house parties and shit?

Exactly.

I get a huge video game vibe from all of it, is that a fair analysis?

I never really sought to make, like, video game tunes, per se, but a lot of old SNES RPG games have these beautiful classical tunes, with tinny little string sounds. I love that. I try to distance myself as much as possible from the "bleep blop" 8-bit shit. I saw a review about me the other day and the category was "chip tunes". I wasn't fond of that.

It's interesting, though, 'cos game tunes tend to have a strong narrative, and when I first listened to the TV Dream EP, I got a sense that there's a story written into it. Is that right?

TV Dream actually started as a different EP about this couple that go on some weird trip to a few destinations and, over the course of the trip, begin to hate each other. The song titles vaguely tell the story, so it still has that theme, I guess. Like, I've always wanted to make movies, but I get frustrated 'cos I lose sight of my initial inspiration. But when I make music it's like, here's this idea or story, and each of these tracks become moments in the story. I can stay focused and actually make it happen before I hit the wall.

How long do you spend on a track, then? Do you tend to abandon it if it starts to drag out?

Generally I try to spend a day or two on getting the initial track fleshed out. But I'll abandon some, then dig them up months later and they become something amazing.

Always the way. One last thing, have you got any plans to come over to the UK with Feel Me?

Hopefully later this year, yeah. I can't wait. And then I'm dying to go on some sort of tour in Japan and South Korea—I should start planning that now, actually.

Sweet. Thanks, man!

Groundislava's second album Feel Me is available via Juno.