Let's get straight to the good news: Square Sounds Melbourne is on this weekend. It's a four-day affair with a pre-party and open mic on Thursday, main gigs at The Evelyn on Friday and Saturday nights, workshops on Saturday day, then an after party on Sunday, naturally.
With a line-up featuring artists from Ireland, Sweden, Japan, Holland, the UK, New Zealand and all over Australia, it's heaven for anyone into 8-bit culture, retro-gaming, underground bass music, data massacre or just sitting back and watching people freak out to primitive waveforms.
We scanned this year's line-up and thought we ought to get you up to speed on some of the stars of Square Sounds Melbourne, starting with some of our favourite international acts joining the party.
CHIPZEL – IRELAND
Chipzel is one of the fastest-rising stars on the chiptune scene, making widescreen, 8-bit electro house using nothing but a Nintendo Gameboy running LSDJ. She's got a killer live show, has sold more albums through her Bandcamp site than nearly anyone else on the entire platform and has even written a history of chiptune music for Vice. Her latest album Spectra, which, apart from being totally slamming, is even being turned into a retro-futurist racing game! Yep, Chipzel is a certified, international 8-bit overachiever! Check out the Spectra game teaser below and you'll soon get her vibe.
Since Chipzel is super connected in the chip scene and a great writer to boot, we asked her to give us the low-down on two of the other international acts playing at Square Sounds Melbourne this weekend. She kindly worded us up on Goto80 and Toriena, as follows. Take it away Chipzel.
Chipzel: "Goto80 – the demoscene historian, the alter-ego of Gordon Strambola and the creator of phony youtube videos that would break your heart. Goto80 is many things, but triumphing above all else he is an insanely talented musician and a key player in the history of the chip scene, releasing his funky bleeps to the world since 1993. He's no stranger to Oz either, having lived in Melbourne in 2003, and he plans to return in with the release of a brand new 90 minute cassette (yes, cassette) and his Little Tour of Big Australia. Be sure to catch him before he leaves again (Obviously at Squaresounds)!"
Watch a talking egg sing Goto80's classic track "Breakfast" below:
Chipzel: "Okay folks you're in for a real treat here. Set your dances modes to supersonic hyper drive as you prepare to witness the incredibly talented, incredibly energetic wonder that is Toriena. A fellow lady in chiptune, and one of my favourites to have witnessed live - Toriena delivers a variety of intricate, emotional, fist-pumping beats that will keep you bopping until the wee hours. With several fantastic releases to her name and another in the making, Toriena is proving herself a master of manic chip, taking her audiences to another level. You must come see."
Thanks Chipzel. Now, to get the lowdown on some of the more local Square Sounds performers, we decided to go straight to the source and talk to Adelaide's Sebastian Tomczak, better known in the chip scene as Little Scale.
Who's he? Well, he could well be one of Australia's most exciting digital artists; he's an amazing music producer (check his Bandcamp), has written a thesis on chiptunes, is a software and hardware designer and is also one of the featured visual artists at this year's Square Sounds. When I quizzed him about his visual sets planned for Sqaure Sounds he said: "The visuals that I'll be doing will be lush, abstract, in-your-face and highly reactive to the music that's being performed, with a colourful and glitchy vibe. I've been working on my own software that drives the Resolume VJ package in a responsive way, with a high degree of 'liveness'. Think liquid geometry glitch rainbows."
Sounds good to me, now let's check out Little Scale's tips for the festival.
ATOMSMASHA - PERTH
Little Scale: "I've been a massive fan of Atomsmasha's sound since I first heard his stuff. His tracks always sound so damn HUGE! His music is a combination of nostalgic hardcore electro throwback with a certain freshness and humour, alongside amazing Game Boy sound design and sample curation. His sense of rhythm is both cheeky and intense, and some of his patterns are simply insane."
EYELINER – WELLINGTON, NZ
Little Scale: "Eyeliner makes music that I would describe as vapourwave, however there is a spiritual closeness to chip / demoscene / 80's synthpop and synth wave in his music - especially with some of the tasty little melodies and the instrument selection - which sounds like a super clean General MIDI band, and the aesthetic that that implies. Perfect music for the empty consumer soul of 2015!"
So, with that extensive retro-tech heads up, you better get to Melbourne this weekend.
Get the full run down on Square Sounds Festival over at their website.