‘Chiptunes’ is a term for music performed with electronic equipment. Many of these chiptune songs sound like video game music from the NES era. Now there are improvements in chiptune equipment and peripherals that connect to the old Nintendo Game Boy which helps make composing easier. With live performances and other venues, chiptune music is on the rise, with many up and coming musicians. Recently, I got a chance to interview a local chiptune artist, Leroy Capasso.
Cary Woodham: What made you decide to want to start composing chiptunes in the first place?
Leroy Capasso: I had actually been into chip music long before it really had that label, starting some twenty years ago when I had a Commodore 64 and had a basket of floppy disks with all kinds of graphics and music demos and intros. Later on in high school a friend of mine and I collected a large variety of Amiga tracker music and recorded them onto tapes. That’s not to mention that I had always had a great appreciation for actual video game soundtracks of the 8-bit and 16-bit era. So it’s easy to say it’s always been a part of my life but it wasn’t until I went to my first chip music concert in March 2009 that gave me the idea to actually try doing something on my own.
CW: What kind of equipment do you use to compose your work?
LC: Just a classic Game Boy.
CW: How can people listen to your compositions? Do you have a Web site? Are there any other venues where you showcase your work, like live performances?
LC: There are two primary places. My Bandcamp site (http://pixyjunket.bandcamp.com/) has my two released EPs for free download and will likely host future full releases as well. My Facebook page (http://tinyurl.com/pixyjunket) is used to post random stuff including random non-EP tracks or links to compilations I’m on and will always have news and such on any live shows I’m a part of.
CW: What types of music influence your work?
LC: Since I’m still a neophyte to composing music I don’t think it really shows up in what I write, but my biggest influence is probably subconsciously tied to late 90’s/early 2000’s trance music, since that’s probably the most I’ve ever been into music. I’d love to eventually write in that style.
CW: Are there any particular video games that impacted your music?
LC: Not really, while there are definitely chip artists out there that compose very specific video game style music, I think a lot of chip musicians simply use the hardware to create their own style of music and there’s a separation from the fact that the instrument also happens to play video games.
CW: Any video game music composers or other musicians who have influenced you?
LC: I think Sievert and IAYD are probably my biggest influences, but on a personal level, not necessarily a musical one. They both played at that first concert I went to and I think the fact that they were both from Texas and they both had wildly different but equally amazing musical styles gave me that spark to start my own music. They are also two of the nicest guys I’ve ever met.
CW: What kinds of advice would you give a young person who wants to compose chiptunes someday?
LC: Practice, practice, practice. That’s probably cliché but it’s really the best advice. When I started, I fully expected to give it a try, not immediately succeed and put it aside like so many other hobbies and ventures I’ve pursued. AND I DID. But thankfully I picked it back up a few months after that drop-off and stuck with it and now I’ve gotten to meet a lot of great people and play live shows.
Thanks Leroy, for taking the time to be interviewed. –Cary