Day 9: Killer Dance Music for Video Game Enthusiasts

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Game Boy is Tomás Shea, a MUN engineering grad and MHA candidate, who, as the moniker would imply,  creates music equally of interest to EDM dance music AND video game enthusiasts. Hence its self-description as Chip Tunes.

In a line: this album sounds like Deadmau5 possessed your video game console and commanded you to dance. It’s a novelty album in some ways, sure, but it’s also very good, from a musical standpoint. The songs breathe, build, break, and move you.

Shea says his music “is really more about what I haven’t figured out to do yet than anything.” When he started this RPM Challenge, he took a few days to listen to all of his favourite artists and bands for inspiration.

“What I learned from that process was that I don’t have the ability to play instruments as well as any of them, write meaningful lyrics like any of them, sing well like most of them, or even have a good flow.”

That bleak reckoning and artistic doubt did teach him something about the music he loves: it could stand to be mixed better, with longer instrumentals, deeper bass, more dynamics, so that’s what he started with.

“The first song that came out of this mindset was ‘Press Start’ which more or less set the tone for the rest of what I made: video game sounding music that could be either at home on your gameboy, or with a little more texture and work, something you can listen to in a playlist with some other game soundtracks or Deadmau5.”

Clearly, video game soundtracks are a big and clear influence on the album. “I remember the first time I played Sega with my older cousin, and being amazed at how cool the music sounded, and years later, getting my first game boy, booting up Mario and hearing that iconic music. Then came Zelda, Pokemon, Sonic, and so many more great games with great memorable music that I don’t even need to listen to in order to hum perfectly to this day.”

He put the album together on his phone, with the free Garage Band app. “To create the chiptune portion, I would use only the piano and banjo to create a melody track, export that to my computer, then using audacity and some of the built in filter functions, make it a ‘chippier” sound.’ When that was done, I would save that and send it back to my phone where I could then add drums, bass, and more stuff.”

Keeping his efforts free, “for the final bit of polish, like some audio samples, I used a free trial version of Fruity Loops to amplify certain aspects, and get some funky effects on top of that. When it was all said and done I managed to make 16 songs of varied length and quality, my favorite one is ‘Final Fight,’ my wife really likes ‘Exp Grind,’ and my son (who is just one and doesn’t really speak yet) really enjoys ‘Firefly.'”

“As stated before I have a love of video games from a young age and this love sustains to this day, I share the experiences and fun with my wife and hopefully one day my son as well.”

About Author

Chad Pelley

Chad Pelley is an author, songwriter, and journalist who wrote for publications like the Globe & Mail and The Telegraph-Journal before founding The Overcast. Now he spends 25 hours a day keeping up with his email, and has no time to be his former self.

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