Eightbit.me gets a touch of watermelon from Torley



Eightbit.me was launched a few weeks ago at SXSW and is becoming rapidly popular among fans of the 8bit culture.

Co-founded by Addison Kowalski, Amadeus Demarzi and Courtney Guertin, Eightbit.me allows you to create 8-bit style avatars for your Twitter profile and also add a funny twist to your Foursquare checkins.

The music played on the website and in the promotional video was made by Torley who heavily used Plogue’s chipsounds for this project. We wanted to learn a little more about his work. So we asked him a few questions:

MAX DELAND (PLOGUE):You said, Addison and Courtney contacted you after watching some of your chipsounds demos. What pleased them in your videos and how did they introduce their project to you?

TORLEY: “Our conversation was highly efficient and they are so nice, sharp guys. They simply told me they were “huge fans” — I presume it had something to do with my enthusiasm ;) — and introduced eightbit.me as a “fun website”. As we chatted further, more details emerged as to what this was going to be all about, and I’m convinced we all resonated on the same retro-wavelength, carrying similar nostalgic memories. As each screenshot was passed to me, I began to weave the sonic aspects of their world.”

PLOGUE: Did they have any specific requirement for the music?

TORLEY: “Yes, we agreed an authentic SPIRIT was essential. Not necessarily restraining the sounds and effects to those used by 80s consoles, but evoking that spectrum of fun. When one is young and not jaded and appreciates creativity as-it-is. For example, I intentionally exceeded the limited polyphony of those devices and applied lush reverb, but the mechanics of a “catchy melody” are ever-present. But fun never goes out of style.”

PLOGUE: What was your inspiration for this? Any 8bit musician in particular?

TORLEY: “Addison brought up the notion of combining Thomas Newman‘s moods with NES music. In shorter loops. I adore the Shawshank Redemption soundtrack, especially the slow piano cues. I don’t listen to a tremendous amount of 8-bit music, but from that which I do, I become terribly obsessed. I’ve cross-referenced many of my inspirations to where it’s tough to pick out individual strands — it’s all blended into me, and I pay respect. As for an outstanding soundtrack that has affected how I think about music that accompanies interactive sequences, it would be Alexander Brandon‘s Deus Ex, which in turn is descended from tracker traditions. I can only hope the forthcoming Human Revolution will be as profound. Regardless, we’re all part of this sonic lifecycle.”

“Furthermore, I have certainly heard many demoscene works and even purchased an art book on the matter — nothing like ANSI graphics to provoke a flashback. It amazes me what a tight team can get out of limited resources, and I could speak about that for eternity. Just a bit more — the many pseudonymized names behind the Mega Man games in particular powered my childhood, as did Nobuo Uematsu‘s melodies which travel through any instrumentation. He is so easy to namedrop with good reason. I am most fascinated when blippy sounds are combined with organic sources, so I’m doing my part to share my vision of that… more in a bit. :)”

“There was a particular memory that kept flashing back to me: if you remember the game River City Ransom (which saw a revival in interest after Scott Pilgrim vs. the World), it had agonizingly long passwords. My brother and I would spend a long time gazing at the password entry screen. Once, he memorized an entire password and entered it while we were at a friend’s house. While the eightbit.me music doesn’t necessarily sound like RCR, I thought to myself: “So, someone is going to spend some minutes customizing their little computer person, what can I do to enhance their mood? Help them express their personality? How do we see ourselves when we become quantized into a stack of pixels?” And the sentiment of those old password and load game screens returned to me. This became “Character Expression”.”

PLOGUE: You could have used many other synth to make chipmusic. Why did you prefer to mainly go with chipsounds ?

TORLEY: “chipsounds is the only tool out there that I view like the “tree trunk”, the core of this project. (I researched thoroughly.) ”

” I had been using chipsounds for a lot of time. It helped that I knew how to use it. And I’m a big fan of showing off great preset work. Sound design is a formidable art to be respected — I felt the initial chipsounds launch didn’t have enough presets, so I was overjoyed when some releases later, the categories were thickened up. Including pads! Mmmm. No question that chipsounds, with its “time machine/history museum” perspective, would be a fantastic tool for me to travel back to the 80s and revive the unbridled spirit of having electronic fun for the first time. What’s more, Addison and Courtney had raised the fact that they enjoyed my chipsounds videos, so this was the right, easy path. ”

” In laying down initial performances, chipsounds’ focus on being live-playable (as opposed to step-programming all the way) suits my workflow of playing the melodies live, sometimes using the pitchbend and vibrato intensely a la Vangelis. I’m glad so many presets have a large pitchbend range out-of-the-box! ”

PLOGUE: Any audio work on the table for Eightbit.me or other project that you could brief us on?

TORLEY: “Absolutely, watch for chipsounds to be featured on my forthcoming Dream Journal 3, which are my dreams turned into music. In particular, I’m attached to “Demoscene Disco” which uses chipsounds prominently. I’m also playing with a 50-track album of selected Glitch Piano works — chipsounds is in there too, a fusion of the analogue + digital masters. I grew up on classical piano, so it’s like two pillars of my early life are intertwining. The older we get, the more wisdom we have to appreciate our youth… ? ”

” Lastly, there’s music that isn’t (yet?) on the current eightbit.me site but can be found on http://music.torley.com/album/eightbit-me chipsounds figures heavily in all of them, naturally. My favorite example of an expressive chipsounds solo with the aforementioned pitchbend is prolly @ 0:33 of Boss Battle. Enjoy! ”

PLOGUE: Thank you so much for your time.

TORLEY: “And thank you graciously for yours! ”

To read more on Torley’s techniques for this project, check out the “eightbitme” tag on his blog.