Early video gaming console developers must have had no idea that, twenty years later, a ragtag group of musicians would begin hacking their creations to produce a wacky genre known as chiptune. Often driven by nostalgia for the heyday of pixelated Mario and Luigi, this loose association of bands and producers creates a dizzying variety of music using the same stable of 8bit sounds, from Sabrepulse’s breakcore to Bubblyfish’s ambient dreamscapes to Hayzee’s chip-hop. Or, as 20 year-old Pete Berkman, the brainchild behind NYC-based group Anamanaguchi explains, “The whole idea is like back to the basics, everybody using the same sounds that are totally minimal and trying to make something that sounds bigger than the Game Boy or bigger than the Nintendo.”
Pete, a music technology major at NYU whose father taught him to read by playing The Legend of Zelda, composes songs in DOS and plays guitar at live shows. Twenty-three year-old James DeVito serves as the group’s bassist and Nintendo master, 20 year-old Ary Warnaar plays guitar and Game Boy, and 21 year-old Luke Silas bangs the drums. So just how do an innocent Game Boy and Nintendo go from being a child’s playthings to vessels of the holy order of rock n’ roll? Flavorpill’s Ali Gitlow caught up with the guys during sound check for a recent gig at Death By Audio in Williamsburg to find out.
All photos by Chuck Jones