September 23, 2010

Interview - Brother Android

With two full albums, an EP, and a game soundtrack all composed in a unique chiptune style, Brother Android made his mark on chip music with soft, sine-infused melodies and interesting themes translated into 8-bit, such as outer space and the winter season.
I've conducted a five-question interview him, during which we discuss his inspirations, new style, and future projects.
1. Your latest album "October November December" is one of my favorite chiptune albums of all time. You captured the theme that you went for quite well, especially in tracks like "The Stars Come Out". Where did you get your inspiration, and how did you go about translating the winter theme into chip music?
"At the end of last summer I moved away from the inland Northwest, where I grew up. It was strange experiencing a 'fall' and 'winter' that didn't really even exist except in name, and that is when I made those tracks. So I guess it is some sort of ode to where I grew up. As for translating the feeling of winter into chip music, I think sine waves had a lot to do with it; I find them to have a very cold yet organic sound. I was listening to Autechre a lot at the time and that influenced the album's strong rhythmic component; their music has a really bleak sort of beauty to it, and that is the same kind of feeling that the end of the year possesses in my memory."
2. "Scientific Satellite EP" and "Space Hymns" were your first chiptune albums. What made you decide to capture the feeling of outer space?
"I've always been sort of a science fiction aficionado, for reasons I can't pin down that well. The tracks that I first composed for Space Hymns are pretty old, and I think I was in a physics class at the time and was pretty into the cosmic weirdness of it all. I guess outer space suggests a sort of primal feeling of awe to me, something that is bigger than words, and I think music is the best medium for things like that."
3. With the upcoming "I Wish I Were Your Derivative" EP, you're going to be pursuing a different style of chip music. What made you want to "contemporize" things a bit?
"It's not a matter of contemporizing at all, really; the primary idea was really that I wanted to create music that I thought sounded 'fun'. To me, that revolves around strong melodies, strong rhythms, structural complexity, and a pretty short attention span; if the music comes off as more accessible, that's why, and if it comes across as more typically 'chiptune' in sound, I think it's probably because I used a much smaller and simpler palette of sounds than usual. Every instrument is a square wave or some sort of noise. Sine waves and triangle waves are gentle, and I was tired of making music that sounded gentle; on top of that, it was just easier to focus on structural and compositional strength when limiting myself to only a few textures. Lastly, and probably most importantly, I wanted to try purposefully imitating existing styles of music (funk and disco especially), just to see if I could do it. I guess it was an experiment in trying to distill musical styles to their simplest elements and have them remain recognizable. It's hard to say whether I succeeded at that though."
4. I played Ian Snyder's "Feign" recently, listening to your familiarly-styled soundtrack. What was the process of creating that track like? Did you play the game first?
"Yeah, actually... Ian originally wanted to use the track 'The Space Machine' from Space Hymns, but I liked the game a lot and decided to make a new track for it instead. Originally the game's graphics were black and white, and I think that contributed a lot to the atmosphere of the track."
5. Lastly, what does the future hold for your music?
"It's hard to say, really. I love chip music, but I can't help but feel that I've stumbled into this scene by accident; it's certainly far from the only kind of music I want to make. I really enjoy soundtracking games, though, and am working on another such project right now. I also have been toying around with some non-chiptune ideas lately, electronic and organic, and I want to see where I can take those. And there will probably be another EP shortly after I Wish I Were Your Derivative, but no promises there."
Brother Android's music can be accessed from his website ( and the 8 Bit Collective (