Interview: Anamanaguchi

After discovering a rather bitchin' chance to interview and spectate a chiptune artist, Elliot Dyson of Sans Sheriff and I interviewed Luke Silas, the drummer of Anamanaguchi. It's a good chance to get close to chiptune artists - a rarity in this country, so getting the chance to speak to people like this gives a great perspective in the scene.
~Matthew Clewley 

Music Review Database: Do you enjoy coming to the UK? 

Anamanaguchi: Yeah, I mean, we've only been over here once before in September, we played Manchester and then played the south sea fest, then London and Bristol. They were all incredible. The Manchester show was amazing with a bunch of other chiptune people.

Was it the SuperByte fest? 

Exactly, James who put it on is coming to the show tonight. You a chipper?

I love chiptune! I did make it briefly, but I wasn't confident to release the songs. 

Ah, I know how that goes.  

I did use LSDJ using a DS emulator on an S4 card and tried using that. It's complicated until you get your head around it.

It is, it took me a solid day to get a sound from it. 

With synths there are different soundwaves.

Yeah, on the channel it's a 16 wave synthesiser. 

On Reason, I used waves. 

The tracking process... it is and isn't intuitive, because it makes sense instead of looking at a piano key. You know which notes which, but without you're working around what sounds good and it's kind of distinct and raw, you can do what you want with them.   

Elliot Dyson: You're the drummer? You seem to know the software and the melodic parts. 

I do a lot of programming and writing, I’ve written a couple of songs for the band, I do my own, y'know, little bullshit. 

Are there any rock bands you're influenced by? 

We're more influenced by bands than video game music. We all have different taste, and what becomes an Anamanaguchi song is basically the centre of this diagram and what all four of us agree on and say “wow, that's awesome.” 

We're influenced by Dragonforce, Eiffel 65, it's across the border and we have great pop song writing like Weezer and Max Martin songs. It comes down to us wanting to play punk shows at raves. 

You met Hermin Li? 

Dude, so he came to the London show, we chilled and it was awesome and he spends a lot of time in Los Angeles he has a house in Deep Valley, LA. He has new tracks and he's working on the new Dragonforce album. He came to one of our shows and we had him shred on the track, and right before our set the opening band was this couple of DJs, and one was hyping the crowd blasting trap, and he was throwing water all over the place, it was awesome. 

Have you used Mario Paint Composer, or LSDJ or any gaming software like that? 

Everything is pretty much done in either any s tracker, nerd track, or milky tracker 2 which is supposed to be more sample based. And then we take those and play guitar, shit like that over the top of them.   

Do you have a Roland SPD-SX? 

I got mine on craigslist from somebody who's getting rid of some stuff, so I got a great deal on it. 

Elliot Dyson: What do you trigger on it? 

There are a couple of spots with big bass hits on it and a couple of snare samples, nothing too crazy.  

Do you think chiptune will get bigger in years to come? 

That all depends, are you asking about the scene or people using hardware.

The scene. 

The thing it is, it's a synthesiser, a piece of hardware, it could become big and there are people who use actual hardware and think of it as far as the knowledge of the style and the knowledge of how the hardware and software becoming more mainstream. If you go and see, generally speaking a straight chiptune artist, it's not really accessible. If you go and see someone like Chibitech, who is this Japanese woman who makes insanely incredible pounding house music for the NES. 

Is chipbreak like Sabrepulse? 

No, not exactly. It's similar but not the same. Point being, if someone is doing something that's very impeccably produced, where no one can touch you because you're a fucking genius, that you're not going to be the most pop accessible person. 

Ever tried writing songs without chiptune? 

Yeah I mean we've been in different bands, I've been drumming for 14 years. I'm trying to think about how to put this, we aren't writing stuff that isn't strictly chiptune but has elements. I don't know, at what point does something we're working on stop being an Anamanaguchi song without chip? No it's not, it's the point of which what we're doing it no longer indicative of what we're doing.

Elliot Dyson: Back to drums, do you play to backing tracks? Do you have issues with clicks and stuff? 

Ideally there would be in ear monitors, but I would have the track playing out of the monitor, it's the loudest thing on stage by far. I just follow the leads and I play along to what I can here.   

Elliot Dyson: It's never gone horribly wrong? 

Of course not, if I can't hear the track we can't play, it's as easy as that. 

You have so many new songs on Endless Fantasy, did you write all these recently, or are they bits and pieces? 

It was kind of funny, some of the tracks are about four years old. There have been tracks like “John Hughes” and “SPF 420” that Pete has been playing forever. "Prom Night" has got to be about three years old, we started writing that in 2011. Some of this stuff has been recent even as we are mixing and recording. I hate to bring this comparison as it sounds so pretentious, last year when they re-issued The Smashing Pumpkins' Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness, there is a review of that I read on Pitchfork that said that some people might say it's a pretentious move to put out a record of this length of double album, but the truth is it's a proper way to document to show the world the huge depth of song writing to the world. We're not saying we're this as its crazy, and we aren't that, the point is that we have been doing so much song-writing and thought it was stupid to sit on everything we have wrote and it's the best way to put everything out there that we could.

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Discovery: Interview: Anamanaguchi
Interview: Anamanaguchi
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