16 BIT SESSIONS is where James tries to figure out all this Mega Drive music business by covering songs and trying out different sounds. This time, it’s a cover of Interstellar Strut by Tupper Ware Remix Party, an electro synth funk band based in Toronto that defies logic.
There’s something I say quite often that sounds pretty naïve whenever I repeat it, but nevertheless is completely true: when I moved to Canada in 2011 I had no idea there’d be so much opportunity to create and to be involved in something as fun as this kind of music. The fact that nights like Nintendo Knights (which I’m co-hosting this Thursday) exist here is part of why I love this city, but then that’s not the point at all – these things are always possible, I just happened to experience a few wake-up calls while I was here.
One such wake-up call was running into Tupper Ware Remix Party. Stumbling home around 2am with some excellent friends after an evening of responsible partying (I assume), we passed College and Bathurst where, across from Sneak’s, TWRP were doing some kind of hypnotic electronic disco funk busking. It’s exactly as insane as it sounds:
I’m sure I’ll get to the others, but this was one of many metaphorical kicks in the face that I received around the time that helped me realise something – something that, to a lot of people, is super obvious: you can just do whatever the fuck you want with music. Even if it sounds ludicrous or dumb or like there isn’t an audience for it, if it’s what you want to do and you own it then why not? Even the worst scenario that could come of it involves having a great time trying new things.
This all sounds very self-help book, but it’s a philosophy that serves TWRP well. In the past year I’ve caught them twice at the Horseshoe Tavern (where we’ll be making our debut on March 16th), and each time they’ve put on one of the most unique and singularly fun acts I’ve ever seen.
TWRP are the perfect band to cover in the Sega Genesis style – in part because their sound has a lot of that to begin with! The bass sounds are made by experimenting with new sounds out of my GenMDM modded MIDI Genesis (the lower bass register sounds very John Carpenter when you slow it down). The other soundfonts I used, through FMDrive controlling the GenMDM and FMDrive as a VSTi when I wanted it to be more accurate, are mostly adapted from Sonic & Knuckles – especially the Flying Battery Zone. Drums are samples from Sonic 2, though I think that crash cymbal is from Sonic 3. All three games involve blasting through space at some point so it seemed relevant to use ’em as a basis!
No reverb as I wanted to keep this as legit as possible, though for full hey-that’s-not-real-chiptune disclosure for people that want to hate things, I used a very slight detune to make the lead saw wave stand out and I took a shortcut with the crushed square wave on the outro – that’s some ping pong delay in Ableton Live. There’s also at least 2 or 3 voices at certain points that there’s no way the Genesis could handle simultaneously!
TWRP just released an excellent new EP called 2nite! Not to be confused with Rotary Dial’s “Tonight”, which we covered last week and is equally great! 2nite is well worth your time. If I wanted to be timely I should have done a track from 2nite. Maybe next season!
As I mentioned above, I’m co-hosting this month’s Nintendo Knights with Ninjinuity while Mike’s away on honeymoon and I’m excited. SNES tournament followed by a special DJ set by Rob Lee of ANALOG, and throughout the night I’m going to be playing a bunch of chip and electronic music to party to, along with some of these 16 Bit Sessions and some unreleased Villainest material! It’s gonna be great.