16 BIT SESSIONS #6: Robyn – Dancing On My Own

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 megahit Dancing On My Own by Swedish pop royalty and agreed-upon ruler of the universe Robyn.

Mandatory plugs: BUY VINYL YOU GUYS. FIVE DOLLARS.COME TO HORSESHOE MARCH 16TH. NO COVER. SO MUCH GOOD VALUE FUN

Here we go. 16 bit cover number 6. I think I might be starting to go a little crazy.

Why am I making these? Depending on when you ask me it’s either an exercise to help me better learn my craft (if you can call making bleeps a craft, and after 4 beers I could probably reach those levels of pretension), winter madness (our first planned show of 2015 fell through after I’d nixed some alternative plans, so I want to keep productive and keep creating until our next show in March) or just compulsion – I enjoy it, so why justify it?

Why am I publishing them? I’m not sure if there’s an audience for them or whether people as a whole are enjoying them. I have anxiety (and I could stop this sentence right there) about putting things out into the world – often sharing things on the internet feels like you’re trying to sell something. And we do have a single out, shows to promote. But I don’t want to bombard people. We don’t have a huge fanbase and so after a while it can feel like you’re just harassing friends. So that’s not why I’m doing this, and I hope I never get to the point where that is why I do something.

A few very kind people have told me they’re enjoying the series, I enjoy making them and when I’ve pressed “post” I enjoy the fact that I’ve made something and felt able to share it. That’s reason enough! Onwards!

So Robyn is a Swedish bundle of pure brilliance. She’s been around forever. You almost definitely know this song. It’s one of the best pure pop songs ever. It’s bittersweet, it stomps, it’s simple, it’s beautiful. Some people swear they can’t stand pop music. That’s fine, but they’re missing out on some simple joys in life like this.

I’m cheating a bit with this one – we’ve played this live a handful of times and so I had the skeleton of it ready to go, I just had to flesh it out. We played this at the Bovine Sex Club during Pride 2014 as part of a night hosted by the Toronto Gaymers gay gaming society. The rest of the bill, unbeknownst to us, was drag queen punk. It was unbelievable and so much fun, and when we busted out this track in the middle of our set the Bovine came alive. People danced, people sang along, people connected. That’s what this song does and that’s why I love it.

This is one of the least pure chip songs so far in this series, in that it’s mostly samples and VSTs, and not all dedicated Sega Genesis stuff. There’s a VST called Monomate in use, as well as some Little Scale sample packs, FM Drive (of course – that bass!) and a fair amount of reverb and chorus. I didn’t want to limit this one – I wanted to see if I could make a track that could plausibly fit into the Robyn production style. I think it works. Maybe it’s just an amazing song and it’s impossible to fuck it up.

Jari, Gill and I went to see Robyn at the end of the Summer last year on her tour with Royksopp. Neighbour to G&J and general great person Lauren was kind enough to get us up on the VIP riser and we sang our brains out and it was amazing. It was so great I almost feel guilty for having that good of a time; this is the kind of English brain you’re dealing with. Ha.

Here’s the original.

All together now

I’M IN THE CORNER

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