Blip Festival Tokyo


Staff Writer

If there’s anything video-game geeks hate, it’s interacting with other people — at least, that’s the common perception. However, it’s a perception that is routinely shattered by the live chiptune music scene — and where better to go multiplayer than at this weekend’s Blip Festival Tokyo, which celebrates the genre that emulates 1980s 8-bit video-game consoles.

“I’m not a fan of chiptune made to be ‘of the chiptune genre’ and nothing else,” comments James York, better known as Cheapshot, an Ibaraki-based British solo artist who uses old game technology to make dubstep tunes. “I prefer it when an artist uses the Game Boy or whatever as a musical instrument.”

Cheapshot is one of 16 acts who will perform at Blip on Oct. 15 and 16 at Koenji High. The festival, staged annually in New York since 2006 and in Tokyo since last year, is a summit for all things bleepy and bloopy.

Tokyoite Soichi Terada, who performs as Omodaka, is also on the bill. Terada’s music brings a human edge to the cold 8-bit soundwaves of chiptune, layering on gorgeous enka vocals and staging an elaborate performance involving a slew of handheld gadgets and video screens.

Terada has taken his high-concept act around the world. “Blip waves work as a common language,” he says. “The 8-bit sound goes beyond borders.

“Other bands on this year’s bill that I recommend are JDDJ3J, Bit Shifter and Nullsleep,” he adds. “Anamanaguchi sound cool, too: They mix blip waves with a band sound.”

York, meanwhile, is hopeful that his beats will turn fans of more conventional chiptune (if conventional is the word) on to dubstep.

“A lot of the crowd may not be expecting the gut-rumbling bass that I throw at them,” he laughs. “I’d like a few people to be surprised and even scared at the savage bass that the Game Boy can produce.”

Blip Festival Tokyo takes place at Koenji High on Oct. 22 (4:30 p.m.) and 23 (3:30 p.m.; ¥3,000 each day advance including drink ticket, or plus drink ticket at the door). For more information, including extra events and an app, visit www.tokyo.blipfestival.org/2011.Omodaka