In the final installment of our video series on the Fami-Mode NES festival, we hear from Takeshi Nagai of music group Sexy-Synthesizer. Entailing game-inspired music performances and 8-bit game tournaments in Kichijouji, Tokyo, Fami-Mode is celebrated once a year in late January, organized by game culture shop owner Satoshi Sakagami.
A regular performer in the festival series, Sexy-Synthesizer is musician Nagai, VJ Otani and guest vocalist Chihiro. Inspired by the sprite art and sound effects of old school titles, the group has on several occasions been invited by game developers to share their renditions of popular videogame music.
Arrangements by Sexy-Synthesizer can be heard in Namco Bandai's Katamari Forever for Playstation 3, as well as the Square Enix album Love SQ, where they perform Frog's Theme from Chrono Trigger. The music group's original albums include Funky Bit, Rock and Happy Synthesizer.
In this video interview, we hear about the influence of retro-future aesthetics on the group's audio-visual presentation. Nagai also describes how the DIY mentality of independent creation has been central to the group's creativity. To hear more about METEOR's celebration of gaming culture, see also our previous interviews with 6955 and Omodaka, Smallest and Consumers, and Kplecraft.
Toward the end of January we heard from METEOR owner Satoshi Sakagami on the making of his annual Fami-Mode NES festival, taking place in Kichijouji, Tokyo.
Music performers for the all-night 8bit-themed parties have included 6955, whose game Dyad was an entry in this year's Independent Games Festival. Omodaka has joined more recently, combining chiptunes with ceremonial Japanese visual elements. Over the next three days we'll be hearing from other participants of the gaming culture event.
Kuske of Kplecraft has been making chiptune hybrid music with percussionist Eddie since their album Hamlin debuted in 2006. Kplecraft tracks have appeared on the Kuon Records, Monotonik and 8bitpeoples labels, and can be heard on the album Chiptuned Rockman, as well as in the Xbox 360 shooter Otomedius Gorgeous.
The perspectives of the organizers of a long-running Famicom event series might interest indie developers intent on throwing their own parties celebrating the culture of the independent gaming scene.
Fami-Mode is a yearly celebration of the culture surrounding the 8-bit NES. Taking place in Kichijouji, Tokyo in early January, live chiptune music and Famicom tournaments run all night long in a riff on the traditional Hatsumōde festival. The event is organized by Satoshi Sakigami, the owner of game culture shop METEOR.
Continuing our coverage of the game-inspired all-night party, today we hear from musicians Smallest and Consumers. Smallest is a rapper whose Japanese-language lyrics blend hip-hop and chiptune styles... a genre inevitably termed "chip-hop." The musician has collaborated with the Consumers music group on several game-inspired projects and the two regularly perform together at Fami-Mode.
A frequent participant of the Fami-Mode event series, Consumers took the innovative step of including independently developed Windows games with their albums P.S.G. and D.O.T.S.. (The software came included on the same compact discs as the albums.) The live acts featuring music by Ishii and visuals by BAB often incorporate improvisatory elements controlled by gamepads, further emphasizing the gaming theme of their music.
Once a year Satoshi Sakagami of the Kichijouji game culture shop METEOR hosts an all-night party entailing music performances and NES tournaments, called Fami-Mode. An 8-bit riff on the Hatsumōde festival taking place on New Years' Day at Shinto shrines, Fami-Mode celebrates the lasting appeal of Nintendo's original home console.
Stage performances for past Fami-Mode events have included music sets by developers of independently financed games. 6955, the Toronto game composer behind IGF entry Dyad, played at the first ever installment. Meanwhile, Tokyo-based band Consumers, playing this year's show, created their own retro PC game and distributed the software through their music CD entitled "D.O.T.S.(Dance Object Ten Sound)."
Other participating game-inspired musicians include Kplecraft, whose music videos are created using NES-style sprite art. Omodaka weaves traditional Japanese music with chiptunes. Sexy-Synthesizer draws inspiration from '80s pop culture and arcade sounds for their music, video and vocal performances.
We caught up with several of the event's participants in Kichijouji to hear their thoughts on Fami-Mode. To experience it yourself, drop by Star Pine's Cafe later tonight or check out the METEOR Ustream feed online.