Frequently Asked Questions
My friends and family call me Levi but the majority of inhabitants in this endless digital reality we call the Internet know me as "Doctor Octoroc" - musician, amateur pianist, artist, designer, classic video game enthusiast, and, according to Perez Hilton after I released my 8-Bit Dr. Horrible project, "some Internet genius".Last updated:
Before I started making chiptunes, I was creating techno and dance remixes of TV show, movie and video game themes, as well as some original compositions here and there. I also was playing piano more regularly and even played in a number of bands during my early 20's, most of which were heavily inspired by blues.
With the video game music scene still in its infancy, I decided I wanted to form a piano rock band (a la Ben Folds Five) that played fan favorite classic video game themes. My idea was to enlist an upright bassist, drummer with heavy jazz influences and keys player to form a band that would be known as "Octoroc" - eight limbs between the four of us, 88 keys on my piano, a 'rock' music style, covering music from 8-bit video game systems.
However, it was not meant to be. I've played with plenty of drummers and was willing to forgo the second keys player for any one of the guitarists I knew but, for the life of me, I could not find an upright bassist and on that matter, I could not concede.
So, I resolved instead that I would be a DJ and, as a nod to the numerous characters found in comic books, games, cartoons, etc., who adopted the title "doctor" I threw that in front and thus, "Doctor Octoroc" was born.Last updated:
As touched on in the campaign description, I've been making chiptunes specifically for over a decade. I released my first album (8-Bit Jesus) in 2008 and have been constantly arranging and composing music using my Nintendo to this day. I may only have two other albums and a few other projects out there but on my computer I have a number of project files containing hundreds of chiptune tracks. In fact, what I've released is probably only about 5% of everything I've scored. This is indicative of two things:
First, is my desire to constantly create. No matter how busy I get with work (I'm a CAD designer and illustrator by day), I always have something else in the pipeline.
The second is the rate at which I desire to create new things rather than continue working on current projects. This is due primarily to the dissatisfaction I often have with my own work but I also simply prefer to move forward - constantly trying new things, expanding my skill set, and perfecting my craft.
So when I settle on one project for the better part of seven months, you can bet it's something I'm very passionate about. It's a sign that I've found something that truly speaks to me and, as a result, there is something that I want to say to the world.
That first album was a mashup of holiday songs and classic video game themes and a pertinent reflection of my need to combine multiple things I love into one. I love creating chiptunes and I adore "In The Aeroplane Over The Sea", so this project is, simply put, an inevitable step in the evolution of my creative journey.Last updated:
On the surface, chiptunes are cute. The bleeps and bloops that many of us associate with a childhood unhindered by the demands of the world remind us of a more innocent time when the greatest adversity we faced was our parents trying to convince us that we were rotting our brains. I'll admit, I take a certain level of satisfaction from the fact that the games I played as a kid invariably put me on a path to use them as a primary influence in both my personal and professional life. I attribute much of my success in both of these areas to all the times I 'rotted my brain' and my father has, begrudgingly, accepted that after all of these years.
But chiptunes isn't just about nostalgia and the hardware that game consoles used in the 80's and early 90's to create music isn't exclusive to game soundtracks. As many limitations as the sound hardware has (and I do love them as they force me to exercise my creativity in ways that more versatile instrumentation doesn't), their capabilities are unknown to many. Most people think of the "Super Mario Bros." theme but for chiptune artists, we see the full potential of square, triangle and saw wave patterns to invoke emotion and deep thought. We see a random noise generator not as static but an audible tapestry to be woven as we see fit to create intricate beats. And we certainly don't mind that our sample channels are lo-fi; we're not the kind of people who care more about graphics than game play.
What it comes down to is that there is an innate, complex quality to a sound generator that has been well utilized. For all their simplicity, our instruments can be used like any other and the fact that they were used at one time to score the soundtracks of the games that we love is just icing on the blippity, bloopity cake!Last updated:
Believe it or not, this is a question a lot of my friends asked me when I began work on the album last summer. I suppose the idea of covering a beloved indie rock album (especially one that is deeply personal to the original artist and can be as disquieting as it is blithe at times) is, intrinsically , a tall order. And to, furthermore, utilize something so seemingly frivolous as a video game system to do it is unusual - but then, there is nothing natural about the way a Nintendo Entertainment System generates sound.
The wide variety of instruments used on "In The Aeroplane Over The Sea" offers a decades-spanning taste of musical culture while the audio processing unit on the NES is about as basic and dated as music can be. They simply aren't compatible, superficially.
So this project does indeed beg the question: "Why this album? Why Chiptunes?"
Imagine yourself, as Jeff Mangum briefly describes during "King of Carrot Flowers Part One", as a child - lacking any awareness of the pending adversity, grief, pain and worry that potentially awaits us all as we age. The subsequent concept of retrospect in "King of Carrot Flowers Parts Two & Three" highlights an appreciation that we can gain but the result is a double-edged sword. We all float until we learn to swim and spit before we can speak. It's unavoidable that we will experience hardship and delight in tandem. So on the one hand, we can look fondly upon our past while, on the other, we can lament it. And even if we are fortunate enough to have avoided many of life's difficulties, we may be forced to bemoan the untoward pasts of others who were less fortuitous.
The numerous references Mangum makes to the suffering of others throughout the rest of the album is a clear call to action that has echoed in the ears of many over time; never forget.
But while we are implored to remember the sorrow, we must also recall the joy. This duality encompasses the complete experience of life and everything it has to offer and for me, much of the joy I gain through reflection pairs with the sorrow. The sorrow of losing my mother at a young age but the joy I remember experiencing when she discovered The Legend of Zelda and I did the same. My delight when she taught me how to play piano, make art, and exercise my creativity. We embraced the future of technology, music and entertainment while our family learned that her future would become less certain with each passing day. As a young boy, the gravity of these circumstances escaped me, even as she left this world; as a grown man, I will never forget the pain of loss and, likewise, I refuse to allow the joys of the past escape as well.
So considering these things, it should come as no surprise that I would choose to make music using a Nintendo when given the opportunity and that, upon deciding to cover "In The Aeroplane Over The Sea", into which my own experiences mirror those expressed throughout, doing so using retro video game hardware would not only be fitting, but a fulfillment of everything the original album asks of us.Last updated:
Okay, so this isn't a typical FAQ's section...but I really wanted to offer some additional insight into this project and the content here would clutter up the campaign description. I figured that I had already covered anything that could be included in standard FAQ's so I took this opportunity to answer the who, what, where, why, when and how.
Hey, if you made it this far, you were likely looking for extensive, additional information and hopefully, you found much of this as intriguing as you did enlightening!
If you do have a question, don't hesitate to ask!Last updated:
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