Interview: Chiptune Artist The One Electronic

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Chiptune artist Michael Vallejo has been making music with Game Boy’s long enough to know what good tunes sound like. The One Electronic’s unique arsenal of melodious tunes are sure to indulge anyone’s taste for Chiptunes.  We had the chance to chat about Chiptunes, Game Boy’s, and more.

You make music with Game Boy’s. How did that come about?

I had always been a fan of chip music, I guess. I grew up with an NES in the house and even as a child I always wondered how they composed the music for it. It wasn’t until around 2005 that I discovered that the music could appear outside of video games beyond remixes and traditional covers when I was introduced to YMCK via the internet. I was so amazed at how well the aesthetic meshed with the jazz-pop style music they made and it inspired me to try to make my own. Luckily YMCK actually developed a very rudimentary software that mimicked the NES sound and that’s where it all started… the Game Boy came a little later actually.

It was around 2007 when an internet friend introduced me to modded Game Boy’s and LSDJ. I toyed with it for a bit and used it as a secondary instrument in my music at the time but it wasn’t until around four years ago that really started getting into it. The biggest turning point was becoming a core member of Piko Piko Detroit where I was surrounded by other musicians who all used LSDJ. I got to really learn the tricks of the trade and develop the sound I have now. I couldn’t be happier that I’ve gone almost exclusively Game Boy!

It seems as though LSDJ is a popular choice among musicians. Do you have to modify your Game Boy in order for it to work?

Any Game Boy will work with LSDJ, modifications are there mainly for cosmetics, however there are some that are considered performance-enhancing. The best mod you can do out there is inserting a backlight behind your LCD so you can use it in the dark! The original Game Boy series lacked and internal lighting up until the Game Boy Light in 1998.

You mentioned Piko Piko Detroit, could you tell us a little more about that?

Piko Piko Detroit is a netlabel and group of musicians from Michigan (and a few honorary members from elsewhere). It started between two of my friends, Corey (Snesei) and Yuuya (Pikoboy), who met at Youmacon in 2011. It’s probably been one of the greatest things I’ve been involved with. I’ve met so many friends and had so many opportunities to play shows and meet people and I would have never been able to do it without them. I’m really lucky to be a part of it.

We had the chance to first hear your music at this years MAGFest, and your set was really good. There was definitely a different vibe from your style versus some of the other Chiptune artists there. It seemed much more jubilant than some of the other sets we heard. Is there a certain vibe you think your music fits?

Everyone in the chip scene has a different approach to their music. Many people are directly influenced from video games and make their music to sound as such, but there are also plenty of people who come from hardcore/punk or EDM or what have you and it really reflects in their performance style and the sounds they produce. Most of my music tends to be heavily melodic and that comes from the music I’ve always listened to, I think. It’s mostly reflective and narrative. All of my releases tell some story on a personal level and are very sentimental. I’d like to think that people can feel that.

Are you working on any new projects right now?

I’m currently working on a new full length album. While I’ve composed a full album that was entirely made in LSDJ before (Sorry, Sorrytown) this will be the first time I’ve invested this much energy into a LSDJ project. My previous releases (including one that just came out, April Showers & May Flowers) all use a variety of different tools to piece all the music together.

How can people connect with you and your music?

The best way is probably though my soundcloud https://soundcloud.com/the-one-electronic. It’s where my music is most up-to-date, and I try my best to respond to anyone who has questions for me. You can also hear some of my older material through my bandcamp theoneelectronic.bandcamp.com However, my latest material has been coming out through my netlabel pikopikodetroit.bandcamp.com.

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About The Author

Lover of technology, Christ follower, father, and husband. Founder and Editor-In-Chief of DigiSpun.