Tag Archives: community

Guest Post: Zef – Didn’t Mother Teach You to Share?

[box type=”info”] Zef is a Chiptune artist from Saskatchewan, Canada. His debut release was released through NoiseChannel.org.[/box]

Didn’t Mother Teach You to Share?
by Zef

I’m going to be talking about the chipmusic scene, and one thing in particular that makes it very unique. In chipscene, artists make music, perform shows, and distribute albums just like in any other music scene, however chipmusic artists exhibit one major difference that distinguishes them from most of the music industry: In the majority of cases; chipmusic artists are doing these things for free.

For those who aren’t familiar with chipmusic already; jump on over here and pick up a quick background on it. For some reason chip artists are breaking the mould and they’re giving away perfectly good music when they could be making a profit on it; I believe there are several compounding reasons for this phenomenon.

Firstly; chipmusic is a rather small niche of the music market (though it’s growing in popularity quite quickly) that is to say, it had humble beginnings. It started off as people simply messing around with old hardware to see what new things they could do with it. Onlookers started paying attention and joining in themselves. Since its very beginnings chipscene has been about spreading interest in this interesting type of music. There were no means for early artists to make a career out of this music, and so the majority of the early scene was established primarily by hobbyists; people who did this sort of thing for fun. Since this scene was founded on the premise of having fun rather than making money it set a foundation that has carried on for years. The precedent this foundation set has carried on the principle, new artists entering the scene can see that those are already established in the scene are giving away their music for free and are actively working towards making chipmusic a community thing. Seeing that this is the way the scene works, new artists adopt these principles as their own.

One other possible contributor is that most of the materials involved in making chipmusic are free or very inexpensive. Most people have access to at least one old gameboy or NES, and most of the early software for making chipmusic was created by the musicians themselves and was given out freely. As it stands, most new chipmusic artists can get started for next to nothing.

All of these things helped to form chipmusic into the community that it is today. In this community you find the pros helping out those who are just starting, you see artists sharing tips amongst those who in any other context would have been their direct competition, and you see artists teaming up to use their music for the common good in compilations such as Chip In: Japan!.

The fans love it too of course, they get a lot of their music for free, but they also become willing to support their favourite artists through “pay what you want” releases. I’m certainly not saying that everyone needs to give out their music for free, what people do with their own music is their business, but what’s important here is that the precedent stay strong, that new artists can see that this isn’t a dog eat dog scene, but that it is a fostering community of artists helping each other to produce better music.

I’m Chris Penner, but I go by the alias Zef, and I encourage you to share this blog post around, and, if you’re an artist, to begin to share your own music for free too. To support this principle I’m releasing my new album Blackout (and all the source files) as a pay what you want download, grab it for free if you like, or donate a bit of cash which I’ll be lending through kiva.org, a wonderful organization that helps people in third-world countries get back on their feet; I highly recommend you check them out! In fact, I’ve made a chipmusic team for chipmusicians and fans alike to show the world how much they care; join up and start lending HERE. Just remember that the chipscene is about more than just music, it’s a community.

Zef’s new album is available from Bandcamp.

A personal love letter to the entire MAGFest/VGM/Chiptune community. ♥ ♥ (DOPEY POST ALERT ;3 )

Thursday was my 32nd birthday. I had no big plans; working for most of the day, fishing with a buddy right afterward, dinner with my folks, & winding up the night at Joshua Morse’s Waveform 3 listening party on the always fun-tastic areciboradio.com to share in some good music, laughs, and a few beers with my nerd buddies. Nice, chill evening; I can had a content. =) Honestly, I’d almost forgotten that it was my birthday that week; my girlfriend and family had to remind me! LoL SO BUSY WITH LIFE AND PROJECTS (with the Chiptunes = WIN compilation being at the top of the busy yet awesome list!! ;D ). And then some of my favorite MAGfamily crazies surprise me in the listening party chatroom (and sorta crash it! HahahaSORRIES Areciboradio!!! XD ). Was some serious WIN, and enough to wrap up my birthday with more than enough happy to do the trick. I figured the surprises ended there. I FIGURED DAMN WRONG.


As I explored the custom VGM designed birthday card, read the messages as they scrolled by, listened to the amazing music, I freaked out. My myriad of ridiculously talented, AMAZING friends, who collaborated to create this for me, watched, laughed, grinned, took joy in my freakouts and continued to make it worse by leading me on to discover more and more wonderful things about it (there’s even a secret code in it!! Hint: look at the score ;). Once they’d strung me along with that amazingness long enough, they dropped the REAL bomb on me:




I. LOST. MY. MIND. I’m still in shock. The amount of artistry and hilarity and genuine love that went into the crazy project, just… WOW. What the F**K  I did to deserve this I DON’T KNOW. (I mean, I AM awesome, sure, but this is pushing it a touch even for me! hahaha ;D ). I’m not telling y’all any of this to brag about myself, boost my own ego, or anything self serving like that either (I really don’t feel like there’s that much to brag about anyways hahaha). I’m just sharing this as a testament to WHY I love the VGM/Chiptune/MAG/Nerda/etc. scene with every bit of me that is able to love:

The best motherf**cking people in the world are part of it.

The people that staff and volunteer the events, the various assortment of musical guests, artists, and speakers to entertain the happy, often drunken masses, and, of course, the awesome, CRAZY people who attend these events. And all of them, ALL OF THEM having the time of their lives, reveling in the sheer overwhelming goodness of being surrounded and celebrating with the most kindred of spirits. There really are no words to do it justice, and I feel I’m doing a fairly miserable job of trying to convey in words the powerful sense of awesome that you can get from being a part of, belonging to this community. hahaha XD Maybe that’s just it, though: you have to experience it to understand it. =) And if you haven’t yet, NOW  is just as good a time as any to join us. THE MORE, THE MERRIER, BIZNATCHES!! 8D \m|♥|m/

Also (I said I wasn’t going to do this, BUT OH WELL WUTTEHFUKEVAR!!!!): HUGE THANKS AND LOVE AND STUFF TO ALL INVOLVED WITH THE ALBUM: Mike Villalobos (Lobos) & Amanda Lepre (LeRab-it) from Descendants of ErdrickGrant Henry (Stemage) and Dan Taylor (Chunkstyle) from Metroid Metal & Yes MayhemNate Horsfall (Foxxdragon); Chris Ryberg (Rugal); Jameson Sutton (Shadix); Thomas Dougherty (Nickeledge); Chris Davidson (Dj Cutman); Erik Peabody (VikingGuitar);  Brendan Becker (Inverse Phase); Brandon Strader; and last but not least, my amaaaaaaaaaaazing girlfriend, Erin McQuisten (I LOVE YOU SO MUCH, BABY!!! ♥ ♥ ♥). Plus much love to all who signed the digital card!!!


♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥