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Blip Talk with minusbaby


Long-time 8bitpeoples member, minusbaby, born Richard Alexander Caraballo in New York City, trades in counterpoint, subtle dissonances and surprises. While it may be impossible to predict what will happen at each performance, one constant can be expected: a forceful equatorial beat. Each familiar song is given new variation while the center holds it down with a bassy bottom end to make anything bump and bounce that hasn’t been tied down, exploding the very meaning of 8-bit orchestration.

Blip: Before you got into making chip music, what type of music or art where you into?

My taste in music and art hasn’t changed drastically since I began making chip music in 1999, but I’ve dug deeper into Brazilian, French and German prog over the past decade. Wonky time signatures haven’t made it into my music, yet, but I’ve adopted a more dissonant, unstable and semi-psychadelic slant to my music that I’ll happily acknowledge as being a direct link to classic, Clube da Esquina-era music coming out of Minas Gerais, Brazil during the early- to mid-1970s; Lô Borges, Milton Nascimento, Beto Guedes and Nelson Ângelo, especially. Also, string arrangements during that same era by Wagner Tiso and Toninho Horta. All of this, of course, may be traced back to Cartola, Dorival Caymmi and Antônio Carlos Jobim whom, with Vinicius de Moraes and João Gilberto, managed to make sour notes extend into several levels of sophistication, headiness and just a bit of raunchiness.

Blip: How did you first become aware of the possibility of chip music?

Aside from a passive influence via exposure to Sega, Nintendo and Commodore 64 soundtracks as a kid, I think it all goes back to Ron Hubbard and Matt Simmonds a.k.a. 4mat for many chip musicians, and I’m no exception. Because I was never a super hardcore gaming nerd (bless your souls), I found out about them via the almighty micromusic.net; in their links section. This was in 1999.

Blip: How does your background influence your current work?

I grew up with a mom who loved salsa, doo-wop and the Beatles, a father who dug boogaloo, a grandfather who played Puerto Rican jíbaro (folk) music and a grandmother with a large Santería record collection. The concert scene from the movie “Wild Style” was filmed up my street; I heard it from my window while it was being recorded. I was six years old. My older brother was a teenage b-boy and DJ who played hip-hop, electro and freestyle and gigged for Irene Cara’s mom once and we’d go to the East Village to pick up used British shoegaze and post-punk records on weekends instead of eating. I’d go to sleep listening dub on a pirate radio station broadcast from somewhere out of Brooklyn during my hair metal period from 1987 to 1988.

I watched Run-D.M.C. film the video for “The Avenue” in 1990, A Tribe Called Quest film the video for “Can I Kick It?” in 1991 (both on my block), fell for jazz in 1992, met C.L. Smooth, Grand Puba and Redman in 1993, dove into electronic music hardcore in 1994, Brazilian music in 1995 and in the same year Henry Threadgill’s record, “Carry the Day”, changed my life sonically and was an introduction to Bill Laswell’s work.

In 1996, I learned to dig old school ska and rocksteady, listened to a lot of exotica and space age pop in 1997, became obsessed with Ninja Tune and Thrill Jockey in 1998, figured out chip music and some of the other stuff I’ve mentioned a couple of questions ago in 1999 and yeah, all of this has definitely influenced me greatly and I’m lucky to have had so much exposure to such a wide range of style from childhood on. It’s all like Lego in my head.

Blip: Who are you most excited to see at Blip? Why?

I’m really looking forward to the Hunters. I’m a big Coova fan. I’m also curious about Alex Bond a.k.a. Enso, and Jean Y. Kim as first-time Blip Festival visualists this year. Whatever they do, I’m sure it’ll be high-powered.

Blip: Where do you see your progression as an artist heading? Deeper into chip music, or perhaps something different?

I’ve always been moving in and out of chip music, so I’m going to keep on doing that.

minusbaby is playing Blip Festival on TBA

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