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BlipTalk with Psilodump

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Simon Rahm started composing electronic music in late 1991. Although already getting his first record deal offer in 1996, it was in 2001 he got his first official release; a vinyl EP on the Swiss experimental electronica label Domizil, followed up the next year by another two vinyl releases, one on Swedish breakbeat label Sound of Habib, and on on Swedish tech house label Q-Records. In 2006, after numerous releases on netlabels, such as monotonik, Kahvi Collective, 8bitpeoples and Candy Mind, Simon released his first CD album, “Psilodumputer”, in strictly limited quantities, on a small Swedish label, Ninjani Diskus. Shortly after, Simon was inspired to set up his own label, called 476 Records, where he released his second CD album, “Never Heal”.

Simon has also done remixes for artists such as Kraftwerk, Slagsmålsklubben and Bodenständig 2000. Simon has diligently been performing his music live since 1996, at both big commercial and underground rave-parties, clubs and cafes, festivals, culture events and demo parties. To date, he has covered about 130 gigs, in 16 different countries, including France, Germany, UK, Russia, Italy, Israel and Spain – alongside artists, acts and DJ’s, such as Neil Landstrumm, Chris Liebing, Cari Lekebusch, Thomas Krome, Infected Mushroom, Slagsmålsklubben, Bit Shifter and Kleerup. In Sweden, he has performed at notable festivals such as Peace & Love 2008 and 2009, Norberg Festival 2008, Arvika Festival 2005 and 2002.

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

Being this sort of annoying Smart Alec I am, I’ve always found it very intriguing (and mostly amusing) trying to learn, re-create, imitate and/or in some respect “improve”, exaggerate, alter, parody, distort and/or maybe even ruin any verbal, visual or aural concept, that would cross my path. Things which not only would trigger ideas of creative solutions, but also which I would consider being practically doable. Not necessarily aiming to gain anything particular, in any intellectual nor practical sense, though – more like to keep myself interested and my attention focused on something.

With that said, before being introduced to the modern chip/micro-aesthetics, nine years ago, I’d already had the chance of trying out a wide range of different musical styles – although, mostly electronic ones, due to my lack of skills, patience and interest in learning to play any “real” musical instruments, except the drums.  As for music consumption, rather than production, I was early on a big fan of the theme music and sound effects I was exposed to from cartoons and TV shows. Later on, I got into funk, metal, grunge, industrial, trash and hard rock. At this time, I hated electronic music, disregarding the fact that I had already started making tracker music on my Amiga computer.

Later I discovered this big bunch of more or less “underground” electronic music, such as gabber, hard trance and techno, which I immediately got inspired to make my own versions of, often crossing between styles and mixing in whatever I would find exciting and/or funny.  A couple of years later, I got into more complex, experimental, atmospheric music, soundscapes and such. And right in the middle of all randomness and confusion, I accidentally came across the chip sound, as a total contrast to all of it!

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

Well, I’m not sure whether this question is reasonably put or not. I would never doubt the possibility of any music, since evidently, the music is proven possible the moment you get exposed to it. But I guess my first contact with chip music was in the late 80s, playing games on the commodore 64. I used to spend hours after hours in front it, until my face would turn all red (for some reason). I always loved the music and sound effects coming out of the c64, since it sounded so totally alien and unnatural, sometimes cute, warm and bouncy, while sometimes quite disturbing and somewhat nightmarish.

My first experience of making chip style music, was in a c64 software called Game Creator. Naturally, I got no masterpieces done, but it did its part for the games I was constructing :) Later, in 1992, I got into tracking, and while I’m rather confused by the terminology of chip-related stuff, I did make a couple of tunes with sounds I sampled off the c64 and the NES, as well as many times looping waveforms to create different sounds and whatnot. But later on, again, in 2000 I accidentally came across this site called micromusic.net, a community based on the slogan “||| low tech music for high tech people |||”.

The concept of people making music influenced by old computer games, and building a community around it instantly stroke me as being an absolutely ridiculously hilarious yet, at the same time, genius idea!  At the time, how the music was made didn’t appear to be a concern, and the focus was not on gear or hardware, but rather on the low tech aesthetics. This got me inspired to make a tune which, for me, would represent my idea of the theme for an old computer game. The track was called “Psilodumputer“, which became relatively popular. And from there on, the micro_style has been a constant part of my musical arsenal. Chip or not, my music was born under the influce of chip sound.

Blip: How does your background influence your current work?

I don’t know, but I’m sure it does, like everything else :) For me, all influences are good, as long as it adds something to the creative process. If an influence, in form of an attitude, conception or view disables, blocks or limits me from making something out of a creative idea, then I might consider this being a bad influence, and something to be reassessed. For example, getting rid of my unfounded principle of dislike towards electronic music opened a huge door of possibilities for me. The bad influence was to repeat ideas of my peers, who obviously disliked electronic music, not considering it being “real” music.

Another example of bad influence, in my view, would be to engage in forms of identity politics, where a style or genre would somehow represent me, as a person. Getting rid of this barrier was also a very decisive element in my creative development. In other words, my music does not represent me. However, completely erasing the connection between myself and my music is impossible, since my influences still play a huge role in the process. I sometimes put bits and pieces of my background, personality, thoughts and ideas into forming suitable track or album titles, cover art or whatever, but preferably in ways that are confusing, incomplete, excessive and/or contradicting.

But something I do have gathered over the past years is that many things in one’s background do indeed influence one’s work; Experience, identity, preferences, taste, impressions, ideals, belonging, pretensions, values, morals, prestige, peer pressure, setbacks, fears, goals, wishes and dreams. Most of which is just a bunch of total neurotic rubbish, but which also places each person in a completely different frame of reference and experience. This is why I most times hate discussing art, music and the practical, behind-the-scenes, technical aspects of creativity.

Blip: Where do you see yourself in the greater chip community?

As an artist, I see my music being an influence to many fellow artists and enjoyed by a fair amount of listeners. How accurate this view is, I have no idea. As a person, not much anywhere, since I’m not a very social person, and I’m not, as described earlier, too keen on discussions about music, hardware and/or software in specifics. But, I do have a great deal of friends and acquaintances within the community.

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

I’m most excited to meet old friends, and to hopefully make new ones. There are a few artists that I’m looking forward to hearing, but most of all, I’m looking forward to hearing something new, for me previously undiscovered, that would totally rock, surprise and/or inspire me!

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

I do something different each session. Deeper into chip music doesn’t sound like a bad idea, but I tend not to plan things in advance, so we will have to wait and see where it all goes :)

Psilodump is performing Saturday at 12:40.

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