Hello world :3
Here I am once more with another interview for you guys. This time its the talented Conquer Monster Duo!
Besides preforming live, having their own comic book and giving solid advice to chiptune newbies like me—Joshua and Daniel are beyond rad.
I enjoyed their newest album “Metatransit” immensely. Look forward to an album review within the month.
Side note: I have no idea why I tend to post these interviews so late… But you can count on them every Saturday at least~
Q: Who are you and what are you all about?
Joshua: I’m Joshua Faulkner and I’m all about being a dad and husband first and foremost, and after that I’m a math teacher, musician, circuit bender, and vegan.
Daniel: I’m Daniel Romero. I study computer science and applied mathematics at Weber State University. I like to collect synths and make dreamy synth pop jams. I love living in Salt Lake City.
Q: What is it like to work as a team?
Joshua: Two is the perfect number for a successful music-writing team. When writing music solo you don’t have someone who is directly invested in the project to tell you when something isn’t that great. When you have a three person team it is often too hard to find a balance between ideas. Often all three of you end up compromising and the song sounds like a weird hybrid of terrible ideas.
Daniel: I really like it because I get a lot of creative control when it comes to songwriting, but then I don’t have to worry too much about the technical production because Josh likes taking care of it for the most part. I think we’ve found a system that works really well for us. Overall, the best part about Conquer Monster is we get to set up all this rad equipment in a basement and play really loud music that we both enjoy immensely. It’s extremely rewarding!
Q: How did you get into the chiptune genre?
Joshua: For me I think it was Kazuki Muraoka and Kenichi Matsubara. My friend got Contra, Metal Gear, and Simon’s Quest for Christmas one year and I fell in love with the music. As I grew up I still remembered songs like “The Snowfields Theme” from Contra, “The Woods” from Simon’s Quest, and “The Jungle Theme” from Metal Gear, but I didn’t really consider listening to chipmusic as a genre. It wasn’t until years later when a girl I met in college introduced me to the NES cover band, The Advantage. Though they are not technically chiptune, they re-introduced me to the music I loved in my earlier years. Eventually I looked into modern 8-bit artists and eventually started making my own chiptunes.
Q: What inspires you to make music?
Daniel: I just enjoy song writing. It’s a means of channeling my emotions, creativity, and personality. Also, once I started collecting more synths, music making became a lot more fun and interesting.
Joshua: Fun and the feeling of accomplishment. Daniel and I have great musical chemistry. Sometimes when we have a lot of serious (and not-so-fun) business to take care of at band practice, we’ll find ourselves easing into a jam session. What seems like only a few minutes, lasts an hour or so. Also, we set out to create a concept album that has a companion comic book that explains, in graphic beauty, the themes presented on the album. We are instrumental, so the comic book helps make the concept of our album more tangible. Finally accomplishing this gigantic (2.5 year) goal feels good.
Q: Describe your sound. What sets you apart from other artists?
Joshua: Well genre labels are starting to become as unique as band names, and we’re no different. We often describe ourselves as “Dystopian Electronic Sci-Fi” music. Our newest album, Metatransit, is a journey through the dark, dystopian, retrofuture of the Purge Worlds comic book; a story that follows the cybernetic assassin Brandon Lao from planet to planet as he seeks revenge for the death of his partner Anna. Musically, Metatransit guides you through a world of well-worn VHS aesthetic and glitched-out soundscapes that wax and wane from dystopian ambiance to punchy dance-floor pop overlain with scratchy 1950s science fiction. We aim to satisfy your need for warm analogue hum, pulsing club beats, and 8-bit nostalgia.
Daniel: It seems extremely rare for an all electronic project to not use any software synths, but we don’t. We record everything directly in from our instruments, and I think that’s something very unique. Although our music is instrumental for the most part, our songs tell stories and provoke a lot of emotions, plus we’re not bad at writing cool melodies and using our unique synths to our advantage when it comes to shaping our own sound.
Q: What’s your setup/programs you use to make your music?
Daniel: Live I use a Moog Lil Phatty for bass and leads and run it through a Roland SP-404SX, a Roland Juno 6 for dreamy chords and spacey arps equipped with a Boss Dr Rhythm drum machine for arp tempo syncing, and a Korg Microkorg for robot voices.
In addition to my live setup at home I have: Korg Delta, Roland RS-09, Korg MS-20 Mini, Roland TR-505, Korg Poly 800-II, Suzuki Omnichord, and various vintage Casios.
Joshua: When playing live I use a C64 running Cynthcart, another C64 running MSSIAH, and a Gamboy Color (with modded PS/2 keyboard) running LSDJ. At home I have an atari 2600 running Synthcart, an Apple ][c running DMS, assorted circuit bent TI products, homemade synths and sequencers, and a collection of speech synths.
Q: What is it like preforming live?
Joshua: One word: Stressful! When working with 30+ year-old equipment things can be fairly unpredictable. We’ve had a few shows cut short because of equipment malfunctions, and that’s never fun. On the other hand, when everything goes right, it feels amazing to have a crowd full of people dancing to music that you had a part in creating.
Daniel: Our set as of late starts with spaceship landing sounds, so that’s always a fun start. I really love setting our gear up before we start. We have two tables jam packed with old computers and synths that will make you drool. Then we power everything up and you can a hear an electric hum that will give you butterflies in your stomach. We love being able to play everything live. There’s a risk for error when we’re both responsible for 3 instruments each, but we prefer it over playing prerecorded tracks. After our shows, people love asking about our setup, and we love explaining how we do what we do.
Q: Do you have any upcoming albums?
Daniel: We just released our album Metatransit in October and we’re currently promoting that, but we should get back to writing within the next couple of months and we’ll see where that takes us.
Q: Who does your album art?
Joshua: On our newest album we used artwork created by Mike “Beeple” Winkelmann. He is a self-deprecating artistic genius and overall nice guy. He creates new art everyday and posts it on his website.
Q: Can you share some tips for chiptune newbies breaking into the genre?
Joshua: My advice isn’t specific to chip tunes, but to song writing in general. Write about something that you are passionate about and don’t worry about what other people think. With that said, it is also important to be able to take criticism and use it to make your songs better. For me collaboration helps me create stuff that is way better than what I could create on my own.
Daniel: Little Sound DJ for Game Boy.
Q: Silly question: Would you want to ride a gigantic terminator T-rex into battle or a laser cannon flying whale?
Joshua: Flying is the best attribute presented, so I’m going with “Laser Cannon Flying Whale”
Daniel: A flying whale seems like an easy target in battle, and I’ve always wanted to travel back in time, I choose the T-rex.
Thank you :]