A retro resurgence has clasped Richmond, as video game music is increasingly finding a home outside of the screen and into popular settings.
Video game music includes mixing audio samples from video games, creating music that promotes the video game feel and chiptune, 8-bit music created using or emulating retro-gaming technology.
This new style doesn’t necessarily have to be pulled directly from a video game, according to Richmond-based artist Jeremy Belcher, who goes by F1NG3RS. He began making video game music in 2011.
“Videogame music just has this feel, like we have to go in here and kick this bosses’ ass,” Belcher said.
F1NG3RS brings the ’80s and ’90s chiptune element, and modernizes his music with hip-hop and EDM beats. He says it makes for a really appealing blend of the two widely-different styles.
There is a large audience for this sound, evidenced by F1NG3RS’ “They Played Us Like A Damn Fiddle Remix,” with audio from the popular Metal Gear Solid video game series, snagging close to a million views on YouTube.
“In a music environment that’s oversaturated with trap and dubstep and house, it’s nice to take a step away from that, and see old sounds in a new way, Belcher said.”
He claimed anyone who grew up playing video games feels the nostalgia, especially those who grew up in the 80’s.
Nationally, lovers of video game music are drawn to MAGFest, a festival held in Washington D.C. that celebrates video games and video game music and draws close to 20,000 fans annually.
“As far as a subgenre, it’s definitely interesting to take on piece of music and see it from a different perspective,” said Richmond-based artist and producer Hans Piñero.
He also said that nostalgia is a large part of the draw.
Locally, the Richmond Electronic Collective draws fans of video game music. The REC holds an event monthly called the REC-Room at the Camel.
“People in this city like outdated and vintage technology,” said Richmond-based artist Alan Brymer, who works creatively as 8-Bit Mullet.
Vinyl and cassettes are huge in Richmond, and he said there’s a local audience for the retro-chiptune sound.
Brymer blends video game sounds with music he grew up listening to. His most recent release, “Electrofunk Megamash,” features funk songs from ’80s mixed with audio over 20 videogames.
Brymer said he is constantly surprised by what works together. For example, the music from level nine of a terrible game no one ever played could work in perfect harmony with a track by a Tribe Called Quest or Ice Cube.
“There’s always people playing retro music, no matter what year it is,” Brymer said.
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