I know we have said this time and time again, and with the risk of sounding like a broken record, we’ll say it again – there are wonderful people around the world on social media. One such lad that fits in this ‘wonderful people’ category, is Mr. Aaron White from the UK. Since engaging with Aaron on Twitter, we have learned that he has some seriously great talent in creating chiptune music on his beloved Amiga. Ms. ausretrogamer and I have become fans of Aaron’s compositions, so it was only natural for us to sit down with the chiptune maestro and put him through some rigorous questioning. Get your headphones on, tune-in to some cool chiptunes and read on!
AUSRETROGAMER [ARG]: When did you get into video gaming and what was your first games system? Do you still have it?
Aaron White [AW]: My first ever system was a Commodore 64 which I got on Christmas Day 1984. I still have vivid memories of waking up that Christmas morning & unwrapping this huge box and to my amazement, there it was, sitting right in front of me, a beautiful C64. I also received three games along with it which were Roland’s Rat Race by Ocean Software, Ghostbusters by Activision and World Games by Epyx/US Gold. All three were wonderful games. Stupidly, I sold my original C64 along with 100’s of games back in 1992, but I have since acquired two more C64s, one being a traditional breadbin model and the other being a C64C.
ARG: Were you a musician (if so, what instrument(s)?) before you got into making chiptunes? What made you get into music on computers?
AW: I had a keyboard and a guitar when I was younger (I still have a keyboard) even though I can read music, I was never that good at playing either instrument. I just used to try and jam along with my favourite records of the time, listening by ear and trying to play in tune. I suppose I first got into chiptune music when I got an Amiga 500 for Christmas 1989 (The Batpack edition). I would listen in amazement at the sounds and tunes this brilliant computer made. I’d often wonder how it was all done, until early in 1990, a friend of my father’s came around clutching a bunch of disks which contained Soundtracker. I listened in awe when he played back the Axel F theme tune from the hit movie Beverly Hills Cop. This tune, along with many others were on the ST-00 disk, which was the programme disk. They weren’t modules back then, they were songs, so first you had to click on that file to start loading it, and then it would ask you for various instrument disks such as ST-01, ST-02 and so on. This proved to be a pain as I only had five instrument disks, so there were quite a lot of songs that I couldn’t listen to. Still, it was the programme that had me hooked. Before I went onto composing tunes of my own, I started ripping songs/modules from various demos and games to play back and see how they were all put together (effects, commands and so on). Then one day I plucked up the courage to finally try composing something myself and I’m not ashamed to admit, my early efforts were truly awful (some of my very first tunes still exist to this day!). I didn’t understand timing, nor notation really, until I started to teach myself how to read music. Over the years I’ve stopped and started creating music on the Amiga, but over the past couple of years I’ve got back into it becoming a lot better and making my chiptunes sound ok. I think I keep improving all the time and to date, I’ve done over one hundred compositions (some original/some covers). Just as a side note, my programme of choice is Protracker 3.15.
ARG: We are huge fans of your compositions, do you have any favourites?
AW: Thank you for your kind words. It always gives me encouragement and spurs me on to create more chiptunes when I receive feedback like that. As for favourites, this changes all the time, I think I’m still improving all the time and with each one that comes along, it tends to be my new favourite till the next one.
ARG: Who is your favourite chiptune/music artist?
AW: I have several favourite chiptune artists: 4-Mat of Anarchy, Nuke (also of Anarchy fame), Matt Furnis who went on to create a huge amount of game music, and one of my old friends Mub (a member of LSD), who lived not far from me in the same town. I loved Mub’s compositions and some of which he actually created at my house. I can only ever wish to aspire to be as good as these guys!
ARG: Best music in a video game?
AW: Hmm, that’s a toughie. I love the tunes in Pinball Fantasies, I also love the in-game music to Aladdin, Supercars II and Monkey Island 1 and 2.
ARG: Tough question, ZX Spectrum or C64 (and why you chose that computer)?
AW: There’s no competition, C64 all the way for me! No colour clash, and far superior music. It was also my first computer I ever owned, and I will always be in love with it for that reason alone. ARG: Great answer! *winks*
ARG: What is your favourite game or gaming genre?
AW: Again another toughie. I have a few favourites – on the Amiga, it has to be The Secret Of Monkey Island, Ruff N Tumble, Aladdin, and Toki. On the C64, I’d say – Batman: The Movie, The Untouchables, Platoon and for sentimental reasons, Roland’s Rat Race – as that was the first game I ever loaded up on my C64. I’m also looking forward to a few new games on the C64, two of which being Maze Of The Mummy and Jam It, which could well become new favourites of mine. As you can tell, I do love platform games, but I’m also a massive fan of adventure games (point & click) and sport games also.
ARG: Do you have an all-time favourite system?
AW: I have three all-time favourite systems – the C64, Amiga A1200 and the Sega Saturn. The first two are for the vast array of games that were available on both systems, as for the Sega Saturn, well, to finally get arcade perfect conversions of popular Sega titles running at home in front of my very eyes, it just blew my mind.
ARG: Finally, where can people go to listen to your awesome chiptune compositions?
AW: If people would like to check out my chiptunes, then they can – follow me on twitter (@aaronub4t) or check out my YouTube channel where I upload some of my compositions. Also, people can download Amiga disks I have created in ADF format which can either be used on a real Amiga or via emulation from vintage is the new old, and from Commodore Is Awesome. As long as people keep enjoying them, I’ll keep making them. Enjoy!
As we say our goodbyes, we can’t help but be in awe of Aaron in what he has achieved with creating chiptune music – if only we were that talented! We’ll definitely be enjoying his next creation. For now, we’ll let Aaron get back to playing one of his (many) Ocean games.