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Dj CUTMAN's Magfest 2014 Recap

Dj CUTMAN’s MAGFest 2014 Recap

MAGFest, for the uninitiated, is the best place on the planet. It’s an acronym for Music and Gaming Festival, held just outside of Washington, DC in Maryland. It’s the largest festival in the world that focuses on video game inspired bands and musicians.

This year was my fifth consecutive year attending MAGFest. The music directors offered me an incredible opportunity; to forego my usual hour-long DJ set to program up my own three hour electronic music event on the main stage. For months we bounced ideas back and forth, ultimately landing on a modern spin on a classic format, the DJ Battle.

The battle format is simple enough, each DJ sets up their  equipment beforehand and creates a short set that exemplifies their style. While this format has existed in hiphop for decades, it’s rarely seen in Electronic Dance Music (EDM) and had never been attempted in the video game music community. With the help of my record label, GameChops, I combed through the MAGFest DJ applicants to create an ensemble lineup that would best represent the diversity of EDM / VGM performers.

Benjamin Briggs – Electro house producer with a tendency towards chiptunes. Streams video games on Twitch.tv and takes fan-requests for remixes.
bLiNd – Video game trance remixer with pumping beats and exceptional mixes, bLiNd has been producing for sixteen years.
Grimecraft – Futuristic trap and bass music producer and a video game developer for Square Enix
Flexstyle – Overclocked Remixer who’s contributed to countless projects on OCRemix
Totentanz – World-touring DJ of hardstyle with a classical video game influence.
Dj CUTMAN – That’s me.

Video Game DJ Battle at MAGfest

Video Game DJ Battle at MAGfest final poster design

So I had found the DJs, but preparation didn’t end there. I reached out to renown comic artist Thor Thorvaldson to create illustrated versions of each DJ in the style of a Mega Man character. I used Thor’s artwork to create a quick design like a fighting game’s Character Select screen. There was an incredible response to our artwork, so I adapted it into the poster design you see here. We printed a limited run and hung them up around MAGFest the day of the show.

Taking inspiration from the Chiptune community, which features live circuit-bent visuals, I reached out to Baltimore-based Pixel Seed to create live visuals for each DJ.

Pixel Seed's live visual rig

Pixel Seed’s live visual rig

I sent him Thor’s artwork, along with Soundcloud links for each performer. The day of the show, he came backstage with a suitcase. When he opened it up, I was in awe. Video mixers, a hacked nintendo, custom controllers and feedback monitors  were meticulously arranged in this unsuspecting container. He threw up up on a table, plugged in his powercord and the entire rig illuminated.

As the DJ battle approached, my heart pounded through my chest. Thankfully,  MAGFest has a brilliant stage-manager affectionally referred to as “Angel” and an on-point security team who kept everything running smoothly. With low-light and a restless crowd, we hooked up all six DJs.

DJs set up for the Video Game DJ Battle

Dj CUTMAN, bLiNd, Ben Briggs, Grimecraft, Totentanz and Flexstyle set up their rigs with help from the stage-hands.

Pixel Seed was hooked into the massive 31ft projector screen, testing his glittering visuals and super-imposing Thor’s artwork. We had only a few minutes to perform what I call the “DJ Soundcheck”, where everyone gets about ten seconds of sound while the crowd cheered and egged us on to begin. Once we were all sound-checked, Pixel Seed was in position, we all went back stage to get ready to roll.

Once the Video Game DJ Battle began, it was a flash. bLiNd performed with guest MC A_Rival, a talented rapper and veteran remixer from San Francisco. Grimecraft also brought some surprises, a character MC known as DJ Dr Wily, 50 inflatable dolphins, and an eight foot long Orca whale were unleashed on the crowd. The DJ battle was streamed live on Twitch.tv, but during the night the convention center’s network crashed and the stream was cut off. Thanks to Will Strouse and Robert Swackhamer of 8BitX Radio Network, we were able to recover nearly all the footage and upload it to YouTube.

The Video Game DJ Battle ended up being the highest attended event of MAGFest 2014, with 2,200 attendees at the concert and over 1,500 people streaming on Twitch.

Watch the entire Video Game DJ Battle from MAGFest 2014

Each DJ uploaded a clean “studio” version of their set onto Soundcloud for posterity.

MAGFest is a hive of positive energy, from their 24-hour a day free-play arcade, to the multitude of blogs and game studios covering the event, doing interviews, and producing content in and around MAGFest. I was happy to see my Philly friends from J1 Studios conducting interviews of some of the GameChops members and other radical personalities attending MAGFest.

One of the beautiful things about MAGFest is it straddles the line between all-out 4-day long party, and a serious reflective space for those who choose to dedicate their life to the things that they love. I had an opportunity to talk candidly with a young radio DJ by the name of Game Boy about my experiences running a label and putting together the DJ battle.

Lastly, I have an archived version of the four GameChops’ DJs battle sets recorded live, complete with the tremendous energy of the room.

Thanks for reading my recap, Let me know what you think in the comments!

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Cheap Dinosaurs – Triangle Trash

Cheap Dinosaurs new album Triangle TrashCheap Dinosaurs, the Philadelphia chiptune supergroup, have launched their first album in three years on Sunday via 8static. Triangle Trash is six incredible tracks by the band, incorporating programmed chiptunes alongside live guitar, drums, and synthesizers.

Cheap Dinosaurs is lead by Dino Lionetti, and features other notable philly chip artists Animal Style, Chipocrite, Bucky and An0va. The band has been performing since 2008.

Download Cheap Dinosaurs – Triangle Trash from Bandcamp

MegaRan, Dj CUTMAN and Grimecraft Live at the PhilaMOCA on Friday January 10th, Post MAGfest Adventure Tour Poster

Two Dj CUTMAN shows in Philly this weekend with MegaRan and Grimecraft

MegaRan-Dj-CUTMAN-PhilaMOCA-1-10-14I’ll be playing two awesome shows this weekend in Philly.

Friday, January 10th
First is the PhilaMOCA, a legendary venue  owned by Diplo. Grimecraft Mega Ran and I will be throwing down video game beats from 8:00PM til midnight. It’s going to be awesome.  [BUY TICKETS]

Saturday, January 11th
Mega Ran and I will be joining the 8static lineup with Cheap Dinosaurs and Auxcide to bring a killer show of original Chiptune music. [BUY TICKETS]

Check out this clip from MAGFest:

MegaRan Dj CUTMAN and Grimecraft Live at the PhilaMOCA on January 10th 2014 - Post MAGFest Adventure Tour

 

Chiptunes = WIN MAGFest = Win Chiptune Compliation

New Chiptunes = WIN release: ‘MAGFest = WIN’

Sup y’all? =) President Hoodie from Chiptunes = WIN here!
Been a little while since I’ve typeity typed on this supa-delicious blog, but today I’ve a solid reason for a quick return:

MAGFEST = WIN

MAG = WIN (final - smaller)

More amazing artwork by Nate Horsfall of www.lightningarts.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To clear things up a bit, ‘MAGFest = WIN’ is a new ChipWIN compilation featuring 12 new chiptunes from 12 chipartist performers from the recent MAGFest 12(A NUMBER WHICH WAS OBVIOUSLY CHOSEN ON PURPOSE AND DID NOT HAPPEN BY ACCIDENT AT ALL. :3 )

As always, mastering by Dj CUTMAN, artwork by Nate Horsfall, & track order by Kubbi. (aka THE FULL WORKS).

tl;dr – Wanna keep the joy of MAGFest alive in your heart/soul/junk/heartsouljunk for the rest of the year?
THEN THIS RELEASE IS FOR YOU. 8)

Stream/download/donate/share the goodness via the Bandcamp embed below!

Much \m||m/,
President Hoodie

MAGFest:
MAGFest.org | Facebook Twitter

Chiptunes = WIN:
Chiptuneswin.com (Bandcamp) | Fb Group | Fb Page
The ChipWIN Blog | Twitter | Soundcloud | Tumblr | YouTube