For the best of 8-bit/chip music extravaganza Blip Festival 08 without leaving your computer screen, video editors have completed their dark craft and gotten some documentation online. Our friends over at 2 Player Productions are working on more long-form documentary, but they already have this cover of “Atomic” by Glomag and stealthopera for your enjoyment.

"Atomic" cover by Glomag f. stealthopera @ Blip Festival 2008 in NYC from 2 Player Productions on Vimeo.

Glomag, here’s an idea for your next set: I stand nonchalantly at your side, edging ever closer until you punch me in the face with one of your air fists. Slapstick gold.

And here’s our friend / CDM drinking buddy Joel Johnson interviewing our other friend 8-bit artist Bubblyfish, for Boing Boing and Offworld.

For more video goodness, Peter Swimm has a whole Blip album up on Vimeo:

Blip Festival 08

Assuming you happen to hate chip music (it’s been known to happen), there’s still plenty to learn from this crew. Sure, you could argue they came up with a gimmick – although I think the essence of marketing is figuring out if there’s a sellable hook in something you already love. But having watched Blip and 8-bit music take off, there are a lot of other, underrated factors:


  • They worked together. The 8-bit community in general has done a fantastic job of cross-promotion, supporting each other as fans, going out to get gigs, and advocating the work they do, even before you look at collectives like the awesome 8-bit collective. (That, incidentally, is a great place to start looking at this scene.)
  • They have fun. People can bring friends to a Blip gig and be sure their friends will have a good time, whether they’re hard-core fans or not. Now, maybe your music is less “accessible,” but part of what makes this work is that the 8-bit folks do throw good parties, and they share infectious positive energy in what they’re doing, which could be applicable to anything.
  • They’re on-message. The 8-bit folks really do have something to say about how technology is used musically, and they say it, via all sorts of different press outlets and the lie. That’s helped add to their longevity, because people believe it’s worth following this music over time. Replace those sentences with something you care about, find some other people who feel the same way, and this is something that can be replicated.
  • They’re global. I love New York, which has been a epicenter for this kind of music, but New York can’t begin to sustain these artists on its own. A whole lot of this crew tours, and there’s strong coordination worldwide. Even in New York, it’s a niche genre, which means it needs that international reach to thrive.
  • They found parallel fields to connect. Cross the streams! Art, gaming, tech – it turned out that the stuff from the 8-bit crowd mattered to people outside the music world. Result: get out of your own personal bubble.

All of these points sound like a recipe to help unusual music genres do better around the world. I have no doubt that we could have more screaming crowds of people in laptop music, for instance, and that even the world’s hot spots (hello, London, New York, Berlin, Melbourne, and company) would like their scenes to improve. Obviously, the 8-bit scene benefits from timing and their unique field. But that doesn’t mean you can’t learn from them and fight for your own Indietronica Augmented Microtonal Banjo movement.