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Graz Produces Whole Album on a Gameboy: Here’s How He Did It

Featuring a punk attitude with the soul of a raver, Ravepunk is the latest release from the Seattle chiptune producer Graz (Cheapbeats). The album effortlessly combines both title genres without favoritism and by merging dance music aesthetics with the fierce, raw independence of punk; Ravepunk can move mosh pits and dance floors alike. DMNW caught up with Graz to talk about his second hardware-created dance music release programmed almost exclusively while commuting to work on a Metro bus.

Go with what you know

In the late 80’s to early 90’s, bleeps were not uncommon and bloops could almost certainly be heard if you were within a mile of any school-aged kid. The sounds of a GameBoy have an unmistakable auditory signature and are recognized by almost anyone born after 1980. Nostalgia aside, Ravepunk is a re-imagination using homebrew software, assembly language, and hex code in a tracker style production format which once installed, is used to modulate a sound card. Sturdy and familiar, the DIY portable GameBoy audio workstation proves its capable of much more than Tetris.

Right place at the right time?

Graz produces in an unlikely studio: While making the hour-long (each way) commute to work using Seattle’s Metro public transit system. The reason behind his odd workspace? “Being on the bus works best for me because it is a time I would of otherwise been using looking at my phone,” he points out. That equates to about 40 hours a month of dedicated music-making time.

At roughly $5 a day, the bus is officially the cheapest studio time in the city! However, working in such an unlikely studio presents a unique set of challenges. Tuning out background noise in a busy coffee shop is easy with a good set of headphones. According to Graz, the most difficult part is not finding a good place to work. Seattle’s recent population explosion means crowded busses with only room to stand, far from the coziness of a traditional setup, one hand keeping balance, the other full of GameBoy. Sharp turns and backpacks have sent things airborne on more than one occasion.

Ravepunk is just as comfortably played in the early morning hours of a dingy warehouse party as it is at the punk show. You know, so the kids have something to skank to between bands.

You can stream the full album below, or download and buy Ravepunk on Bandcamp.