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Event Spotlight: Q&A with Square Sounds founder Kristy Dosser

Wednesday 13 November 2013

Event Spotlight: Q&A with Square Sounds founder Kristy Dosser


In March next year, Melbourne's two-day Square Sounds festival will return to celebrate chiptune (music using video game console sound chips). The festival recently won the $3000 major prize in a competition put together by crowdfunding platform Pozible and have added eight international acts to the bill. Australian chiptune artist Ten Thousand Free Men & Their Families (Tom Gilmore) chats to the festival's founder Kristy Dosser about how crowdfunding has contributed to chipmusic's growth, why the 2014 edition differs greatly from this year's, and why the nostalgia factor is at an all-time high.

Tell us what Square Sounds is - what defines the artists you have play?

Square Sounds was born out of a festival called Blip Festival, which was a New York-based festival which expanded all over the world, including here in Melbourne, but then went on indefinite hiatus. It focussed purely on chiptunes or chipmusic. This means that in some way, the artists incorporated video game console soundchips into their music, or at least tried to replicate those sounds. Even the visualists had a very 8bit aesthetic.

We expanded those boundaries just a little bit and have the occasional artist who has a very retro feel, but isn't strictly chiptune - they'll use old school synths for example, or those bleepy sounds won't be as prevalent in the music because they use 'real' instruments as well; at its heart though, it's a chipmusic festival. People use game boys and DS's and Amigas to make amazing music, which most people wouldn't believe comes from those instruments, and that's the way we like it.

Your event was crowdfunded by fans, why do you believe this campaign was so successful?

All around the world, chipmusic fans are ridiculously supportive. The best-known chip band in the world, Anamanaguchi had the second best funded music Kickstarter ever, and they're not the only one, there is a big history of chipmusic fans throwing their support behind furthering the scene.

We're a bit different from most of the world though - although we've been running a chipmusic night in Melbourne for five years, we're the only people doing regular chip shows in Australia now, which means that if you want to see chip shows, we're the place to see them.

Fortunately, people don't seem to mind that we are the monopoly on chipmusic, although I'm sure they'd like to have more access to shows in the other states. Lots of people tell us that our shows are some of the best they have ever been to (of any genre). It helps that we have such a fun crowd - there's never any aggro, just people having a good time. 

Of course, people wouldn't back the campaign if they weren't going to benefit from it, and we not only had some amazing merch to give away, we have awesome artists playing. Sabrepulse is one of the best-known chip artists around, and J. Arthur Keenes is just amazing - this guy deserves so much more attention than he's getting. Then you have someone like Sexy Synthesizer who I think even the most fervent hater of electronic music would have a hard time not tapping their feet to. People were getting free tracks from those guys, so even people not coming to the show showed their support from all over the world just to get the merch.

Will there be any significant differences between this year's event and the forthcoming festival?

Well, so far (with more line up still do be announced) we've doubled the girls on the line up from one to two, although one of them is doing double duty as half of Brainbeau and on visuals as X in O so that's almost like having three female acts! Ha ha. 

There's no major differences from the audience's perspective. We're committed to putting on an amazing audio visual show, with music from all over the world that has never been performed live in Australia before, and we have a bit more money than expected to do it thanks to winning Pozible gigs. There will be a pre-party and a post-party and everyone's going to have a fantastic time. Oh, and since it's in late March, it hopefully won't be as ridiculously hot as last time - which will be a definite bonus!


The lineup so far:


Peaches the Wale (SYD)

Sabrepulse (UK)
little-scale (ADE)

The J. Arthur Keenes Band (CA)
Victory Road (NSW)

Sexy Synthesizer (JP)
Tiasu (MEL)

Brainbeau (BNE)

X in O (BNE)      

Chronic Sans (MEL)


Square Sounds Festival takes place at the Evelyn Hotel March 28 and 29 2014.