A Spotify playlist brought to you by the musical stylings of your favorite Gameboy classics.
Normally, Gameboys aren't considered instruments. They're not even really considered decent forms of entertainment, except to the few who dust them off for a helping of 90s nostalgia. But in chiptune, the music genre that mixes electronica with the sounds of retro video games, they're vital.
Chiptune artist Ashley Charles, who mixes under the name Sabrepulse, is one of the genre's brightest stars; his unique blends of classic game audio and modern dance music has turned him into a bonafide maestro of sorts for video game electronica.
The 26-year-old says the games are a treasured childhood memory and an encounter with a performer who incorporated Gameboy audio into his DJ set inspired his current sound. "There's certain sounds that are in those games that I liked the sound of as a kid, and I think it was the pure liking a sound and wanting to recreate it [that got me started,]" he says.
Now he composes on his old Gameboy, rescued from the attic, using Little Sound DJ, a program that allows you to write songs on the Gameboy's four channels, with room for bass, lead melody, and percussion.
He isn't the only one with a sentimental ear. Charles has toured the world with his music, and recently played the after party for New York's Blip Festival, a festival devoted entirely to chiptune artists.
Despite his popularity in the community, the chiptune remains underground, unknown or overlooked even by many electronic music fans. It's been beloved within its own underground scene since the late 90s, but Charles says the future of chip music depends on the Gameboy being seen as an actual instrument. "It's basically all about nostalgia," he says. "You see somebody on stage with a Gameboy, you're immediately thinking of the early 90s. Kids in the future aren't going to know what a Gameboy is."
For more about Sabrepulse and his music, check out his Facebook Page.