Superpowerless Interview

What do you get when you take nerd sensibilities, a healthy dose of pop punk and a whole host of retro game console sound boards and put them all in a blender? I’m willing to bet the end result would be the Pixel Punk band Superpowerless. Winner of the 2009 MTV / Vodafone Fast Track competition and having had his début music video “Wasted My Time” played in rotation on MTV in 29 countries, we were recently lucky enough to be able to take some time to talk to Oliver Hindle, the man behind the music. We spoke about the differences between retro and current game soundtracks, sourcing sound effects from game consoles, his musical inspirations and more.

Laura: For those who are unaware, could you introduce yourself? Who or what is Superpowerless?

Oliver: Hello! My name’s Oliver Hindle and Superpowerless is the name I produce music under. I also do live gigs with my musician friends, mainly Circuit Ben and most of the band Area 11 at the moment! Haha. 🙂

Laura: Your music uses a lot of samples from video game systems including the original Game Boy, Commodore 64 and the NES. How do you go about sourcing those sounds? Do you find them in a database or sample them yourself?

Oliver: I actually have a collection of Circuit Bent video game consoles, which is when the electronics have been altered to allow them to behave in ways they weren’t intended. This lets me use the consoles like synths and create actual music using the consoles directly! I also programmed some software myself that works in the same way as the soundchip within the original Game Boy which I sometimes use too. I also collect all the sounds I record in my own sound libraries so that I can find the right sound for a particular song.

Laura: While there are a lot of chiptune artists out there, not many do the type of chaotic and fast faced live shows you do. What is an average live show like for you and what what challenges do you face?

Oliver: Haha thanks! Yeah, ours is a bit of an unusual set up as we often have guitars, bass and drums live alongside the Game Boys. A lot of friends can sing too so we do group vocals! The major challenge of having a changing set of live members is that it’s hard to rehearse or practice for gigs, which means we often don’t get the chance to, or I hand them a set list with chords written next to the song titles, haha. It always seems to work out pretty well, but mainly we make sure the gigs are a lot of fun and hopefully that comes across when we’re on stage.

Laura: Who are your musical inspirations?

Oliver: I have a wide range of inspirations, the bands that I find myself listening to the most are probably: Blink 182, Green Day, Modest Mouse, The Pixies, MC Lars, Bright Eyes and Jon Foreman!

Laura: What do you think makes the old video game themes so catchy, compared to the music in newer games?

Oliver: I think that due to the nature of the soundchips, the composers were really limited as to the different sounds they could make, so it forced them to get as creative as possible and write really catchy little songs! Too much choice kills creativity! Haha. 😛

Laura: What sort of reaction do you tend to get from fans at conventions? Also, have you ever had any weird experiences when meeting fans?

Oliver: We’ve played two conventions so far and we ran around them both with a video camera convincing people to dance with us for music videos, haha! Everyone went along with it and had a lot of fun afterwards watching back and seeing themselves as part of a community project! We love it! No weird experiences meeting fans so far! But sometimes I get recognised in random places and I always find that a bit weird. Haha.

Laura: What can you tell us about your future plans?

Oliver: I usually tend to make plans up as I go and just do them as I think of them, haha. It’s probably not the best strategy but it’s done quite well for me so far, haha! Long term plans – due to the success of the webseries I worked on (Trapped In Technology) I’ve been writing a new show with my friend Neef, so hopefully that will be out soon! Also working on soundtracks for a few video games and planning to program one myself… when I find time!

Laura: If you could open for any band, who would it be?

Oliver: It would have to be Red Hot Chilli Peppers, not because I love them, I think they’re okay… it’s just my guitarist Circuit Ben absolutely can’t stand them and it’s now a running joke to get everyone we meet to ask him why he loves them. Seriously, do it! Hilarious!

Laura: Lastly, do you have any final words?

Oliver: Just to remind everyone we’re playing in Leicester in September and to check out my YouTube and Bandcamp for videos and MP3’s. and


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