MusiCube | Anamanaguchi Interview on Music, Gaming & More!

By Adam Riley 12.10.2013

Anamanaguchi is an American chiptune indie rock band made up of hackers and producers born and raised on the Internet from New York City. They make "loud, fast music with a NES from 1985" and boast an incredible group of fans that raised over $100,000 through a Kickstarter campaign in less than 24 hours. Former credits include the Scott Pilgrim Video Game soundtrack and a track used in Rock Band.
 
Anamanaguchi are lead songwriter Peter Berkman, bassist James DeVito, guitarist Ary Warnaar and drummer Luke Silas, and new album - Endless Fantasy - is about reality and dreams, being young and searching for agency in an infinite existence. Its 22-tracks explore dream worlds of all kinds from polygon forests, to Tokyo drifting hills at 100mph, to the life-stream from Final Fantasy VII.
 
With the new album out now, Cubed3 caught up with the group for a quick chat.

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Cubed3's Jorge Ba-oh: Please introduce yourselves and the band!

Anamanaguchi's Peter Berkman, Lead Songwriter: I'm Pete and I play guitar and do production stuff in Anamanaguchi. We're based in NYC and try to mostly make anime music for people to hack / rave / stage dive to.

Cubed3: Out of curiosity, why the name Anamanaguchi?

Anamanaguchi: We all went to fashion school and interned at Armani (me), Prada (Ary), and Gucci (James and Luke). We all met at the parties they would throw. We were the only kids there so all the drunk people would call us the "armanipradagucci" boys and because they were drunk it sounded like "Anamanaguchi." So that just kind of stuck with us in the music world!

Cubed3: What previous albums and musical projects have you been involved?

Anamanaguchi: We've put out a lot of music online over the years, and did the soundtrack to the Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World video game. Endless Fantasy is the first real big record we've put out, and we're about to do a lot lot lot more!

Cubed3: Endless Fantasy sounds very diverse and a solid mix of sounds. How did the album come about?

Anamanaguchi: It came about through crazy amounts of work and being inspired by too many different things, to be honest! We have really small attention spans and like a lot of stuff so it's hard for us to do the same thing for too long *laughs*

Cubed3: What songs in the Endless Fantasy album are you most proud of working on?

Anamanaguchi: I think my personal favourite is Planet - really proud of how that one came together. Bosozoku GF is another really rad one; I like it when there's high emotion at stake with high production *laughs*

Cubed3: How does a typical song come about - would it be chiptune / midi elements first or the live instruments?

Anamanaguchi: It always varies song-to-song. We don't have a set process we swear by or anything. Ary or I will come up with the song file and send it to each other usually. I usually have problems structuring my tracks and Ary's works-in-progress files are usually fully fleshed out except a top-line melody. Stuff just goes back and forth really, like a band, but it's electronic production in a way.


 

Cubed3: The use of Game Boy and NES chiptune sounds within a traditional band environment is a great thing to see! Are these effects composed
on the older hardware or on a computer?

Anamanaguchi: They are written on free software from Sweden for the computer. It's 100% exactly what the system does and can be played back on them for live performance. For Game Boy you actually write on the system, though, which is great for on-the-go stuff, like if you're chilling on the subway.

Cubed3: The vocal tracks on Endless Fantasy are a highlight. Would you consider making an album that leans more towards this side of the band?

Anamanaguchi: THANKS! Definitely - we love those songs!

Cubed3: You've composed memorable tunes for Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World: The Game and Bit.Trip Runner, but how different is the process when having to stick to a certain theme/spec?

Anamanaguchi: Cool, thanks! However, for Bit.Trip they actually just licensed songs we already had. It's a very different process writing for something else, but it's a challenge we love to step up to. We aren't normally thinking about 'bosses' when we're writing music, so it's fun to be able to put yourself in that headspace for a videogame soundtrack.

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Cubed3: Blending chiptune into indie/rock meshes really well. Do you think these retro sounds could be woven into other genres like classic or country?

Anamanaguchi: Sure, of course! We plan on doing a song like Avicii's Wake Me Up where we blend chiptune, EDM, and country…and also a bit of Christian rock!

Cubed3: How hard has it been playing your songs live? Are the chiptune bits played live or as a sample?

Anamanaguchi: We play as a full band with the tracks, so basically it's just turn the monitors up really, really loud and we're all good! *laughs*

Cubed3: Congratulations on your TV appearances! How do you feel about bringing the chiptune sound to a mass audience like Late Night with Jimmy Fallon?

Anamanaguchi: It was so surreal and I definitely never thought that it would ever happen. It's still a bit insane to think about. Really cool of them to take a risk like that putting an instrumental chiptune band on national television *laughs*

Cubed3: What are your favourite video game albums that just couldn't be left behind?

Anamanaguchi: Katamari Damacy, Phoenix Wright, Ghost Trick. Give me precise midi arrangements and some cool sample work and I'm down!


 

Cubed3: Which composers in the Industry do you look to for inspiration?

Anamanaguchi: Hmm, probably Cornelius, Tiesto and Brian Wilson.

Cubed3: Do you have any advice for other bands looking to raise funds on crowd-funding sites like Kickstarter?

Anamanaguchi: "Just be you" and be super honest.

Cubed3: If you could compose the soundtrack for an official Nintendo franchise, which would it be and why?

Anamanaguchi: A new one, definitely! I would love to do the music for Nintendo's first ever dating sim.

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