We interviewed Please Lose Battle about their origins, their upcoming release and the secret behind their new EP name. Read on to find out more!
Please tell me about the band members. How many are you? What do each of you do?
Matt : Hey ! We’re a three-piece band. I’m Matt and I’m the chiptune composer, as well as the band’s bassist.
Moritz : Hi, I’m Moritz. I’m doing the artworks as well as the live videos projected on screen during the shows.
(The drummer is Jérémy, a wild man who avoids speaking. He’s kind though.)
When did you start as Please Lose Battle?
Matt : Please Lose Battle started in 2013 as a solo project. I was just getting into chiptune, and listening to Anamanaguchi and to some other 8bp releases made me wanna give it a shot.
At that time, I had several bands but I wasn’t composing the music, and it was kind of a frustration.
I watched some video tutorials for Famitracker (thanks 8bitdanooct if you happen to read this!), and I ordered my LSDJ cart. I started to compose frenetically, and I put some tunes on the community websites to get some CC. Jérémy was the drummer of one of the bands I was playing in, and after listening to some of my tunes, he said, “Man, why don’t you let me put some drums on your tracks ? I think it’d be awesome!” And it was. We started to play some shows in our hometown, and in 2014 we were asked to play for a big gaming festival in France (Stunfest). We looked for live visuals for this big event, and Moritz agreed to make some for this show only. This gig happened to be such a blast and the VJing brought so much to the show that after that we asked him to join permanently the band, which he accepted.
And that was the real start of Please Lose Battle.
Moritz : Exactly. Matt asked me to do the artwork for his first EP, because we had already worked together on other projects. When he told me about the Stunfest and his desire to strengthen the set with live visuals, I hesitated over doing it at first for lack of time. And then I changed my mind and agreed to do it, prepared some GIFs compilations, and after this show and the really positive feedback, I joined the band, and I have no regrets at all.
Who/what are your influences?
Matt : For the music, I think I’m not surprising anyone if I say that Anamanguchi got me into chiptune, so I guess it influenced me a lot, especially at the beginning.
Also, our 2nd EP (Bedroom EP) left me quite unsatisfied with my composing, and Soleviio’s Sonus Antiquitatum which was released soon after that left me on my knees. This is easily one of the best releases I ever listened to, all styles combined. I was amazed and at the same time it gave me a big inferiority complex. I stopped composing for many months, and after that decided to surpass myself, to work harder, and to make more complex and darker harmonies.
Moritz : For the visuals, at the beginning it was a patch-up work because of the hurry. I made a mix of animated GIFs put together with a theme for each song. Then, I took the time to create my own visuals and to do more than simply dressing up the stage. I didn’t know anything about VJing then, so I made some clips up, frame by frame, little by little.
Of course, chiptune sounds made me produce a bunch of pixel art, with a strong Japanese influence, the chiptune starter pack I presume! For this record, I want to work on something new, to try other approaches, and maybe get away of the VG context.
I like pop colours, especially when they can light up the band.
What software / instruments do you use?
Matt : As I mentioned earlier, I took a shot on LSDJ, but I couldn’t compose anything because I found it kinda loop-oriented, and I was not familiar with that style at the time.
So I tried Famitracker next, and it may sound a bit like a drama, but it was a revelation. This was the perfect tool for me. The limitations took away the weight of searching in endless libraries the right sound for one instrument like in regular softwares, which I never got to cope with.
Also, it permits very flexible song structures, which was perfect for what I had in mind for this project : heavy, punchy, melodic tracks with mixed pop and math structures.
I’m kind of a monomaniac, so even if I tried other trackers/software, I’m still stuck on Famitracker because I love this tool. I use Neil Baldwin’s PR8 and Pulsar for liveshows though. These are fantastic and powerful tools.
We also used a regular drumkit and a bass (with some distortion) for the instrumental parts. We recorded with our usual gear, and we’re really happy with the result.
Moritz : As I said earlier, I didn’t know anything about VJing before Please Lose Battle. I started on a small free software, Elektronika, because it supported GIFs. I’m still using this software but with avi exports, and for the moment it’s doing the job.
Which track on the EP was the hardest to write?
Matt : I’d say Sunday Chill in Cosmos. I began to write this track the day before we went on tour in November 2014. We had spent 3 days working very hard on the liveset, and it was a peaceful Sunday (calm before the storm). But I finished this track last for this EP, a few months ago (late 2015). So it took a full year to compose.
This track is the longest I’ve written so far, and it took many different directions. I rewrote it several times, and I even thought of putting it aside for the EP.
But right now I’m really happy with the final form of this song. Jeremy did an amazing job with the drums on it, it gives the perfect atmosphere for this song : soothing, yet cadenced.
Tell us, why are you saying Goodbye to Joy on this EP?
Matt: With this EP, we wanted to make something different: it has real instruments, and I wanted to compose darker songs even if it keeps a little happiness from the previous EPs. Also we wanted the physical object to be different: Moritz worked on a full artwork for a digipack CD and a booklet as he was really inspired by the songs. So of course it would have cost us much more than the other EPs (because of the studio, the digipack format, and the merch), and it took a lot more time in the making.
Moritz : As for the EP art, I wanted to break with my previous artworks, to bring something different, with more ideas. This EP is the result of a 2 years maturation, and we are now in the adolescence of the band. Goodbye Joy’s artwork means to reflect this transition: we’re on the way from the beginning’s ingenuousness to the project’s adult phase and its inherent questioning.
All of us actually experienced this during Please Lose Battle’s development : professional issues, changing direction, questioning about what we should do with our lives in order to be happy. The little guy on the art is in all these doubt phases we all have, wrapped up in beautiful pop colours.
Do you have any upcoming gigs?
We are playing February 20th in Belgium for the biggest independent gaming festival of the country (Screenshake Festival), and it seems like an awesome event.
We are also doing a support show for a DIY IT collective the week after that in France.
In April, we’re playing a show for a numeric arts celebration in the north of France.
We are currently booking shows for the rest of the year, but we don’t have any other confirmed plans yet.
If you want us to play for you, feel free to contact us, we love to travel and meet new people !
Matt: Again, thanks a lot to James for the amount of time he spent talking and crafting this record with us, even though he has many other releases in the process with Cheapbeats. We are really excited about this release, and it was a real pleasure to work with him.
Cheapshot: Thanks so much for taking the time to answer all these questions guys. Fascinating stuff. Look out for “Goodbye Joy” dropping later this month!