It's been a little over 2 months since I finished my EP, "World Wide Web". The reception to it was so incredibely unexpected. 1st place on Pico Day, an endorsement from Tom himself, and a lot of people really connecting to the things I wanted to convey.
And I'll be honest, while I was shooting for that first place I never expected for it to actually happen. There were a lot of cool submissions this year and it could've been anyone's win really.
I'm writing this up today to kind of go thru what I was thinking with each one of these songs, hopefully you'll find this an interesting read and maybe even learn a thing or two (don't count on it tho)!
Before starting work on the EP I had a couple of choices.
First, I thought of making some tracks in the style of several of my favorite NG musicians. I quickly realized that I'd kind of be doing them and myself a disservice by making something with a color palette that ain't really mine.
My second thought was to make a couple covers and remixes of old classic NG tracks. This was a neat idea but the few tests I did sounded like the exact same track just with a different coat of paint.
In the end I just said fuck it and winged it. I set out to make something that, while not directly referencing Newgrounds, captures the essence of the site.
This is one's kinda straight-forward, isn't it? It's the boot-up sequence,
I knew I wanted to have a very spaced out, ambient intro to then lead into this burst of energy with what became NeoGeo.
There's all kinda sounds in this, keyboard clacking, dial up noise, and if you're familiar with Eccojams, a very short snippet of A2 can be heard as well.
I also got a whole bunch of my friends to shout "The World Wide Web" into the mic for the ending bit, and that's hands down my favorite bit on the album.
The plan was to kinda sorta make it sound like they are all together in a room, sharing a space and presence.
Can't say I pulled it off that well but I do think that cutting that very spaced out, synthetic wash of sound with a distinctly human element was the perfect way to kick off the EP
Fun silly little fact, there's that part in there that serves as the main ambient texture, right?
I put that thru a granulizer and added all sorts of delays and reverbs. Monotonous chatter makes for really good textures it seems hehe.
I'm proud of everything on the EP, but this one is especially cool to me because it took me just one day to make from start to finish.
(I added some more bits here and there when I started mastering but shhhhh)
For the overall sound of the track I got extremely inspired by the Sonic Riders OST.
Before I discovered Newgrounds, the only games that I had were from this russian bootleg CD that had a couple 3D Sonic games (pretty sure it had some trojans on it too lol) and I remember Sonic Riders running like absolute garbage.
The one thing that stuck out to me though was the soundtrack. I don't know what it is about it but it just captures a certain era extremely well... the turn of the millenium perhaps?
It just felt right to have a song to represent NG that sounded like this.
And that's what this track is to me, it's about 10 year old me going on Newgrounds and diving deeper and deeper through what seemed to be an endless stream of stuff to keep me busy and to keep me nspired.
HAZY NEON NIGHTS
I spent most of my childhood on other people's systems. And once every blue moon, I'd get their computer all to myself for an entire night.
I don't know if anyone else will relate to this, but there was such a special vibe to it all.
Going on the internet super late with no supervision, no rules, no restrictions, just you and a couple sodas until the sun rose up. Probably not the best for a tween kid lol, but man, there was this air of mystery and a sort of glamour to it. This might sound stupid now, especially with the way the internet landscape looks like today, but back then it was magical.
It was still the wild west, and the internet was still ruled by the people. I've never managed to capture that feeling since.
I actually started working on this track 2 years ago, but never found a way to make it sound, y'know, actually good.
Pico Day was a great opportunity to bring this track back from the dead and actually give it shape and purpose.
I added a bunch of new synths, slapped some warm compression on the sucker so it sounded a bit more alive, I even sampled and chopped my buddy @weakspine (but don't tell her about that tho)
Some of you might scream FNF with the way the vocals are chopped, but I was moreso thinking of Cristobal Tapia De Veer.
And then there's the ambient wash at the end there. Initially I didn't know if I wanted to keep that in or not, but it was too tasty not to keep.
I always try to make drum patterns sound unique in their own way (something I also struggle with lol), but for this track I said fuck it, just so I didn't have to worry too much about that whole process.
The result was probably the most old-school sounding track on the album. So much so, that the demo for this would sit right at home on a late 90s website as a loop.
yes I was inspired by a bunch of dreamcast soundtracks for this one lol
As to what this track represents... the track sounds very Hackers-ey, it's a tad cheesy in that way. Though there's also the aspect of sampling all those old-ass AOL ads. As a European, we didn't have AOL but AOL was sort of in the fabric of internet culture at the time. Warping those ads and distorting them in the way I did kinda feels like a pirated transmission from the past into the future. Finishing the track off with "You shouldn't be afraid because people around you are just like you" might sound a bit naive, but it is true at the end of the day.
This right here was the first track that I started out making and lemme tell ya, I hated it.
I wanted to make a track that felt like something you could hear in a neat little flash game, but at the beginning it just felt forced and lame and that bassline just eugh.
In the end I kinda ended up embracing the 'lameness' of it though, and after discovering this one preset in Massive (that swelling synth that comes around 1 minute in) it all came together.
As a whole, the song went from this sorta care-free little beat to this almost melancholic ode to flash and its sudden death.
This track is super super super cool to me. Firstly because I'm really into textural and oddball sounding stuff like this.
Secondly, this track meant that I fucking made it, I actually managed to finish a full on music project, because this track right here is the entire EP, condensed into this weird-ass glitchy soup.
To make this track I rendered out an almost finished version of the EP, ran it through a granulizer and made it play a random bit of the album at approximately 1 second intervals.
Then I slapped this glitch VST effect called Fracture (it's free! I really recommend it), and man oh man it just twisted all those sounds inside out. I generated about an hour of sounds with this thing,
I listened thru all of it, cut up my favorite parts and made this little collage.
It was very off the cuff too, because originally Flash just kinda went into Won't Log Off, but that just didn't feel right.
Thematically I think this is the most obvious one on the EP. It represents all those missing nuggets of internet history, lost to time.
God knows how many cool flash projects we're never going to see again. Makes me kinda sad.
WON'T LOG OFF
Initially the track as a whole was just a little test to make my own breakbeat. As I said before, I've always struggled to make my drum patterns sound interesting, and with this EP I kinda wanted to break away from that (so pretty much the opposite of Torrents)
I didn't really expect this to have the energy that it ended up having. Like, a noisy/shoegazey climax? That's fuckin rad, man.
What I also didn't expect is that Endless Handbag nod. I don't really have a cool story behind this one, it just sorta happened.
If Flash is the send-off to a whole era of the Internet, Won't Log Off is me sticking by and wanting to take part in something new.
Something you might've taken notice of is that every song flows into the other, making this a very continuous and cohesive whole. That aspect of the EP is 100% inspired by Animal Collective's Centipede Hz. The way the songs on their album flow not just into each other but also against and through each other is unlike anything else out there. The intricate texture work of their albums is super vivid and isnpirational to me. They've probably been the most influential artists to my work and I think that influence does make itself apparent in these transitions (I also might've sampled them here and there but shhhhhh).
And that's about it. To the people who bothered to read even a bit of this write-up, thank you! This EP really feels like the beginning. I know I have much wilder stuff in my brain to untangle and put on my DAW's timeline. It might take a minute before my next release but it will be extra juicy.
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