Slime Girls play the Crepe Place Saturday with the Glowing Stars.
Pedro Silva remembers walking out of the Catalyst atrium last year, after the first show he ever played with his band Slime Girls, and hearing two guys talking on the sidewalk about his set.
“What’s going on in there?” asked one.
“They’re playing video games on stage,” replied the other, with a mixture of awe and disgust. “And people like it.”
That, as Silva sees it, is the main reason chiptune bands need to distance themselves from the music’s association with video games. Which he admits is hard, since bands such as his use 8-bit technology (generally, Nintendo Game Boys) as a core part of their sound. The chiptune genre did originally rise out of a geeky nostalgia for the music of classic video games, but it’s become something much more, thanks especially to Bay Area chip bands like Crashfaster and Glowing Stars, the latter of which will perform with Slime Girls this Saturday at Crepe Place.
Chiptune has in a few short years already become a looser collection of diverse bands with an array of sounds, linked mostly now by their 8-bit component. Glowing Stars—who unfortunately have announced they will be playing their last show in November—features the lyrics of Lizzie Cuevas, while Slime Girls is set up much like pioneering chip band Anamanaguchi; the music is mostly instrumental (Silva does a few covers with vocals), driven by guitars, drums and Game Boy.
“To me, it’s really important to distance yourself from video games,” says Silva. “It’s not about being nostalgic, for me. It’s about making something new.”
That said, he likes the 8-bit sound, and the way it gives him a certain framework to work within. He lives in San Juan Bautista, which has him sort of caught between the Santa Cruz and San Jose music scenes, and gave him plenty of time to play video games, and eventually discover chip bands.
“Growing up here, there was nothing, but it was right at the advent of ‘hey, here’s the Internet,’” says the 22-year-old Silva. He started Slime Girls last year, doing home-studio recordings himself, but recruiting a band for live shows. The first Slime Girls EP, Vacation Wasteland, came out this summer.
Most of his musical influences, Silva says, are not even chiptune—Bomb the Music Industry, for instance, being high among them. But apart from his fondness for video games themselves, he likes the rawness of the sound, the camaraderie within the scene—“there’s no jerks,” he says—and the DIY aspect of the music that allows indie upstarts to quickly and cheaply create music with components that cost less than $50 bucks all together.
“Chiptune, to me, is the electronic punk rock,” he says.
Slime Girls & Glowing Stars play Sept. 29 at Crepe Place.