Interview GOTO80

Goto80 is a Swedish chipmusic composer, reinventing himself since 1993. He makes eclectic music. No, really – he does. It is not just biographical bla-bla. Some kind of artistic paranoia leads him to make surf-pop, blues, 80s cheeze, drum n’ bass, ballads, death metal, jazz, reggae, and so on. And curiously enough it all blends together because of his 8-bit sounds and media.


Can you introduce yourself?

As Goto80, I’m a musician obsessed with 8-bit technology or sounds, and I enjoy exploring its unique features to see what it’s (not) able to do. I have many other projects, but this is the one I’m performing with at PlazaPlus.

What is your background?

I’ve had no formal music training, but I’ve studied media and sociology at university for a long time – currently writing a master thesis on chip music. I grew up active in the 8-bit demoscene – perhaps the first large-scale digital subculture, making realtime audiovisual presentations on consumer technology. Technical skills was (too) essential in this subculture, and I partly maintained this attitude when I started to release records and do performances about 10 years ago. Nowadays I’ve moved more into art & science, writing papers about low-tech creativity/culture and also exhibiting some works.

How would you describe your work?

As a musician, I enjoy describing my work as 8-bit music or chipmusic, because it doesn’t have to mean anything about the musical form. Only the technology. In that sense, it is a very generous term and you can avoid the difficulties of genres. However, chipmusic is very much connected with happy dance music so I usually add “eclectic” in lack of better words. But the biggest drawback is that technology comes first, and music after – an irritating problem about chipmusic in general. But I enjoy playing with genres and at my ‘netlabel’ Labelable I invent new music genres with friends.

What is your main challenge?

For a long time I was trying to resist the happy-dance bubble that 8-bit music was placed in. It was a cultural challenge to fight this idea, but a rather futile fight aswell. One challenge is to balance transgressive uses (‘beyond’ technology) with more immersive practices, where you sink into the technology to bring forth some kind of essence. The Commodore 64 is my favourite machine, and I still enjoy exploring it a lot. But right now, my main challenge is to release 8-bit music incognito, without people knowing that it is 8-bit. I’m contacting labels without talking about technology, and I want to have it released regardless of the technology.

Where do you get your inspiration?

From very, very silly things and bad television.

Does technology influence your work and aesthetics?

Yeah, of course. I guess it does for everyone, with a broad definition of technology. I enjoy having technology with obvious characteristics and flaws, not something neutral that pretends to be universal. So there is definitely a dialogue going on.

How do you feel about the increased use of digital tools by artists? Is technology overrated?

I tend to see technology as almost anything that is used to “create” something, so I don’t think it’s overrated. But coming from a demoscene background, I can sometimes feel that the relationship with digital technology is a bit naive. Not that there is something wrong with naive uses of technology, but I’m a bit tired of the clichés about critical uses of technology. There are many ways of ‘questioning’ technology, and just because you use 8-bit technology doesn’t mean that you’re more critical. Or just because you’ve used Assembly to code something. Or open source software. Or whatever. It’s a more complex mix between just fucking shit up, and knowing exactly what you’re doing.

What other art inspires you?

I like noise-glitch-fuck-shit, preferrably when it’s not presented as art. Stuff that fights technology. But also more posthuman art that works *with* the technology, where it can have some headroom to makeunexpected things. Or just what its microchips are supposed to do. Something that we can never really understand. I like things that I don’t understand, in general (or do I?).

What is the best performance you have ever seen?

Wow, what a question! I’ll go with a performance a saw by Duracell at Ekko in Norway. It’s a french drummer who also sequences C64-songs by triggers on the drums. It was so violent and skilled – like the perfect performative mix between Lightning Bolt and beeps.

Can you recommend good a book/film?

The movie Ghost in the Machine is trashy hacker stuff. As for books, I’d like to mention the book Copyright Does Not Exist by Linus Walleij. It’s a bit romanticizing but it is informative and correct, and written by someone who knows his stuff about digital underground.

Try watching this video with red and blue 3d glasses. Burgerville is an interactive real-time collaboration. One person operates the virtual camera and the other person controls Burgerville’s animations.

The song is Semiasy by Goto80


Interview by Olga Mink for Plazaplus 2010.


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