Bitcrusher (The French Connection)

Bitcrusher

Interview by: Rodney Clark

From time to time I get a few here and there e-mails from folks wanting to know how they can get an album on Tiger Claw Records. I feel bad by having to tell them I’m pretty much a broke outfit with a list of to get tos as far as releases go. When BitCrusher contacted me it was no different, except I was left wishing I could let more people know of his awesome sound and crazy bent projects! So I asked him if he would take the time to answer a few e-questions about his project, the French sensation “Bitcrusher“…

Q: When did you start Bitcrusher, and who all is involved in the project?

B: Bitcrusher is a solo project born in 2005. With this project, I try to combine my musical influences and satisfied my need of sound experimentation. My influences are: Electronica, 8bit music, circuit bending, noise, breakcore, sound expérimentations, DIY, and many more….

Q: What part of France are you from and what is the scene like for benders in France?

B: I live in Angouleme for my studies in the middle of the France. The scene I know the best is in Paris, but this last couple of years the circuit bending scene is growing everywhere in France!! In France The circuit bending scene is close to the Chipmusic scene.

A little tours of the French scene through internet:

oscillateur
hypatia
computertruck
flexrex
bananar
toysrnoise
dataglitch
The Cheatcode
nurykabe
Gakona
thewunderbarloopsession
abstraktive
urzhiata
bitcrusher

Forums:

codelab
Audiofanzine/circuit bending

Q: Do you play out a lot as Bitcrusher and what response do you get from the crowd?

B: I have a few, live, as Bitcrusher. Most time, I play with friend in Ponctuals projects: The Cheatcode with Nurykabe using Gameboys and circuit bend toys. Also in Paracetamol with Kobah using bass, circuit bent toys and synth. The response we have from the crowd, beside the pleasure to listen live music, is that people are surprised that we made some music with the toys of their childhood and the fact we have tortured and modified these toys! It’s very emotional! Plus there is a part of « mad scientist » in the bend toys which fascinates! Live, the aesthetic aspect of instruments and the way we use it, is just as important as the sound.

Bitcrusher Vacuum

Q: You have some pretty neat bends. The one that caught my eye though, is the Mega Aspirateur (orange vacuum). What all went into making that thing…and what can it do?

B: In reality, it is a case mod, of a circuit bent Alesis HR16 ! The vacuum cleaner was emptied of its main mechanisms. The most difficult part to build with this instrument was to put the original circuits of the HR16 into the vacuum cleaner, because there was not enough space inside it. I was obliged to cut the main circuits of the hr16 in two parts, and connect every cut-tracks with wires. I had to move the screen. The volume pot and the output integrate the alimentation and change the key via a switch, that makes « soft reset » when bends are uncontrollable. For a visual effect during a live set, I integrated a stroboscope with a speed knob. For the bends I only choose uncontrollable bends, that make distortion and aleatoric sounds.

Bitcrusher Vacuum Alesis HR-16

They often crash the OS, but for making sound, they don’t need to be triggered by the keys or sequencer (it’s for this reason I put a direct switch for soft reset)

Features:
19 – switches to control different bends
1 – rotary switch to control 12 bends
1 – button panic to restart the OS
1 – fader for controlling the sound output
2 – jack output for routing the stereo output to a mixer or recorder
1 – Stroboscope for visual effect during live performance
1 – knob to control the speed of the strobe!

Hairdryer

Q: Another bend I noticed was a hair drier… That thing looks seriously dangerous! :) I guess I wanna know what all went into building it and what it can do?

B: It’s in the same spirit as the vacuum cleaner! The hair drier was emptied of its main mechanisms. Then I put a circuit bent toy that transforms the voice. There are 4 switches that mod the voice: robot effect, tremolo, grave and high. I put an instant switch for muting the sound and make sync-up effect. One knob for the volume and one knob for the micro sensibility.

Hairdryer Circuit Bent

Q: Your sound is a lot like Albino Ghost Monkey meets early Igloo Martian. Totally a great sound in my mind. What got you into Circuit bending and when did you start?

B: I started circuit bending in 2004, after discovering it through the internet on the Reed Ghazala website and in his book. David Steinberg’s website, burnkit2600, Nicolas Collins and the Paris’s 8bit scene which is close to the circuit bending scene. But especially by the enjoyment to modify my 1st toy: « la dictée magique » (french speak and spell). Many aspect of circuit bending are addicting to me: DIY, original sound, expérimentation, musical approach, and electronic bugs and chaos!

Q: Do you have any recordings of your music out right now, and if so where could we get a copy?

B: You can find some of my music here: Bitcrusher and The Cheat Code

Q: What does the future hold for Bitcrusher?

B: Actually, I’m working on my first circuit bent album. My friend Nurykabe and Gakona are trying to create an associative music label for chipmusic and circuit bending called Dataglitch.

Q: Anything else you want to add?

B: The Dataglitch label is willing to release a record, and needs you to submit a work about “robot masters”. Thanks for interest and inspiration, keep the solder in the hand and tortured more toys !

Circuit Bent Sega Master System

Thanks Syl, for the great info on you and the French scene! Hope people get aboard the Dataglitch label and help the Art prevail!!!!!
-Rodney