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Pixelh8's Nintendo musicians at the Aldeburgh Festival
By Andrew Woodger
BBC Suffolk

Pixeh8
Childhood Remixed runs at Ipswich Town Hall Galleries until 10 July 2010

Ipswich's chiptune supremo Pixelh8 is teaming up with school children in Suffolk for a seaside showcase.

As part of the Aldeburgh Festival, Matthew C Applegate will be performing on the beach on Sunday, 27 June, 2010.

There's a formal performance at noon, then anyone can have a go at making music using Matthew's collection of handheld consoles.

"It's a bit of fun using something that otherwise wouldn't be used for making music," said Matthew/Pixelh8.

The beach event is billed as Hands On Sounds and has involved Charsfield and Dennington primary schools, and anyone else who's signed up, in the rehearsal process.

Aldeburgh Festival organisers teamed Matthew up with sound artist Duncan Chapman to run the project.

"It's been in my mind for some time to have a massive group of people playing on video game consoles," said Matthew.

"We're going to be playing on Nintendo DSs, but I don't want to say too much about the performance, because I want to keep it quite special.

"But after we've done the performance, you can come and have a go on the machines themselves.

Pixelh8
Pixelh8 recorded at BBC Maida Vale after John Peel's death

"For Aldeburgh, we're not actually modifying the DSs. I've created a piece of PC software, so that it's the notation software on the actual computer that helps them.

"Most modern DSs have in-built recording devices, so you can just record samples into them and stuff like that."

Matthew's open air event fits in with the festival's ongoing Faster Than Sound project which marries classical, contemporary and electronic sounds resulting in performances of pieces by composers such as Emily Hall, Toby Litt and Radiohead's Jonny Greenwood.

"The aim of all the open air events is to raise awareness of our work in the community and to create a performance that's free and completely accessible," said Bella Scar, projects officer with Aldeburgh Music.

"The beach events have always been slightly electric and obviously very different from the formal events in the concert halls - a fun added-extra."

Welcome to the future

Matthew was the winner of an Ip-art Award for Visual Art and he's involved in several Ip-art workshops and events in 2010.

As well as having his Childhood Remixed exhibition as Ipswich's Town Hall Galleries, Pixelh8 will also be back at Ipswich Music Day on Sunday 4 July, performing his regular set with a 'chiptune samba band' finale.

Pixelh8 at Maida Vale
Pixelh8 recording his Maida Vale session for Huw Stephens in 2008

And he's involved in the BBC Blast events taking place at West Suffolk College, Bury St Edmunds, 23-25 June, 2010.

After that Matthew expects to keep ploughing his own field - without signing to any big record label.

"I've just read a book called The Play Ethic by Pat Kane [ex-Hue & Cry] and it's all about how play is viewed in modern society.

"I thought it would be quite good spending a year developing ideas, projects and workshops to involve other people of all ages in quite nonsensical music."

Following the release of his second Pixelh8 album The Boy With The Digital Heart in 2007, Matthew said he was in talks with a big record label (which he isn't naming), but they seemed to want to create a whole new image for him.

"I've been fortunate to see first-hand with other people just what the music industry can be like," he said.

"My success has not been because of the music industry, but in spite of it.

"I like the freedom of stopping and changing things.

"I talked to a record company and it was horrible. I don't know how far up the guy was, but he said 'we'll get you signed up, we'll get you promoting and then we'll get you on a fitness programme!

"I was just shocked! Ok, yes I'm slightly overweight, but I don't ever really care what I look like.

"I thought that's an interesting concept, but I don't think they understood that I'm a very geeky dad. I like eating junk food, I like to play video games and I have four kids.

"I'm the type of person who can play at Maida Vale and then play at a science festival and I wouldn't be 'selling out' or whatever.

"I'm 50:50 technology and music and one without the other just wouldn't work at all.

"I don't have a definition of success other than to make music with little or no compromise, ideally [laughs].

"I think if you do interesting things, then people just like it."

Aldeburgh Music runs the Aldeburgh Festival, Snape Proms, music projects and other concerts.




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