Operating below the mainstream radar, within the murky depths of cyberspace, countless bedroom producers tinker with their D.A.W. of choice, shaping musical styles completely their own. They upload their tracks to Soundcloud, and there they’ll sit, waiting for anyone who cares to listen. However, for every average musician uploading remixes of the latest Drake single, there’s a few who are truly on to something. Take Floor Baba for example. The 25 year old musician has successfully merged his love of classic video game production with the dance sensibilities of today’s genre du jour, EDM. The result? A uniquely quirky and very catchy production style he refers to as “gamewave.” We spoke to the man himself to learn more about his beginnings, his signature style, and the debut album he’s releasing this spring.
Who is FLOOR BABA?
“Well, my real name is Jesse Martin, and I’m a producer from Youngstown, Ohio. I actually used to go by the name of sleepytimejesse back when I was recording chiptune and videogame soundtracks, but I’ve been wanting to branch off of that name and start fresh for a while now. All my upcoming stuff will be released under the name FLOOR BABA.”
How did you first get into producing?
“I got started producing sometime around 16 because it was my dream to score video games and films. I practiced every day, writing in as many styles and in as many programs as possible, so that I could be prepared. From there, I branched into studying and writing chiptune; I got really familiar with that scene over the years. Then, while in music school, I’d take whatever or whoever I was studying that day to my laptop and try to make it my own somehow, and I’d also apply those ideas to the touring indie rock band I was playing guitar in at the time. I’d try to arrange it during our practices so it was playable by humans and not limited to the computer. I was also starting to make money from mixing and mastering albums which helped me improve the sound quality of my recordings. All of these factors sort of evolved into my recent, bigger sounding stuff. It’s been a really strange life so far.”
Who are your biggest musical inspirations?
“This is like, the hardest question in the world for me to answer because I kind of try to take in and absorb something from everything. I’ve been listening to a lot of smooth jazz, R&B, and soul music recently, but if I could boil it down to a couple selections I’d probably have to go with Roy Ayers, Michael Jackson, Minnie Riperton, and Boyz II Men.”
You label the type of music you make as gamewave; is that something you came up with on your own or is it a part of a larger scene?
“I think gamewave was originally an alternate term for chiptune, but that kind of fell out of favor. I’ve sort of picked it back up though, with my new stuff, because I feel it’s a good fit. The cool thing is some friends and peers of mine are using it too, and it’s kind of like this little scene. To me, ‘gamewave’ means maximalist electronic dance music written by people familiar with writing game music and chiptune. It’s like huge and complex sounding club music, but with jazz-inspired harmonies and video game samples. It gets a bit tongue-in-cheek, but there’s also a real nostalgia factor to it. I always tell people the music that I write makes me feel nostalgic about places that don’t actually exist.”
Which 3 songs of yours would you say define you best as an artist?
“’B E A C H S H A D E’, ‘Nice In! // Nice Approach!’, and ‘i n t o a m b e r’ are a good indication of how the album will sound.”
GAMEWAVE is also the name of your upcoming album; how long has it been in the making? What surprises can we expect from you?
“It’s been in the works for a while. Some of the tracks on GAMEWAVE originally started as loops I had written for games that I’d been hired to soundtrack. The vast majority of these umpteen games were never released for various reasons outside my control, and I was left with all this music just sitting around. Eventually I started remixing that stuff, and thought ‘wow, I think I’m really onto something’… it kind of evolved from there. Not many of those earlier ‘remixes’ will make it onto the finished product, but one or two might.
I write my music using actual sample instruments from games so you might catch an ocarina lead from Zelda or some strings from Final Fantasy floating somewhere in the background.
As of now, the album sounds like a mix between smooth jazz, some modern underground electronic music, and the soundtracks to EarthBound, Kirby, and The Legend of Zelda combined. I want the music to capture the feelings I get when playing my favorite video games. I don’t know… it feels pretty weird to try to explain it myself but just know I’m happy with it and I hope maybe some other people will get what I’m going for too.”
Who makes up Sleep Projections, and what is DESKPOP Records?
“Sleep Projections is my band. I play guitar and sing; singing duties sometimes fall on our drummer, Jake, too. Then there’s Murad, our bassist, and Sandi, our violinist. Right now we’re doing a 12-month charity program where we release a cover recording a month and any money made from those recordings goes directly to a local charity that switches every three months. Plus, we’ve been recording our first album over the last year or so.
DESKPOP is the music label I and my good friend, indoors, have started. Right now our primary focus is hosting ‘microreleases’, which are two track soundcloud playlists which feature either two related tracks by the same artist or a single and a remix. We are also hosting our first online, streaming-only show on Valentine’s Day called ‘DESKPOP IS BAE,’ and the lineup is something I’m really proud of! So many talented people from across the nation and maybe even further; I can’t recall right now.”
What underground producers are you listening to right now?
“Right now I mostly listen to a lot of my friends and peers. There’re way too many to list, but Maxo, indoors, Kanon Kid, Masikus, Ayoshutduff, spazzkid, Trey Frais, IAYD, SHY GUYS, barbeque, aviel brown, and Zackery Wilson. The new Player 2 and FYÜTCH stuff that’s coming out is amazing! There’s a lot of really good stuff on the way for 2015.
I also listen to the PC Music catalogue and Floral Shoppe by Macintosh Plus.”
What producers or artists would you most like to collaborate with?
“Honestly, my dream collab would be to write a track with Hip Tanaka, Kazumi Totaka, or Koji Kondo. They all produced for Nintendo and are gigantic influences of mine.”
You can venture into Floor Baba’s world of video game nostalgia, GAMEWAVE, this Spring.
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