Releasing an album is a brutal, labour-intensive process, rife with sleepless nights and self doubt. For Dale Earnhardt Jr Jr, the Detroit indie pop band whose latest EP, Patterns, came out on April 16, stress relief came not from cigarettes or sizzurp, but from an 8-bit plugin.
“We were all stressed out with rehearsing and getting the show set up, and I wanted to take a break,” says Daniel Zott, one half of the Dale Earnhardt Jr Jr duo. “I decided to make some Nintendo music to clear my brain.”
Zott’s 8-bit remix of “If You didn’t see me (Then You Weren’t on the Dance Floor),” the first single from Patterns, appeared on YouTube today, and it’s pretty great. He created the track in a single day using a free plugin developed by the Japanese chiptune band YMCK, which let him convert the studio tracks into simple MIDI waveforms that mimic that sweet, sweet NES sound. “MIDI is all they had to work with back then,” Zott says. “But if you go back and listen to the music from Super Mario or Sonic the Hedgehog, they’re such amazingly intricate, busy songs. And so much fun to listen to.”
The pixelated cherry on top is the accompanying video, which Zott patched together using clips from 45 different NES games, from Duck Hunt to Air Wolf. It’s a trip down memory lane.