Don Miller, AKA No Carrier, AKA Guy Who Creates Awesome 8-Bit Visuals
Philadelphia is a city full of geeks. Me and my pals here on Geekadelphia love to show that fact off, and once a week, we highlight individual geeks here on the blog with Geek of the Week. Just another way for us to show off our awesome community, and hopefully, introduce you to some great people doing awesome things. Think you should be featured? Have a friend you’d like to see on here? Email us.
Meet Don Miller, also known as No Carrier. From his installations at the University of the Arts, to performing at 8static in West Philadelphia, as a visual artist here in Philly, Don is involved in a lot, and I’m thrilled he took the time to do this little interview. Read up, and learn about one of Philly’s best 8bit visual artists.
So tell us a bit about yourself and your visual work as No Carrier.
I’ve been performing as NO CARRIER for a few years now, with my earliest gigs right here in Philadelphia. Since then I’ve been lucky enough to play around the US and Europe from small shows to international festivals. I use old computers and video game consoles, like the Nintendo Entertainment System / NES and Commodore 64 / C64, to do live visuals. It may sound kind of odd, but I write software for these systems that I use to generate video in real time that is projected while musicians play on stage. I’ve always been a fan of chip music, which is music made with older computers and video game consoles.
I realized that there were great chip musicians, but most of the video shown at these shows was created on modern computers. So I decided to start programming. I never programmed anything before, but I figured the NES was a good place to start. I think I filled that video void pretty well, using old hardware and software to complete the experience of chip music for the concert attendees. I have a lot of fun lugging crates of twenty year old consoles across continents and through customs to do this. I’ve also written a lot of NES and C64 demos and open source software, and you can download them on my webpage here.
No Carrier… where’d you come up with that name?
I came up with the name NO CARRIER during my BBS days. It was the handle I used on local bulletin boards. NO CARRIER was the message you saw when you were disconnected from a BBS. It has an old school feel and I think it fits well with what I do now
Philly’s 8-bit scene is certainly on the rise. Whether it’s people creating music or folks programing visuals. Who are some of your favorite local artists in both fields?
There are a lot of really talented artists here, from Cheap Dinosaurs, Animal Style, Alex Mauer, and VBLANK. However, I would love to mention some new guys on the scene that are really killing it. Enso is an amazing visualist and pixel artist. I’ve worked with him on some demos and mixed with him at live events. He is unbelievably talented. Ro-Bear is another talented artist who played 8static in August. His music has a unique groove and his sets are really tight. Look out for more from both of them soon.
More after the jump!
What about artists from outside the Philly region?
It is really hard to talk about all that is going on in the chip scene worldwide, since it is so varied and expansive. However, if you want a good introduction to the best of international live chip music, check out the recently released Blip Festival 2008 live album on 8bitpeoples. It features 32 artists from around the world, from the US, Europe, and Asia! You can stream it free here. I think its probably the best chip music release in years, if not ever. There are some Philly locals on there, like Cheap Dinosaurs and Animal Style, but I really dig the tracks by Cow’p (Japan), zabutom (Sweden), and Syphus (UK), too.
Tell us about 8static! Anything major coming up that we should keep an eye out for?
8static is a Hacktory sponsored monthly chip music party in West Philly at Studio 34. Check our site out. There is a great video up there now of Starpause from July’s 8static, too. We’re coming up on our one year anniversary in October. We have a really big show planned on October 10th, with Bud Melvin from New Mexico, Bit Shifter from NYC, nonfinite from Wisconsin, and Philly’s “Voltron” of chip music: autoscroll (made of up members of Cheap Dinosaurs, Animal Style, and Brown Recluse Sings). I’ll be doing visuals with VBLANK from Philly. We’re having an all night after party at Pi Lam, too! Anamanaguchi from NYC will be there along with DJ Billy W. from Kung Fu Necktie’s Robotique night. You really shouldn’t miss it! It will be an all night rager from the start of 8static at 7pm until whenever we finish at Pi Lam, and we have it booked until 6am!
What are you favorite video games from the 8-bit era? What about today’s modern releases? Any favorites there?
When it comes to older games, I really love River City Ransom. I could play that game all day. Is it horrible of me to say the sound of hitting people with pipes in that game is satisfying? I also really like Gimmick. In fact, Gimmick tends to be a cult favorite among members of the Philly chip scene. It is a Famicom (Japanese NES) game with a top notch soundtrack and beautiful graphics. It is also really tough, but Bucky from Cheap Dinosaurs can speedrun the hell out of it! The only modern game I’m playing is Animal Crossing for Wii. It hasn’t left my system in months. I think I love it so much because its perfect for people with OCD (like me). The game is built around collecting, storing, organizing, and keeping track of shit. It sounds horrible, but its tons of fun if you’re neurotic.
If you could attend a birthday party for any video game character, who would the character be, and why?
I think its gotta be Alex from River City Ransom. Who wouldn’t want to attend a party with The Frat Guys, The Home Boys, The Mob, The Cowboys, The Jocks, and The Internationals? Shit would be out of control!
Comic Book You Read: Ghost in the Shell (I love the entire anime and manga)
Video Game You Played: Isolated Warrior for NES
Movie You’ve Seen: Deep Roots (documentary on Jamaican music)