Mike 2600's 8-bit True Detective theme goes viral

mike2600truedet.jpg

So if your HBO Go didn't crash Sunday night and you weren't watching Cosmos, then you obviously watched the season finale of the hit series True Detective, starring Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson.

Not only has this groundbreaking series kept McConaughey on a actors roll and brought Woody back to a non-Hunger Games spotlight - although I am a huge Haymitch fan - but it was also quite rewarding for one of our own artists in town.

Mike 2600, inspired by the show, created an 8-bit music version of the shows theme song "Far From Any Road" by The Handsome Family. Think vintage Atari and Nintendo music at it's best.

After a Sunday upload to Soundcloud to celebrate the season finale, the song has caught on nation wide. The next day, respected news outlets like the Huffington Post, AVClub and Gawker were blogging and talking about Mike's remixed ode to the long bright dark. And, after just a day and half, it has received over 53,000 plays. 

We caught up with Mike in the middle of this internet fandom and asked him a few questions about the show and his love for the pre-PlayStation and Xbox world.

--- No show spoilers are reveled in this interview. --- 

Gimme Noise: So what's your reaction to your sudden internet fame? 

Mike 2600: I think this has used up about 13 of my 15 minutes? It's pretty surreal. I don't know if it's my internet fame so much as my song getting famous, but it's nice to see people reacting to this project so enthusiastically. 

So obviously you watched True Detective, what did you think of the final episode Sunday night? 

Ok. I thought it was really satisfying as far as TV finales are concerned. It's been a pretty dark and twisted show, but I don't think anyone could predict that it building up to something THAT heavy. 

So no calls from Matt or Woody yet? 

(laughs) ...of all the press, links and retweets the song has been getting, I'm wondering if anyone involved with the show will get a chance to hear it. 

Has any of your other work seen a bump from all the attention? 

I've noticed a couple of new people checking out some of my other mixes, but for the most part, the appreciation for the True Detective song has really existed in a vacuum. 

Much of your work - even your name - is associated with retro video gaming, Cryphy posters, 8-bit samples, etc. Why so much interest and inspiration from that old format and entertainment? 

Each of those things has their own reasons, but the main thing tying them all together is that I grew up on Atari and Nintendo. It was a way to bond with my dad and siblings as a kid, it was my intro to graphic art, and to this day, early video game culture still has a huge impact on me. 

The 8-bit music has always fascinated me. I love the idea of approaching a music project with a set of limitations - like I'm only allowed to use a certain sample or, in this case, a very limited palette of sounds, then seeing if I can recreate a recognizable tune or bring some new personality to a song. 

As far as the Get Cryphy flyer graphics go, for the first flyer I designed for them, I was looking for a Tales From the Crypt Nintendo game to use - Crypt / Cryphy / very funny - but it didn't exist so I used Nightmare on Elm Street instead. It just stuck after that. 

Can you reveal how you produce and re-create the 8-bit sound or do you want to keep your secret? 

Sure! I don't use traditional 8-bit music software, so there are probably a lot of purists who stick their nose up at what I do, and I'm fine with that. I use Ableton Live and just set up some very basic wave forms, which are the same simple sounds used in actual 8-bit music. I'll break down the song into different instruments and play them out by ear, then go back and do some fine tuning / quantizing / general tightening up. I don't know if it's the right or wrong way to do any of it, but I like how it ends up sounding, so it works for me. 

Favorite 8-bit Nintendo music from the past? 

The music throughout the Mega Man series is so far above and beyond anything else Nintendo ever released. So many different songs in each game and they were all beautiful. I also love the original Castlevania theme, the Mike Tyson's Punch-Out!! jogging song, Rad Racer and of course the Super Mario Bros underground levels. 

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Illustration by Mike 2600

You also did some art based around the show - the Lone Star Cans and Mug - what about the show did you like or what fascinated you about it so much that you saw it as a good subject to create these mediums? 

That's how my brain works - I tend to pick up on little graphic nuances when I walk around or watch movies. I kept staring at that BIG HUG MUG and thought it was so funny. I wanted to recreate it as a subtle nod to the show. Like I knew any of my graphic design friends would have noticed it in the show too. I thought the Lone Star characters were pretty fascinating and creepy too. Is that a thing that people do with Lone Star cans? Can any Texas readers chime in? 

The rumor is Season 2 will be based in Southern California, any ideas or pitches to use for a Season 2 theme song or subject manner? 

I hope it's a lot like the movie Dragnet. 

The Tom Hanks version? 

Yes! Buddy detectives VS occult group. Come on it's right there! 

Good call, Pagans, Reverends and Virgins. 

Don't forget the rap song theme...which does not need an 8-bit rendition. 

 



Summer is around the corner, any things going on at Burlesque we should know about?

Yes! We are designing and screen-printing all of Arcade Fire's concert posters as they're out on the road right now. We also have our second annual Cinco de Mayhem piñata art show coming up at CO Exhibitions the first weekend of May.


Check out Mike 2600's other 8-bit inspired songs on his YouTube and Soundcloud pages! Also you can keep updated with his work and his crew at Burlesque of North America

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