Harleylikesmusic is the solo musical and artistic project of Sheffield’s Harley Raine. Though the music takes inspiration from and fuses together everything from early lo-fi game soundtracks to rock music, and in the case of new EP Steel City Zone, bassline, the medium of expression is always retro games consoles, in particular the Nintendo DS. We decided to catch up with Harley to find out more about him and his music.

Tell us a little bit about yourself. What’s the story behind Harley Raine and HarleyLikesMusic, and how would you describe your sound?

HarleyLikesMusic has been a project if mine for almost 9 years I think, what started as messing around on Ableton quickly turned in to a micromusic project when I realised it was a lot less effort to take along 2 Nintendo DS’s to perform rather than a laptop and midi controllers. From there it steadily snowballed in to a passion for chipmusic.

What motivates you and inspires your music, aesthetic and vibe? And how has that fed in to the new EP?

Although I make chiptune music, I tend to find my inspiration from other styles, that can range from drum n bass to sludge metal, but this new EP in particular was written as I got my new studio at Plot 22 in Sheffield. At the time I was hearing a lot of bassline from other people in the studio and on nights out in Sheffield, so this formed the backbone and main inspiration for the EP.

Do you find the nature of the technology involved in making your music a challenge or a benefit to the creative process?

For me the limitations and the challenge of trying to emulate modern production techniques on a Gameboy drives me to want to create fresh new sounding music, and every time I create a sound that I find interesting or even just find a new way to make a punchy new kick drum I feel rewarded for creating something that someone else might not have thought of recently. I think the right amount of limitations creates a boundary that makes you want to break the rules and helps the creative process.

The chiptune scene is very eclectic musically, and has a very diverse fanbase, why do you think that is?

The one thing I love the most about the chipmusic scene is how open and supportive the community is no matter what your background is, and because it is very open people are able to express themselves exactly how they see fit without risk of discrimination. This makes chipmusic less of a genre and more of a medium of creating music, pretty much every genre you can think of has featured in chiptune music.

You’ve appeared at festivals outside the chiptune scene, did you notice any differences and similarities between them? I know you played an Industrial festival a few years ago.

The main difference I feel is the audiences understanding of what is going on up on stage. After chip shows people will enthusiastically comment on very specific sounds and ask questions on how they are made whereas playing non-chip shows people generally haven’t seen music being made on a Gameboy before, the reaction I get from them is priceless and never fails to make me smile.

What’s up next for HarleyLikesMusic? You’ve got the new EP out, are there any upcoming gigs, other new releases on the horizon, other projects?

I’ve got a few really tasty shows coming up that I can’t announce just yet and I’ll be performing at Plot 22 in Sheffield on 21st July as part of Tramlines festival.

I’m already working on new HarleyLikesMusic material but also working on a hip-hop project with my studio buddy under the name pH Levels so keep an eye out for that.

Steel City Zone is out now via TBBR and can be streamed on Bandcamp. You can check out more of his back catalogue there and on Spotify.

Photo by Chiptography