The last time you held a Nintendo Game Boy between your hands - if ever - you were probably nothing more than a child making an Italian plumber leap over flaming barrels. The technology may be a bit outdated, but one Lebanese artist is bringing the vintage video games of our childhood back to life. It’s not games she's playing, it’s music. Meet Rhea Dally, Lebanon’s one and only live chiptune artist.



At this point, many of you may be wondering “What is chiptune anyway?” As Dally herself puts it: “Chiptune is a style of synthesized electronic music made by using sound hardware/sound chips (hence the name) from vintage gaming consoles and systems, microcomputers from the late 1970s early 80s, and music production software”.

Dally was first exposed to chiptune by a friend at the age of 15, and from there she was hooked. A year later she began experimenting with her own chiptune productions, utilizing emulators (software which duplicates the functions of one computer system, like a Game Boy, in another, like a personal computer), and trackers, a type of music sequencing software.



It was not until this summer that Dally, now 23, made her live debut at one of the regular events hosted by the Haven for Artists collective. In the seven years between her earliest tinkering and her first performance, she had amassed quite the formidable arsenal of toys: “Currently when I perform live, I use LSDJ and Nanoloop software, and as for hardware, I use DMG Game Boys, Game Boy Color, Nintendo DS, Game Boy Advance, and for my latest addition, I have customized an ArduinoBoy into an NES controller,” she explains.


(Photo via Facebook)

It is quite understandable for an artist to feel hesitant before presenting their work to the public, especially when that work is unlike anything they’re used to hearing. “I was extremely nervous before my performance because I was playing for a crowd that was not familiar with 8-bit/ chiptune music, so I didn't know what reactions to expect,” says Dally. To her surprise, the audience approved, and a new-found sense of conviction was instilled upon her. “That performance allowed me to feel hopeful and confident that these styles of music might actually have a chance in Lebanon.”

Despite her initial triumph, Dally is aware that this peculiar form of electronic music still has a long way ahead of it locally. “There is definitely no [chiptune] community yet in Lebanon, but there are some chiptune/8-bit enthusiasts. It is growing, that I am sure of, because after my performances here, I have been getting quite a few people who are intrigued by this music, enough to ask how they can start composing their own. That shows the likelihood of growth and hopefully with time, a community.”

Currently on Dally’s plate are an album in the works, a series of collaborations with musicians of various genres, and an upcoming live performance at DMG crew’s event Vortex II. Make sure to listen to Dally’s works of chiptune and other electronic genres on her Soundcloud page.

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Past Events

DMG Crew Presents Vortex II Party (DJ Mixer)
Haven For Artists Performance (Poetry & Spoken Word)
 

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