Inverse Phase Discusses His 8-Bit Nine Inch Nails Tribute ‘Pretty Eight Machine’
In June of last year, we wrote an article about an 8-bit re-imagining of the classic Nine Inch Nails album ‘Pretty Hate Machine’ created by an artist by the name of Inverse Phase. The post became a huge hit, and we were recently able to talk to Inverse Phase about the project.
Inverse Phase actually began recording his ‘Pretty Eight Machine’ record with the help of donations via Kickstarter. He managed to raise enough money to bring the project to life, even receiving complimentary messages from Trent Reznor and Rob Sheridan. We wanted to know more about Inverse Phase and ‘Pretty Eight Machine,’ and he provided us with some intriguing answers.
How did you come up with the idea of creating an 8-bit version of ‘Pretty Hate Machine’?
The idea for Pretty Eight Machine came as a somewhat random idea … a few friends and I were at a convention, talking about how there had to be some Nine Inch Nails chiptunes out there. When I didn’t really find much of anything, I decided to write a few minutes of one and surprise them the next day. Upon playing it, they asked where I found it, told me it was really good, and … “coerced” me into doing more. Hahaha!
So, I decided to arrange a few important chunks of the album to see if I could really pull it off, and when my friends and I listened to the results, we pretty much knew it had to happen. I didn’t have the money to do the licensing/etc on my own dime, so off to Kickstarter I went.
How much money did you earn and how essential was this fundraising to the creation of ‘Pretty Eight Machine’?
I raised about $3,600, and at this point ALL of it will have gone to licensing and materials…well, that and a laptop battery for my performance/composing laptop I use on the road. Kickstarter was really what encouraged me to finish the project. I actually got very little support from the NIN community (“You’re destroying my favorite music!” “Chiptunes suck!” “You mean you’re actually going to sell this?”). Surprisingly, I also got very little support from the general chiptune community, too (“Why NIN covers?” “Kickstarter? More like BEGSTARTER!” etc).
The people that really ended up pushing the project to succeed on Kickstarter were, again, my friends, fans, and other acquaintances / supporters that didn’t hate my guts. If the Kickstarter hadn’t succeeded, even if I knew it would’ve gotten as much press as it did, I would’ve still done the album, but I probably would have had to back-burner the album a lot more than I already had. With my current ongoing contracts (I’m currently working on four game soundtracks) who knows when I would’ve gotten to it.
How did you get Rob Sheridan’s permission to mimic his artwork?
Getting a hold of Rob Sheridan … well, I got lucky. My art doesn’t actually use any NIN IP/trademarks/etc, but I just wanted to do the nice thing and get in touch. I’m a fan, not an a–hole. So I sent an email to him detailing what I wanted to do and a rough draft of the artwork, and then pinged him on Twitter once or twice to let him know. He just replied on twitter and said, “Yeah, absolutely.” Super nice guy. Married now, too!
You mention on your Bandcamp page that you hope that Trent Reznor and Rob Sheridan would enjoy the project. Have you gotten any feedback from either of them?
So, when I was making my initial contacts towards the beginning of the project, my contact at Rebel Waltz said he would love a few copies of the CD when it was finished, and he said he’d get a CD out to Rob, Trent, et al.
Then the album came out. I actually didn’t know what Trent or Rob thought. Even when Rob very kindly tweeted out the album at first, it was very matter-of-fact, and I wasn’t sure what to make of it. I guess he wanted everyone to decide for themselves. But since then, I’ve heard from both of them!
Again, Rob’s pretty active on Twitter, so I caught him at the right time, and he mentioned that he enjoyed it (I sent him a download code). Through crosstalk from The NIN Hotline we also found out he’d pick it up on vinyl if it ever became available. Chiptunes on vinyl is kind of an amusing thought though, since it’s digitally created. So, the same arguments made FOR vinyl actually work against me.
I had pretty much given up hope hearing from Trent, but about a month after the album came out, he sent me this incredibly down-to-earth email. He had just gotten out of working on some stuff in the studio and had really nice things to say; my jaw is basically permanently ajar. Seriously brought some amazing closure to an already fantastic release.
You also mentioned that ‘Pretty Eight Machine’ was produced during a turbulent time in your life. Would you mind telling us about what was going on at the time?
Sure. Before the Kickstarter, I stepped back from a major part of my life: doing volunteer work for a large video game party/rock concert called MAGFest, and then shortly thereafter I lost my day job due to some major layoffs. Granted, this was the kick in the ass I needed to say, “Okay, maybe I can go full-time with music,” but then, after the Kickstarter succeeded and completely unrelated to all of that, I had some personal issues which led to a bit of an emotional breakdown. Oh, and there was that earthquake in Virginia while I was away from home, and my water heater at my house exploded. I just felt really trapped by a lot of situations that all hit me at once. So, I ended up moving myself to another state, it took like four months, and I left some close friends behind in the process. All of this was of course happening while working on ‘Pretty Eight Machine,’ which was already well-behind deadline, not to mention I had my other game music deadlines to meet. It was a rough patch for sure.
Listen to ‘Pretty Eight Machine’