The bleeps and bloops of 8-bit video games have been combined with quite a few types of electronic music, but they're still relatively new to the American pop landscape. The Depreciation Guild, a dream-pop duo from Brooklyn, N.Y., is blazing this trail by finding new uses for their old Nintendo machines and reviving other late-'80s sounds such as Pale Saints-style shoegaze and Scritti Politti-style post-punk.
Last week I spoke with founding member Kurt Feldman about the band's forthcoming album, hanging out at the arcade and the stranger side of the Beach Boys' sound.
What's the story behind the band's name?
It speaks to the way we go about making music. If you think about its literal meaning as a club for things that have lost their value, it makes sense. We use a lot of 8-bit stuff and old computers - things that don't really have that much worth these days, but they do to us.
I know you count the Beach Boys as an influence. What do you like best about them?
They're most known for their vocal harmonies and arrangements, and that definitely is an influence on us, but their instrumentations were kind of unusual at the time - weird sounds and samples, using orchestras and theremin. That's what we're going for bringing in an old Nintendo. Something old but new, too.
Is shoegaze making a comeback? Did it ever go away in the first place?
I think it's always been where it has been. It's a sound that's been influential for us - I love the Cocteau Twins and Pale Saints, stuff that's really lush - but not something we're trying to emulate. Our newer album, which is coming out next year, is a step away from that. It's more poppy, even though certain songs are a wall-of-sound sort of thing.
Are you big gamers offstage?
We're definitely musicians, not gamers, but I appreciate a lot of the older games - especially Galaga - which seem more skill-based than story-driven. I guess I'm really interested in being the best at a certain thing, achieving a high score. Games today don't appeal to that credo: It's more about finishing the game and understanding the story. There's no one who's "best" at Final Fantasy, you know?
What's your high score on Galaga?
I just got a Galaga machine, and my goal is to complete all 256 levels before it freezes or roll the score over when it passes a million.