Cameron Paris is a Reno videographer who just took the dive into full-time creative work. He also produces music. Online, he’s アタリY:MIDNIGHT2612. LINK Can you pronounce that? Me neither.
His sounds are inspired by a soundchip from the 80s, the Yamaha YM2612, which was a sound generator for the Sega Mega Drive and Genesis systems. In an interview with Tahoe Onstage, Paris said the Japanese katakana in his name translates to “Atari”, a similar console popular in the 80s.
“The Atari katakana is there in front of my project name for cohesiveness and acts as an homage to that era of gaming and music,” Paris said.
He’s been making music since 2010 under different keyboard names (the digital equivalence of pen names).
“I like to focus on a specific genres, depending on the project,” Paris said.
I pull inspiration from all over, but the songs you hear exist in my head — day in and day out.”
Music surrounded him early in life. His mother bought him a guitar when he was young and his biological father, who he rarely saw, was secretly a drummer.
His first project, “AquaStar,” was a learning experience. He explored music creation through software. It wasn’t well received so he moved on. His musical preferences vary from pop rock to ‘80s hair metal, but he quickly connected with chiptune music. He discovered the simplistic 8-bit style while playing Super Mario Bros on his Super Nintendo in 1995.
“I didn’t know what it was called,” Paris said. “But I needed to find out how to create it.”
So he took to his computer.
“I always dreamed of creating melodic, electronic sounds,” Paris said.
All the music he creates is a product of all-nighters. The binge of work and purge of soundscapes. His newest release, “Zero,” is rich and entrancing.
The album will be released June 3. Preorders start on April 8.
“There I was, while the rest of the world was sleeping,” Paris said. “I pull inspiration from all over, but the songs you hear exist in my head — day in and day out.”
So he persisted to create night after night until “Zero” was finished.
“Train Station Donuts” was the first song he finished off the album. It’s a manic digital roller coaster that lasts a minute and a half. There are driving kick drums and wild keyboard riffs to keep it dancy. It could easily be a Dance Dance Revolution level that I’d fail.
There’s an occasional funky bass line over a down-tempo beat, but it’s mostly upbeat, pulsing and energetic. It’s Owl City pre-fame paying homage to your favorite video games. It’s like driving through a sunny California landscape with your nerdiest friends and you all decide to put on the happiest tracks off the Final Fantasy VII soundtrack. With all the evil Jenova themes left for Datsik.
Paris composes everything (drum machines, keyboards, filters and effects) with his computer. He said the songwriting process has no perfect recipe, but he usually starts with the chorus, then fleshes out the feeling, intro and verses.
“It’s my time to explore,” Paris said. “That’s what makes song writing so magical – not knowing what shape your idea will take after you’re done with it. Songs have a mind of their own.”
For the last 10 years, he’s operated his personal business as a “side-project” with a full-time job to supplement, but this year was the time to change.
“I want to pursue something that makes me happy and that’s exactly what Firebolt Media Co. is,” Paris said.
The switch to running his personal business full-time was long, but he’s ready for his ideas, inspiration, strengths and passions to be carried out. All that’s left is time management as he juggles videography, music and everything else he will dive into.