Exciting!! Excellent!! has released their new EP titled ‘TYSM!!!!!!’. A new single followed by a new EP is incoming from Portland, Oregon’s one-woman, emo-chiptune extravaganza, exciting!!excellent!!. With a title as enthusiastic as the band’s name, tysm!!!!!! is Jasmine Mcelroy’s second release using the moniker exciting!!excellent!!. Firmly in DIY territory, all tracks were recorded at her house in Portland and Mcelroy wrote all songs except “45 Minutes from Somewhere Out There” which was written by Brave little Abascus.
The EP tysm!!!!!! does such an incredible job being itself. The genre “emo-chiptune” immediately springs to mind even if that’s a combination you’ve never dreamed of. It just fits. The overall vibe is pure nostalgia – for Gameboy, for emo – a life lost in time. The tracks explore themes of grief and isolation, but with the hope that one can overcome these hardships through creative expression and by just… living.
The first track, “disappearing????(a dying light’s last gasp)(is this really the end????)” showcases how deep chiptune music can be. Combining softly picked guitar with square leads, drum machine, and a Trapper Keeper full of satisfying 8-bit goodness e!!e!! manages to captivate immediately.
“ice key” a nod to the easter egg in N64’s Banjo-Kazooie, is the first single from the EP. Besides the video game reference, which should probably be expected, there’s a fun nod to Star Trek: Deep Space Nine in this one. Mcelroy says of this single:
I wrote “ice key” last, so it sounds the most distinct on the album. I wanted to insert a break between the other two original songs which are more somber, so my original idea was to write a song that felt lighter in tone by comparison. It’s also the most hopeful and optimistic lyrically and is about letting go of parts of yourself that you don’t need anymore.
The next track “soar!!spirit Of Beach Justice” ventures into chip-screamo with a jumpy-platformer vibe that bounces around passionate vocals. Think Manami Matsumae meets Jeff Rosenstock. “45 Minutes from Somewhere Out There” closes out the EP. This one screams nostalgia. Mcelroy belts the lyrics with reckless abandon. That checks out. But, then listening back to the original “Somewhere Out There” from the classic 1986 film An American Tail, wow do those little mice stretch for the high notes. It’s basically punk rock. They’re really nowhere close and honestly, Mcelroy does a much better job than those adorable little rodents did. This release is truly a treat. Thank you so much, tysm!!!!!!!
Chiptune music can feel very comforting and nostalgic for folks of a certain age. What do you find special or appealing about composing using those sounds?
Emo music has always incorporated an element of nostalgia , and to me chiptune feels like a natural progression of that. like many lonely awkward kids I was first exposed to chiptune music while playing Pokémon blue by myself for hours on end, to the point that the simple catchy melodies of the various towns on loop are permanently burned into my memory. so it feels very personal to me , and I think hearing those sounds again takes people back to a very vulnerable and intimate place. my hope is that by using similar sounds in my music I can evoke that same feeling.
What’s your home studio look like? Do you use a Gameboy?
all of my songs are written in a program for the Gameboy called Little Sound Dj , which allows me to control the sound chip by programming notes and commands on the Gameboy. once the song is fully written , I record the Gameboy one channel at a time through a mixer into reaper.
When I started exciting!!excellent!! my goal was to make a band that I could perform as by myself , which is honestly where the idea to play with a Gameboy backing track first came from. so I try to be very minimal about processing the Gameboy sounds in the recordings because I want them to sound authentic to the live experience, and I only ever record Gameboy parts that could also be played live by a single Gameboy. I have a lot of self imposed limitations in this project but I really like how it forces me to be creative.
You’ve called “45 Minutes from Somewhere Out There” a tribute to one of your greatest musical influences. Can you talk a little about that? Are you referring to the film, the songwriters, or something else?
I consider Brave Little Abacus to be one of the principal influences for this band , and i think this song in particular really inspired me to make the kind of music I’m making now. when a friend showed me this song for the first time i really connected with it and I was listening to a lot of Brave Little Abacus when I wrote “I feel like i deserve to feel like this forever and I will” so it felt like a perfect cover to do. chronologically it was the first thing i did for “tysm!!!!!!” because I was so excited to do it. I think Brave Little Abacus played with nostalgia really well in their music , and that’s very much been the vibe i have tried to emulate most in this project.
What are some of your other important influences (musical or otherwise)?
I can’t say that exciting!!excellent!! would exist without Crying or (T-T)b , both bands really opened my eyes to the possibilities of making music with Gameboys. glass beach and Hey, Ily! are also huge to me , when I heard those bands for the first time it made me really excited about making music. I also really love Tigers Jaw and consider them to be one of the biggest influences on my songwriting.
The worthless ice key that just melts away is a beautiful allegory. Did writing “ice key” help you to move past those old habits and ways of thinking that you wanted to leave behind?
I think that work was done long before i even started writing that song , to be honest. I tend to not write very well when I’m really fucking depressed actually , and when I’m working through stuff like that I typically don’t want to do anything creative at all. so writing is less of a way for me to work through things like that and more of a reflective tool. now that my head is clear and I have the benefit of hindsight it’s a lot easier to articulate those feelings.
I’m in a really good place these days , it’s definitely taken a lot of work to get here but i am really grateful to have the space to reflect and make art about it now. this EP is both about being grateful for the people who help you find that space as well as it is about appreciating the parts of yourself that you left behind. it’s easy to beat yourself up about who you used to be , but i think learning to love even the flawed parts of yourself is a far more productive activity and I’m trying to do that more.