by Janessa Demeule
Before three dimensional images, before highly realistic characters, before orchestrated soundtracks, there was 8-bit video games. Graphics were simple, the music simpler.
Now, decades later, 8-bit music has returned, more powerful than ever thanks to Trey Frey, a young man from Shepherdstown WV, with a hacked Gameboy and a skill for taking classic Nintendo sounds and turning them into 8-bit gold.
I had a chance to see him perform a live show. After giving him a couple of bucks for a burger as thanks for such an excellent show change he gave me his demo, which was sold for eight dollars.
The first track, “Narwhals” starts off slowly, and builds into a full on 8-bit epic. The driving force behind the track, fast paced bass and drum combo that demands the listener to move. The album doesn’t quit there.
One stand out track is “Walter Croncat 3000”, it has enough classic gaming sounds to create images of Mario running through each world in the quest to save Princess Peach. One second you feel as if you are back playing your Gameboy, the next feel like you are jumping on Goombas and grabbing 1Up Mushrooms in an attempt to reach the end of the song before the timer runs out overhead. “Metamorphosis” the album’s ninth track is made for fighting. Classic punch, kick yells from various games inject an energy into the track making it a highlight. Despite having no lyrics, his music is never boring. It has enough bleeps, bloops and other Nintendo sounds to send anyone who has picked up a Nintendo game back to their first time playing. Even people who have never played video games before can appreciate the infectious beats and the skill it takes to create 8-bit gold. Trey Frey does an excellent at taking classic sounds and putting them together to create a unique sound that is has to be heard.
His show was in a small venue called the Rocket in nowhere West Virginia. Trey stood a top the stage, Gameboy in hand, the colorful lights of the venue casting him in shadow. His 8-bit gold pumping through the speakers while he was jumping manically around the stage, his antics and music became infectious. Thrashing around on stage he input all the left, right up, down, A,B, genius he could into his Gameboy, and it didn’t go unnoticed by the crowd. Looking around a few people began to jump up like they were Mario. One young man periodically yelled out Mario’s catchphrase “It’s-a me!” His live show captivated those in the venue. Each press of the directional pad brought the crowd to frenzy. When his set ended there were moans of complaint from the crowd.
Though currently unsigned, Trey Frey shows that all you need to hit 8-bit gold is passion, skill and a Gameboy.