Armed only with an acoustic guitar, a GameBoy and a catchy name, Pornophonique have gained fans all over Europe and beyond. Not bad for two comic geeks from Darmstadt, Germany.
Pornophonique is Felix (GameBoy) and Kai (vocals and guitar), respectively 22 and 32 years old: two guys who met in a comic book shop in 2003 and found they shared a will to make music with a twist. Or in their case, with a portable video gaming device. On October 17th, they will play at the annual Open Music Contest in Marburg, supported by jamendo, because they are also free music enthusiasts.
Making music with a GameBoy. How does that work exactly?
Felix: I use software called "LittleSoundDJ". It's a four channel tracker for the GameBoy which allows me to control its sound chip. I program sequences, mix them up live and change sounds on the fly or mess with my preprogrammed beats.
Which comes first: composing on the guitar or coming up with funny electronic sounds?
Most of the time, I compose snippets on my GameBoy that are the first inspiration for a new song. Then we search for lyrics with an unforgettable hook line and find the melody for the vocals which sets the chords. Then we do the arrangements on the GameBoy and try to play the whole song together. All in all, it's not just adding guitar to GameBoy or GameBoy to guitar - it's a process both sides are involved in.
How on earth did you come up with the idea of using a GameBoy to make music?
I once read an article about people who make music with old computers and GameBoys. And I thought: "Wait, I have a GameBoy!" As for Kai, he was playing guitar in a metal band, but he wanted to do something different. One day we met in our local comics shop, and six months later we had our first gig. We actually never intended to make the music we do. We really liked slow trippy music, basically the kind you hear in porno movies or the occasional elevator. Alas, we suck at porno music. But we'd already made Pornophonique stickers, so we kept the name.
What does an event like the Open Music Contest represent for you?
Most common media ignore this kind of alternative music culture. Events like the OMC are important to let people know there is still some music not corrupted by the dark side of the force. The traditional music industry model (finding a label, joining the Gema – the German collective rights society –, getting ripped off by the label, getting ripped of by the Gema...) did not seem like an option for us.
You've managed to gather quite a few fans already, that's quite an achievement...
Yes, considering we have no professional backing, it's awesome that a lot of people come to our shows. Some travel halfway through Germany to see us. Thanks to jamendo and other websites, we are also known in places like France, Spain, Switzerland, Austria, Poland, Greece and other European countries. We've even had feedback from the USA, Brazil and Mexico.
Do you sell your music at all?
We released a 100% handmade CD, 8-bit Lagerfeuer. We tried to make the CD extra nice since we think that no one should be punished for downloading music, they should be thanked for buying it! You can buy the CD on our website or at our shows.