As the online chip scene continued to grow, a few people realized they could make considerable amounts of money off of it. Some of these people, Like Logan Erickson, had mostly good intentions. Other people, though, were consumed by the business end of this, including 8-bit Collective founder Jose Torres, who was accused of stealing program code from a pair of guys from Poland. (You can read more about this in the previous segment of this interview.)
All the while, Logan and Jose’s friendship was deteriorating.
Somewhere, he and I had some sort of a falling out. Whether it was because I was selling my products and he was selling his, and we were viewing each other as competitors or something. I don’t know. It’s really too bad.
My biggest frustration was [that] he just wasn’t there. I wanted to buy the website from him, because [if] Jose [wasn’t] going to be there, somebody [had] to make the calls.
I offered. I told him, ‘I will buy this straight out from you for whatever price we can come up with that’s fair, that’s not ridiculous, just so that we can keep this free for everybody.’ We wanted it to be open, something that everybody could come to and upload whatever you want.
I think I went through some serious online learning curves of what to and to not say on an open forum. Because I would start to vent. I was venting publically about a lot of stuff, and some of it [was]probably not cool. But some of it was just ‘Jose, get your shit together.’
[Jose would] sometimes lash out publically against people, or he’d edit things within forums and whatnot. People saw some of the stuff that he was doing. I’m sure there’s stuff that I’ve said and that other people have said that have turned people off toward Jose, but I think a lot of it he just managed to do himself, between the trouble he was getting in with his carts — or at least the controversy that was surrounding that — and the fact that he was pissing enough of us off with regards to the website.
Ultimately, there was some talk about the ‘For Sale’ threads, and he wanted people to start paying a fee in order to sell [anything, whether it was hardware, software, or anything else] on the forums. That was where it really crossed the line for me.
He was talking about doing advertisements, because we were getting huge hit counts. Even at 10,000 members, it was huge amounts [of traffic].
[But] we didn’t want him to. Nobody wanted it. We didn’t want to see ads on the website. I mean, that would have sucked. It would have been great to help support [the site], but Jose [had his] cart sales and stuff that he was making a lot of money off of. We just thought [Jose] could support this, and we [could] have donations if we need to. But we don’t need to start advertising on it because that would really go away from what we really wanted to do with it. I mean, who wants to see advertisements on a website?
Like I said, that was kind of the turning point for me. With all the other drama, basically I got to close to the project. It was just too passionate about it, and that’s what I do. I get very passionate about things. And therefore I had to step down. I was still a part of the community at the time, but I stepped down from my administration position.
I had talked to Jose on the phone a couple of times regarding his plans for the website, and he just wanted to take this supportive community and profit off it. He wanted to turn it into something he could make money off of. And I didn’t want that. I just felt that was wrong. It’s not what we started out to do for that website. You can’t take a community and then just say it’s a business. It doesn’t work that way.
Inevitably, I vented. I basically blew up publically and lashed out against Jose. For a while, you could find some of the stuff that was going on through reading the forums, but then he started deleting stuff. At that point, after I lashed out, he banned me. So I was banned from the website. I couldn’t go on it unless I was hiding my IP address.
At one point, he was going to delete every post of mine, but I think he realized that if he’d done that, the organization of the website would have just disappeared. Because I was that involved.
And I think everybody would’ve probably just left, because it would’ve destroyed so much. I mean, [there were] all these different threads that were stickied and whatnot that would provide tons of information. I had tons of tutorials on there of how to do things.
And this is true. Logan had posted dozens upon dozens of resources for chiptuners, which were all completely free to look at. This included everything from tutorials about how to use Little Sound DJ to posts that attempted to bring together all the chiptune artists in a particular state or country. Deleting Logan’s posts would wipe a lot of valuable information completely off the Internet.
He couldn’t delete all my stuff, so he just banned me.
That was basically the end of the friendship between Logan Erickson and Jose Torres. The two haven’t spoken since.
He’s on Facebook. He tried friending me a couple years ago. Needless to say, I did not accept his friendship. I just have nothing left to say to him, unless he wants to come and apologize to me for what he did. I just couldn’t believe that he would do what he did to the community. I expected more of him.
Something changed in him. There [were] a lot of rumors going around that he was kind of falling into trouble with drugs. Between stress and school and whatnot, I don’t know what was going on with him. Which sucks, because I considered him a good friend. It sucked losing him as a friend, but we went two different directions.
I kind of look at it like Jose went crazy. I mean, he went nuts, as far as I know. And it’s unfortunate, but sometimes it happens. It’s really too bad.
Perhaps hardest of all was losing access to a community Logan had put so much work into building and maintaining.
I loved the hell out of that website. The music was awesome. I really loved that community, because it was so loving and supportive. I’m not saying it’s not that way anymore, [but] I grew out of it and had to move on and focus on other things.
There was just a lot of politics that develop out of nothing. It comes out of thin air. It’s just people having a good time and then all of a sudden there’s politics. It’s really the politics that burn me out [and make me fall] out of love with the music.
We started up chipmusic.org after things got really kind of nasty over at 8-bit Collective. We were like, ‘Okay everybody, come over here where you don’t have to deal with any of the bullshit at 8-bit Collective.’
And [chipmusic.org] is going strong. I mean, I don’t visit it all the time, but I used to. I was one of the three or four people that started it. I bowed out really quick because of my involvement and how deep I got in with 8-bit Collective. I was just so fried. It’s just too stressful, because I got so emotionally attached. I get so stressed out.
And Logan isn’t the only person to feel this way. Chip scene blog ChipFlip posted an article called “The 8bc Scandal: Hex, Shrugs, and BleepBoop,” which explains the controversy surrounding Jose and 8-bit Collective. Here’s an excerpt:
In connection to this a number of threads concerning the issue were deleted and several well-regarded users were banned, such as low-gain and e.s.c who were admins, and kitsch-bent who supposedly did not receive his batch of cartridges for his vendor site. Several threads that concerned these bans were consequently deleted, or shrugged at by Torres.
This was posted back in early 2010, but the article is still getting views and comments. In fact, quite recently, a commenter called “Raz1r” had this to say:
My bullshit detector exploded the day I heard low-gain got banned, as he was a friend I knew had only the best in mind for the community. Seeing e.s.c. go only reinforced my previous suspicions that Jose had an ulterior motive to ultimately monetize the site to an extent that wasn’t necessary.
All this controversy may have been discouraging, but it’s not to say Logan completely stopped making music. He’s just no longer involved in the online 8-bit community.
I’m still active. I mean, I still perform under Low-Gain. It’s not mostly 8-bit anymore, but I use my Game Boys and stuff. I look at it as like I’ll use my Game Boy as more of accent sounds and stuff.
We’ll take a closer look at Low-Gain’s post-8bc musical endeavors as GeekParty’s Low-Gain interview series concludes.