Charming H. Thomas
ARTIST PROFILE: H8Ø8
Updated: Aug 1, 2021
Dropping Beats and Achieving Dreams
A self-taught guitarist with an early start in live performance, H8Ø8 is a producer with a strong focus on fun electronic infusions that aim to capture and evoke the human emotional experience. He started out playing rock-n-roll covers at dive bars but turned his focus to launchpads and mixing. One of the featured artists on the latest Graz album “Next Level (The Remixes),” H8Ø8 and I sat down to discuss his methodologies of producing, his upcoming music and gaming event, and how he made his dreams come true.
You’re one of the featured artists on Graz’s new album release with Tiny Waves – how excited are you about that?
Being asked by Tiny Waves for a remix truly made me feel like I made it. A lot of my inspiration actually came from the line-up which is ironic. Tiny Waves has always felt like a “home away from home.” I can't stress enough how welcomed I've felt by everyone and how rewarding it has been to be friends with so many talented artists.
From what I hear, you’re quite the artist yourself! How would you describe the music you make?
I feel like I’m usually in the realm of heavy bass music but like to keep things energized with electronic sounds. I’ve bounce around in trap music and house tempos, as well as making some lo-fi beats on the side. My music tends to fall somewhere in-between all of that. I see myself filling the gap between chiptune, trap, and VGM. I make music that you can turn up to at a rave but can also just listen to while firing up your Game Boy.
You started performing music at a pretty young age, yes? How did that grow into producing?
Yeah, I started playing acoustic guitar when I was six or seven years old then shifted to electric guitar when I was twelve years old. Over the next few years, I toured around Florida with my friends playing Van Halen and Jimi Hendrix in dive bars. I ended up forming my own metal band “Thresholde” which disbanded in 2014. At that point, I had sunk six years of my life into music and didn’t see a tangible future in it. I was unbelievably disheartened. But it was around that time that I happened to discover James Landino on YouTube. I heard his song “A Link to the Future” and decided that same day to use my passion for music to learn production and start finding my own way in the world of music making. I quickly gravitated towards festival trap which was a big transition for me. From there I slowly started to carve out my own niche and was finding my place in the scene.
What was that learning process like? Would you say your production style and skills have changed much over the years?
I would definitely say that electronic music didn’t come to me as naturally as playing guitar did. When I first picked up a launchpad, it was a mini, which meant more limited functions and capabilities. In short time, I realized that a piano roll operates in fifths while a guitar is in fourths.
I have always been super good at picking up on guitar riffs and recognizing those melodies but transitioning that to electronic music was one of the biggest challenges I faced. It was around 2014-2016 when I was dabbling in basic beats and really improving my abilities with mixing and mastering.
Having an ear for rock-n-roll and having an ear for production are two completely different things. But I’ve definitely come a long way and have a fixed process for producing.
You mentioned James Landino as an early inspiration to you. Was there anyone else who really motivated you to make electronic music?
RoboRob has been one of my biggest inspirations and one of my greatest teachers. The sheer amount of genres, flair, and mixing mastery is unprecedented. We’ve worked together on so many projects, even if most of them have never been finished. And James Landino is still as big inspiration to me – his work ethic and hustle are beyond anything I’ve ever seen. Other big inspirations to me over the years include RL Grime, Dotcom (Marshmello), and Ben Briggs. Actually, I met Ben at a Sonic themed night at one of his events at the Geek Easy back in 2015? 2016? I was a huge fan and stay after a show one night and offered to help clean up. We ended up hanging out, and I met PolyKor who I’d been mutuals with on social media. Tiny Waves has helped me to meet so many people that I used to look up to and now call friends. And now I’m officially having my first release with them!
Well it certainly sounds like you’re living the dream! Speaking of this release, tell us more about the track you worked on.
Ben called me up one day and asked me to make a remix for Graz’s chiptune track “Next Level.” About twelve hours later I sent it over, got it approved, made barely any changes after that, and it was done.
Wow! Do you always work that fast, or were you just feeling particularly motivated that day?
I would say most of my best work has been done in a similar timeframe. Especially when it’s a more upbeat song, I tend to wrap things up rather quickly. It’s the slower, more melodic songs that I take a lot longer to do.
So this track is definitely more upbeat?
Oh yeah. This track has a LOT of energy in it! It’s an upbeat trap song that goes heavy on the liquid drum and bass. I really enjoyed working on it. I think when you’re able to finish a project quickly it’s because you know subconsciously that you’ve done all the right things.
It definitely seems like you’re doing all the right things these days. But what else have you got in the works? I hear there’s an upcoming gaming and music event you’re planning.
I recently started a new project called Nexus Arcadia. The name means “the link between two things.” I wanted to connect the grassroots fighting game community with the VGM scene. Having hosted Super Smash Bros. Melee tournaments at different arcade bars, I’ve always seen a positive reaction to VGM remixes from those gamers. They’re our biggest fans. So I thought it would be a great idea to get our music into the Smash community. We’ve got a Kickstarter campaign for different events – local, touring, others – that aim to combine tournaments, art, and musical performance. Honestly, I hope it can be an excuse to get my friends at Tiny Waves to go on tour with me, haha.
What do you hope to achieve with this kind of event and with your music? What’s your goal as an artist? What makes all of it worthwhile?
Just seeing people flip out when I play a song from their favorite video game is so rewarding. I like to say that I sell fun to people. You don’t have to buy into “me” as a person to enjoy what I do and to have fun with it. My overall end goal is to perform for the rest of my life. I always like to give back to the community while keeping my own dreams up on a pedestal. But if I can get our work – our music – into as many hands as possible and make sure that people are having fun, then I’ve done my job. Keeping the audience and the community happy while living my own dreams and helping my friends to live their dreams – that’s what I want.
I’d say you’re well on your way to seeing that dream become a reality! You seem to be quite the self-starter with plenty of ambition, so what advice do you have to others starting out?
Two things. One: set up a good enough reason for yourself in advance to never give up. It needs to be good enough that when you doubt that reason, it still holds strong. And two: be your own hero, your own biggest fan, and your own greatest inspiration. I wouldn’t be happy doing what I do if I wasn’t my own biggest hero. That’s how you pave the way for others.
Where can people find you and your work?
You can find me almost anywhere as H8Ø8 or h808_beats. H8Ø8 is definitely the performance side of what I do. But I’m slowly looking into rebranding and focusing on new genres and projects. Find me under the name FNX DWN, and check out the fundraising campaigns for Nexus Arcadia.
Any final words for our readers?
When I set out to become a musician, I started as a fan. Through sheer willpower alone, I’ve managed to meet those who created the space and am now thriving amongst them. If success is what you make it, then in the eyes of the beholder, I've made it. I can say that I can die a happy individual. If you’ve ever had any doubt, let me be the proof that you can absolutely chase your dream down and achieve it. Never give up.
A genuine example of hard work and dedication paying off to those who fight with their heart, H8Ø8 is an incredibly inspiring artist for new faces and old names alike. He’s already achieved so much but has even more ahead of him, so be sure to show him your support with this new release and follow his upcoming journey. And, as always, be sure to follow Tiny Waves on all our social media for upcoming releases and incredible music.
- Charming H. Thomas