For as long as I can remember, I've been fascinated with understanding how things work and making my own creations.
With the advent of the internet in the early 2000s and the rapid growth of websites, guides and tutorials, I found myself discovering a world of new projects to attempt in the areas in which I was most interested, namely videogames hardware. In the years that followed, I learned how to modify consoles such as Super Nintendo and Sega Mega Drive for improved video output or multi-region gaming. I learned about arcade hardware, of converting home consoles to work with an arcade JAMMA interface. I was able to install mod chips for import gaming or, more dubiously, the infamous "backup" game discs popular at the time. Replacing console and controller shells with new and exciting custom colours, installing wireless receivers, building arcade style josticks, interfaces, multiple arcade machine emulator (MAME) systems and cabinets to house them, the list goes on. In every case, the true enjoyment was always from the process itself, I always end up spending more of my time on the building of all these projects than I ever do actually using them. And that suits me fine.
In 2012, shortly after discovering "chiptune" music and the myriad opportunities for hardware modifications possible with vintage Nintendo Gameboy consoles, I attended the first Superbyte Festival in Manchester. I'd never attended a chiptune gig before, and had only heard a limited amount of music at this point. This day was an epiphany for me, the whole atmosphere, the people, the music, I felt like I'd truly found a home. I made many friends on that day that I am still in touch with now. From then on, the world of chiptune and Game Boy modification has taken me on an unexpected adventure.
I slowly started getting to grips with LSDJ, the music making software for Nintendo Game Boy, made some music, took apart some Game Boys and experimented with modifications. I came up with the "Joe Bleeps" moniker on a whim when I had to quickly think of a name for uploading my first track to Soundcloud. I never dreamed this would end up with me playing and attending so many amazing live shows, getting involved with subsequent Superbyte festivals, releasing my own music, running workshops, appearing on Sky News on TV and contributing to a BBC Radio 4 documentary, writing articles and reviews for websites, co-founding the now infamous "Chipbattles" live shows, meeting wonderful people from around the world and making many, many great new friends along the way. I have learned so much about the different modifications that can be performed on Game Boy hardware and developed a number of modifications of my own. These modifications allow the Game Boy to improve visibility of its display, connectivity of stereo outputs for recording and performing live music, and a wide variety of aesthetic improvements. I have built many of these consoles and they are now in the hands of gamers and music makers around the world. I am very proud of that.
In the New Year of 2018 I felt like I'd done all I wanted to achieve with Game Boys and decided I needed a change. I remembered having difficulty at one point trying to replace a broken shell on a Nintendo DS Lite. So, never being one to admit defeat, I made it my New Year's resolution to learn how to do this properly (which I did), and that in turn led to the creation of the Neon Advance, the story of which is documented elsewhere on this site.
I never know quite what's going to happen next, but as long as I get to keep creating and having fun with it then I'll be around for a while yet. I decided it's time I start to pull all these different threads together and put together a record of some of my highlights in this world of mods and music. So I hope this website makes for interesting reading and I hope it continues to grow with every new project I take on.
I want to take this opportunity to thank absolutely everyone I've encountered along the way; all those who have offered encouragement, advice, inspiration and friendship - it means the world.
Joe Bleeps, December 2018