For this episode of Meet The Yetee, our Content Writer Jacob has bent the rabbit ears just right to tune in to the static-filled universe of our Art Director and Yetee Records manager Marc Junker. Marc, also known as R23X, VIDEO-20XX, or VHS Stills around the internet and beyond, is an award-winning artist, composer, musician, producer, clothing designer, and avid cyclist based out of Vancouver, British Columbia. Best known in the Vaporwave scene for his incredibly atmospheric samples, compositions, and unique VHS aesthetic— Marc has a way of blending his love for games and music into a cohesive orchestra of creative muse that bleeds into every aspect of his career. As an artist and producer here at The Yetee, Marc’s deep connection with the world of video games and their music has cultivated his passion for the process of mastering and designing albums for Yetee Records’ various indie and AAA artists and games studios. As an artist and clothing designer, Marc has completely woven all of the things he loves most into an expression of his affection for gaming as an art form and a way of life. Without further ado, let's slide in that VHS, adjust a few dials, and get into it! Welcome to Meet The Yetee!
Jacob: What’s your job title at The Yetee and what do you do here?
Marc: Art Director. I manage the Yetee Records label division and also oversee many awesome video game merch projects and awesome clients.
Jacob: How long have you been working at The Yetee?
Marc: I started at the beginning of 2014—the early days—as a graphic designer/separations artist (for screen printed tees). Been working at The Yetee for over 6 years now … :0 wow
Jacob: What is a day in the life of Marc Junker?
Marc: First things first: get up, make coffee, cuddle with my cat, Dijon, and read the news in bed. Then, open up the computer and tackle the mountain of work each day (which I enjoy)! Every day is a little different—I love my job! If I find some downtime during the day my hobbies include but are not limited to: coffee, doom scrolling, and cycling. At night I usually make music or play video games depending on my energy levels. I work remotely (since before COVID), and am based in Vancouver, BC, Canada.
Jacob: Were you always interested in designing clothing?
Marc: It had always sort of been one of my bucket list pipe dreams but not something I pursued. “I’d love to try that” type of thing when I was in university. But it wasn’t until I met Glen (the co-founder of The Yetee) and he encouraged me to try designing some tees. Then I found myself working at the Yetee and got firsthand experience in the production of clothes and accessories. I sort of stumbled into designing for screen printing in that sense and have found it to be a very rewarding field to be in. From making meme sweaters to launching my own fashion brand on the side it has been a wild ride… 🤓
Jacob: What’s your creative workflow like with your design projects?
Marc: The creative flow for me (whether music or design) is always when I see or hear something I like…. usually online, but could be in a storefront or someone’s outfit on the street. The nature of my work has me sorta glued to trends in art and music online. If I’m not able to start working within about 20 minutes of an inspiration strike… I’ll try and make a note, save an image, or whistle a melody into my voice memo app… but need to try and strike while the iron is hot! I feel fortunate to be easily inspired (just wish I had more time!) …and I feel lucky being surrounded by so many artists in the Yetee and Vaporwave communities—inspiration, motivation, encouragement are never too far away.
Jacob: What is your design set up like, what programs or tools do you utilize to come up with your unique style?
Marc: Most of my design work is done in photoshop, InDesign, and illustrator. In the case of my VHS glitch-related works, I use a VCR to record my designs onto tape and a CRT TV plugged into my MacBook Pro with an Elgato capture card (no filters!). I strive with most of my design work to capture retro, vintage, or nostalgic vibes in some way I think.
Jacob: Who are some artists and musicians that have influenced your work over the years?
Marc: Really difficult question!!! Just off the top of my head, thinking back to when I was a bit younger, Hauschka’s prepared piano works, Jim Guthrie’s Sword & Sworcery OST, George Clanton’s Esprit Fantasy project... these works sorta marked a turning point for me when I started to become very interested in texture and overall aesthetic in my own work. More recently art-wise, ever since Bani-chan created some album covers for my music projects, I’ve been enamoured with her work, too! Definitely scope her art, it’s inspired by Yoshitaka Amano’s style.
Jacob: How did Yetee Records come about and what was the process like working with Glen, Mike, and the team on building a brand new video game record label from the ground up?
Marc: Yetee founders Glen and Mike always had a vision of pressing vinyl and releasing video game music… pretty much right off the bat when they started making official merch for indie games. The Octodad theme on 7” was our first release and before I even joined the Yetee team, I was working with them on the second release….YTR-00002: a special re-mastered vinyl release of Mega Ran’s “Black Materia.” This was a hit-the-ground-running experience for me where I got my feet wet producing all new instrumentals on the album, re-mixing, and re-working everything. Then, test pressings, packaging—a crash course really. It was a long process doing it all for the first time, but I got to be involved in every step from production to release date. Since then I’m proud to say I’ve worked on so many amazing releases under the YTR label (a handful of them my own music as well). There is a demand from the devs and composers we work with to make physical releases of music. And the customers/video game community in general love vinyl now—it all happened really naturally. I am humbled and honoured to be able to work with so many talented creators and companies.
Jacob: What is your musical background, and how did R23X come to be?
Marc: I have been making music since Grade 5! I studied piano, alto and soprano saxophone, and focused on composition and arrangement in high school and post-secondary. BUT I think my real education really came from my dad’s amazing taste in music. Bjork, Enigma, Aphex Twin, Huun-Huur-Tu—very little dad rock in our house, haha. That and learning Ableton in my early 20s. A friend hooked me up with a copy and using samples was a turning point for me in producing music. I created the R23X moniker shortly after going freelance/starting work with The Yetee in 2014. It was an outlet for my burgeoning interest in the intersection of video games and vaporwave aesthetics.
Jacob: What does the name R23X mean?
Marc: The meaning behind “R23X”: I’ve always been a little obsessed with the number 23—seeing it everywhere. Not full-blown apophenia or anything. But the “23 enigma” has crossed my mind from time to time (see The Illuminatus! Trilogy or Jim Carrey’s The Number 23 lol). It’s a thing apparently! I see it a lot but try not to panic. I wanted a mech, airship, or droid-inspired “callsign” and wanted to use that number. “R.23X” class was actually a type of real-world airship or dirigible used in Britain post world war 1. A short-lived development of the 23 Class series of airships that were used for training and engineering. I think only a few were made (and accidentally destroyed in a hangar fire not long after they were built). So I ripped that code name! Many people think it’s from Sega 32X… some people actually think it IS “R32X” lol…
Jacob: Being the resident Audio Engineer for Yetee Records, what is your process for mastering the albums we produce and how did you hone those skills?
Marc: This has been a real learning experience for me. It wasn’t until more recent YTR projects that I’ve been able to start tackling some of the mastering for our vinyl, cassette, and CD releases. Depending on the project I use a mixture of HOFA Suite, iZotope Ozone, and Logic Pro X. Recently started learning Nuendo/Cubase as well! I’ve been very blessed to have mentorship from David Parfit learning about audio engineering principles and hands-on experience learning what’s possible in the vinyl and tape formats—spending more time in studios. I would love to study in a studio and one day start my own small mastering operation (complete with a lathe to cut my own lacquers).
Jacob: Have you always been fascinated with the VHS aesthetic, how did that become a big part of your creative process?
Marc: VHS—I wasn’t thinking about it too much until I found a box of tapes on the side of the road in the rain back in 2012 or 2013. Sitting on the top of the pile of tapes was a home-recorded tape that had “FF VII” and “Aeris Death Scene” written in mechanical pencil on the label. I was intrigued and immediately picked up a VCR at the thrift shop and sat down to watch the entire tape. It had tons of amazing PS1-era cutscenes and gameplay recorded by the original owner. Pre-YouTube. All the good stuff like Final Fantasy, Parasite Eve, Chrono Cross, etc. It was incredible to watch—the dull fuzziness and warbly audio was just so pleasing and felt so fresh to me. (Keep in mind this was before every brand and their dog was using a VHS overlay filter on their promoted posts). It motivated me to start a blog called VHS Stills where I posted stills from video game recordings and created my own VHS recordings of modern things like games and newer media. Eventually, this led me to create original visual art and designs for clothing—manipulated on VHS. Under my VHS-centric fashion label, VIDEO-20XX.
Jacob: What’s been some of your favorite collaborations over the years with your art and music?
Marc: Recently I’ve had some cool Video-20XX collaborations with Miski and paperbeatscissors. Really happy with how my VHS treatment meshes with their drawings. Last year I also made an official IGN Retro VHS design. Where I ripped their original logo and VHS’d it. Super happy with it how it turned out.
Jacob: What is your inspiration for the concepts that surround your R23X albums and how do you develop that into an audiovisual experience for VHS?
Marc: R23X for me really represents my own experimentations and discovery in music. I strive to just explore my own aural relationship to my world and what I’ve filled it with—video games, anime, film, art… all intermingling with the sounds of my environment. Maybe that sounds pretentious lol—but with R23X I really never want to know what a track is going to sound like until I get there. Could be as simple as something like: I’m playing video games at home on a rainy night with the window open... I’m in the game’s menu and there’s a lot of SFX... almost percussive... I hear a siren go by outside with the doppler effect and now I’m feeling inspired to try and recreate that sound collage.
Jacob: Blu-ray music?
Marc: Blu-ray music. What is that? Do you need to listen to it exclusively on the TV? Is it all videos? If anyone out there reading this can explain Blu-ray music to me that’d be great. Is it the sequel to DVD music? Please tell me on Twitter.
Jacob: Is there a difference of mindset while working on Vaporwave vs your cinematic work with Cloudrise Pictures?
Marc: Huge difference! I’ve had the awesome opportunity to work on film scores for Cloudrise Pictures and scores for other films and games as well and it’s usually much more of a structured process. Sometimes involving live players or other elaborate collaborations. It’s much harder work for me, usually trying to evoke specific emotions and serves as a tool for the film or game! I’m always learning things from others and often this means it’s also extremely rewarding to see the finished product (once the dust has settled).
Jacob: What’s the longest bike ride you have ever been on?
Marc: 134km out to Golden Ears Park and back (in one day).
Jacob: Where has been the coolest place you’ve camped at?
Marc: I think my recent trip to Thormanby Island was cool. Marine access-only park and camped right on the beach (fell asleep to the waves). Of course, I did spend a lot of time camping and building a cabin on Ruxton island (in the southern gulf islands in the Georgia Strait) and that’s probably my favourite place in the whole world. Lots of great outdoor experiences here on the coast of BC.
Jacob: What is the best restaurant in the world and why is it CoCo ICHIBANYA?
Marc: They have vegan options!!!! CoCo if you are reading this, I would like to discuss a sponsorship for the Neo Gaia Phantasy 2021 Japan Vaporwave tour.
Jacob: How’s Dijon, is he staying nice and cute?
Marc: My son Dijon is as cute as ever and he is my best friend.
Jacob: What is your favorite video game and why?
Marc: It’s down to Final Fantasy (7–9), Xenogears, Sanrio Super Smash Ball, and Chameleon Twist (jk.. but I like the look of that game)! Too difficult to answer!
Jacob: What are some of your hobbies outside of your work at The Yetee?
Marc: I love the Kendama.
Jacob: What's your all-time favorite food?
Marc: Maybe Tater Tots.
Jacob: What has been your favorite memory while working at The Yetee?
Marc: Gosh, honestly, too many to list. It’s truly been the experience of a lifetime! It’s brought me to all corners of this continent and even to Japan (several times)! I’ve met so many amazing people and worked on projects that make me proud. It’s honestly changed my life and fulfilled many of my dreams! That’s my answer lol. All the memories, every one!
For those of you not in the know, we recently launched orders for a super limited and exclusive Event Horizon Split pressing of R23X’s last full length album VELTAHL from Geometric Lullaby. Not only is this album an exclusive color for Yetee Records, it also includes a special print designed by Logan Feliciano signed and hand numbered by Marc himself! There aren't many copies of this album left so once they're gone, they're gone for good!
I have had the pleasure of interviewing Marc many times over the years, and it is always such an adventure anytime we sit down and exchange stories or we uncover more of his creative past and lore. Not gonna lie, getting to learn the origin and the meaning behind the R23X name was definitely a nerd-out moment for me during the writing of this article for sure!
As a huge fan of Marc’s, it has been awesome to see his creative projects flourish over the years and become more and more a part of who he is. VELTAHL was one of my most listened to albums back in 2016 and to see it fully reissued here in a new colorway, and with a pretty rad OBI strip, I have found myself enjoying it all over again! There’s this elemental uniqueness behind this album and the other’s that he has written that just tends to gravitate people towards his other projects as well. This sort of... black hole effect brings people together into this universe of creativity I talked about earlier, and harkens back to who Marc is as a person. That expression of the self, the creativity that comes with it, and the passion that exudes out of every project he produces is contagious, and is one of the reasons I believe Marc has one of the best fanbases in the world!
As a co-worker I now get to see firsthand the stuff Marc is working on and the work that he puts in to making the lives of us and the artists that we work with that much easier and I can’t thank him enough!
If you’d like to scope out more of what Marc is up to, swing by his various artist pages over on the YeteeMart as well as give him a follow over on his various social media profiles pages. It’s also worth noting that Marc has a pretty sick blog dedicated to shoes in video games called “Video Game Kicks” so definitely go check that out as well and throw a few submissions his way!