Hailing from the capital of Philippines, electronic underground artist Van Reeves is now an active independent Video Game musician affiliated with the Higher Eclectic Network for gaming talent.
With his specialities lying in the genres of digitally synthesised Outrun/Synthwave/Retrowave and Heavy-Metal driven soundtrack-styled music, sound design and Foley, Reeves’ modus operandi demands that he function on a donation basis only.
The reasoning behind this aspect of his Video Game themed music production is two fold; one, the musician yearns for creative room and hence prefers to develop concepts, compositions and whole songs under non-restrictive time conditions.
This coupled with the tentative nature of his routine as an ‘on-call’ musician employed by Clubs, Bars and other Productions at least thrice a week leads him to avoid setting fixed rates for collaborations with Game developers and the like altogether.
‘Being an amateur independent solo performer and producer, I have come to the conclusion that through the donations of patrons and fans, all without outside interference, will preserve the integrity of design and vision of my works and sustain my frugal lifestyle,’ he states. Also preferred by the Filipino is that all potential collaborators bring to him only underdeveloped concepts and themes, letting him conjure his own unique musical rendition of them that is satisfactory to both parties.
‘Give me the basic gist of a given composition, (e.g: Its a sad song for a sad scene) — Done,’ he adds in explanation of the same. ‘I would then go through the notions of building versions among versions of a sad song that I could come up with and then present and allow the client to choose from them.’
‘If a full concept was already presented to me — complete with specific time signatures, strict tempos changes and specified Instruments used — it would be of great difficulty to assert myself into it and create an interpretation I could call my own.’
Reeves works within the domain of Digital Audio Workstation Ableton Live, software such as Dune 2, Addictive Drums and Dark Zebra, along within that of hardware as standard as non-industry speakers and over-ear headphones.
Calculating that quality compositions take him anywhere between hours to days to conjure, he bears no hesitation in scrapping entire creations if they linger far from the degree of comfort and confidence he finds necessary to harbour before providing clients with a finished musical piece.
When not working on collaborations or at real-world gigs, Mr.Reeves is also a regular producer of music via his Soundcloud profile. All of his showcased tracks are also freely available for use — with the musician welcoming requests for their corresponding music files via E-mail while also demanding that their use be explicitly credited. Donations towards showcased tracks are also actively welcomed.
All of this then makes him the perfect musical collaborator to those yearning for original music to accompany their non-commercial and/or hobby work.
Reeves states that while those will certainly be his primary choice of clients, he also continues to stay open to opportunities from those looking to earn a profit from their creations. This however is not without a caveat.
‘Having a form of synergy between partners is essential — I prefer quality over quantity to put it simply. I would like to get to know the client first, if ever,’ he explores. ‘Communicate, build a familiarity before talking business because if we get lost in translation or any sort of miscommunication happens, it breeds difficulty.’
‘I could work genres outside of Synthwave — sound design and Foley, short clips, long droning sounds. button press on main menus, alert tones — you name it, I can do it. The ‘No time limit’ condition is my only constant; if they are comfortable with that, then yes, we can talk business.’
Mr. Reeves’ contributions towards your gaming projects can now be availed of by getting in touch with the musician via his Higher Eclectic Space. Also functioning as a portfolio of his work here on the Network, said Space will showcase a plethora of his Soundcloud creations — all of which can be made use of by leaving the artist a comment therein.
September 16, 2015. Ninth months post its release, ‘Around The World In 80 Instruments’ made its first appearance on the Community here. Released digitally on Bandcamp and Souncloud, the album brought along with itself a tremendous, episodic musical of its coming to fruition; created by Royalty free Video Game music composer Matteo Bosi and composed using each of the eighty instruments the Italian musician had collected over a decade. With each track holding within itself a segment of Matteo’s journey through those years, the musician had arrived with every desire of illustrating the album’s charm, hoping that the Community’s members would make use of it in their projects.
Debuting with the album’s first track, ‘Dawn of Mankind’, Matteo would go on to showcase each of the album’s 13 tracks — speaking not only of the instruments that brought them to life, but also the circumstances & events that inspired their sound. On the 10th of December, that show finally concluded with the album’s final listed track ‘Alchemy of the Worlds’; in the months that followed, knowing full well that Matteo’s history & the story of the album’s inception was one that deserved yet another recount, we set about delving deeper into the personality & inspirations that culminated in the decade that was the album’s creative process.
I was fascinated by India and its music, forcing me to buy my first Ethnic instrument, a Sitar when I was there.
Born within a humble Italian household in the year of 1976, despite not being of any significant musical background, Matteo’s tryst with self-composed music arrived at the tiny age of six. This in large part, was a result of the encouragement provided by Bosi’s Elementary school Music teacher, who taught him & the rest of his young peers to play both the Flute and the Melodica. Such was the joy the batch took in their new found craft, that its first Christmas together amounted to a mini-concert of Christmas carols amid astonished parents. Under the same teacher, Matteo would also go on to hone his transverse flute aptitude via dedicated lessons.
As he grew older, the acoustic Guitar and Italian Folk music added themselves to his growing list of musical capabilities although funnily enough, Matteo was yet to devote himself to thorough music composition and learning. That devotion finally came as he picked up on Heavy Metal and his first Electric Guitar, leading him to learn not only the art of recording, generating computerized music, mixing and more, but also causing him to form his own band called ‘No Direction’.
‘We started off in 1999 and disbanded in 2006; We played a sort of rock-punk-funk crossover — we had great time! We recorded two albums, and I took care of recording and producing the second one,’ Matteo recalls. Midway through the band’s early years, Matteo would earn himself a Degree in Physics in 2000 before commencing his PhD in the subject; ‘It was during the course of that PhD that I got the chance to attend a PhD school in Mysore, India with my tutor’, recounting how the PhD eventually resulted in him owning his first Ethnic instrument.
‘I was fascinated by the country and its music, forcing me to buy myself a Sitar when I was there. I asked the Indian students for help, who were kind enough to lead me to a Sitar-maker shop in the city. It was quite a pain to bring it back home, I’ll tell you, but I did manage to do so without breaking it!’
I did it with no particular reason. If anything, maybe to challenge myself.
While Matteo’s PhD arrived in 2004, the Sitar would go on to inscribe in him a rather interesting hobby– that of picking up instruments from every country visited on a business or pleasure basis. Matteo admits that while the hobby emerged as but a means of remembering his place to visit, it soon turned into a mission; for every country that nurtured a strong tradition and culture of music, an instrument from its regions would be added to his library.
Ranging from those that were procured via interesting turn of events to those that were simply bought from second hand shops, Matteo’s library gradually began to grow to the awe inspiring 80 that it stands at now — leading to him constructing a dedicated page on his website to document each instrument’s sound and his relationship with them. By 2008, ideas to put those instruments to use began to emerge, with the Italian finally deciding to write, compose and record ‘Alchemy of the Worlds’ with the help of a friend. Encompassing moods & tunes ranging from the Far East to Europe, Matteo put to work his entire arsenal of instruments in an attempt to reconstruct nearly a decade of wandering in music.
‘I did it with no particular reason. If anything, maybe to challenge myself. Many years later as the collection grew, so did the inspiration to record more music with it. I lacked a definite plan. though; I merely enjoyed learning to play each of the instruments and composing something unusual with them. The possibility of using my cell phone first, followed by my wife’s professional camera inspired me to make short videos of myself playing and recording.’
In 2013, the idea of ‘Around The World In 80 Instruments’ finally hit him — deriving its name from Jules Verne’s classic, ‘Around The World In 80 Days’. ‘It literally arrived out of nowhere, but when it suddenly appeared in my mind it was like an epiphany; I realized then how original the concept could be, without anyone having attempted something like this before.’ In the year between 2014-2015 then, Matteo would go on to write & compose the remaining 12 tracks of the album, before releasing the same on Bandcamp & Souncloud for a customer-stated price. High Quality videos for each were also recorded & uploaded to his YouTube channel, each with elaborate descriptions of the stories they attempted to recreate.
Contrary to what some might imagine though, Matteo’s grand attempt is yet to garner the massive audience it deserves. ‘I posted my work in several music-production forums, mainly computer-music related such as KVR. I got positive comments from musicians, impressed by the overall project and my ability to play so several instruments together. I also tried to send the album to magazines and music journals in Italy but got no response at all. The most awesome response was from Pond5 though; I’d put my work on their forum which led me to be contacted by their staff who wanted to conduct an interview and shoot a video on my work. A really talented individual from their Staff came all the way from New York to Parma, Italy; showing my studio, my instruments travels, and the royalty-free music I’d put up on their website.’
With his musical career’s largest and most ambitious project over and done with, Matteo now finds it hard to imagine himself surpassing the scale at which ‘Around The World In 80 Instruments’ was created. Nevertheless, his passion for music as a hobby continues to take up what remains of his spare time — as he composes for royalty free markets and Video Games using the Unreal and Unity engines before uploading them to their respective storres.. ‘I would like to improve my piano/keyboard skills although I find myself making more and more ‘trailer-like’ epic and bombastic music — particularly because I have stumbled upon a few new sound libraries suited for this task!’
I also tried to send the album to magazines and music journals in Italy, but got no response at all.
Naturally, discussions are underway to showcase all of his forthcoming and ongoing compositions on the Community, hoping to have his musical talent assist the independent game developers and talent housed here. It’s worth noting that although ‘Around The World In 80 Instruments’ arrives with a Creative Commons license, those intending to make use of the album’s music in their Video Games are requested to get in touch with Matteo first.
He does also accept commissions; those interested in reaching out to Matteo or simply taking a closer look at ‘Around The World In 80 Instruments’ then, can do so by visiting his existing Higher Eclectic Space.
In a rather humble announcement earlier last month, long time Community member Bill Boulden alias DJ Spruke updated his Kickstarter following with news that his Space themed electronic musical, Music To Die Alone In Space To was now available for purchase via the iTunes, CD Baby and Spotify online marketplaces as three separate mixes. Although the musician only shared links to the US counterparts of those stores, he did later confirm availability in their international versions.
In news that might of greater interest to our members though, Boulden now expresses that while he’s more than willing to share rights on the purchased albums with you for use in your own independent Games, Blogs, YouTube channels & other Video Game creations, it would have to be done by approaching him personally for permission and then going through the required channels. Alternatively, as Boulden continues to toil away at the personalized versions of the album that have been exclusive to his Kickstarter backers, he states that he is now open to a limited number of personalized album requests from the Higher Eclectic community.
While the price of these personalized albums would naturally differ from the $10 of the albums available on the online marketplace, members should take particular interest in them as they arrive with a Creative Commons license that provides the owner with complete & all rights over their usage — allowing free usage in games & other projects as stated by Boulden himself via an Anti-Copyright statement on his campaign’s page. Furthermore, while no two personalized albums sound the same — their owners are given complete freedom of choice over the cover art and voice artists they’d like featured on their exclusive albums.
The news arrives over a month after the 22nd of December last year, when Spruke declared that he’d completed and QA’d to his satisfaction, the mixing, mastering and arrangement of the now publicly available Cepheus, Andromeda, & Tsuki No Usagi mixes of Music To Die Alone In Space To. Each of these mixes also differ in voice artists & cover art based on the results of a two week poll that Spruke had subjected his campaign backers to — to help decide which three of the eleven voice artists & cover arts involved in the album’s creation would make it to the online marketplace.
This led to the Andromeda mix featuring Laura Bailey — whose body of work spans games such as the BloodRayne series, Persona 4, The Elder Scrolls V, Final Fantasy XIII & Halo 5 — as its lead voice artist, the Tsuki No Usagi mix featuring Laura Shigihara — sound designer & composer for Plants vs Zombies — and the Cepheus mix featuring Christopher Sabat of the Dragon Ball series. Artwork by independent digital artists Ashley Lange, Liz Nugent and Martyn Knapton meanwhile clad their respective covers.
‘Nearly all feedback has been critically excellent’, states Boulden when asked about the response the album’s public release has been garnering. ‘I think that largely as a reward for spelling out my target so clearly, and enumerating so precisely what this album was meant to do, there was very little room to deny that I hit the target quite accurately. That doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a genius album or musically incredible, but it is one way of doing things– Call your shots, tell people “This album is meant to sound exactly like A, B, C with restrictions D and E”, and then they know exactly what yardstick by which to measure your self-stated aims. And I do think I nailed those. It’s exactly what everyone wanted to be, I think because I prepared them very well for what it is.’
Music To Die Alone In Space To narrates — through first person speech and an emotional, introspective, psychedelic play of electronic music — the tale of an Astronaut lost out in Space after a rogue speck of dust disconnects them from their spaceship. Our tryst with the Buffalo based DJ came in the midst of the album’s Kickstarter campaign last September, which led to us showcasing its development here in the hope that our members would one day make use of it in their own Video Game work.
Adrift, the album’s first track with Chris Sabat on vocals.
The campaign’s biggest USP at the time, was that those who contributed above a certain amount would avail of personalized versions of Music To Die Alone In Space To that would be unique to them and them alone. ‘The personalized copies are licensed under a variant of the Creative Commons because when somebody buys an individual album, they deserve to own it in that legal sense too,’ states Boulden in explanation of that particular ingenuity. ‘They’re free to stream with it, make it the soundtrack to their game, use it in a college VR project and so on. All of these things are happening and I can’t wait to see the outsize impact these individual copies will have.’
The album’s tenure on the Community for the past five months then, has been filled with exclusive renders of tracks provided by Spruke himself, an exclusive hearing of the album in its pre-release entirety & even a revealing interview with the man himself where he discussed inspirations & more. It’s worth noting that now with the online marketplace releases behind him, Boulden nears 2,000 of the 3,700 tracks needed to compile the final set of personalized albums which he hopes to send out by April.
That and that he’s now looking to put together a music video for the album — solicitations for which have already begun via his Kickstarter page. ‘Am I losing my mind? Yes. As I typed this, Distant’s 186th render is sounding off right next to me… the hundred-and-eighty-sixth variation of this “I’m losing my mind out here, I’m dying” that I’ve heard,’ he adds, in reference to one of the many tracks from the album, Distant. ‘It’s getting so hard to hear the forest for the trees. And yet the tracks keep having surprises for me. I scramble the RNG again, I try putting a new effects plugin on a pad that didn’t have one before – saying, oh, for 15 renders let’s try that pad Flanged instead of Distorted – and suddenly it’s a new beast. This is the 1,865th variant of any MTDAIST track I’ve exported so far. And this is the halfway point! Right now I want to get out of this with my musical sanity intact and make sure everyone is satisfied.’
Naturally, it is to be a while before we hear of Boulden exploring anything of this scale and size again. When not lurking around our member forums from time to time, he can also be caught going Bump In The Night — a weekly podcast that sees him decorate the Internet with electro & house mixes every Monday. As always, any forthcoming announcements and major developments in relation Spruke and Music To Die Alone In Space To can be found on his Higher Eclectic Space. Do take a walk down there to celebrate how far he’s come.
Requests or queries regarding personalized albums can be left by contacting Spruke personally or via the aforementioned Bulletin. Not a member of Higher Eclectic Ground? Drop us a line and we’ll sort you out. Bought & listened to the album already? Let us know what you thought of it in the comments below.
With 20 years of experience in original music composition — inclusive of which has been work on Valiant Hearts, Child of Light, Assassins Creed & more recently, The Division — French composer Sam Oz is now a part of Higher Eclectic’s indie music fraternity.
Proficient in playing the Drums, Piano, Guitar, Ukulele, Djembe and Xylophone among the more modern Computer-based music software, Oz will now be seen bringing the indie Game community herein his original music work from projects past & forthcoming with exclusive insight into their formation, in an attempt to appeal to its Game Developers, Artists, YouTubers & other game talent present.
It’s been over two years since Oz parted ways with Ubisoft, he states, choosing not to go into his reasons solely in respect of his agreement with the Game Development giant. In the months that ensued, Oz turned indie — working on numerous, as yet unreleased independent games & animated shorts that have spanned genres such as action-adventure, horror, futuristic, retro & even a personal tribute to Studio Ghibli.. His latest project, Gadan Games’ My Last Friday is set to launch a Kickstarter campaign soon.
‘The indie scene offers a lot more freedom and artistic expression — and free expression is what I’m constantly seeking. A large number of quality projects are created by the indie community alone and at this point of my life, I have a deep-rooted desire to be amidst it’, he confides. His relationship with music began by learning the Drums, which soon progressed to the Guitar, Ukulele and eventually, Computer Aided Music. ‘It has been a whole 20 years playing music in a multitude of styles. Despite being particularly fond of classical music, I also create pop-rock, metal, ethnic & electro music to name a few.’
As is customary of every artist here, Oz will now be seen building a presence within the community — opting to kick things off with a tune that couldn’t be more apt for this time of the year. Unnamed, this little number was composed by the maestro himself for one of The Division’s first trailers to hit the Internet back in 2014 after its E3 2013 debut.
Oz’s thoughts about the piece though, are surprising. ‘It was not my best project because I was leaving shortly after I started working on it. I still wanted to do more, add more to it so that it could match The Division’s universe — but sadly, I never got to finish it to my liking. Moreover, this track music is not in the final OST despite it being in one of Ubisoft’s first trailers for the game.’
Fascinating isn’t it? Expect a lot more insight into his work as he blends into the community here. ‘I’m comfortable with a variety of genres and look forward to collaborating with some of the other exceptional indie game musicians & game developers here’, he admits. Meanwhile, Oz now has his own Higher Eclectic Space, which contains an elaborate summary of his work & capabilities while also serving to document his posts on the community henceforth.
Of course, all of this is so that he can contribute to your own creations — Games, YouTube channels, you name it — at rates that he states are more than flexible and that vary on the basis of budget & size of the indie game entity hiring him. Be sure you get down there and give him a shout via the member forums, The Bulletin, now.