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Will Phillips’ Orchestral Mix Of Video Game Sounds

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Thirty-one year old Will Phillips became an official part of the Higher Eclectic Network late last week.

Thirty-one year old Will Phillips became an official part of the Higher Eclectic Network late last week, bringing to the fray high quality, orchestral based original music compositions that predominantly aim to create immersive gaming environments.

Beginning with an affinity for the trumpet at the age of 11 that was quick to metamorphose into an ardour for music arrangements, local live performances and the thorough comprehension of musical notes, Phillips’ professional music career comes rooted in the study of Music Education & Music Performance at the University of Kentucky (’04 – ’08).

Of course it would first have to begin only semi-professionally in the year of 2010 before picking up speed, turning into a full-fledged career and immersing him headfirst in the realm of Film & Games.

Now OST’s of recent indie ventures such as that of Oointah Games’ Death By Game Show, Game Samba’s Star Trek: Alien Domain and Bake450’s mobile game trilogy of Bread Kittens, Bread Puppies & Normasaurus Rex populate his portfolio that otherwise remains ridden with compositional work on media such as Australian Zombie short The Curethe fantasy web series of Dagger Kiss, followed by the arrangement and transcription of music for various live-performing, often theatrical ensembles.

All of this, along with smaller scale tasks such as that of creating logo stingers, short musical themes and jingle type audio work derives largely from the Jazz, Latin, Rock and Funk genres — infused majorly with orchestral melodies from traditional instruments and synthesizers if need be.

‘My main influences come from the great modern film composers, like John Williams, James Horner, and Michael Giacchino and of course the pioneers of game composers, such as Koji Kondo, Jesper Kyd, and Nobuo Uematsu’, Phillips adds. 

As one would imagine then, his work process is heavily reliant on layered discussion and careful collaboration with game development clients over critique and constant feedback throughout an employment period.

‘Once a concept is formed over a negotiation of rates, deadlines and if necessary a written agreement, I begin writing,’ he reveals. ‘Once the first track is nearing completion, or there is enough to at least provide some insight into my perception of what the developer is seeking, then I will send out the track (or partial track) for them to make any comments and critiques of the music.’

‘This process may continue until both parties are on the same page. From then on, as each track is nearing completion, they will be sent to the employer to ensure everything is heading in the right direction; Then each track will be produced to full quality once everything is in full swing.’  

This naturally ensues until the entirety of a given task reaches fruition — before finalised music pieces are ideally beamed out to clients at least a week prior to deadline in favour of room for revisions.

Flexibility is also prevalent — with the artist’s negotiable rates varying as per the task at hand, project budget and potential; revenue share agreements are considered accordingly, with the established price of his musical contributions often split between upfront payments and the post-release sales of a game.

‘Music is a huge part of my life,’ elaborates the musician who still continues to perform with numerous local groups despite preoccupations in digital media‘My main performing group as of right now is a 4-piece rock/funk band called Home Grown Head; We perform quite a bit locally and regionally, with hopes to continually expand our reach. I also perform with various other jazz, rock, jam, and even country bands, either playing an integral or background role in each ensemble.’

‘Outside of the musical realm, I enjoy playing games and watching films — which is largely what influenced my decision to pursue game and film music as a career.’  With the Network already having begun its active propulsion of Will Phillips’ music work within independent gaming circles, the musician’s subsequent compositions, an elaborate breakdown of his modus operandi, terms and references will now stay constantly available at his Higher Eclectic Space. Be sure to leave him a comment therein to get in touch.

One Man, a Decade & Eighty Musical Instruments

Features

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!’ 

 

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A shot of No Direction; Matteo talks of his band in Italian on his Alchemy Studio page while also linking to their older music on MySpace.

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.

 

 

Durandal Debuts ‘Space Cruisin’ As Isle Of Bass Spotlight Ends

News

In conclusion of the month of February, one that saw his work featured extensively as the Isle of Bass’ music artist of the month, Deep, Dark & Minimal Dubstep musician Steve Philips Durandal debuts a snippet of Space Cruisin’ — an upcoming collaboration with fellow Dubstep producer, The Widdler. Starting its life off as a beat & baseline mix by Durandal that was sent to The Widdler to build on, Space Cruisin’ derives its name from the ‘honking sounds’ that lie within; after Durandal realized they conjured a whole ‘cruisin’ in space while bumping to some beats’ vibe. That is of course, when its not sampling the character McLovin’s ‘What’s up guys!’ from the 2007 comedy, Superbad.

The exact date or period of its release still remains highly uncertain, given the musician’s want for building hype around the track by playing it at musical events first. While the track may or may not be available as a free download later this year, members can still get in touch with Durandal should they wish to use it in any of their projects.

Introduced to Higher Eclectic Ground on the 7th of February this year, Durandal ‘s tenure within Higher Eclectic Ground thus far has brought its gaming community a rather creative selection of Minimal dubstep, ranging from Classic Horror inspired undertones to Conspiracy themed pensive tune,s each of which are available as free downloads. ‘Despite his easy going demeanour, you can really tell he takes his music very seriously,‘ states Isle of Bass co-founder Craig Evans. ‘He wants to help others just as much as others help him! And as we’ve seen & heard from him in the last month, he has very interesting ideas which he turns into music. I can’t wait to see what the future holds for him!’

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READ: Isle of Bass’ February: Deep, Dark Beginnings

As March draws in then, its time to shift the spotlight to the Isle of Bass’ next tending talent — House music infused with lovely vocals, as Evans hints — who will be making his presence known with the Community later this week. Rest assured Durandal’s Space here on Higher Eclectic will continue to exist, showcasing not only the musician’s latest compositions but also the ones featured during his spotlight tenure. Members looking to make use of any of his musical talent in their gaming projects, are always invited to get in touch with him via the same.

Durandal & his work was made available to Higher Eclectic Ground’s independent gaming community by the Isle of Bass; an independent music label promoting underground electronica from around the world. As Higher Eclectic Ground’s music partners, the label provides our independent gaming talent with access to a variety of electronic music by having us feature their most trending artists for a month. Learn more about the label & the artists featured prior by visiting their Partner’s page.

Grab Your Own Music to Die Alone In Space To Now

News

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.

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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.

 

 

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READ: In Conversation With DJ Spruke, 15 October, 2015.

 

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.

Introducing Sam Oz

News

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 Spacewhich 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.

Isle of Bass’ February: Deep Dark Beginnings

News

With the month of January well past us, Community music partners Isle of Bass send in yet another artist to bask under February’s spotlight. And just as last month — where they spruced things up by sending the Community its first vocalist in the form of the beautiful, Kathryn MacLean — things are to turn rather eclectic with the arrival of a rather uncommon genre.

Meet Steve-Phillips Durandal, better known by his stage name, Durandal. An American music producer since 2011, while Durandal harbours both affinity & talent within the Bass & Hip-Hop genres, his biggest draw lies in Dubstep, which he infuses with a sound so specific that it transforms itself into a sub-genre not too known amidst causal EDM circles — Deep or Dark Dubstep. And yet still, that hasn’t stopped his work from picking up within a label that is known primarily for its feet-tapping EDM, Drum, Bass & traditional electronic mixes.

‘Deep Dubstep is not a genre we feature often and so naturally, I am surprised by the positive response his music has received’, explains label co-founder & executive Craig MacLeod Evans. ‘He emailed me a few years back asking to promote a remix of Six Underground’s Sneaker Pimps & our relationship grew from there. Not only did he end up bringing a few more of his friends onto the label but also caused our audience to ask for more of his style. That remix ultimately became one of his most popular tracks within the label as well.’

With Durandal’s presence on the Community of course, comes the opportunity to collaborate with him. Every Sunday until the end of February, the Isle of Bass will be bringing you one of his top original compositions to either use for your own projects or enable you to grab an understanding of his capabilities — beginning with an ode to one of classic Horror’s renowned tales, Stephen King’s Carrie.

Titled Deception, Durandal’s first exhibit on the community was part of his 2014 released, 5-track Night Terror EP — wherein every track sampled bits and pieces from the producer’s favourite horror flicks. ‘I wanted to make it deep and dark, while telling the story of Carrie’s friends deceiving her’, explains Durandal in reference to Deception.  ‘I felt like that was the best way to portray the story in her eyes.’

 

Intrigued? Should you wish to use this track or commission him for any Dubstep, Bass or Hip-Hop compositions for your forthcoming projects — Durandal has for himself his own Higher Eclectic Space that brings you the latest from not only his Soundcloud, but also contains all the information one would require to get in touch with him in addition to the original compositions we feature. Be sure to tune back in next week for even more Dark.

Isle of Bass is an independent music label covering genres spanning DnB, dubstep and electro, with an ideology similar to that of ours – to showcase independent talent in need of appreciation. Every month, the label brings the Community one of its most trending artists — providing our independent gaming members with access to unique electronic talent. To learn more & even learn of prior artists features, drop by the label’s Partners’ page.