Thursday, October 4, 2012

The History of Video Game Music: The Remix Renaissance

Hey there Ladies and Gents!  Another week and another look into the History of Video Game Music.  Before I begin, let's review what's been covered thus far.  We had the release of 8 and 16 bit video games to both Japan and the United States.  Like I said before, the songs from these video games had a lasting impression on a lot of people.  Now I'm going to tell you how.

We're going to jump a few years ahead into the future.  We'll come back to the days of the Playstation and Nintendo 64 in a later post.  Today, is all about the Remix Renaissance.

The Year 1999

DJ Pretzel at a conference.
In the year 1999, the U.S. and Japan were both enjoying the Sony Playstation, Nintendo 64, and Sega Dreamcast.  This was also a time when the internet had become available for personal use across the United States.  With this came downloading of music and also emulated games.

David W. Lloyd was an enthusiast who liked emulated games.  He celebrated this in an online comic he created.  Later on, he started OverClocked ReMix, a website where amateur remixers and musicians would arrange and remix their own covers of songs from Video Games.  Hundreds of these artists would submit music, djpretzel (David Lloyd's alias), would review the submissions before releasing them to the website.  When that became too much work he collaborated with a board to review submissions.
Not all submissions are from retro games.

This is where I got all of the music I started listening to.  It was free.  A lot of it was techno.  But a lot of it was also nothing short of brilliant.  And there was some pretty great techno in there too.  OverClocked Remix essentially became a community not unlike a geek version of Vienna online.  All of this creative work was going on and being shared among other geeks.  It was made because they loved games and they loved the music.  It was made by nerds for nerds.

The Rise and Fall of KFSS Studios

Album Art of  the Gold Version
DJ Pretzel wasn't the only innovator who had an appreciation for video game music.  Stephen Kennedy  created KFSS studios.  One of the works of KFSS Studios were a few albums that featured arranged video game music.  Kennedy, a big fan of Nobuo Uematsu, created Project Majestic Mix.  He invited remixers from OverClocked Remix to contribute covers of Uematsu's music and sold 3000 silver (standard) versions and 1500 gold (deluxe) versions.

Kennedy later organized a follow up album called Squaredance.  (Squaresoft + Dance but then it's like Squaredancing.  Clever, right?)  Squaredance was used a lot more synths and was closer to Euro Club music.  I actually got my high school to play some of the songs from this album for some of the dances.

Unfortunately, the creative output at KFSS Studios eventually came to an end.  In 2008 Stephen and his wife, Jana, closed the doors to KFSS studios because they couldn't put the time and energy into it anymore.  Still, we got some great music from it.
One of my favorite songs from the game and from this album.

Remixed Albums

The original of this song was a hit among gamers.  This arrangement does it justice.
OverClocked Remix took a page from KFSS studios and started creating their own albums too.  No, they weren't packaged and sold.  But they've all been fully available online with artwork too.  Remixers would come together and take the whole soundtrack to a retro game and completely redo it.  From this idea, we've gotten Relics of the Chozo, a cover of the Super Metroid Soundtrack and Kong in Concert, a cover of the Donkey Kong County soundtrack.
Remember this song from last week's post?  Now with lyrics!

All of this creative work has all been inspired by those bleeps and bloops.  Whole albums and all of this impressive music all came from some talented guys working with limited audio resources.  Their work inspired more creative work and a whole community.

The coolest thing about this is how it's come full circle.  In 2008, Capcom came to the OCRemix community to have them remix the soundtrack of their digital high definition release of Super Street Fighter II for the X-Box 360 and Playstation 3.  A professional gaming company came to the fans to contribute to a game they were working on.  How cool is that?
"Working with the OC ReMix crew has been one of the most rewarding aspects of working on SF HD Remix, truly making the game a community effort. These guys are part of the meat and potatoes of what makes the Street Fighter fanbase such a lasting part of the gaming industry. Upon contacting them, they were able to turn out product on short notice, with high quality, and were very open to any changes that we required. They worked above and beyond our expectations and I'm hoping that we'll be able to work together in the future." – Rey Jimenez, Associate Producer, Capcom Entertainment
This wasn't the only way things came full circle for OverClocked Remix.  When Jeremy Soule found out about this little community he submitted one of his own covers of a popular Nobuo Uematsu song!  This would be like John Williams submitting his own version of a Howard Shore song to an online community of aspiring movie composers.

If this is good stuff to you, I recommend perusing the websites and see what they have available.  There are a ton of gems in here of some good music.  The best part is, it won't cost you a cent!

Still more to come in the history of video game music!

1 comment:

  1. There are lot's of things that will still happen for the industry. The industry is promising since most youth nowadays were being grown with technology present so any game genre like
    music games
    will definitely be a hit.