OneUp Studios first rocked the Chrono fandom in 2002 with Time & Space - A Tribute to Yasunori Mitsuda, which sold out its pressings twice and carved out an enduring legacy among the remix and fan music album scene. OUS proceeded to release more work, including two fantastic group albums (both with a Chrono track on them), before forming the "Bad Dudes", a collective of pre-eminent remixers who've been churning out top-grade remix albums with awesome regularity. Now comes CHRONOTORIOUS, which most likely now has full claim to the title of best Chrono series remix collection. FaustWolf and ZeaLitY digitally sat down with Mustin and the other remixers for an expansive interview covering the album's execution and the artists' stylistic choices. There's also some sweet personal trivia to be found, so strap in! A big thanks goes out to Mustin, OneUp Studios, and the other remixers for their work! We'll kick things off with Mustin, then head to the remixers. We'll then return to Mustin for a look at the technical and business side of things.
Hey! If you haven't gotten the album, you can buy the disc (while stock lasts) or purchase the MP3s (minus a few tracks). Head over to the Bad Dudes HQ to order, and check out OneUp Studios for more VGM love.
A Chat with the CEO
Courtesy of Mustin, head honcho of OneUp Studios! Questions are by ZeaLitY.
1. You've been doing this a long time. I imagine that each release brings the thrill of seeing your work completed and enjoyed by a lot of people. That never gets old, eh?
No, it doesn't get old. It's nice to know that people are enjoying what I helped to put together. I just wish more people knew about what I do/what we're doing! The goal is to get 5,000 solid fans that will buy whatever I do (as long as it's quality, of course). Then I'll be a happy camper!
2. The remixing side of OneUp Studios started as a lot of familiar faces (like Dale North), but the community's changed over the years. Would you call the remixers involved with Bad Dudes the current A-team for OUS remixing, or keep them in a separate category?
The Bad Dudes has been what OneUp Studios was this whole time. With the confusion of everyone thinking Mustin/OneUp Studios/The OneUps are all the same thing, it became important to make sure people know that these entities are separate. If you think about it, the Bad Dudes have made EVERY OneUp Studios album (non-compilation and non-The OneUps, of course). I wish I could go back in time and say Time & Space, Xenogears Light and The Very Best of SEGA were Bad Dudes and people would come to know OneUp Studios as just a label, like Jive or Ninja Tune. Ah well. Regardless, I call this team the A list for sure. There are so many great remixers, but the Bad Dudes are mostly made up of friends and good times. I think there's only one Bad Dude I haven't met in person.
3. Chrono songs have been covered countless ways, and this album demonstrates that the sky's the limit for reinventing these pieces. What was it like receiving works in progress and finished pieces from remixers, and hearing new, high-quality interpretations of your some of your favorite VGM?
Fantastic! Always love to hear from these guys. posu yan (the remixer formerly known as po!), Kunal and Joshua Morse never cease to amaze me. The WIPs are always fun to get. Some of the guys are very anti-WIP. Ailsean always just shows up with a finished product just when you forgot about him. Took a bit for his "Dethfrog" to grow on me, but I love it. Joshua Morse always does a million tunes before settling on one he's gonna do. And I swear the WIPs are almost finished tunes themselves sometimes. I usually have his WIPs around and listen to them often, even if they're only 30 seconds - they're that good. Same with posu. There were a few tracks this time that didn't make the cut. Diggi Dis' first go around on "Schala" didn't quite cut the mustard (you can download it from his site, www.DiggiDisMusic.com). We didn't feel it was CHRONOTORIOUS enough. That worked out well for everyone, I think, as I feel his track on the CD is one of the strongest "Schala" arrangements to date. This is actually the first time in the history of the label that I can remember where we've actually made voluntary cuts.
4. It's been exciting to see the music video contest and Mario Circuit video concept pop up. Are you planning to use Youtube as another way of attracting interest in VGM remixing and live shows?
Yes, OneUp Studios would like to use YouTube and other visual medium to build interest in the label and video game arrangements in general. There's some great stuff out there, and we'd like to get into the fray. Here's hoping for more!
5. What's the biggest pain in putting together a OneUp Studios release?
Me! [laughs] I tend to hold things up as I'm so busy juggling things. Sometimes the Dudes have it easy in that they just gotta come up with one bangin' track. I gotta keep everyone managed, keep the vision, coordinate the artwork, etc. Not complaining - if anything, the Dudes should complain about me. We could have had this album on time to coincide with the Chrono Trigger DS release had I been better at managing my time. But it wouldn't be as strong of an album as it is now.
6. What are you most proud of in the OneUp Studios community or history? And what's next for the Bad Dudes?
Good question! I'm most proud of what we've accomplished as a group - working towards the Respect and Recognition of Game Music in America.™ So many stories have been told about someone hearing one of these albums and the music changing someones mind about video game music. That's the good stuff. Hearing another person tell me about how their Mom or Dad heard them listening to a OneUp Studios CD and how it changed the parent's outlook on game music as a whole - that's the most rewarding thing, I think. I'm also glad that we've built a community of friends and continue to make music that people want to hear. Let us never forget that while we stand on the shoulders of geniuses - the original composers - we do it for the love of the game. It isn't always about nostalgia for each Bad Dude, but I think we're united in purpose - paying homage and better ourselves as musicians.
7. What styles or conventions do you personally enjoy in remixes of your favorite VGM, and do you apply that philosophy when selecting remixers and performers for OUS releases?
I don't have any particular favourite style when it comes to video game arrangements. From the heavy metal of housethegrate and Power Glove, to the piano stylings of Bladiator and Dhsu. My favourite arrangers are posu yan and Joshua Morse, but I have many favourites. Neskvartetten comes to mind. ArmCannon are masters. virt and Shnabubula rarely disappoint. There's just so much radness. I'm quite satisfied with our current roster, though.
8. KFSS Studios recently closed up shop, and VGMix X is finally stalling out in terms of submissions. What are your thoughts about the future of the remixing community, and what would you like to see more of? Would co-mingling and cooperation with the Japanese remixing and doujin community be feasible, in your opinion, giving the extremely disconnected and scattered nature of the Japanese community? (Makes it so hard to find arrangements sometimes :( )
The future is in video. The game bands are It right now. More and more game bands are showing up on the YouTubes. And more and more people are playing game music. I have people calling me from bars in my own town saying that there's some band that's covering a game tune at some bar at that moment - and I've never heard of them. Whether or not they've heard of The OneUps is neither here nor there. Point being, I personally feel that the video game arrangement has lost its niche, having gone main stream. With the Super Mario Bros. theme being one of the best selling ring tones, it's apparent now that game music is near the level of saturation of film music - if not more so. In regards to the Japenese Doujin community and the West working together, our own Tim Sheehy has been the only person to bridge that gap as far as I know but I'm probably wrong. Still, that's monumental to me, as the Japanese scene is seemingly more serious. Plus the fact that Tim got to work with Bizen just makes me giddy. I love the majority of Bizen's work. So good! Could the mix of Western & Eastern VGM arrangements keep going? You'll have to ask Akumu Hau from Nitro Game Injection (http://akumunsf.good-evil.net/) that question - he knows more about the Doujin scene than anyone I know.
Tim Sheehy: Regarding the Japanese doujin community, I'm working on it. I recently worked with the circle DDBY on a Link's Awakening arrangement album that got sold at M3, which is one of their bi-annual conventions, and I'm in talks with them about maybe expanding that relationship. I have a lot of love for that community, as they tend to respect each other quite a bit, despite how disconnected the whole thing may seem to us.
9. Reflecting, did you think back in 2001 that 8 years later, you'd still be going strong with an awesome cadre of remixers going hot on consistent releases?
I did. I knew The OneUps would still be going and I figured I'd still be a part of churning out game music arrangement albums, though I had imagined someone else would be at the helm of the label, with me in an "executive producer" seat. Things are getting by and I'm looking forward to more!
10. For your upcoming Super Mario Kart album, are you covering the original SNES Rainbow Road theme? (Had to ask!)
Yes, for the upcoming Super Mario Kart album by The OneUps, we'll be covering "Rainbow Road," don't worry! It's one of my favourite game tunes of all time. Soyo Oka herself said it was one of her favourites she had written. I hope I can pull off what I'm trying to. It's one of the more intense recordings on the album. We just got back from recording the drums at a studio and I'm looking forward to getting them into the master file. Lotta work going into this one tune!
11. Thanks for everything. As a final question, what do you enjoy most about this stuff? Is the actual nuts and bolts music-creation still its own, profound joy?
It's the nostalgia. I love the nostalgia. I love remaking old game tunes that I love - even new ones that I've come to love. Been sitting on a "Linebeck's Theme" from The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass for some time now. Gotta finish it up and send it to OCR! But yes, sitting in front of the computer and making the track and getting in "the zone" is when I truly feel alive - making game music arrangements or not.
Down with the Bad Dudes
We sent questions to each remixer, and though some didn't have the time to answer, the majority provided inimitable insights to the remixing process. We start things off with a roundtable, then break to some unique questions.
1. Which tracks did you do, and what captured your imagination in remixing them? Did you get to do any of your favorite Chrono Trigger tracks?
Mustin: Not only did I do my favourite Chrono Trigger track, I did my favourite game music piece ever - "Secret of the Forest." Did a few different versions before settling on this one. One I saved for my solo album coming later. "At the Bottom of Night" was an easy pick because it's such a well-loved tune - and the chords are oh-so-delicious. Doing "Warlock Battle (Magus)" was a no-brainer. Dhsu came to me with that one, and I knew we had to make something fresh and different. For me, no Magus arrangement to date had been satisfactory. This one, I can work with. Love the Janus vs. Magus dichotomy that Dhsu pointed out. There's some sweet with the sour, but overall, everyone loves Magus because he's a bad mo-fo. The music reflected this in that 2009 kinda way.
Diggi Dis: "Schala's Theme" and (for the most of it) the bonus track (this was a chord concept from Mustin that Joshua took and improvised on and both concepts landed on my computer and I made the whole thing into a track ). The first concept I did for the "Schala Theme" was way out there - really laid back and "spacey" you can say. The last section of the first remix captured my imagination to make it more 'banging'. It's not necessarily my favorite track, I do love it, but there's so much great music in that game.
posu yan: I had already previously done 2 CT tracks ("Chrono Corridor" and "Secret of the Forest") which were among my favorites, and I originally wanted to do "Black Omen" which was another on of my faves. I was workin' on it but it didn't quite work out, and meanwhile I had gotten the idea for the Factory track so I just went with that.
Bladiator: I think the main theme is beautiful, but I knew there were more than enough capable remixers to take care of that one in a better way than I could (and I think I was late on the track acquisition process). Other than that though, I really do enjoy "Yearnings of the Wind", and have heard quite a few other remixes of it along the way that really made the piece stand out. At one point, I mostly remember hearing another remixer's piece in my head a lot more than the original and had to go back and re-visit the ORIGINAL original piece and get back on track.
Tim Sheehy: CHRONOTORIOUS Yeah, it's the main theme, so it was quite an undertaking. I mean, what you do with that can either make or break the album because the theme is something every fan really holds dear. I actually had a few reservations about doing it, but it didn't turn out so bad. I'll be honest, I didn't get a chance to do my favorite Chrono Trigger tracks, but that's not so bad since they've been done a million times, and I already did them for both for Time & Space and SQUAREDANCE. It would have been nice to have finished my "Undersea Palace" arrangement in time for the album; it sounded like something off Mitsuda's Kirite.
Mazedude: Honestly I never beat the original Chrono Trigger, only played it a little bit. I enjoyed the music I heard, but never got as far as Tyran Castle. The real reason I picked this track is because a long time ago, a few years back, I received multiple requests from fans to cover the Tyran Castle theme specifically. So I kinda put it on my mental to-do list, but never got around to it... until Mustin proposed the idea of a Chrono Trigger album, at which point that theme just popped in my head as the one I'd do. As to the style, I was stuck for a while, until I connected the actual word "Tyran" with "Tyrannosaurus", at which point the creative juices really started flowing.
Danimal Cannon: I remixed the Zeal theme, "Chrono Corridor". That theme is among my favorite tracks musically, and also it represents possibly my favorite plot point in the game. When you first enter the kingdom of Zeal, it's a total mind-bender and you can't help but get caught up in the magic. I tried my best to capture this magic.
Dhsu: I was originally going to remake my "Another Fair" track from OverClocked ReMix, but I ended up doing the Magus track with Mustin after a friend requested it. Nothing especially captured my imagination, I mostly just tried chords until they sounded good, although I was always disappointed that none of the arrangements I'd heard before seemed to capture the epic buildup and explosive release of the original. Magus is definitely one of my favorite tracks, so I'd say that yes, I did get to do one.
zyko: I love Ayla. Something about her character is so inescapably intriguing. Not sure if it's because she's the female version of Gau or because I have a thing for strong, resolved women in revealing furs, but Ayla had me from hello. I was late to the party in selecting a track but it all worked out when I ended up with one of my favorite tracks anyway.
Kunal: Yup, "Undersea Palace" is one of my faves from the soundtrack. While "Lavos" isn't necessarily one of my faves, I've been asked by people to do a "Lavos" Suite a few times before, so this seem like a great chance to try it out.
2. What's your musical setup, both instruments and software? What would you recommend to new remixers?
Mustin: I have a refurbished Dell (I always shop from the Dell Outlet). It's a QuadCore with 6GB of RAM. Running Windows Vista 64-bit and SONAR 8 Producer. I usually use my Yamaha CS2x as the MIDI controller and for leads/basses. For new remixers, I say, try a few things and see what you're most comfortable with. I prefer SONAR because the MIDI is so easy to work with and pretty much everything I do is MIDI. I use a Mackie Onyx 400F and Yamaha MPS5A monitors. Good monitors are essential. You gotta hear what you're working with.
Diggi Dis: I run a Windows XP machine, with Cubase SX3, Fantom X8 Synth/Keyboard, Squirer Strat, Morgan Western Acoustic, Guitar Port. I'd recommend to just give it a go and if you find yourself actually enjoying making the music (how bad or good it may sound) you're good to go. Improvement is guaranteed as long as you keep going.
posu yan: My setup is very old school style. I basically get all my sounds from my instruments, such as my Yamaha CS1x (for synth sounds), guitars, and other live instruments. I use drum samples, but I don't use any VSTi or any kind of software synths/sounds. I mix it all in Sonar and I get unique sounds by playing with the sounds I've got. I think a lot of people who are new are too caught up in gear and software. I would recommend just getting something basic and trying to get the most out of it. Creativity can really come about when you're a bit limited and have to come up with new ways to accomplish something. I've been using the same basic setup since I started producing music and I'm basically only limited by my imagination now.
Bladiator: All I have is a Yamaha PRS-700 keyboard hooked up via MIDI and RCA stereo to my computer, and MIDI Orchestrator for midi tracking (think 1996). That being said, I recommend to new remixers that they learn what they love about the music and creating music first and not be too worried about production value right off the bat. The music always comes first. Then, make friends (maybe buy them drinks) with production artists in the community and have them do the hard work for you.
Tim Sheehy: My setup actually changes quite a bit from project to project, but for this one I believe I was using my Motif ES 8, SONAR 8, Quantum Leap Ministry of Rock, and Battery 3. I'm sure there was something else, but it's slipping my mind. If you were just getting into remixing, I would suggest - and I'm not kidding - starting with something relatively cheap and easy to use. Maybe not Mario Paint, but I hear Fruity Loops has come a long way.
Mazedude: I have a most unusual method. I combine Schismtracker (a recent Windows XP close of Impulse Tracker), ProTools, and Soundforge. This tends to give my finished work a very unusual sound, often resulting in the question, "how the heck did you do that?" I also use a completely different sample set for each piece, which makes each track sound very different. It makes mastering more difficult, but worth it for the resulting uniqueness. Personally I don't recommend my method, as it's rather difficult, but I don't want to give it up since it took me so long to get good at. :)
Danimal Cannon: My musical workstation is an advanced bedroom setup. Currently I'm using EMU and KRK monitors, for guitars I use Line 6's Gearbox program, drums are samples from the Drumkit From Hell library, and the orchestral elements are from the East West Quantum Leap Symphonic Orchestra sample library. For new remixers who are serious about their production values, get monitors and do A LOT of reading.
Dhsu: The majority of my arrangements until now have been recorded using an electronic piano in my school's piano lab. I saved the recordings as MIDI files and then had someone like MC or Mustin render it using their piano samples. It's a pretty good system IMO, although if you have a way to connect your electric piano directly to your computer and record it that way, I think that would probably be more ideal.
zyko: I have a pretty big setup although I admittedly don't use half of it most of the time. I have two electric guitars (a Washburn 7 string and a Dean Hardtail USA), two acoustics (a Taylor 314C and a 73 Guild F50 Jumbo), and a bass (a Schecter Diamond Series 5 String). I use a Simmons SD7K E-kit for drums, a Kawai Midi Key II (THX KAIJIN!) for keyboard stuffs and a mini Korg for fun. I have a few microphones that I use, primarily the Rode NT 1 for vocals and an SM57 for just about everything else. I have a bunch of random pedals including my trusty Digitech RP200 multi processor. I usually record my bass line-in but when I don't, I mic my Ampeg 250 Bass combo. I run all of these things through a Roland VM-3100 digital mixer (THX DALE!) which then runs through my Echo Gina soundcard. On a software level, I use Steinberg Nuendo for just about everything with a wide array of plugins and sample libraries. I listen to most of what I do through my headphone monitors, a sturdy, trusty pair of Beyerdynamic DT 770s. When I need to hear it outside, I play my music through JBL G100s. I also have a xylophone, a tabla, a turntable, an egg shaker, a couple recorders, a miniature violin and an oompa loompa somewhere. New Remixers, get the most basic midi controller you can get your hands on and, if you're so inclined, a guitar. You won't be disappointed with the amazing array of things you can do with just those things. As far as software goes, I don't like that Fruity Loops is often suggested as the best startup program because while it is certainly a good place to begin, you're far better served getting started with something like Cakewalk SONAR. Then get to work.
Kunal: I use a V-Pro drumkit, Takamine Electro-Acoustic guitar, a Washburn Taurus bass, and a CME UF-8 MIDI Controller. For sounds, I use a Triton Rack, Boss BR-8 fx processor, and various VST's/VSTi's such as Guitar Rig, Kompakt, and Edirol Orchestral Library.
3. How would you define your usual remixing style; i.e. do you go for jazz, trance, or something new each time?
Mustin: Well, there are only three styles of music, Death Metal, Country and Jazz. I guess I do mostly Jazz. Doesn't matter what I do everyone says it's Jazz. So I'm a Jazz remixer to the core.
Diggi Dis: I differ from styles, but usually there's some R&B influences in my tracks.
posu yan: I hate the idea of genres, I don't think in genres at all, so I would never try to go for any particular genre. I'm very rhythm oriented so what I hear in my head first is usually a groove, a harmonic color, and an overall feel. I always try to do something new and I usually don't reuse any beats, textures, or structures as many people who stick to one genre inevitably do.
Bladiator: I used to go for something a little different each time, but now I've sort of settled into straight up solo piano remixes because that's what I really excel at. That being said, I do try to give each new piece a real different flare from the last to keep things fresh. I used to do waltzes all the time, but eventually that started to bore the community (except for a couple hardcore fans). Maybe someday another one will come down the pipe.
Tim Sheehy: It can be problematical for me, but I like to challenge myself to try new things. Being a bit obsessive compulsive doesn't help either. I like trying to make my arrangements fit the projects, so I'd say I try to adapt to whatever the situation calls for. I hope I do a decent job of that.
Mazedude: Fusion. I take different genres and try to find fun ways to mix them together. I also do this because I get bored when doing conventional styles. Straight-up jazz I wouldn't be able to do that well, but try mixing acid jazz with industrial and ethnic elements, now you've got my attention.
Danimal Cannon: My remixes tend to have a rock guitar or metal vibe to them, this track is a bit more tame than many of my remixes because the source material doesn't warrant an all out assault. I am not limited to this style, I have done electronic and acoustic remixes as well.
Dhsu: I think by now most people know me as a piano remixer, but being in The Bad Dudes and working with Mustin has given me a chance to experiment and branch out more. Even with my piano work, though, I try to do something new each time, whether it be easy-listening, jazz, classical, etc.
zyko: Haha. I wish I knew. Honestly, it's really something new each time and the lack of consistency is probably my pitfall but oh well.
Kunal: The great thing about the Bad Dudes is that we try to make each album distinctive in its own right. I can't say that I've stuck to one or even two styles so far.
4. Do you have your own solo work? What games are you hoping to remix in the future, and will you be on board for more Bad Dudes works or other doujins and fan albums?
Mustin: I do plenty of work. I do Top 40 style Hip-Hop during the day in my recording studio with walk-in clients, I'm starting to get into the nerdy Hip-Hop scene (doing an album with Beefy), I lead and play in The OneUps - video game cover/arrangement band, and all more. I say the Bad Dudes is my remixing troupe. We do EPs and albums of game music. And I have my first solo game music album, THEW ORLD ISSQ UARE, coming out in December. Mostly SNES-era Squaresoft music, with a few newer tracks for good measure. If you want to keep up with me, www.Mustin.net is a good place to start.
Diggi Dis: I'm working on a few projects. I've almost finished a Golden Axe II remix, and of course I will be on board [for future Bad Dudes works].
posu yan: Everything I do is my solo work, whether its an original or a remix or a game music arrangement. I try to make everything my own even if I didn't compose the track. I'm always happy to be on anything Bad Dudes or any other fan albums, as long as I have ideas.
Bladiator: I have the majority of the stuff I've finished on OCR as well as http://bladiator.vgpiano.com for the piano-centric pieces. I'm not much for actually searching out a song or a group of songs to remix, but more enjoy taking other people's suggestions. That being said, I love writing pieces with the Bad Dudes because the project is plopped in my lap, and I know that at the end of the day, we're always going to churn out some amazing piece of work together.
Tim Sheehy: I do have my own solo work but, as you may or may not know, I'm also a writer for several sites. As a result, my time for writing music ends up getting taxed quite a bit. As for other games, there are quite a few on my list that I'd like to do, given the chance. Maybe something by Noriyuki Iwadare - I think Dale expressed some interest in that. As for more Bad Dudes, that's a given. I've also been contributing to Japanese doujin works, like a recent release by the circle DDBY.
Mazedude: I've composed original work for a few films, I was the official composer for Capoeira Nation (the first-ever online instructional video site for the martial art of Capoeira), I've composed for a few music libraries over the years, and also have some fun random tunage on www.mazedudemusic.com. As far as future mixes, I don't seem to have a lot of free time these days but am always on board for a Bad Dudes project, and around that have a long list of NES and classic PC games that need some lovin'.
Danimal Cannon: I do solo remixes as Danimal Cannon, and I also perform in the live video game music band Armannon. After listening to all of the other songs on this CD, I have a desire to remix all of the songs from Chrono Trigger myself!
Dhsu: I haven't released any originals yet, but it's something that I think would be cool to do eventually, and I really would like to cover the Panzer Dragoon games and stuff by Yoko Kanno at some point. I'm definitely up for more Bad Dudes stuff and projects in the future.
zyko: Yeah, I certainly have pursued making something of my solo work but it, not so surprisingly, hasn't caught on the way the video game remixing has. There's a ton of source material out there that has been untouched in terms of game music and that's where I'll likely have my most fun in the upcoming months. As for the Bad Dudes, I'm the baddest dude I know so you better believe I'm on board.
Kunal: I used to work on video games, tv/radio spots, and short films (www.ktriton.com). Lately though I simply haven't had time to look for that sort of work. As for the Bad Dudes, somebody once asked if we would ever split up. We all beat the crap out of him. Then we made him shine our shoes.
5. Did you play Chrono Trigger DS, and what did you think of it?
Mustin: It was fun. Good port. Didn't need the stylus. Sadly, the extras were a big let down for me. The extra activities in the secret cave thing were too much like a RARE game (Jet Force Gemini, Banjo-Kazooie) where, when you think you just beat the game, you have to go back and "collect" everything and keep having to go back over the same level. I hate going back over the same level in a game. I hate it. So that was a disappointment. Also couldn't really get into the arena thing with fighting your monster. Oh well. At least I have Chrono Trigger on the go! And the new music in the menus was a huge bonus!
Tim Sheehy: I did play it, and I enjoyed it. Was a bit ticked that they changed some of the item names, but I got over that. I'm actually nearing the end of the game, but I've been side-tracked with work.
Dhsu: Nah, I didn't feel the extra content was worth paying for and playing it again. And after the whole Crimson Echoes fiasco, I doubt I'll be playing anything by Square for a while.
zyko: I did not, actually. I don't have a DS and don't really know anybody in my immediate circle who has one so I haven't had that chance yet. From what I've heard of it, I'm intrigued to see it. I can't think of any game (save Zelda but I'm of course heavily bias here) that has sucked me into it the way Chrono Trigger has, so naturally I have high expectations.
6. What's in your car's CD player, and your favorite game console (or PC)'s disc (or cartridge!) drive at the moment?
Mustin: CHRONOTORIOUS is in my CD player right now. In the SNES is Super Mario Kart (getting amped for The OneUps' release of the "Super Mario Kart Album"). In the NES is Mike Tyson's Punch-Out!! Been diggin' on that lately.
Diggi Dis: Car's CD player contains a mix CD with all kinds of alternative / metal music. PS3 contains Streetfighter IV.
posu yan: It's really hard to list what I've been listening to since it's a lot of random single songs and random videos on YouTube. But a small sampling: Jazzy B, Ministry of Sound session 6, Muse, Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson, Bireli Lagrene, Ivan Lins, Dvorak. My favorite console right now is NES.
Bladiator: CHRONOTORIOUS is in my CD player and hasn't come out since I got my pre-copy. :) I'm a PC guy at heart, and the old drive (up until a friend of mine wouldn't leave me alone to borrow it) had Mass Effect in it.
Tim Sheehy: Right now? I believe it's the album Trash We'd Love by The Hiatus. They're a Japanese band with a singer who can sing in perfect English with no accent. It's really strange. My PS3 has a copy of Eternal Sonata in it.
Mazedude: In the car is an MP3 player of everything from industrial rock to ambient, ethnic music to film scores, and beyond. As far as games, I recently enjoyed the new Sam 'n Max episodes by Telltale Games on the PC, and am loving my new PS3. Bioshock, Fallout 3, and Resident Evil 5 were a blast. In fact I think I'd love to tribute Garry Schyman with a Bioschock remix at some point.
Danimal Cannon: CHRONOTORIOUS! And the upcoming Metroid Metal Live record which I performed guitars on.
Dhsu: CHRONOTORIOUS is in my car, Planet Puzzle League in my DS, and Devil May Cry 4 in my PC.
zyko: Believe it or not, CHRONOTORIOUS is in my car's CD player right now! It's an absolute beast of an album and I'm honored to be a part of it. Right now, I have Madden 10 in my PS3 and it's the GOODS. Wildcat formation FTW
Kunal: I store everything on my iPhone, but lately I have been listening to CHRONOTORIOUS like crazy! Right now I'm almost finished with Paper Mario 2 for the Gamecube.
The format is "[Name] Question" followed by "Answer", so don't get confused, now! Let's get started!
TIM SHEEHY: You've also been featured on SQUAREDANCE and Time & Space, doing great Chrono remixes in both cases. Do you just get called up these days when new albums are on the horizon?
Well, kind of. The projects we end up doing usually start as an idea in an e-mail thread. The wonderful thing about this group of musicians is that they're all willing to pick up the ball if the idea for the project is solid. With CHRONOTORIOUS, I just happened to be the guy to get the ball rolling on this project by pitching a mix for "Peaceful Day". Of course, we scratched that track halfway through production, but at least it got everyone to say "Okay, we're doing this."
DANIMAL CANNON: The Zeal theme has been done about 70 times in the remixing community (US & Japanese) by my last count. Did you refer to any popular Corridors of Time remixes to get an idea of how to innovate your own and make it distinct?
Suprisingly no. The only track I had heard was an OST version labeled "Time Circuits" on my computer. However, upon showing a clip of the song to some people, many comparisons were made to Ashane's "Zealous Entropy" remix. This is fine with me because I love Ashane's work and "Entropy" is one of the most celebrated tracks in DoD history and the comparisons inspired me to check it out for myself.
ZYKO: "Ayla's theme" is criminally under-remixed, so thanks a lot, first of all. It's a really energetic track; what led to your instrument choices here?
Criminally! It's an incredibly energetic source material, for one and has a very catchy, infectious melody to boot. How nobody has remixed this is beyond me. I think Dan said it perfectly when he characterized my track as space rock, as I tried to not only maintain the source's upbeat and sunny disposition, but also highlight the prehistoric/space age juxtaposition that Ayla's character has going on. I knew I wanted to contrast the grainy, earthy sound of the acoustic guitar (pre-history) with the gentle clarity of the sine wave (space) but even then I had no idea that I was going to rock out with a wah guitar and funky bass line behind it. The drums, funny enough, were really only the second time (at the time, that is) that I had actually recorded myself playing the drums rather than having programmed them. In that light, I really liked the fact that they were raw and sloppy. After all, she's a Cave Girl.
ZYKO: By the way, how's your kid doing? I remember digging the "Monster Baby" SMW2 remix on VGMix 2 in the summer of '05. "Queen with the Silver Eyes" also has a spot on our Crimson Echoes memorial remix collection at http://crimsonechoes.com/Inspiringmusic.html.
Thanks a lot for asking, brother. Eileen is doing great; it's getting harder everyday to keep up with her, ya know. It's been a long time since "Monster Baby" and now it's hard for me to get her to STOP talking lol. She's taken to playing music (naturally) and is totally delighted when she hears herself chuckling in that track. Now she pressures me to "produce" for her... and she's four. What happened? Wow, "Queen with the Silver Eyes!" I honestly haven't even listened to that one in a couple years. I firmly recall that, in spite of its lukewarm response in the scene, not only did you dig the track but you also preferred my original cut of it, which included the dream section. That's a favorite, man. Cool.
DHSU: If memory serves, you started as an OCR forumer, then grew into remixing? If so, how long did it take you to reach proficiency?
By the time I heard about OCR, I had actually been doing piano covers for a while. I released a couple tracks on the GamingForce Forums, and when Mustin heard them he told me I had to check out OCR. So I did, and here I am.
POSU YAN: "Remains of Factory" is one of CT's funkier tracks to start with. How'd you pick the beat for your mix?
Well, there's 3 different sections, and they were all influenced by different things. I was listening to "Circle Circle Dot Dot" by Jamie Kennedy and Stu Stone at the time, so that's the type of beat I was feeling when I started the whole thing with the first section. The second section was influenced by something else I was listening to at the time, which was "3 Five Blind" by Grant Windsor, which I took the rhythm from with its chord every 5th 16th note. The last section came about with just me messing around on bass.
KUNAL: "Undersea Palace" is an epic track with a lot of foreboding atmosphere. Did you have to decide how much of that opening melody to include?
Well, the opening piano piece was always epic, but the tune really wrote itself once I realized how great the bass line could be on a live bass! I don't think it was so much a conscious decision to cut down the face-time of that piano ostinato as it was a conscious decision to have experimented with the bass parts.
KUNAL: "The Bad Ending" starts out lo-fi and then kicks it up. Was your organ choice going for the Square RPG boss-theme organ sound?
Yup! The idea is to create an effect where the 16-bit world cross over to the real world!
MUSTIN: At the Bottom of Night was also covered by Dale North on SQUAREDANCE as "Spacecat". What led to your picking this song for coverage on the album?
Dale was actually supposed to do this track for this album, but this has been an insanely busy year for the man. The source tune is one of his all-time favourites, but he just couldn't pull it off due to time constraints. I knew I might have to step in and get it done for him in his absence so I was kinda toying around with some ideas in my head. I did this track in just a couple day's time. I had asked Joshua Morse to do the piano lead for me 'cause I know I'm no pianist, and he did some good scratch work for me, but I had gotten inspired and just finished it myself while waiting for him (not that he was slow at all) and rolled with the solo mix, even though he had his part done for me anyway (sorry, man!).
MUSTIN: Less of a question than an observation, but Forest Steppin' + po!'s Forest remix on SQUAREDANCE = the sleekest forest known to man. Awesome.
HA! Yes, that's one chill forest. Very much excited about my next arrangement of it, to then be followed by yet another arrangement with The OneUps! I can't get enough of this tune.
BLADIATOR: I am pretty impressed it's called "Longing of the Wind" and not "Wind Scene", which was a bit of a mistranslation that stuck with the English Chrono community until 2008. Yasunori Mitsuda has said that this is one of the most emotional pieces in the game for him, and your piano remix sounds pretty heartfelt; what thoughts did you have making it?
Props go to Mustin for getting the right name in the album because I also called it "Wind Scene" myself. When I started this piece, I didn't really have any expectations for it except that I am a really big fan of the source tune. It is so simple and melodic, and the chord progression moves smoothly. I knew it was something that I could work with and make something better with (no offense to Mitsuda). But that's something I think characterizes the majority of this soundtrack: simple beautiful melodies. Yearnings of the Wind, Corridor of Time, the main CT theme, and At the Bottom of Night are all in that same echelon.
TO DIGGI DIS: Did Zeal's sort of Persian theme inspire the use of your percussion in the Schala remix?
Yeah, in a way it did. Also the strings I already did for the first arrangement, put me on a sort of Arabic feel. So kinda went for that.
TO MAZEDUDE: "Tyrannosaurus" has a full-blown soundscape going on with the jungle songs and instrument-choice; it'd probably make some Donkey Kong composers envious. What was the sample selection process like in finding these jungle noises and tribal imagery?
As mentioned in the album write-up, the piece was directly inspired by James Horner's soundtrack to the film "Apocalypto". Now I didn't have the true ethnic instruments he did handy, but I drew upon what was available in my collection. Samples include Native American drums, Alpen Horns, Hurdy Gurdy, Duduk, Rainstick, various Ethnic Flutes, Didgeridoo, Bass Marimba, and more. They're not from the same place globally, but it still makes a fine mix. As for the jungle ambiance, I started off with your standard birds ambiance, then gave it a darker edge by also mingling in some growls, spooky hoots, buzzing flies, and so on. And finally, I intermingled my actual voice throughout the mix, mimicking the haunting cries and vocal punctuations that were present in James Horner's soundtrack.
Back in the Office with Mustin
With that wrapped up, it's time for the conclusion to our interview—several fascinating behind-the-scenes looks at the business side of things. Questions are by FaustWolf.
1. How'd you guys originally negotiate the license for Time & Space?
We didn't. We just filed for Mechanical Licenses. For more on that, read here: http://www.gigslist.org/index.php?name=News&file=article&sid=1407
2. As someone who's been able to build an entire studio around the concept of fan artistic appreciation, you're really "living the dream" from the perspective of more than a few fellow fans (and this is probably the umpteenth time you've heard or read that comment). Extreme dedication is obviously a huge factor in the creation and success of groups like the Bad Dudes, but also knowledge of how to navigate copyright law and negotiate licensing deals with the copyright holders. Could you shed a little light on the process of securing licenses for videogame music arrangement projects like CHRONOTORIOUS? I've read elsewhere that under US copyright law it's possible to secure compulsory licenses when you can't find the original author. When a known mega-corporation holds the rights, it's obviously a different process. Do you simply email that corporation's director of licensing and rights management out of the blue, or is there some ninja backchannel stuff that goes on to make this happen?
If in Nintendo Power they highlight video game cover bands that don't pay licenses, along with projects from OverClocked ReMix that are available as free downloads - to me that's making a big statement of the attitude of certain video game companies towards their IP. Times are changing, though. With Mark at www.EasySongLicensing.com around, paying licenses is so much easier! We'll be doing the digital licenses from here 'til the Brink of Time.
3. Why the decision to issue a maximum of 1000 CDs for CHRONOTORIOUS? Is that amount affected by the licensing deal in any way?
1,000 is the standard for CD replication. We always print in some quantity of 1,000. Just how the cards play out. Do some research on CD replication and you'll learn more if interested.
4. Which tracks from the hard copies will be removed from the iTunes and Amazon MP3 releases?
We're not sure yet! I think I'm going to leave off my two solo tracks so I don't hog up all the space. Prolly one of Kunal's since he has two solo tracks. We'll see!
5. I take it the revenue from the hard copies goes either mostly or exclusively to recouping licensing and printing costs, is that correct? Once you've recouped the cost of licensing and printing, do The Bad Dudes go into profit splitting mode with the copyright holder, i.e., royalties on the MP3 release?
We buy Lamborghinis and pick up Thai hookers and drive around town looking for crack-cocaine because we are BAD DUDES.
That's it! If your appetite has been whetted, get over to Bad Dudes and pick up CHRONOTORIOUS pronto. And if it hasn't, do it anyway. 'Till next time!