Interzioq #7: Disasterpeace interview (Rich Vreeland)

I had the great pleasure to interview the very talented Rich Vreeland, aka Disasterpeace! If you don’t already know him (which is a shame) he is the guy behind the FEZ video game soundtrack and the OST of the movie “It Follows”… but more than that, he is a man of many talents and a very innovative & cool musician that you can’t “put in a box”. It was a real pleasure to talk with him: thank’s Rich!

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Hi Rich and thank you so much for answering the questions of my interzioq! I was wondering what are your early musician memories? Do you remember the moment or what made you “fell” into music?

I remember having an electric guitar from a toy store that had a built in amplifier. I didn’t know how to play it so i played it flat on my lap. I just remember being mesmerized by the sound of distortion.

When you were a teen, what kind of music did you listened to and were you listening to videogame OST?

I grew up in a Christian household so definitely listened to a lot of Contemporary Christian music like dcTalk, but also music like The Beatles, George Winston, and Vince Guaraldi around Christmas time. As I got a little older I got into classic rock and nü metal. I always played games but I didn’t really latch onto the music until later, and I went through a period of nostalgia as I recollected all the music I had listened to over the years. Some of my favorites were the soundtracks of games like Chrono Cross, Yoshi’s Island, and Super Mario RPG.

What about today: what is your current playlist? 

I’m always listening to new stuff, or listening to my entire library on shuffle. I like to be surprised.

What are your favorite videogame OST and if it’s possible for you to say: why?

Hard to say definitively but there are a few that stand out for sure. I think a lot of it has to do with the experience. Some of the most influential were from games I played as a young person still developing. Lately my favorite is Samorost 3. A beautiful game.

Apart of computers, do you play any instrument?

Piano and guitar mostly.

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What are your favorite piece of software to create music? (DAW, vst, etc.)

I’ve gotten very comfortable with Logic Pro but I also like to write my own scripts to generate music via MIDI.

As we all know, your brilliant & innovative OST for FEZ was a big step in your musical career. Could you please tell us how have you been involved in this project, how did you met the team, etc. ?

I met the programmer of FEZ at a show I played in Montreal. They were looking for collaborators to flesh out a compilation style soundtrack, and I suggested they work with a single composer instead.

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After FEZ success, what did it change to you in your work ?

I haven’t had to look for work since then, so that’s obviously a very big change.

Today, what would be your biggest “musician dream”? (ex.: having your music being played by a philharmonic orchestra, making a collaboration with a famous artist, etc.)

I always get excited about dabbling in new forms, so working with an orchestra would definitely be exciting. I also dream sometimes about getting more into other art forms, like food for instance.

Excellent, I wasn’t expected this answer! You surely know that in France, food is a very important part of our culture so I can’t resist to ask you few questions about this topic… so what’s your favorite american meal ?

I love a good sandwich.

What’s your favorite foreign food ?

That is a very difficult question! I like so many types of food. I’ll go with miso soup. It’s a comfort food for me, and it doesn’t tend to affect my body negatively like other comfort foods might.

Do you like french cheese 🙂 ?

Yes! I like many kinds of cheese. I really like chevre.

Haha, thanks for this little food interlude and let’s go back to music now: when you start to work on a new videogame OST, what are the most important steps for you ?

 Gathering as much information as possible, both from the creators and from the project itself if it has already manifested in some form. Then there is an important period of trying out lots of ideas to figure out what the creative sandbox is going to be.

What do you like the most in the making of a videogame OST?

I like the freedom to experiment with form and structure, and the generally laid back culture.

On the contrary, what is the aspect of making videogame music that you don’t like or bother you?

The freedom to experiment with form and structure can sometimes get me in trouble. There are a lot of dead ends when you’re trying to push out into new directions.

Today, would you say you’re more interested in making videogames OST, movie soundtrack or just releasing an album of your own?

I don’t think I mind what the medium is so much. I tend to gravitate towards all different sorts of projects, so I think I’m looking for something other than the format. I like to try new things.

I’m personaly a huge fan of Brian Eno (both of his music & mind) so when you speak about new things, do you have any thoughts about new medium such as Virtual Reality or interactive music, generative music, etc.? I know it could be a long answer but I’m curious to have even few words from you on that topic.

I’ve been very excited about developments within the realm of virtual reality. Experimenting with creating the sense of sound all around you, and how that relates to VR is something I want to dive into, and I can’t wait until these technologies start to blossom and become largely available to consumers at affordable rates. I’m hoping to work on a VR project in the near future, though I don’t have anything planned just yet. That said, I’ll be working on a 3D game for the next few years where I hope to explore technologies that will carry over into my work with VR. I very much want to create 3D audio experiences.

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If it’s not a secret, what are your upcoming project? 

I’m working on another game with Heart Machine (Hyper Light Drifter), and David Robert Mitchell’s next film, ‘Under the Silver Lake’. I’ve also got a piano album coming out soon.

Any advice to people who’d like to make music for the videogame industry? 

Be yourself.

Any links you’d like to share with us ?

I keep an extensive blog: http://disasterpeace.com/blog

Do you know any word/sentence in French? Do you have a final message to the French audience?

‘ L’esprit de l’escalier ‘

Many thanks for your replies!

My pleasure !

>> you can stream or buy & support Disasterpeace music on bandcamp. <<

Interview by izioq.

“World of izioq”: new album out!

world of izioq

Guess it was time to update the blog a little bit so… welcome to this new journey into the world of izioq!
I’m super proud of this album and I really hope you’ll love this new mix of electro chiptune video game indie pop whatever music: I don’t even know how to name it but you’ll find here a lot of genre and influence to enjoy 🙂

// izioq //

P.S: I really want to thank you all for your awesome feedback & support. This is just awesome: the world of izioq is yours!

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Interzioq #6: Jacob Buczynski interview – Revenge of the Sunfish

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Jacob Buczynski (aka Jinxtengu) is an indie video game developer from Melbourne, mainly known for his very original, strange (sometimes weird) and personal video game “Revenge of the Sunfish”. He was kind enough to reply to this interview with lots of interesting and detailed replies: thanks Jacob 🙂 !

Could you tell us what is your oldest memory about video games or the first game you played?
The first video games I played were on the Atari 2600. They were: River raid, Frogger, space invaders, Berzerk, Cross force, Combat, Kung fu and Pitfall. The Atari belonged to my older brother. River raid was one of my favorite games at the time, I still find it sortof fun. It uses procedural generation to generate the terrain and it was programmed by a woman (Carol Shaw). Later on my family acquired a dos based ibm pc, and I got into dos games. I also had a commodore Amiga an Atari lynx and finally a play-station one (for a short period).

What’s the game you’ve got the more fond memories about?
I have fond memories of playing “Slime world” and “Gates of zendocon” on the lynx, both were coded by a guy called Peter Engelbrite. I don’t think much of his more modern “christian themed” games but his early games were very ahead of their time. Slime world was multiplayer compatible for up to 8 players and has an expansive game world with an automap, way before Metroid did. Gates of zendocon had quite distinctive enemy behaviors and was also somewhat non-linear. Both games are kind of clunky by today’s standards, but they were great at the time. I also have fond memories for alot of Amiga games (Flashback, Another world, Turrican, Adams family, Apidya, Harlequin, Elite, Moonstone, Paradroid 90, Llamatron, Populous, Shadow of the beast, Syndicate) And a few dos games (Cosmos cosmic adventure, Commander Keen series, Chopper command).

How and why did you start making video games?
I’ve always been creatively inclined. I loved drawing and painting from an early age. Before i had access to computers I used to make interactive postcards that would fold out or have slots to remove pieces of paper or characters, choose your own adventures, comics and paper mache costumes and masks. When I was in primary school, a few students had designed some games on the schools mac computers. Their games were in black and white and were inspired by a combination of Earthworm jim, stick death and southpark. I have no idea how they made them and I’m not sure if their games were lost, but they amazed me, they were fantastic (this was in Tasmania, i don’t know the names of the students unfortunately). When my family finally got a computer with an os (windows 3.1) I started experimenting with gif animations. Those gif animations were probably the first step towards game design. The first pc “game” that I made was done in powerpoint, it was called “larry the mouse” It featured horror shock screens, collision detection, levels, and a game over screen. It was quite a hit around the school, unfortunately I don’t have a copy of it now. A few years later I got into “Click and Play” because my highschool had it installed on the school computers. At the time i had an IT class. Instead of doing classwork me and my friends used to design games. My school was pretty rough (on a school field trip a student threatened the class with a loaded shotgun, a Chinese student got bashed with a crowbar) designing games was better than getting into fights, and generally better than what the school had to offer. After a short time i moved onto using “the games factory” instead of the extremely limited “click and play”. Game design became more of a weekend activity, were i would meetup with friends and we would make games. Most of our early games are lost unfortunately, especially some games by a friend of mine. Later on I became friends online with Kimberly Kubus and he got me involved with mark overmars “Game maker” (which is really better than “the games factory”) From there I’ve continued to design games, it become part of my life, part of how i express myself. Now I need to keep doing it to survive.

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How the idea of “Revenge of the Sunfish” started in your mind?
I like games that contain distinctive sub games, for example “Tondemo Crisis” on the playstation one, also games like that are quite rare.
In 2005 I started working on a game with a friend that was to contain many distinctive levels connected by a weird story, but we never started coding it. It started off with the player running away from a lion and then getting trapped in a box that was sinking in the ocean. Thats all I remember, but i think that was the seed for Revenge of the sunfish. The idea of non-linear games has also interested me, (I mentioned gates of zendocon and choose your own adventure books). Non linear structures are great because they increase replay value, but I think it’s harder to design games like that. Just before I made Revenge of the sunfish I had released a bunch of my early games in the WTF series. I was thinking, what if I made some custom levels similar to the WTF series but linked them with a plot and a non linear structure. Then I just sort of got into a nice work groove. Obviously it should be about sunfish, because they are weird and awesome. Also originally revenge of the sunfish was going to be longer but it used up the maximum memory capacity of my very old and lame computer.

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You’re now working on the sequel “Revenge of the Sunfish 2” : how the project is going?
I feel like it’s not going too well. I showed the demo at a game festival 2 years ago and promised to release it in 6 months. It was very well received at the festival, but I feel like it was a wasted opportunity, since i didn’t finish the game. The truth is I’ve been struggling with finances and housing for years. At the time of the festival in the UK (Rezzed) I was living in a garden shed, probably made out of asbestos. There were spiders in my bed and holes in the wall through to the outside (probably how the spiders got in!) I’m not living there anymore but my work environment still isn’t very good. People just expect that I should be able to work under any conditions, i don’t know where people get such an idea. I’m a sensitive person. I find noise and high temperatures very distracting ( I’m living next to a construction site now) I also have some health problems. The issue I’m having isn’t with the game, (I’m making progress albeit slowly) the problem is that I’ve been in living situations which are essentially bad working environments. I could finish ROTSF2 in a few months If I somehow miraculously procured a suitable-place to live and work. Indecently, would anyone like to donate me a house 🙂 ?

What tools do you use to make video games today?
Mental tools such as meditation are essential for my work. Without the ability to meditate and also breathing exercises, I would be overwhelmed. In terms of computer programs, I use Ms paint, Paint shop pro 7, bero tracker, Audacity, Game maker, Multimedia fusion, z game editor, Blender, also some programs that I’ve written in Game maker mostly for compositing animations and also drawing animations. I wrote a program in Game maker to actually animate inbetween frames between 2 key frames using vector lines. It works but doesn’t look natural so I don’t use it. I try out alot of new programs but I’m often disappointed with the results. I’m probably going to start using unity 3d at some point.

What inspires you?
The idea of creating a new culture, showing an alternative world view within a game, even if it’s tangential. I mostly prefer the world in my games to the real world and i like to escape into my work. I don’t feel comfortable with the current status quo in western society particularly here in Australia. The prevalence of bigotry and the widespread apathy towards it disgusts me. Social inequality grows and kills off creative people who aren’t investing all their time and energy into making money. Money is vulgar. People with money should not be placed on a pedestal as they currently are by the media, nor should celebrities. A life goal aimed only towards making money is an empty calling, yet many people can’t move past this primitive cultural level. I’m worried about the trend towards materialism, consumerism, anti-intellectualism and fascism that seems to be spreading across the globe. It inspires me when people play one of my games and then email me to say they would like to design games themselves because of it. That means to me that I’ve succeeded in passing on some of my creative spirit. A creatively awakened mind is safeguarded against some of the madness inflicted by society, since creativity expands peoples perspectives and awareness. I want to inspire people so they can actualize their dormant creativity (which is within everyone).

Any piece of advice for someone who’d like to try making video games?
I would advise them to just jump in and try it. Download Game maker studio, or unity and just try. You might find you like it.

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Except your own, any game (indie or not) we should try?
I’d recommend Eastern Mind: The Lost Souls of Tong-Nou. If you can get it to work, it’s brilliant. I came across a dos game called Ecstatica recently, and I would recommend that. Also “Papers please” if you haven’t already seen that.

Any good book, movie or album to recommend?
I’d recommend the movie Stalker by Tarkovsky, the book Hard boiled wonderland and the end of the world by Haruki murakami, and the album unknown pleasures by Joy division.

Feel free to share some links to your work here:
Thanks for the interview! Check out my site at: http://www.revengeofthesunfish.com/

Interview by izioq.