Chip Music, Doujin, Game Music

5 Quick Questions: Hydrocity (halc)

July 7, 2012 | | Comment? Share thison Facebook 5 Quick Questions: Hydrocity (halc)on Twitter

OSV: What was the first soundtrack that made you take note of video game music?

halc: Hard to say. I was introduced to awesome video game music quite early in my life; very fond memories of humming along to the music of Sonic 2 and Mickey’s World of Illusion whilst I vanquished smug-faced caterpillars with a magical blue cape on Christmas morning at the age of 5. I suppose I’d have to go with Sonic 3 however as the game that truly turned me on to VGM, perhaps as I was slightly older and more capable of appreciating it for how fucking awesome it was. I could never get past the stupid red barrel in “Carnival Night Zone” (however I honestly managed to get past it one time by holding down and B on controller one with my toes to have Sonic go into a spindash, used the second controller to bounce the barrel with Tails, and lifted my toes when I managed to get it high enough for Sonic to slip through. Good times. Facepalming when you realize 7 years later how simple that part really was, also good times. Anyway, back on topic..), so that theme left a sour taste in my mouth as a kid. The music in the first three zones and the special stage though was/is just so fantastic, so well composed and ahead of it’s time in terms of sound. Masterful use of the console’s on-board chip.

OSV: What was the main inspiration in your decision to become a musician?

halc: Without a doubt, OverClocked ReMix. I began learning music when I was in the 5th grade, but the idea of composing/producing my own music had never crossed my mind. However, when I discovered OCR back in 2002-ish, it was like a switch flipped. I was determined to join the ranks. I remember being so inspired by remixes like “Climhazzard Rush” by aluminum, Spyder’s “ElectricGearSolid”, and naturally, as a Sonic kid, pretty much anything by Jivemaster. But like any starting musician, I had no idea where to start. In 2003, my freshman year of high school, I became acquainted with Benjamin Briggs (formerly known as chthonic) via marching band, who happened to be a rising nooblet in the VGMix community at the time. He was my enabler, introduced me to FL Studio and showed me the ropes to some degree. If we hadn’t met, I would probably be a completely different musician, and I definitely wouldn’t be halc.

OSV: What is the concept and inspiration to your new album, Hydrocity

halc: Hydrocity = hydro + velocity (I’d like to think SEGA thought the same thing back in the day, unlike some of you Hydro City weirdos out there who don’t realize how clever SEGA could be ;D), and a lot of the tracks are intended to evoke the imagery of water, however that may appear to you. I started this album after I finally grabbed a copy of Native Instruments KOMPLETE 8, and simply having ALL THAT SHIT at my disposal was the main inspiration. I had no idea what kind of music to make, there were too many options. I came up with a skeleton version of Retro Machines (named after a Kontakt sample library that I used for much of the track), and the rest of the tracks were pretty much developed in the order that they appear on the album (excepting the “Hydrocity Zone” arrangement, which was the last track made for it). It came very naturally.

OSV: How do you approach creating new original material in contrast to imagining a new take by arranging prior existing work?

halc: The process is totally different. I really never wrote original music at all until mid 2010, whereas I’ve been making remixes since I began. Arranging has always come pretty naturally to me. When I’m writing an arrangement or remix, there’s already so much to work with, the main hurdle is deciding what style to do it in, and then getting a foundation down. They usually end up sounding pretty refined as I go, so that once I finish writing the ending the song is essentially done. When I’m writing original music, there’s a lot more work to do since there’s no source material to work with. I have a somewhat poor sense of chords and melody, but I know when something sounds good, so every time I start a track I’m just plunking away on the keyboard with no rhyme or rhythm, and eventually I’ll just stumble upon something that works, as silly as that sounds. As opposed to arranging, I usually end up getting the basic structure of an original track out of the way first, and then I’ll go back through and flesh everything out since by then I’ll have a better feel of how I want the track to end up sounding.

OSV: What can we expect to hear from you in the future?

halc: Lots more original music. And more remixes too; I’ll always be a remixer, but having done over 60 video game remixes, I feel like I’ve tackled most of the songs I truly set out to remix back when I started. Since my ability to write original music has improved so much in the past year, that’s my number one focus, and I’m setting out to explore (and invent) as many different styles and soundscapes as I can. Keep your eyes peeled. 😉

Hydrocity is available at halc’s Bandcamp on a pay-what-you-want offer.

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