Game Music

TalesWeaver Composer JeeHoon “JIMMie” Park Talks Game Music

March 15, 2011 | | 1 Comment Share thison Facebook TalesWeaver Composer JeeHoon “JIMMie” Park Talks Game Musicon Twitter

In case you haven’t heard the news, Korean MMORPG TalesWeaver is finally coming to the United States. With its highly stylized graphics that are reminiscent of Ragnarok Online, and an amazing pop-oriented soundtrack composed by ESTi, Nauts, and JIMMie, a few of us here at OSV were ecstatic when we heard the news.

While ESTi and Nauts have since moved on, JeeHoon “JIMMie” Park has remained on the team handling all of the music for “Episode 2,” the latest update to the game. We’ve fortunately been given some time to speak with him about his work on the game, his background in the game industry, and his musical influences, which include numerous Japanese and Western composers.

Hit the jump for an interesting read.

OSV: Hello Mr. Park. Thanks for speaking with us about your work on TalesWeaver.

Can you start by telling us how you came to work on this project? We know in the early days of TalesWeaver that you worked alongside ESTi, Nauts, and other composers, so how were you initially approached to work on the title, and what were your primary contributions in the beginning?

JIMMie: It’s my pleasure meeting you!

Well, I joined Nexon in 2005. At that time, I was working on Nexon’s several other game projects such as Kingdom of the Wind, Asgard, Dark Ages, Elancia, etc. I used to compose scores of role playing games and that probably led me to TalesWeaver project. I was allocated to TalesWeaver project at the end of 2005, and “White Fantasia,” the theme song of Snow Village Eltivo, was my first track on TalesWeaver.

OSV: ESTi and Nauts have since moved on to other projects, but you’ve continued to write music for the game, which was featured extensively on the 2008 album, TalesWeaver Original Soundtrack Plus. Was it difficult to transition to being the primary composer for this long-running game?

JIMMie: ESTi and Nauts both led Episode 1 and the prologue of Episode 2 amazingly. The moment I took over this project, TalesWeaver was facing huge change both internally and externally as the entire project was transferred from Softmax to Nexon. My primary mission was to inherit the musical legacy from two former artists (ESTi and Nauts), but to make change at the same time. Before, the scores of TalesWeaver were very independent, meaning that you can listen to the music even without the game. They had dynamic spectrums. After long thought, I have concluded to go ‘behind’ the game and have it be more devoted as ‘background music.’ I set my goal to make the music with more consistency, the consistency between sound tracks, and the game. This was probably the hardest part I’ve done ever since I joined TalesWeaver project.

OSV: Are you currently on-staff with the developer of TalesWeaver, or are you contributing on a freelance basis? Are there other composers who are still working alongside you on this project?

JIMMie: I am currently working for Nextoric as on-staff. I am the only person in charge of TalesWeaver sound.

OSV: Are you familiar with “Children of the Rune,” the story upon which the game is based on? Does that story have any influence in your work?

JIMMie: Yes, I’ve read them to understand the game better when I first got in TalesWeaver project. The story is very well organized and large-scaled, and probably that was why I put more acoustic and classic styles in the beginning. The story is based on children the Rune, who are finding their own destiny. Going through life-risking adventures, the children face their own fate and grow up as heroes. I wanted to express the dynamics that the characters’ been through to the music.

OSV: Are you still actively writing music for the game? Will any of the game’s music be changed for the North America version?

JIMMie: Well, I’ve composed many pieces so far. As our development team will launch whole new contents in the near future, you will be able to listen to the new scores pretty soon.

And also, please enjoy “You Are My Light,” the theme song of Episode 2. This song is TalesWeaver’s first English music title, and of course I would like to make more English version arrangements if many people want it.

OSV: What kinds of tools are you sing to make your music? So much game music out of Korea is so high in quality, I always wondering what kind of synthesizers or software libraries you’re using.

JIMMie: Well, thank you for complements. I would like to thank you on behalf of all Korean game composers.

In my case, I utilize both Nuendo and Protools for digital audio workstation. There aren’t particular tools which Korean game composers are using though, but preferred synthesizers or software libraries are slightly different from the Western hemisphere, which means mixing or arrangement methods are different, and I think this makes what Korean music unique and original.

OSV: What are your feelings about the game and your music reaching an audience in the United State and abroad? Did you ever think that fans in the West would be able to enjoy your compositions?

JIMMie: Not really. One day I received a letter from a Japanese fan. She was a high school student, and she felt so depressed because she messed up her mid-term exam on that day. And she wanted to thank me because she could refresh herself up while listening to “Light on You” (Japanese version of “You Are My Light”) on her way back home. When I received that letter, I thought that was it. I thought that was the furthest I can reach. Asia was all I could imagine. So to me, TalesWeaver going Western hemisphere is pretty much unexpected and very exciting!

OSV: Game music professionals in Korea have been notoriously elusive, especially given that many use aliases like JiMMie, for example. Why do you think the industry has developed this way in Korea, and do you think the use of aliases makes it more difficult for you to get projects abroad?

JIMMie: Well, I think it’s not only for Koreans. Lots of game composers and illustrators prefer to use aliases, especially for collaboration projects. Still many of them in Korea work with their real name.

This may sound ironic though, I picked alias JiMMie because my Korean name is quite difficult to pronounce for foreigners.

OSV: Can you give us some background information about yourself? How did you come to write music for videogames, and is it true that you were a member of the soundTeMP studio? What are some of your past works outside of the TalesWeaver series?

JIMMie: First, there’s no relation between me and SoundTeMp.

When I first joined Nexon, I worked on several mmorpg titles – Kingdom of the Wind, Legend of Darkness, Elancia, Asgard, etc. I am a huge fan of games, and I especially love playing console games. I can proudly say I played most RPG titles, and I think that enriched my musical accomplishments. What I do now is to make it trendier and spice it with my own style.

OSV: Would you like to tell us some of your musical influences or composers in Korea and abroad that you admire or have been inspired by?

JIMMie: Wow, I have a lot to talk about this.

First, Nobuo Uematsu, composer of Final Fantasy series is the one who led me here. I think he is the true master who perfectly controls the balance between artistry and popularity. Let me tell you how much I admire him; Every time when I play Final Fantasy, I memorize the scores and play them on the piano right after I clear the game. I am not showing off or anything, but I do memorize all the scores while I play the game.

I wonder if you remember the ending scene of Final Fantasy VI if you have played it? In Final Fantasy VI, each character has their own theme song, and at the end of the game, all of these theme songs melange together just like a medley. It’s almost 20 minutes long, and I memorized the entire score and played it so perfectly. I am not that good right now because I haven’t practiced for a while, but still I can play theme melodies of each series! So, feel free to stop by Nextoric and listen to me play when you visit Korea next time.

Also, Shoji Meguro of Persona, Yasunori Mitsuda of Chrono Cross, Kenji Ito of Roamancing Saga, Michael Hoenig of Baldur’s Gate, and Harry Gregson-Williams of Metal Gear Solid are the ones who influence me most.

I am already touched by imagining their music. It is my dream to compose such music one day in my life!

OSV: If you could create one TalesWeaver “arranged album” project, in what style would you want it to be? Orchestra, piano solo, vocal, rock band, something else? Is there any chance that we’ll ever see something like this?

JIMMie: Yes! I always plan for this in my mind. Regardless of the feasibility, I always have thought of ‘Celtic’ and ‘Irish’ style arrangement. I have already looked for musicians and teams to help me for this in Korea, and the only thing I am waiting for is an opportunity to make this happen.

OSV: Can you tell us what’s next for you in 2011 regarding both TalesWeaver and other projects?

JIMMie: Parallel to game updates, newly composed music will be added to TalesWeaver original sound track. Also, I am working on Nextoric’s new game projects, too. Please have fun playing TalesWeaver, and enjoy listening to music too!  Thank you very much!

OSV: Thank you for your time. Congratulations on the US launch of TalesWeaver.

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