Game Music, Interviews

Tribute Album N64’s Patient Corgi Interview

November 18, 2016 | | Comment? Share thison Facebook Tribute Album N64’s Patient Corgi Interviewon Twitter

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Ian Luckey of Patient Corgi recently produced his largest compilation album of N64 covers with Tribute Album N64 , an eighty-seven-track album available for free on Bandcamp for any to purchase. I had the opportunity to chat with Ian Luckey, a.k.a. Patient Corgi, about his background in game music and how this massive tribute album ended up coming together.

What is your musical background, and how did you become involved with VGM covers?
Video games have and I believe always will be an important part of my personal and musical identity. As a multi-instrumentalist and vocalist, I’ve been involved in projects spanning a lot of different genres over the years (rock, fusion, metal, punk, folk, classical, jazz, barbershop, etc.), but it was video game music—and specifically the soundtrack to Kirby’s Adventure—that originally inspired me to teach myself to play piano as a kid. I broke into composition for independent films in 2003, writing music for the first season of the video game themed comedy series Mega 64. My first studio recorded video game cover was an Ocarina of Time Medley I arranged and played concertina on in 2008 with my band at the time, The Dread Crew of Oddwood. In 2010, some friends and I formed Kirby’s Dream Band out of our mutual love for video game music, and we’ve been active in the VGM scene ever since (even had the privilege of performing at events like Anime Expo, MAGFest, Rockage, California Extreme, and collaborated on stage with great artists like Mega Ran and Stemage).

Can you tell us a bit about what Patient Corgi is, and what its role is with game music covers?

My wife Colleen and I originally started Patient Corgi in 2012 as a game development company. The two of us made a retro-style RPG called Badd Bunny Breakout, based on her band The Radioactive Chicken Heads. We also have two corgis named Cato and Zelda, who would lie on the floor at our feet and patiently wait for us to be done working on our computers; thus the name. As far as video game covers go, our first experience producing compilation albums was two years later with Super VG Christmas Party. I’ve always been really into Christmas and the holiday season in general, and we thought it would be cool to bring together our friends in the VGM scene to do a big winter themed release. The reception ended up being so good that we decided to follow that up with SOUND WAVES: A Tribute to Ecco the Dolphin. Now, with Tribute Album 64, we’ve put together our biggest and most comprehensive album yet, and Patient Corgi has developed into a more diverse brand for all of our video game and geek culture entertainment ventures.

What gave you the idea to put together an N64 album?

We were driving back from a trip we had taken to Seattle. Sound Waves had just been released, and we were in the car talking about video games and project ideas (as we often do). There was a realization between the two of us that the 20th anniversary of the Nintendo 64 was this year. I’m kind of terrible at gauging the passage of time in that way and I remember how surprised I was to discover it had been that long. Even more surprising was that as widely beloved as the console and generation of gaming is, outside of some mainstream titles, there weren’t nearly as many covers in the VGM scene (relative to the 8 and 16-bit eras, at least). After some “presearch” (a term coined in the 8bitX chatroom during our recent listening parties), we also found that a compilation of this type hadn’t been made yet either. Colleen and I weren’t really planning on putting together another album like this so soon, but the timing was just right, and we had a feeling that the community would be really enthusiastic about it.

How long has this project been in the works, and how many musicians were involved in it by the end?

The production process was almost nine months long, going from our initial reaching out to musicians we wanted involved, all the way through to the September 29th release. As I mentioned before, we anticipated that our team would be excited about the N64 theme, but the extent of everybody’s passion for the project completely exceeded our expectations. Our total headcount, including performers, arrangers, lyricists, and engineers is well over 200 people from around the world. In hindsight, the scope of the album is kind of staggering. 87 tracks, 45 games, and almost five hours of music in a huge variety of styles…not to mention the quality all the way throughout is absolutely top-notch.

What were some of the difficulties of managing such a large group and track list?

With all three of the compilations we’ve done, more bands and artists are brought onto the project than we know will be able to follow through. Something might happen that’s out of their control, or other obligations in their lives take priority, and all of that is understandable and cool with us because it’s important to keep the process fun. The albums are free to download, totally volunteer, and absolutely a labor of love. Different people work at different paces, and giving our contributors as much freedom as possible helps them remain passionate about what they’re bringing to the compilation. Our guidelines were simple: music from any N64 game was up for grabs, each band or artist was allowed up to two exclusive song claims to avoid repeat themes, and all final mixes were due by a certain date to allow time for mastering (which Erik Peabody deserves a medal for, by the way). “Check-in” day each month was definitely a big undertaking as there were a ton of people to contact and absurd amounts of information to keep track of, but since the team was hand-picked, we were confident what we’d be getting by the end would meet our standards, and I think the final product speaks for itself.

Are there any tracks you are particularly excited about, and why?

Honestly, I love this album front to back…it’s kind of got something for everyone. Narrowing it down by genre is tough, but Colleen and I worked hard to fine-tune the track order to group stuff together based on general mood and then named each disc after appropriate classic level-types. So the “Forest” disc has a lot of great classical and acoustic tracks. There’s all kinds of electronica, folk, and more on the “Water” disc. If you’re a fan of the jazz and big band type sound, the “Underground” disc is excellent. The “Sky” disc gets more into the rock and prog territory, and then the final “Dungeon” disc is for our heaviest stuff, so lots of metal and punk. There are a ton of amazing artists on here both old and new, but I’ve got to give a shout-out to our veterans who have been a part of every Patient Corgi compilation since the beginning, like ThePlasmas, Michael Zucker, CarboHydroM, Flying Knee, The Koopas, Matheus Manente, Malcos, Viking Guitar, Lauren the Flute, Careless, Pokérus, Brandon Strader, and Maiko Z.

Is there anything else you would like to share about the making of Tribute Album 64?

This project, like all of the compilations we’ve put together, is very much for fans and by fans. People frequently ask why we offer so much music for free, but like the name of the album implies, it’s a tribute. A tribute to the amazing work these composers have created over the last 20 years, to our friends and fans for their unparalleled support and eagerness to collaborate, and to every listener whose day we can brighten a little with this collection of songs. It may have taken a lot of time, money, love, and hard work to create, but we do it because we really enjoy being a part of this community. The VGM scene is unique and special, with a power to instantly unite people worldwide over this shared passion that has been monumental in our lives. It’s given us all so much, and this is just our way of saying thanks. So please enjoy, share, and keep playing!

Emily is a guest writer for OSV and co-Editor in Chief of Video Game Music Online.

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