The video game music scene is a vast one, with a growing community that continues to bolster itself regularly. Certainly with events whose core is centered around video game music, such as MAGFest and Gamer’s Rhapsody, as well as the niche industry of game music expanding through both fan projects and composer collaborations, new names pop up in the scene regularly. This is especially true with new performers and bands that dedicate themselves to the celebration of video game music.
Enter Moiré Effect. What is Moiré Effect? Well, ask a visualist and it’s the spacing effect when two sets of patterns are laid on top of one another. So, what does this have to do with video game music? According to the band, it didn’t start out with a dedication to games music and beyond.
Moiré Effect started up in 1999 between friends Scott Wells, Drew Etterle and Justin Gregg. “Moiré Effect started out as a nostalgia project, but has gone the direction of recording unique covers of songs we love and more recently taken the direction of VGM covers.”, mentions Scott. “Drew and I have been friends since middle school. We are from Augusta, GA but I now live in the Baltimore/D.C. area and Drew is in Atlanta. We started Moiré Effect in high school after the short lived No Solution (a group with two other friends that weren’t as serious about making music).”
After playing at Justin’s wedding (who has since moved on from performing), the band grew beyond it’s original intentions. “Obviously we’re in totally different life situations than we were back in high school, but a lot of the musical tastes stayed the same.” comments Drew. “Back in our garage days we even fooled around with a couple takes on some video game songs, so the desire to get into VGM has been there, just lacking in execution. For myself, as a child of the mid 80’s my first real exposure to video games was the NES, but it wasn’t until the next generation that I really started noticing the music of video games. The catalyst for me was Chrono Trigger, which I still consider to be the greatest game of all time (OF ALL TIME).”
Scott echoes Drew’s sentiments about game music always being in the back of the band’s minds.”I always considered my love for music coming into being around 1991 with Pearl Jam’s “Jeremy,” but now that I think about it, I’ve been fascinated with VGM for way longer. Some of my earliest memories are playing on my dad’s Atari 800XL. Some of those songs I can still recall clearly even though I haven’t played those games in almost 30 years.”
Scott continues to recount how he discovered there was a scene for video game music among the geek crowd. “It was actually Bit Brigade’s performance of Mega Man 2 that rekindled my interest in VGM. A friend of mine shared a video of that performance and I was floored. Playing the soundtrack to a game while the front man plays the game? It’s brilliant. When I moved to Baltimore a few years ago I knew I had to visit MAGFest and see them perform.” And thus, in 2016, Scott made the trek to MAGFest in National Harbor Maryland and discovered for himself just how booming a scene it was. ” The whole environment of MAGFest felt like home. These were my people. We all shared a geeky love for video games and music.” Drew joined him at MAGFest the next year.
Drew had long since discovered the scene of video game music among its online communities. “I’ve been following OCRemix and Dwelling of Duels since the early days once I found out people were remixing VGM. I can still remember the feels I got when I first heard Ashane’s “Zealous Entropy” for that month’s Dwelling of Duels. That song, to me, demonstrated what VGM remixes are capable of: leveraging your expectations and creating a powerful experience that’s both new and familiar.”
Together, Drew and Scott decided to step forward and dip their toe into community as a band. “Drew has been competing in the Dwelling of the Duels for some time and since they were at MAGFest we figured we should throw our hat into the ring.”, comments Scott.
” I was hoping that the theme for Dwelling of Duel’s MAGFest month would apply to our song “God from the Machine” which is a heavy rock remix of the UNATCO theme from the original Deus Ex.” says Drew of their Dwelling of Duels entry from this past year’s MAGFest. “I’m really proud of it but it didn’t meet the theme for Dwelling of Duels (the theme was 80s vs 90s) so we had to crank out the DuckTales song real quick, but fortunately we’re very happy with how it came out and how it was received.”
Their Ducktails entry landed them 14th place out of 37 participating submissions and has given them their debut into the game music arrangement spotlight. “We have since gone back to add more harmonies and refine the mix, but the published version isn’t much different from the one played at that duel.”, says Scott. “That’s pretty much how we got into doing VGM covers…not that we mind. It’s a very natural place for us to be and I can’t believe we didn’t start doing this sooner. Right now we are seeking indie developers that would like to use our composing talents in their game.”
When asked who their favored video game composers growing up were, the duo had familiar names in mind.
Scott – “No one can deny that Nobuo (Uematsu) is the absolute master of thematic RPG composition. I will now take a truly controversial stance and say that Final Fantasy VII is overrated and that Final Fantasy VI is the penultimate FF game and some of Nobuo’s best work.”
Drew – “But I still remember the way the music (of Chrono Trigger) pulled me in and perfectly set the tone and atmosphere for the wide variety of scenes and encounters. From then on I was listening to Yasunori Mitsuda’s soundtrack even if I hadn’t played the game. Just a few of the other composers I’ve been following over the years are Nobuo Uematsu, Marty O’Donnell, and Jake Kaufman (list goes on).”Bands, Community, Dwelling of Duels, Features, Game Arrangements, Moiré Effect, Video Game Music