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Film, Game Music

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Who? What? Where?: Jacob Diaz Interview

Email This Post Share on Facebook Who? What? Where?: Jacob Diaz InterviewTweet This Post Print This Post 05.05.12 | | 2 Comments

Today, we talk to Jacob Diaz, the video game remixer who goes by the name Jakesnke17 and DjjD. He has been active on the Overclocked Remix scene for a little while now, creating catchy dance remixes of your favorite video game themes, and participated on some of the many projects the community continues to spew out.

These days, Diaz has been busy working on his very first film soundtrack, shifting his focus from arranging to movie compositions with his score for the upcoming movie, 10. Diaz discusses the differences from arranging to composing, the amount of work that goes into an original score, and his video game music influences put to use in 10.

Click the jump to read our talk with Diaz!

OSV: Mr. Diaz, thanks for taking the time out of your schedule to have this talk with me today.

Diaz: Thank you for having me.

OSV: No really, thank you. Not many do come talk to me at all, and I am quite lonely.

Diaz: Awww come now, it can’t possibly be that bad…

OSV: You are here today to talk about your first short film soundtrack, but you have been doing other kinds of music as well, including video game arrangements. First off, tell us a bit where you are from.

Diaz: Well, hello, my name is Jacob Diaz. I live in Prescott Valley, Arizona…and I’ve lived here my entire life. I am a freelance composer/producer/audio engineer and I started this profession back in 2009. I got inspired when I found out about OverClocked Remix years prior, but it didn’t actually occur to me to start remixing until I heard an original track by zircon on the show called Heroes (the name of the track is Warhead). Soon after, I saw his accomplishments as a remixer on OCRemix (“Monstrous Turtles”, “Dirt Devil”, etc.) and it occured to me, that maybe I should give it a go. I go by the alias “Jakesnke17″ for remixed work on OverClocked Remix, as well as on various forums. So if you see that name, most likely, it’s me. As far as original work I go by “DjjD”.

OSV: You do freelance work as a musician, so obviously music has been a big part of your childhood. What kind of music do you remember having an impact on you when you were a child?

Diaz: I’ve always had a very large passion for music. From an early age, my parents influenced my tastes with a wide variety of music. While my dad was out in the shop listening to Kitaro, (I can distinctly remember the song, “Dance of Sarasvati”) classical musicians, (Bach, Beethoven, etc) and country (Johnny Cash, Hank Williams Jr., etc.)…my mom was busy listening to The Beatles, Elvis, Eagles, Jimi Hendrix, and of course Michael Jackson. Then, you topple on having a brother who listened to Metal (Metallica, Disturbed, etc.) and Jazz (Miles Davis, Dave Brubeck, etc.)…and you’ve got a crazy mix mash up music per day. Of course, people found it odd when I’d play Spongebob Squarepants production music on a whim in a car…just to re-live the glory days of watching a Spongebob marathon. Then again, I was always the one person in the family who enjoyed film scores just for the sake of having an epic soundtrack to drive or walk to. Who doesn’t want to listen to the Star Wars soundtracks every now and then?

OSV: How did you become interested in video games and video game music?

Diaz: When I was around 5-6 years old, my brother had received a Super Nintendo Entertainment System for his birthday from my grandparents. Among the list of games there was Donkey Kong Country, Super Mario Kart, Super Metroid, and The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. Honestly? I couldn’t have pictured a better line-up to get me started on what is now a world of video games. Such great music, lots of great gameplay, tons of revolutionary features, and to top it off, an awesome storyline in each of those (except for maybe Super Mario Kart, I just liked bashing people up). Then it became even more impressive when I started to play more complex games such as Medievil, Legend of Dragoon, Final Fantasy VII, Star Wars: Demolition…and more games than I can remember. The music got more impressive, so naturally, I was always eager to play.

OSV: You been active on the Overclocked Remix scene for some time, have you been part of any of their compilation albums and such?

Diaz: Truth be told, I’ve only actually been a member there for 3 years…which, isn’t all that long. I followed the site for years, ranging back to McVaffe’s remix “The Darkness and the Light”…but, some veterans of the site might consider me quite new. To answer your question though, no…I haven’t been involved in any of the remix projects to date, but I’d really like to be. I’m hoping to be a part of the upcoming Secret of Mana Remix Album, and I’m part of a side album called Audio Engineering which is a album based on just “Cid Theme” throughout the Final Fantasy franchise.

OSV: Let us talk about your new movie soundtrack, 10. How did you come to be the composer for this film?

Diaz: About 10-12 months ago, my friend (and director of “10″) Jerod MacDonald-Evoy, approached me with the concept and began sending me various revisions of his script that he had in mind. He had a very clear idea of what he wanted, because months later he sent me tunes that he thought best fit the mood. Initially I was skeptical…to be honest, I didn’t know how well I could manage writing original songs for a film. Before the film, I’d just written original tunes for my own well being. I promoted my own albums and set my own deadlines. So when it came to having to send in a tune (or work in progress) every few weeks so he could check up on the status of the score, I was nervous (…to say the least). But I’ll definitely say it’s been both a challenge and a fun experience. It’s definitely helped in the long run.

OSV: Tell us about the premise of 10.

Diaz: The story of “10″ revolves around a man named Ret, who is played by an actor named Zack Larez. Ret, being a homeless amnesiac, wanders around the world trying to find the truth in who he is. Conflicted and ultimately confused…he lives each day searching aimlessly. One day he comes across two thugs who start senselessly beating and mugging a woman in a narrow alleyway. He rescues her and from there…he begins to find out the facts. Obviously I’m not gonna reveal everything but…that’s the general idea.

OSV: When dealing with a theme such as amnesia, there is a lot of emotions involved as well as settings, soul searching, revelation, confusion, mystery. Creating the melodic backdrop to any form of entertainment is not an easy task. What sort of material were you given before and during the shooting of this movie to guide your compositions? how did you go about to achieve the appropriate sound to further express the movie’s narrative?

Diaz: Well, before the music for the movie actually got underway…I was given a few different examples of mood for the movie. That ranged from a few different scores, and those were: Deus Ex: Human Revolution, Blade Runner, TRON: Legacy, Hanna, and my own personal choice, “Moonlight Sonata” (Beethoven). I’d like to believe I was able to emulate at least some feel from tracks of those pieces of media. The idea was to create a very emotional atmosphere filled with doubt, confusion, and underlying repressed anger. When you look at who this character is and you imagine what he’s gone through…you begin to think, “How would I handle a situation like this?” Not knowing who you are, where you are, or what your purpose is…has to release some sort of illogical fury of some kind. Fear as well. But along with that…there’s also the feeling of understanding something. Ever had a tough question on an exam you had to overcome, only to find that minutes later, you solve it? What did you feel when you solved it? Were you ecstatic? Were you relieved? A combination of the two or something else entirely? Something along these lines are the questions I asked myself when I was composing for at least one of the scenes.

OSV: What kind of equipment did you make use of to create the soundtrack for 10?

Diaz: Everything composed for this film was produced in FL Studio 10 on Windows Vista. I used several virtual instruments in the score, some of the most prominent ones being Virtual Grand Piano VST and L.A.S.S. (Los Angeles Recording Strings). It took me a little while to get the hang of using these samples but in the end I’d say it was pretty rewarding. Highly recommended, if you’re considering trying to do orchestral compositions or arrangements of any sort.

OSV: Of course, being the video game music fan that you are I must ask, did you draw any personal inspiration from any specific video game when scoring the film?

Diaz: I wanted to include a lot of video game references, that was for sure, but due to time constraints and the mood of the movie, my ideas were set on the back burner of the project. However, Deus Ex: Human Revolution was one of the major influences. Though some of the tracks I’d written for the film that were actually based off of the score from Deus Ex: Human Revolution, didn’t make it into the finished product. However, they will be released on the official “10″ Original Soundtrack.

OSV: Now that the film has wrapped up production and is scheduled for release, how do you feel about the whole experience?

Diaz: Although this was my first time doing anything like this and I was forced to take large steps in composition within very strict deadlines…I’d say this was a very, very rewarding experience. Taking a jump from doing your own works, to working with a cast/crew on everything from sound effects to music that’s made for a scene, is a large change. Truth be told, I didn’t know if I could face up to the challenge and write a score that would invoke emotion through an audience but, considering this film isn’t out yet, I’m still very eager to hear people’s reactions.

OSV: You have an active Bandcamp page where you often release smaller EP’s of your video game music arrangements. Have you given any thought on releasing the 10 soundtrack on your Bandcamp as well?

Diaz: Indeed I have! Chances are the soundtrack is set to release near the end of June. I’ll be advertising it on my Facebook Page, so there’ll be plenty of notice.

OSV: Well Jacob, it was a lot of fun getting to hear about your latest project and your experiences in doing your very first film score. Do you have any plans onwards musically in 2012?

Diaz: Well, I’ve really been trying to finish my 3rd album, just as a personal goal. Hopefully that gets done this year but, other than that, I’ll be doing music for a visual novel game here in a few months and that has sort of a psychological thriller vibe. As far as other works, I’ll be composing for another indie film, that’s about zombies. Yes, zombies. I’m sure there’s more down the road, but…we’ll see!

OSV: Alright, best of luck to you and the rest of the crew of 10 with the release, and thank you for your time today!

Diaz: Thanks for the interview man, it was nice chatting with you! Have a good one. :D

Check out Jacob Diaz’s Bandcamp for more music and news on his upcoming releases. You can follow the progress of 10 at their Facebook page.

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