Game Music

MAGFest XI: Chris Huelsbeck Panel & Interview

January 19, 2013 | | Comment? Share thison Facebook MAGFest XI: Chris Huelsbeck Panel & Interviewon Twitter

MAGFest 11 had, without a doubt, the largest lineup of special guests and band performances in it’s history so far. The event has progressively upped the ante each successive year it’s been put on, and this year pushed the envelope with 3 notable composers from across the globe with extensive resumes of musical compositions to their names.  One in particular was the German composer most notable for his several Amiga and Commodore 64 compositions, Chris Huelsbeck.

Huelsbeck’s panel, assisted by fellow OSV writer Audun Sorlie, ran down the gauntlet of several of his works both past and present, as well as his achievements in becoming a composer and sound designer. He regaled listeners with personal stories of his creation of his own sound samples for the Commodore 64 when beginning his composing for the machine, jaunts to arcades with Manfred Trenz looking for games to take inspiration for for the creation of Turrican, the creation of TMFX scripting language for the sounds featured in games like R-Type and his inspiration he’d derived from fellow MAGfest guest composer Yuzo Koshiro. This was complimented with additional tidbits of information, such as his work on Apidya leading to the game’s soundtrack being the first to gain a European release with sales near 7 million copies, as well as the limitations of voices used in the SNES version of Jim Power.

Huelsbeck then showcased samples from several games, including presenting his work in Giana Sisters: Twisted Dreams, and explaining the seamless overlapping between his compositions and the punk rock versions done by Swedish band Machinae Supremacy.

The panel was unfortunately cut short due to time constraints before talk for the Turrican Soundtrack Anthology could be discussed. However, we managed to sit down with Huelsbeck quickly to ask a few questions regarding some pieces of the project.

OSV: How did you know what you wanted to start with regarding the anthology?

Huelsbeck: I wanted to be very conservative with the project, because I didn’t know how well it would be taken by people. We started with only one CD to just test things, but it eventually became such a big thing that we continued to expand to the final number of 4 CDs to span all of the Turrican games. I really never expected for it to get as big as it did or receive the support it did, but there you go.

OSV: How long did it take you to prepare for the Kickstarter?

Huelsbeck: It took us around 2-3 months of planned marketing with the project.

OSV: And when you realized how big the Kickstarter drive was becoming, how did you decide to act regarding things like pledge levels and things to give back to the backers?

Huelsbeck: Originally, I’d again wanted to go conservative. We had things like the vinyl copy of the anthology and other smaller-scale items. However, the Kickstarter exploded almost overnight with backer contributions and we made our goal in about a week. Then it was a matter of figuring out how to push the envelope with what to give back to people. That’s when things like the music box came into it.

OSV: The music box is a pretty sought-after item in terms of the backer rewards, and there’s only a limited amount being made. What went into it’s creation?

Huelsbeck: Well, I don’t think they’ll mind the publicity, but we went with a place called Better Music Boxes because we felt they could handle the scale of what we wanted to do with the music box. Unfortunately, the production of everything including the music box feel behind during Christmas and much has been delayed from what we’d previously projected. However, there will be a documentary released shortly regarding what went into the creation of the music box and how we went about it. I again wanted to push the envelope with such an ambitious idea, and it’s really shown to pay off. A prototype will be shown in the documentary.

OSV: So what are your future projects? Do you have any in mind?

Huelsbeck: Since the Turrican Kickstarter did so overwhelmingly good, I’d really like to do the same thing with other titles I’ve done. After the Turrican Anthology is done, I might just see what else we can do in the same way.

OSV: Have you enjoyed MAGFest?

Huelsbeck: *laughs* I’m so overwhelmed by things here. It’s so different. I’ve been to things like E3 before and it’s a big thing and there’s a lot going on and so on. Here, I didn’t really expect to get the huge amount of response to what I do or the type of focus that I’ve had. It’s really been an experience.

OSV: A good one, we hope.

Huelsbeck: *laughs again* Yes, it’s been a very good experience.

To see more of Chris’s history, discography and other projects, head over to his website or check out the soundtrack release for his latest work, Giana Sisters: Twister Dreams on Bandcamp.

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