March 14, 2011 11:30 PM | jeriaska
Three music tracks from the game, "Positive Force," "Potential for Anything" and "Pressure Cooker," are currently being authored by Fairwood Studios for release on the Rock Band Network in coming months.
This past weekend, SoulEye self-published a VVVVVV arrange album, entitled PPPPPPowerup! The music tracks can be purchased from the artist's official website either on CD or digitally. Samples of the source material are currently streaming on the artist's SoundCloud and Bandcamp pages.
We caught up with the musician to hear his thoughts on the making of the arranged music album, whose participants include composers of independent games Danny Baranowsky (Super Meat Boy), Mattias Häggström Gerdt (Cobalt), Gryzor87 (Hydorah), Chris Geehan (Bitejacker) and Josh Whelchel (GunGirl 2).
The discussion, which includes embedded sound samples from original and arranged albums, offers a perspective on how independently funded musicians are currently collaborating to create and reinterpret music found in games.
PPPPPPowerup! is a collection of music tracks arranging your soundtrack to VVVVVV. How did you go about finding collaborators to reinterpret music from the game?
Magnus: I was looking at the IWADON soundtrack and started emailing people out of the blue. Where there were tracks that I really enjoyed, I tried to get in contact with the musicians and see if they wanted to do a remix for PPPPPP.
IWADON was a forty-track compilation of videogame music arranging the work of Hiroyuki Iwatsuki. Were the arrangers from that album that you got in touch with Mutherpluckin' B, Professor Kliq, Matthew Walker, Mattias Häggström Gerdt and Gryzor87?
G87 I met through Hydorah Arranged Tracks. From IWADON, there were so many soundscapes that I wanted to hear metamorphosed into PPPPPPowerup! It definitely helped that there were artists interested in games. For instance, Mattias Häggström Gerdt had already played VVVVVV, which made for a smooth interaction. I did attempt to go outside of the indie game community for a remix but both Lady Gaga and Alice Cooper have stopped answering my phone calls.
Which was the first track from this arrange album that you received?
The first one was Flynn 'Asterisk' Joffray's track "Predestined Fate." One day that track was in my inbox together with the message, "I thought your soundtrack to VVVVVV was so dope that I did a remix of 'Predestined Fate.' It's 5:00 am but I couldn't stop until I was done. Hope you like it!" However it was the Hydorah Arranged Tracks album that prompted me to organize a remix album. As I started asking around and began receiving requests, the material began piling up.
Were there any arrangements that emerged from organizing the PPPPPPowerup! album that you found surprising?
Matthew Walker did a monster job on his orchestral song, and then Brent Kennedy and Verdegrand did some truly amazing piano arrangements. I was very happy to hear Mutherpluckin' B's arrangement. He's managed to produce the harmonies in a way that enhances the original. I'd have to train myself to play guitar for a few years to even get close to that. He's obviously talented with his guitar playing and I have a bit of a bias toward electric guitars. Each and every one of the tracks have their own strengths. I could go on and on, which I do in the liner notes.
At this point, you and G87 have now done arrangements for each others' albums, as with Chris Geehan. Is that kind of musical exchange something that you find to benefit you both?
Absolutely, there's no question about it. It's fun to hear a song you like and to put your spin on it. You can learn how other people make music this way. Gryzor87's track was a good challenge that allowed me to learn something while also expressing something of my own. It's a chance to have fun and help each other grow as musicians.
I've already arranged music by G87, Matthew Walker, Scattle and Chris Geehan, but I'm planning on also arranging music by Anosou and Danny Baranowsky in the future. It's just a matter of time and what song would be most appropriate. Josh Whelchel also has his Songs for the Cure fundraiser, which I've submitted one track to.
Have you sent the album to VVVVVV's designer Terry Cavanagh?
Much to his dismay, he was held in suspense for the longest time because I wouldn't give him the album until it was done. Unannounced, he then got a copy of the physical CD a few days before release and he hit me up exclaiming, "Man, this album is cool," after listening to a few of the songs.
The cover art depicts Terry Cavanagh's characters as three-dimensional CG models. How did that come about?
The artwork is by Roger Svanlund, the guy who did the VVVVVVx video. He contributed a bonus track, which adds drums and synthetic instruments on top of the original music track, so it's something of a collaboration. We brainstormed a bit on the album art and came up with the physical CD depicting the characters running in a circle around a piano in space. On the inlay, they're trying to remove the block that's in the "Doing Things the Hard Way" room from VVVVVV.
Danny B. has attracted a lot of attention for his music found in Super Meat Boy, Canabalt and Gravity Hook. Did you find that experience in writing music found in games to be reflected in his arrangement?
He is well known for a reason—he's a brilliant musician. My expectations were set quite high, but he delivered and quickly. That's an ability that comes with a lot of practice and skill.
There's also an extended take of "Pending Silence." Was there some demand for an expanded version of this track?
It's been a huge hit and may be my best work yet. It took me ages to get the sound just right. There's a FLAC version as well.
There's a vocal track on the album that adds words to a composition found on PPPPPP. What was your reaction to hearing lyrics set to one of your music tracks?
The official vocal track is a remix of "Pipe Dream" by Josh Whelchel, called "So Blue," featuring singing by Amanda Appiarius. It was really cool to have that dreamy, hypnotic vibe and lyrics added to the track.
In terms of future projects, are you still working on the Mega Man 2.5D soundtrack?
Yes, while some tracks remain, it's mostly done. I've got about 30 minutes completed that is just waiting to be released, locked up in my vault. That project needs programmers, so if you know C#, DirectX, XNA, physics engines, networking, game development or are a Mega Man fan, then contact the dev team.
I'm going to have one of my songs in Ben Bradley's music-shooter Substream. Also some edits of PPPPPP will be in the dance game Groove Motion, and I will perhaps be making a standalone album as well. A lot of my older tracks will be on my page in the future, many of which the world hasn't seen or heard.
For more information on the music of Magnus "SoulEye" Pålsson, visit the artist's official website. Images courtesy of SoulEye.