If you ever looked for piano sheet music or piano covers, chances are you stumbled upon one of Torby Brand’s works. What you may not know, is that Torby was one of the men behind AM2R’s soundtrack, and we have the pleasure of asking him a few questions about it!
Last week we interviewed some Pixel Mixers who took part to #21daysofVGM challenge launched by Video Game Music Academy, but not all of them! For those who don’t know, the challenge consists in writing a short piece of music every day for 21 days in a row, in order to make composition part of the daily routine of a musician.
Like the last time, I invite you to press the “play” button here below to enjoy a selection of the entries during your reading!
Lord Bif is a veteran among Pixel Mixers, delving in rock, folk, jazz and wherever his moustache senses the rhythm. “It’s been a while that I wanted to compose more, to work on my skills, try new things, get new challenges. This #21Daysofvgm was the perfect occasion to do it steadily, forcing myself not to postpone it for tomorrow and break my procrastination side! I was surprised how some creativity came out of this challenge pretty easily. It gave me motivation, and this motivation built creativity. It allowed me to create things I didn’t think I would be capable of. So this, as well as self-confidence, was some of the greatest benefits in participating!”
“Finding time was hard somedays, but that was the point: no excuse! It didn’t need to be a polished 5-minute song everyday. That leads to the other hardest part: saying “it’s done, lets’ put it online”, even if it was far from perfect. But it’s a skill to have too, and I’m glad this challenge forced me to do that.”
He leaves us with a final word of encouragement: “Composing is awesome. If you’re a musician, even if it’s just for yourself, for fun, try to compose things sometimes, it will make you do progress in so many ways!
Listen to Lord Bif’s entries
If you say Dewey Newt, you say groove. Despite not being on time for the official subscription, Dewey decided to throw his retro sounds in the ring and have everyone bob their head to them regardless.
“Joining the challenge was a spur of the moment decision: everybody in the Pixel Mixers Discord started posting their tracks, and it looked fun, so I joined in as well! It seems like I got just a general boost in skills (laughs). I feel like I’m a little better at coming up with an idea, a little better at taking what I hear in my head and writing it down, a little faster at producing a track. etc.. Just some overall really good practice!”
“The hardest part for me it was finding the time. I had to travel for my job for two weeks during the challenge, and that really limited how much time I could spend making something. Even with 20-30 minutes, some kind of musical idea was possible! Great job to everybody who participated, I’m glad I could join in on the fun!”
Listen to Dewey’s entries
Last, but hopefully not least, today is Danilo Ciaffi, who is totally not interviewing himself for this article. “I took on this challenge because I wanted to test the part of music making that is more of a craft than just ‘having the inspiration’. I also seized the occasion to explore as many genres as I could, which one does not always do when composing in the little time he has, and this was surely my favourite part. On the other hand this was also the hardest part, because usually composing something in a genre you are familiar with is much faster than coming up with something you’ve never tackled, but again, this was part of the fun! I also had the chance to confront myself with many other talented musicians, give and receive feedback and learning from my peers, which surely gave me much as a composer”.
Listen to Danilo’s entries
To conclude, the moral of the story confirms to be the same: even though finding the time is hard, composing is definitely a rewarding activity for any musician.
If you enjoyed what you heard, I suggest you check out the artists featured or any other artists who took part in the challenge: the amount of talent will surely surprise you!
July 1st to 21st took place the #21daysofVGM challenge launched by Video Game Music Academy. The challenge consists in writing a short piece of music every day for 21 days in a row, in order to make composition part of the daily routine of a musician.
Some brave Pixel Mixers embarked upon this exciting adventure, so we decided to interview them. But first, why not pushing the “play” button here below to listen to a selection of the entries while reading about our members’ experience.
We asked our members what motivated them to take on the challenge, what they feel were the major benefits and difficulties.
The first to answer these questions was Dacian Grada, the highly prolific synth-metal cover artist on YouTube. “I’m not really used to composing original music, so this was the perfect opportunity to hone my skills.” he said, “The real benefit for me was the sense of accomplishment from doing a new original composition every day, often really different from the previous one, making me realize I can in fact do some original stuff if I put my mind into it. Coming up with original melodies was (and still is) the biggest challenge, i still need to learn how to properly do one, but I feel I’ve definitely improved with this!”.
Listen to Dacian’s entries.
Mind Waker was already featured on this website, and didn’t disappoint in this challenge delivering as usual tracks of great variety. “I just made it for the challenge, but I’m happy to have some ideas to work on later – there were few tunes I definitely want to polish to full songs. The hardest part later on was just to come up with something interesting” he continues, “sometimes you just need to go with the uninspiring idea and work on it until it sounds interesting. The important part is just to finish and work on something and not to wait for the inspiration”.
Listen to Mind Waker’s entries
Relatively new in the Pixel Mixers community, Moonbike surely didn’t waste his chance to prove himself a skilled and eclectic composer.“I love participating in game jams, and I love composing original video game songs. It’s hard to finish these pieces sometimes, especially under tight deadlines, so I thought this challenge would be a great way to practice completing songs in a timely manner and build the habit of composing every day. This challenge also pushed me to grow as a composer and expand my repertoire of techniques – which is invaluable – and introduced me to many other talented composers! […] The hardest part was finding the time to work on a new piece every day. It was a time sink, and often took hours out of my day when I had other things to do. Sharing my completed tracks with other participants definitely motivated me to keep going.”.
Listen to Moonbike’s entries.
As the name suggests, Piano Game Knight is a pure pianist, mostly known for his Chrono Cross piano covers. He told us of his experience in the challenge too: “I mainly wanted to level up my piano improv skills by composing ideas from my head to the piano based on the prompts/challenges given to myself. Also to get out of my comfort zone by challenging myself to create something daily and sticking to that schedule to the end even if I’m busy with life and work. The biggest benefit for me, in the end, was having 21 ideas that we could build upon in the future for ourselves and maybe make an album! Also it was nice to see different people’s approaches to the challenge”.
Listen to Piano Game Knight’s entries.
Despite different motivations and obstacles, all these musicians agree on one thing: composing everyday is challenging, but a great learning experience, especially in a context like the #21daysofVGM, where plenty of people make this together and provide feedback and encouragement each other.
P.S. If you listened carefully to the playlist in the beginning, you have heard tracks from artists not in this list. Did we interview them? Stay tuned to find out!
Those who follow Pixel Mixers are surely familiar with Alek Fleischer‘s glitchy, granulous, intricately textured synth sounds and ambiences. Well, he just released his EP “Aliased Road”, where he surely delivers the electronic goodness you’d expect from him.
I live in Washington and I’m 18 years old, but I was born in Oregon and have been making electronic music in some capacity since I was only nine. (It understandably didn’t sound that good at the time). I think a lot of Pixel Mixers started with covers right off the bat and are only recently branching out into originals, but I went through the opposite process. Generally I see original music as my main musical focus and VGM covers as a side gig (albeit a very rewarding one!), so I’m excited to share it here.
I’ve done a couple tiny game soundtracks (including for my own solo development). These include “Quality Television”, an absurd puzzle game I made about hypnotizing guards with a TV, and “OVERFOWL”, an action-focused jam game by a collaborator about overflowing your stats. Early on, I spent a lot of time making bizarre little demos. You can find some of these in an earlier album, “Vertical Slice”. It only covers a fraction of that; you’ll likely see more of it in future releases. But over time, I’ve become a lot more focused and consistently happy with my production. These abandoned tracks become less and less common the more recent in the project file list you look.
That progression culminates in “Aliased Road”, which is entirely comprised of tracks made this year for specifically this purpose. It’s a glitchy synthwave EP. Even though it’s a short album, I tried to take the listener on a journey. It opens with a banger, but that first track unexpectedly ends with breaking down into glitchy breakbeats. The album gets wilder as it goes, and was a lot of fun to experiment with! That first track’s followed by pseudo-ambient pieces with modular percussion, melodies made from glitch sounds, and intense tracks reminiscent of French EDM. But however weird it gets, it never loses sight of its synthwave roots. I hope you enjoy it!
Alek’s Social Media:
I am 25 years old and, after many years around Europe, I settled to live in my home-town, Rome.
I just graduated in pure mathematics while being a part-time freelance composer, and I’m now trying to make these two passions of mine coexist in the world of sound technologies.
I started making music at the age of 15, when I picked up a cheap guitar with the intent of writing down some songs ideas I had in mind.
Through the years I played and composed in pretty much any genre, until at the age of 20 I started getting into narrative music and soundtracks. I am currently scoring a video game and working on my own concept album.
Inspiration can come from literally anything: a picture, a sound I like, a story I want to tell or I just wake up with a motif in mind.
In any case I tend to start with very small seeds and grow them until they become a full piece (or more). The most part of the process comes in fact after the sparkle, at the time to expand on your little fragment of music, to choose the sound you want and to work on making your idea into a finished track.
“Gravity” was born when some friends asked me to write the music for a side-scrolling game set in a space station.
The game got cancelled eventually, but I got really interested in the kind of sonority I was exploring and kept working on it. I took inspiration from the sound of 80’s synths, but I also wanted my tracks to feel modern and “digital”, which was a very instructive and fun challenge.
You can listen to Gravity on Spotify:
Or buy it on Bandcamp: