Today at Esperino, we begin the first in a new interview series affectionately dubbed ‘Fine Tuning’. We’ll be shining the spotlight on music composers and artists working in the video gaming sphere.
More often than not, we applaud the achievements of game developers for outstanding work, but how often do we pause to reflect on the individuals behind the emotional melodies or toe-tapping beats we’re listening to? Although the world in which they work is devoted to sound, these artists are often the quietest of achievers.
Rich is responsible for producing the sensational chiptunes backing the retro 2D/3D shifting smash hit Fez, the bluesy Rock soundtrack for Shoot Many Robots, along with a portfolio of work spanning independently developed titles to established franchises.
Rich has generously given up his time to share with us what it’s like to be a music composer, how he weaves his melodic masterpieces (or should I say masterpieces?), and give us an insight into his very unique and creative world.
Hangie: Could you please tell our readers a little about yourself, such as your study background, how you got involved in producing soundtracks for the video game music industry, your favorite piece of audio equipment, and perhaps your future goals?
Rich: I started playing guitar in high school and started writing music around the age of 17 or 18. Dropped out of a design program to go to music college, and started working on games through a blend of internships, and a bit of luck with having some carryover familiarity from my chipmusic work as Disasterpeace. When I started writing music for games, I was just using my regular name, but at some point decided it made sense to consolidate my two names for simplicity’s sake. My favorite piece of audio equipment is probably my laptop because I don’t like having lots of extra hardware. I’ve got a laptop, a pair of monitors, a MIDI keyboard, and an audio interface, the bare essentials really. Though I should say I have a couple of guitars and I just bought an upright piano. In fact, I take it back, the piano is my favorite!
My future goals are to pay off my insane student debt and to have the luxury to focus on very few projects, only the noblest and most interesting. Right now I am taking on lots of work in an attempt to get my stuff out there but also because of the aforementioned debt.
Hangie: Walk us through a typical workday in the life of Disasterpeace.
Rich: The only common denominator of my workdays is that I work from home, so I try to only write music when I truly feel like it and have the proper inspiration. I’ve got a nice little setup in my bedroom.
Hangie: As with any vocation, there are positives and negatives that come with it. What are aspects of your occupation that you love, what do you dislike, and what would you change if you could?
Rich: The positives are pretty great. I get to write all kinds of music and I get paid to do it. I also set my own hours and generally have the most flexible schedule of anyone I know. The downsides are also pretty well-known. Work is not guaranteed, so sometimes you have to go out of your way to find it, and also self-employment taxes are kind of brutal. Another one of the downsides to being a freelancer is that you tend to get a bit scatterbrained, having to manage all the different projects and your business and so forth.