Sound Bytes: “Just Hold On – zircon (Flexstyle’s Chilloniq Mix)”

This week’s Sound Bytes features a mix by Flexstyle of zircon’s song “Just Hold On”, displaying his adept skill in mixing tracks through an ingenious, seamless blend of hip-hop and trance.


Just a quick Sound Bytes feature highlighting Flexstyle‘s mix of zircon‘s original track “Just Hold On”, featuring vocalist Jillian Aversa:

Anyone who’s used FL Studio in the past year or so should probably recognize this song. Made by producer, composer, and sound designer extraordinaire Andrew Aversa, alias zircon, and featuring the gorgeous vocals of his wife Jillian, “Just Hold On” is the demo song in FL Studio 10. I decided to take it warp it into more of a hip-hop/trancey number. This is what I came up with–enjoy!

If you like what you hear, you can also download “Just Hold On (Flexstyle’s Chilloniq Mix)” for free here.  Check out more of what we think are some great electronic tracks from Flexstyle on his Soundcloud.

zircon’s Unearthed Now Available on iTunes

Hitting third in Bandcamp’s top sellers recently, Unearthed is definitely a force to be reckoned with. While zircon’s newest album release is available on Bandcamp for digital and physical copies, Unearthed has also been made available on iTunes as well.


Hitting third in Bandcamp’s top sellers recently, Unearthed is definitely a force to be reckoned with. With astonishing sound and production quality that VGM aficionado and sound designer zircon usually revels in, there’s no wonder that this newest release maintains the same absolutely breathtaking standards that he incorporates into all of his music. zircon describes the process in which Unearthed was also made available:

The material on UNEARTHED was culled from a library of songs and instrumentals spanning from 2007 to 2012. I chose only the best unreleased material; though there are many more unreleased or non-album tracks, the ones on UNEARTHED are those that I really want to make available to the public and especially my loyal fans who have been waiting far too long for a new album. As a bonus, this 56+ minute album includes unreleased versions of tracks like “Warhead (Skrypnyk’s Deep 6 Mix)” and “Mindbender (Circular Breakdown Mix)”, both from Antigravity, and both featuring the remixing talents of other artists (Skrypnyk and Big Giant Circles, respectively).

Ranging from a variety of styles from dubstep to vocal trance, Unearthed boasts having “something for every kind of electronic music fan”. We’re definitely inclined to agree. While zircon’s newest CD is available on Bandcamp for digital and physical copies, Unearthed has also been made available on iTunes for all you iTunes users out there!

Pro Tip: Get In On zircon’s Production Workshop Tonight

Better known by his exhaustive involvement in the VGM community as zircon, Andrew Aversa has produced music for a variety of video games, television, and interactive media, such as Soul Caliber V, Return All Robots!, Heroes, and MTV’s Making Of series to name a few. With zircon’s substantial experience with video game music and sound, we would like to urge those interested in sound design and production to be present for zircon’s live session on Livestream tonight. Did we mention that it’s free?

 

In his most recent Facebook update, award-winning sound designer and audio specialist Andrew Aversa has just announced that he will be hosting a free production session today, February 16th  for those who are interesting in learning the finer aspects of audio production and sound tuning:

This FRIDAY at 9pm EST, I’m going to do an experimental 1 hour long live production session. I’ll work on a track, take some Q&A, talk tech and just generally have a good time. If it goes well I’ll probably do both freeform sessions and maybe more structured classes focused on Q&A, at a low price per ‘seat’ (like $5-10).

Better known by his exhaustive involvement in the VGM community as zircon, Aversa has arranged and collaborated on over twenty accepted submissions and projects for OverClocked ReMix since 2004. He has also produced music for a variety of video games, television, and interactive media, such as Soul Caliber V, Return All Robots!, Heroes, and MTV’s Making Of series to name a few.

With zircon’s substantial experience with video game music and sound, we would like to urge aspiring professional composers and remixers or even those interested in exploring the scope of sound design to take advantage of this exciting event (can we just mention again that it’s free?). The production session will be hosted on Livestream.

Double Interview: New EPs by Amphibious and ProjektZero

Amphibious and ProjektZero discuss their newly released original EPs and their connections to the arrangement community.

I recently got the chance to interview Amphibious and ProjektZero about their respective EP releases: Oceans and Getting to Know You. Both artists have associations with the arrangement community, so I asked them each about the stories behind the making of their tracks, their influences and how creative competitions have affected their work.

Amphibious – Oceans EP

Amphibious has gained a reputation for creating ambient, chilled music with fluid movement. To that end, his release Oceans is a concept EP, specifically referencing a journey through the sea as a topic. Amphibious explained his motivations for exploring a musical narrative. “I’ve always been told my songs remind people of water for some reason, and the ideas I came up with definitely had that vibe, so I decided to add a theme to my EP. It also sort of fits with the name Amphibious, which is cool too.”

Work on the album began in early June and continued over the summer. He stated that, “I’d been experimenting with music a lot over the last year or so. I got Komplete in May for my birthday, and I spent a few weeks learning the various things in the package. But for the most part, the songs I started never did get finished. One of my roommates and I were talking about how I didn’t really see many through to the end, so I decided I’d take this summer as an opportunity to change that. I sat down and got some ideas ready. That is when I started to work on my new songs for the EP.”

Meteo Xavier contributed the EP’s artwork. Amphibious initially created a cover image himself, and related an anecdote to that effect: “I knew my artwork was bad when I originally made it, but I figured something quick and shoddy would be better than nothing. I got a few comments on OC ReMix about how bad it was; Meteo in particular wanted to redo it himself and I guess he decided to whip something up quick. I’m really happy with it, he did it pretty quickly but it’s infinitely better than what I had before.  Many thanks to him.”

When asked about the contributing factors to his musical style, Amphibious noted that “This particular album had a lot of influence from David Arkenstone. He did a lot of world and Celtic music such as the tavern music in World of Warcraft, but he released a chillout album that I absolutely love. ‘Plunge’ in particular draws influence from that.  I would also say the Metroid Prime soundtrack has had some influence on me as well.”

The track “Pelagic Fortress” on the EP started off as an entry for a composition competition.  Amphibious shared his thoughts on time-constrained musical gatherings: “When I first heard about compo, it seemed like a cool idea, but two hours sounded so short.  However once I tried it, I was pretty amazed at what I could come up with in such a short time frame. ‘Pelagic Fortress’ in particular fit the theme of my album very well. Overall the compos definitely have helped me with efficiency. And having a theme given to you is sometimes a helpful way to come up with new ideas.”

Oceans EP is currently available at Bandcamp for free, or pay-what-you-want pricing. Amphibious is pleased with the response to the release, noting that “I’d still consider myself a bit of an amateur, and there have been some fair criticisms, but some people have really enjoyed my stuff and I’m very pleased with that.”

ProjektZero – Getting to Know You

Matt “ProjektZero” Rittinghouse identifies with the nerdcore scene, though his music has recently gravitated away from his rap roots and toward groove-based, melodic pop songwriting. His EP carries a unifying concept, as he expressed that “the theme with Getting to Know You is that I wanted each song to provide some glimpse at me as a person, or the things I feel. ‘Loop On’ deals with relationships; ‘331’ and ‘Mannequins’ deal with friendships and isolation; ‘The Stand’ deals with my geekier tendencies; and ‘Fake It’ deals with this sort of transition out from my teenage years.”

Untested Methods and zircon are credited with mixing on specific tracks. Matt explained how these collaborations came about: “I met Eric (Methods) at Nerdapalooza 2010. I’m a huge fan of a lot of his remixes, but I’m probably a bigger fan of the chiptune-infused synthpop style he has developed in his independent work. He and I are both music production geeks that use FL Studio, so we’ve been chatting fairly regularly since Nerdapalooza, and we’ve tried several efforts at collaboration along the way. This was just the first one that made it to a finalized, published product.”

Matt considers zircon and the OC ReMix community to be a great motivation and influence on his production. He elaborated on zircon’s contribution to the EP: “I’ve had zircon on my contacts list since he did a series of FL Studio production tutorials a few years back. I had been struggling very, very hard to mix ‘The Stand’. I’d worked on it for eight hours a day, for three days straight, and had finally just fallen into despair over mixing the song. So I shot zircon a message, and he graciously offered to help me out. He pretty much saved that track from falling apart.”

Getting to Know You includes a cover version of a song by Brad Turcotte called “Fake It”. Matt expressed his desire was to cover this song, and include it on the EP. “Through my old school nerdcore ways, I’m hip to a place called SongFight, where Brad is a regular competitor. I feel like I’m a broken record for saying it, but I’m a huge fan of his work, and his entire album Out of It is absolutely classic to me. I specifically chose ‘Fake It’ because I felt like it sort of encapsulated the changes that I went through in college. I think that song feels like every twenty-something’s anthem.”

JG Hollowell, also known as Mithurn, provided the second rhythm guitar heard on “Loop On”. Matt talked about how they both became acquainted: “JG is an old, old friend of mine. Probably since before I started making music, or at least somewhere around that time frame. I met him through an MMO, but it just so happened that he lived in Charleston close to me. I went off to college, but met back up with him shortly after I graduated.” Matt also remarked on their collaborative process by saying that, “He presents a whole different dynamic to songwriting when I work with him. I can’t just fall back into sequencing; I have to work live. I’m playing guitar and singing, trying to come up with melodies or chords on the spot. He has a lot more of a free jam session background, and I strongly respect that. ‘Loop On’ evolved from a jam between us.”

The track “Mannequins” on the EP originated as a track ProjektZero made for a compo. Matt expressed his thoughts on the composition competition experience, stating  “I absolutely feel that the compos benefited me. I’ve put out six albums since I’ve started doing them. Of course, most of those directly came from the compos. This new EP is more refined, but it wouldn’t have been possible without the compo experience. The advice and the high pressure trial-and-error was just invaluable to shaping my songwriting.” He agreed that the mannequin concept from One Hour Compo was somewhat unusual, but felt that “that’s what was liberating about it. I couldn’t get lost in the theme, specifically because it was obscure. So to really thrive with mannequins as a concept, you had to make it your own. And I think that’s what made that week’s theme probably my favorite one of the entire series so far.”

Getting to Know You is available now at Bandcamp with free or name-your-price options. The cover art was created by Brett Houston.

Metroid 25th Anniversary Fan Album Harmony of a Hunter Released

Metroid fan album director Darren discusses Harmony of a Hunter created with various members of the arrangement community.

This weekend marks the 25th anniversary of the Metroid franchise. I spoke with Darren, founder of the Metroid enthusiast website Shinesparkers, about the fan arrangement album he directed titled Harmony of a Hunter. The release features thirty-six tracks covered by twenty-four artists paying tribute to the Metroid series in a variety of genres.

Darren expressed his passion for the franchise and detailed his inspiration for taking on such an album project: “I noticed that Nintendo seemed quite focused on celebrating the 25th anniversary of The Legend of Zelda franchise, and I felt that Metroid was becoming overlooked. So I thought to myself that if Nintendo can’t do anything to mark my favourite franchise, then I would. It turns out that I wasn’t alone because a lot of people in the community wanted the anniversary to be marked and this is what gave me the determination to make this project work.” Darren also felt that music of the series was deserving of tribute, as he states  “Metroid has a great deal of memorable music that compliments the atmosphere that the series gives”.

The project began in December 2010 and involved a great deal of artists and other specialists in its creation. Darren spoke of how his communication skills came of use in directing the album, which he felt was an crucial component of directing the project: “In my opinion, communication is the key element to ensuring a project like Harmony of a Hunter works. I worked as closely as I could with people and offered suggestions and critique on certain tracks. I offered my thoughts where I felt they were needed but never pushed, demanded or limited the creative flow of the individual. If I did, the album would never have had the diverse range of talent that we have. I also feel that the project would have become more of a chore than a celebration. Asking for a track to be handed in by a certain date with no further communication just wouldn’t work.”

Harmony of a Hunter carries a wide selection of styles and genres. Darren expressed his views on this eclecticism and the cohesiveness of the release as a whole: “I feel the diversity of the album was important because I wanted an album that would appeal to as many people as possible.” He commended Lee “The Orichalcon” Barber’s mastering of the album under the circumstances, as he reveals that “Lee has done a great job at blending some of these tracks into others which surprisingly, flow very well. Due to the nature of the project this was always going to be a tricky to master, but Lee has previous experience with mastering projects and I trust his judgment and his skills.”

Darren reached out to the OverClocked ReMix community when he conceived the project: “I have always admired musicians such as The Orichalcon, DarkeSword, zircon… and in the early days of the project I wouldn’t have even dreamed that they would have contributed to this. I am so very thankful that they did because their contributions have been excellent.” At one point, some discussion had taken place regarding possible endorsement as an official OC ReMix album; however due to Darren’s goal of releasing it on the Metroid anniversary, this was not feasible.

Harmony of a Hunter is available now at the Shinesparkers fan site, which features exclusive content related to the Metroid franchise. The album landing page was designed with the help of Erik “VikingGuitar” Peabody, incorporating artwork contributed by Nate “FoxxDragon” Horsfall.

2010: The Year in ReView

As 2010 draws to a close and 2011 looms on the horizon growing ever closer, now is an appropriate time to look back and reminisce about what made this past year so great.

As 2010 draws to a close and 2011 looms on the horizon growing ever closer, now is an appropriate time to look back and reminisce about what made this past year so great. Describing all the myriad events that happened in the world and the universe would take far too long (suffice it to say that there was a particularly notable total lunar eclipse on December 20, being the first such eclipse to fall on a solstice since 1638) so the world of video game music remixing is what we’re going to inspect in this article. Whether it’s OverClocked Remix, ThaSauce, or something not directly associated with the sites or the community, it shall be mentioned. Let the comprehensive guide of 2010’s notable events begin!

First off, January. The year was kicked off with OCR01967, a remix from the game Romancing SaGa 3 entitled “Romancing the Bossa” by OCR veteran Bladiator, AKA Karl Harmdierks. It was the first of many tracks in what was OCR’s tenth birthday. A few days later, ReMix: ThaSauce came out with their first entry of the year, RTS0204, a remix from the infamous game Bad Dudes entitled “My Way Or (Night Version)” by formerly just64helpin and now known as JH Sounds. Also came the first round of the Grand Robot Master Remix Battle, a competition that lasted all the way until June. It produced a lot of great mixes, and tested even the most veteran of remixers. The year was off to a great start.

January faded and February came. With it came the release of Get Acoustic on the fourth, an acoustic jam of The Megas’ 2008 release Get Equipped. The emotional feeling for the disc went from one of energy as with GE to one of somberness. The final track, Lamentations of a War Machine, also had a faster tempo than the GE version. On the 14th came Kaleidoscope, also known as OCRO-0001, the site’s first original soundtrack. A collaboration between Judge Another Soundscape, AKA Mattias Häggström Gerdt and site founder David W. Lloyd, AKA djpretzel, the soundtrack became a huge success. Of course, many tracks were released in this month as well, but none as monumental as those that would be posted in the coming month.

Next up was March, the first month of spring, a month that signals a deliverance from the winter frosts and a rebirth of beauty with the blooming of the trees and flora. On the ides of March, or the 15th, Serious Monkey Business, a Donkey Kong Country 2 remix album, was released.  With it came a few important milestones. The credits remix, entitled “Re-Skewed”, was posted as OCR02000, the two-thousandth mix to be posted on the site. It was also by David Wise, Grant Kirkhope and Robin Beanland, three veteran Rare composers, and Wise was the composer for the soundtrack. To have him remix a track was an honor for the site, and for it to be one of his own tracks was a great way to show that the composers support the community all the way. Another one of the tracks to be posted was entitled “Dance of the Zinger” and was by Jake Kaufman, also known as virt. Several years previous virt and djpretzel had a falling out that caused virt to create his own site known as VGMix. He returned with OCR02005, a glorious dance remix of Flight of the Zinger and returned with style. This wouldn’t be the only remix of his posted this year.

April brought with it the release of “What If This CD…Had Lyrics?” on the 26th. YouTube sensation brentalfloss was well-known for his series of “With Lyrics” videos, each being a remix of some classic gaming tune, but with lyrics. This was his first full album, and it was a great one. Featuring songs from his YouTube archives and others exclusive to the album, it was a perfect melding of old and new and incited nostalgia fits among gamers of all ages. The very next day brought with the the pixietricks/zircon collab (wife and husband team Jillian and Andy Aversa, respectively) “Time to Oil Up,” a remix of Hakan’s Theme from Super Street Fighter IV, which was released on the same day. The only reason this is notable is because it’s the first, and currently only, time that a remix was released on the same day as the game that the source track belongs to.

May had the usual song releases, and on the seventh a Mega Man fan film was released using two Megas songs in its credits roll. It also brought a monumental event in OCR’s history. Just as 2010 brought with it an old anniversary (OCR turned ten), a new one had found its genesis on May 30th. Site founder Lloyd got married to his long-time love Anna Ziskind, thus inspiring congratulatory wishes from all forum visitors, and also a few jokes and the new husband’s expense. This didn’t affect the site in any way, thankfully, as Lloyd kept his schedule just as it was before marriage. The only difference was that he was noticeably happier.

June came, and Essence of Lime was released on the 18th. Originally a solo effort by Ben Hoffman, alias Hylian Lemon, others quickly latched on to the idea of an Oracle of Ages remix album and joined forces with Hoffman. The album was a rousing success, despite the fact that several websites mislabeled it as an Ocarina of Time remix album. It even reached into the world of the game Minecraft, with a small blurb reading “Goddamn Ess. of Lime is badass to listen to.” Plans were quickly made for a companion album, then untitled (now known as Lime of the Season). This one would be an Oracle of Seasons remix album, for Ages can’t be remixed without Seasons. Unfortunately with the joy of the release came sadness as well. VGMix, the brainchild of Kaufman, had died. Dwelling of Duels, a well known monthly competition hosted on VGMix had vanished with its host. Luckily, a lot of people worked to give DoD a proper site, and can now be found at dwellingofduels.net.

>July came and with it, heat. The 4th, known as Independence Day here in America, had a rare quadruple mixpost under the guise of Four for the Fourth. All Sonic remixes, they were lapped up quickly. halc, alias Drew Wheeler, tried his best to remix Labyrinth Zone from the original Sonic and succeeded, and Chemical Plant Zone from Sonic 2 was received warmly and remixed well by PrototypeRaptor, also known as Jonathan Paulsen.  Joshua Morse took on the iconic Ice Cap Zone from Sonic 3 and blew it out of the park, and Level 99, alias Stevo Bortz, took on the Doomsday Zone theme from Sonic and Knuckles. On July 29th came OCRO-0002, the site’s second original soundtrack release. This one was for Trenches, a comical World War I-era tug-of-war style iOS game with some elaboration to make it quite unique. The music was done by OCR forum regular Abadoss, AKA Kenneth Keynes, and his brother Troy. It went extremely well for the two, and was downloaded en masse.

August was a bit of a moody month. On August 15th, a preview of an Armored Core tribute album entitled The Answer was released. It was quite well received. On the 19th, remixing veteran Geoffrey Taucer, alias Jeremy Waters, left the community to pursue his dream job. He promised to check in from time to time, a promise he has kept, but a sad day nonetheless. And then, on August 28th came the unthinkable. The well-known double act between  Duane Zuwala and Brandon Lackey known as The Adventures of Duane and BrandO was dead. The two had split up, showing some distance between the two. Lackey would continue his own solo act entitled The Amazing BrandO, and Zuwala would remain as Duane’s Action-Adventure World. It was tragic, but time moves on…

September came and if anyone wanted to be woken up when it ended, their slumber was stopped a bit early. The well-known One Hour Compo had it’s hundredth installment on the second. On the 15th came the first of five Final Fantasy V remix albums. Directed by DarkeSword, alias Shariq Ansari, this one was entitled Wind. It featured 9 tracks from remixing vets such as Sixto Sounds, AeroZ, and DarkeSword himself. This series would be the first album Ansari had directed since Rise of the Star in 2005. It was released to stellar acclaim, and left fans salivating for the next installment, Water, in early 2011.

October brought more autumnal weather, and with it a few milestones as well. The game Shantae: Risky’s Revenge was released on DSiWare on the 4th, with a soundtrack scored by none other than virt. A remix from the game came two weeks later by Kaufman himself, entitled “Baal Bhaagna.” It was a Bollywood-inspired take on the source used. The 26th of the month brought the start of competition for the Grand Maverick Remix Battle, hosted by Ansari just like the GRMRB was at the start of the year. And much like that, this one lasted until the end of the year. On Halloween came the final track to be posted from Morse’s album Castlevania: Sonata of the Damned, Demonic Conception. The album was released on Halloween 2009, and with the post came the first OCR album to be released in its entirety through individual mixes. Christopher Getman, better known as Mazedude, also had his 50th mixpost on the same day, joining the ranks of Ari Asulin, alias Protricity, and djpretzel himself.

In came November, and with it came yet another remix of Wily Stage 1 from Mega Man 2. This one was by AkumajoBelmont, real name Robbie Sabo, and was unlike any other remix of the source before. It was a huge success. JH’s first album release with fellow remixer B-Type’s record company Giggling Robot Records happened on the 11th. It was entitled Genuine EP, and contained four tracks. The long-awaited Teen Agent album release occurred on the 22nd. Directed by the infamous Brandon Strader, the album was based on a semi-obscure PC game from a composer who also was semi-obscure. However, he gave it the old thumbs-up, and so did fans. Lastly, on the 28th long-time remixer chthonic decided to use his real name, Benjamin Briggs, for all his remixes. No longer would he have people either confusing him with some metal band or stumbling over how to pronounce his name.

December came, and with it a promise of the best the year had to offer. Although it was the last month of the year, the 13th showed it could contain many firsts with the release of Threshold of a Dream. The Link’s Awakening remix album was the site’s first Zelda album, and 20 album overall. It also was the site’s longest running album, having started originally way back in 2002, and featured many first-time remixers. The requisite flood from the album also brought about the site’s 2,000th hosted track. At the time of this writing, there are currently 2011 tracks hosted on the site, even though the most recent track is OCR02153. Oddly fitting, in my personal opinion. The 23rd also saw the release of Return All Robots! and its soundtrack, OCRO-0003. This was a new type of original soundtrack for the site, as the first disc was the actual soundtrack and the second was all remixes.

And now the end of the year is here. OCR posted 186 tracks so far, and RTS posted 58. Not records by far, but still a respectable amount. The birthday party for OCR went resoundingly well, and wasn’t forgotten once. ThaSauce got a new format so it would be easier to write and post articles on the site. Many stellar albums, an astounding amount of tracks, and a promise of more to come is what 2010 leaves us with. Let’s hope 2011 delivers on the hopes its predecessor has planted! Until next time, and next year, game on!!