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Author Topic: Q & A With Chad York  (Read 5897 times)

SlowPokemon

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Q & A With Chad York
« on: June 19, 2013, 09:35:12 PM »

Hello to all NSMers! We have some pretty big news: Chad York of Next Level Games has agreed to do a Q and A with us! Mr. York was the audio director of the recent Nintendo 3DS game Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon and has also worked on games such as Punch-Out!! for the Nintendo Wii. This will be very neat and informative for the website, considering that many of us aspire to have the same job he has currently.

After talking about it with Mr. York as well as Olimar12345, we decided the forums would be a more interactive way to conduct this Q and A than would be an email or something similar.

I’ll start things by posting a few questions. Other members can also post their own questions here. I’ll email him a link to this thread and he can respond at his leisure.

Here are a few things to keep in mind:
1. All questions must be reasonable and appropriate. Remember that video game studios can rarely talk about games that aren’t announced, or games that aren’t released yet.
2. Remember that there’s a chance he might not answer your question right away, or at all. Don’t be offended—Next Level Games undoubtedly has a lot going on right now after E3, and he might be crunched for time.
3. You can post as many questions as you like, but please don’t be ridiculous—everyone here will want their questions answered, so try to limit yours to a few.
4. Be aware that this interview will likely contain some sort of spoilers for Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon.

To Mr. York—answer our questions in any fashion you want. If you want to answer them out of order, that’s fine. If there are some you’d rather not answer, that’s fine too. If there’s anything unrelated you’d like to add, great. We really appreciate you giving us your time. All that we ask is that you state the question you’re answering before you answer it, to make things easier. Later on, we’ll probably compile together the questions and answers and post the interview on the site.

Without further ado, here are my questions:
1. Could you describe the process of writing the music for Luigi’s Mansion Dark Moon? That is, how long it took, how many people worked on the music, how much creative freedom you had, etc.

2. How inspired were you by Kazumi Totaka’s score for the original 2001 Luigi’s Mansion? Was the development team able to collaborate with Totaka for this game?

3. Which parts of Dark Moon were easiest to compose for? Which parts were most difficult?

4. As with the original Luigi’s Mansion, Luigi begins humming the theme music if left alone for too long. Did the audio team work with Charles Martinet during the recording process? If so, could you describe that briefly?

5. Is there any music from Dark Moon that you like in particular, or that you’d like to talk about?

6. Many people on this site have dreams of becoming video game composers. Do you have any advice for those people?
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Olimar12345

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Re: Q & A With Chad York
« Reply #1 on: June 19, 2013, 09:40:06 PM »

Thank you so much for taking the time to visit our site, Mr. York! Hope all is well.

Would you be able to tell us a little about yourself? Particularly:
-a bit about your musical education
-musicians that inspire you
-your primary instrument
-some of your favorite musical works(any genre)
-and for fun, your favorite video games

Thanks again! :J
« Last Edit: June 19, 2013, 10:01:35 PM by Olimar12345 »
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MassiveMayhem

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Re: Q & A With Chad York
« Reply #2 on: June 19, 2013, 09:57:26 PM »

Wow this is really exciting! Thanks for visiting us :D
I only have one question for you Mr. York.

What inspired you to get into music and how did you get into the career you're in now?

Actually that's two questions but still!
thanks :)
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Kman96

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Re: Q & A With Chad York
« Reply #3 on: June 19, 2013, 10:02:37 PM »

Greetings, Mr. York! Welcome to our humble abode we call the Internet. NSM is just a single cozy corner of the Internet, but we gladly take in any who wish to come among us :)

My questions for you are:

1. How much experience did you need as a musician to get where you are today?

Annnnddd (because all the other good ones were taken :P)

2. Are you working on any other "big" projects right now or in the near future?

Thank you very much for this amazing opportunity! All of us here sure appreciate the work video game composers do and put into their respective games, because not only does the music often accentuate the play, but sometimes has even been more memorable as well. Thanks again! :D


EDIT: Ugh, Ninja'd.
« Last Edit: June 19, 2013, 10:05:49 PM by Kman96 »
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DonValentino

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Re: Q & A With Chad York
« Reply #4 on: June 19, 2013, 10:28:17 PM »

Welcome to NSM, Mr. York! Thank you in advance for your attention.

1. Is there any song in Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon that you're not very convinced with or would want it to be different?

2. What is your favorite song of the game?


Nothing else, other questions I had were already asked. Thanks again and congratulations on your work!
« Last Edit: June 19, 2013, 10:33:12 PM by DonValentino »
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pumpy_heart

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Re: Q & A With Chad York
« Reply #5 on: June 19, 2013, 10:45:40 PM »

Hello Mr. York.

What advice do you have for those beginning to nosedive into the realm of Game Audio? I've about a year until finishing undergraduate work in Music Composition, but should be fluent enough to orchestrate or help program multitracking in games.

Thank you so much for your time. It means a lot to us here. Hope you can come back at some point. :)

blueflower999

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Re: Q & A With Chad York
« Reply #6 on: June 20, 2013, 12:15:47 AM »

This is awesome.  :o

I can't really think of all that much to ask, so I think three things should be sufficient:

1. Do you feel that Punch-Out!! on the Wii is a worthy successor to the NES classic?

2. Who is your favorite character in the Punch-Out!! series?

3. Not counting the ones that you composed, which video game/video game series would you say is the biggest inspiration to you music wise? (i.e., which game franchise has your favorite soundtrack?)

Thanks!
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JDMEK5

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Re: Q & A With Chad York
« Reply #7 on: June 20, 2013, 12:48:04 AM »

Humble greetings Mr. York.

1. Do you think it is difficult to get a job as a video game composer? Are there many people trying to get in it?

2. What do you think is the best way to become a video game composer? I've heard the best way is to set up your own booth or something at an E3 conference.

3. How long does it take to make a soundtrack such as that for Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon? Would soundtracks for a more mainstream system (if you will, (e.g. WiiU)) usually take longer, or about the same?

4. Does all coding for a game need to be programmed for a deadline set before the release date? (For testing purposes I imagine) How long is this gap between finished game and release date usually?

5. What is the process by which a game may wind up with it's own soundtrack CD? Does this process involve you in collaboration with the other staff? If so, with who (specifically) and in what way? How are publishers for such CDs found?

6. Have you ever worked on a game that ended up with it's own soundtrack published and distributed as a CD?

7. When writing a song, do you write the melodic line and add the accompanying parts to it after? Or start with chords and add melody after? (I'm mostly asking this because you said your prime instrument is guitar, and my guitar teacher starts his compositions with chords)

Sorry for all those questions! I just see this as a once in a lifetime opportunity and I want to ask all the questions I could think of for the next 10 years now. :P
If you're pressed on time, please skip over some of mine. I'm fully aware that other people have questions as well.
« Last Edit: June 20, 2013, 05:14:07 AM by JDMEK5 »
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FireArrow

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Re: Q & A With Chad York
« Reply #8 on: June 20, 2013, 01:00:57 AM »

This is awesome! Thanks for doing this!

1. Is there a specific process you go through when composing music?

2. Do the songs you compose go through multiple drafts before getting into the game? If so, how different is the first draft of a song compared to the final draft?

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TheZeldaPianist275

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Re: Q & A With Chad York
« Reply #9 on: June 20, 2013, 03:46:10 AM »

Holy cow.  Yeah, this would be a bit overwhelming after E3.

I won't add any to the huge pile, but I'm really interested in the answers to the questions already asked.  Slow, you're the best for organizing this.

Thank you very much Mr. York!

chadyork

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Re: Q & A With Chad York
« Reply #10 on: June 20, 2013, 04:21:27 AM »

Hey guys

Thanks having me.  I'll do my best to drop by and answer questions when I can, but if I miss your question it's probably because I'm working hard on our upcoming games!

1. Could you describe the process of writing the music for Luigi’s Mansion Dark Moon? That is, how long it took, how many people worked on the music, how much creative freedom you had, etc.

I started writing style pieces back in November of 2009.  At that point it was really just 4 of us (Bryce - Game Director, Neil - Art Director, Ken - Producer and myself) at NLG locked in a small room blue skying ideas with NCL.  We would have daily video conference calls with Ikebata-san and Nakada-san discussing our high level ideas and potential concepts for the game and style it would take.  A few of the notable pieces that ended up in the game from this time period are the Main Theme that Luigi hums as well as the music that plays when the ghosts are pulling Luigi around the room with the Poltergust.

Darren and Mike came on board around August of 2010, if I remember correctly.  The three of us worked together to create all of the content.  We all studied music together in the early 90s and have worked together in various musical incarnations for over 20 years.

Nintendo has always given me a lot of latitude in terms of direction...which of course I really appreciate.  But of course like any game there are a lot of stakeholders.  So I presented and discussed the intended direction and pieces with Miyamoto-san, Ikebata-san and Nakada-san.  Totaka-san and Inagaki-san also chimed in with some written feedback from time to time through the development.

2. How inspired were you by Kazumi Totaka’s score for the original 2001 Luigi’s Mansion? Was the development team able to collaborate with Totaka for this game?

Well we paid homage to it by remixing "EGadd's Theme" in a couple of variations.  I think that both this game and it's predecessor fall into the style of classic spooky cliches.  We drew a lot on old classic cartoons of which there are probably too many to name.

3. Which parts of Dark Moon were easiest to compose for? Which parts were most difficult?

I think Luigi was easiest to compose for.  Any areas that focused on him where pretty straight forward once we had established the bass clarinet as "his voice" in the game. 

The most difficult...hmmm...probably the Slammers as the 3DS speakers don't pass a lot of low frequency information.  Characters that are tough bullies are easiest to characterize with low register instruments.  But the problem is getting those musical ideas to be heard when the speakers don't cooperate.  We ended up using a lot of divisi to get the motivs to speak through the 3DS without headphones.

4. As with the original Luigi’s Mansion, Luigi begins humming the theme music if left alone for too long. Did the audio team work with Charles Martinet during the recording process? If so, could you describe that briefly?

Yes, we spent a week in Seattle recording with Charles.  I've had the pleasure of knowing him for quite a while now so it is very comfortable and collaborative vibe working with him.  We bring in literally hundreds of animation and storyboard sequences in ProTools sessions.  I usually talk him through the context of the scene and what we're thinking of.  We watch it together and then start doing takes.  He'll usually do a couple, then we'll stop iterate with some feedback, or maybe he has an idea.  We'll do a couple of more takes, then maybe he'll just improv.  That may spawn new ideas from me...  We're constantly bouncing ideas around.  The localization team from NOA is usually around, sometimes my sound design team will be around for some sessions that they have a vested interest in...  All in all, it's just a LOT of fun!!


5. Is there any music from Dark Moon that you like in particular, or that you’d like to talk about?
No, you know.  As they say, it's like having kids, I like all of it, hard to pick favourites.

6. Many people on this site have dreams of becoming video game composers. Do you have any advice for those people?

Be a good person and work hard.  =)
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chadyork

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Re: Q & A With Chad York
« Reply #11 on: June 20, 2013, 04:56:20 AM »


-a bit about your musical education
I did a Jazz Performance Diploma at Grant MacEwan in Edmonton.  After I finished that I finished the Recording Sciences program in the same dept.

-musicians that inspire you
Wow.  That's a big one.  Too many to list, but probably the biggest ones are the guys I get to work with Darren and Mike.  Alex our other Audio Director at NLG.  These guys are so great to work with and really make the whole process a lot of fun and inspiring!!

In terms of other inspiration (in no order):  Miles Davis, Paul Simon, John Scofield, Stravinsky, John Lewis, Mozart, Shoenberg, Elmer Bernstein, John Williams, Michael Giacchino, Sting, Led Zeppelin, Beatles, Astor Piazolla, Paco De Lucia, Bill Evans, Sonny Rollins, ...the list is endless as long as it's good, I get inspired!!

-your primary instrument
Guitar

-some of your favorite musical works(any genre)
Another hard one, not much of a favourites guy, but I still love the score to the original Star Wars Episode IV.  So classic.  I've learned a lot about arranging by transcribing bits from that.

-and for fun, your favorite video games
Super Mario 2 and 3, Alley Cat (one of the first games I owned), Mario Strikers Charged, my wife and I used to play Super Puzzle Fighter 2 Turbo every Sunday morning before we had kids  ;)
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FireArrow

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Re: Q & A With Chad York
« Reply #12 on: June 20, 2013, 05:15:03 AM »

Haha, I just realized how many questions we asked. Anyways, thanks a ton for responding! If I ever have to do a report on a famous person, I'm doing one on you! (Yes you count as famous.)  ;D
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chadyork

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Re: Q & A With Chad York
« Reply #13 on: June 20, 2013, 05:17:50 AM »

What inspired you to get into music and how did you get into the career you're in now?

I think just my love and passion for music made me chose it as a career.  I just love every part of the process.  Writing, performing, engineering, mixing.  Every aspect has its fascinating and creative parts to it.

 The getting here is a long story of course, but after I graduated college I did a lot of playing/writing in all kinds of bands from country, jazz, funk, rock, lounge to pop.  Worked on the Cruise ships for a couple of years.   I also did a lot transcribing which I think taught me the most about composition.  I grew up in a techy house as my dad was a Comp Sci guy and we always had computers around the house in a time when most didn't.  After a lot of live music venues started to dry up in the 90s and it was harder to make a living as a working class musician.  I built a studio and started doing more freelance producing and arranging as well as recording engineering to make ends meet.  Over the years I've filled some slow times with teaching at AI and Vancouver Film School.  I've been working with Nintendo at NLG for over 7 years now!  In that time I've made Mario Strikers Charged, PunchOut!! Wii, Ticket To Ride XBLA, Ghost Recon (for Ubisoft), and Luigi's Mansion Dark Moon.

I guess you need to be flexible and comfortable with change to make a go of it as a composer/musician.  ;)
« Last Edit: June 20, 2013, 04:58:52 PM by chadyork »
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JDMEK5

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Re: Q & A With Chad York
« Reply #14 on: June 20, 2013, 05:23:29 AM »

That was inspiring to read. Thanks for taking the time to do this with us Mr. York!
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