007 IVGM – Charlie McCarron, Moto Hekalu: Star Reaction

InsideVGM-150In this episode, I talk with Charlie McCarron, the composer who wrote the soundtrack for Star Reaction by unTied Games. We talk about his song “Moto Hekalu.”

In my interview with Charlie McCarron, we cover the following:

  • His musical background, how he got interested in video game music and joined friends to start unTied Games, a small indie game studio
  • For the RPM Challenge, Charlie created 35 1-minute tracks using a Casio SA-35 keyboard. That album is on Bandcamp.
  • Charlie uses Puremagnetik and other synths that come with Ableton. Instead of modifying the patch,Charlie McCarron Charlie likes to modify the sounds using distortion, delay, frequency shifts, EQ and the like.
  • The game, Star Reaction, available now for Windows, Mac, Linux and Android
  • Moto Hekalu plays during the orange “fire temple” levels. Each color has its own song from the soundtrack. “Moto Hekalu” means roughly “fire temple” in Swahili.
  • Charlie shared his thoughts about making looping songs, including one that he got from Whitaker Trebella (Whitaker Blackall)
  • We talked about and played some of the individual parts in the song. The “Texture” sound actually was a sample from another track on the soundtrack.
  • The “mallets” sound used an Arpeggiator. Charlie also talked about using an arpeggiator on episode 22 of Making My Own Music, this podcast’s previous incarnation.
  • There is a layer of wind and a layer of crows. Charlie talked about a Crowpocalypse he witnessed a couple of years ago.
  • The bass part plays kind of a diminished scale and never resolves. Later in the song it plays a half-step higher.
  • There are three percussion sounds. The bass drum comes from the Sonatina Symphonic Orchestra which is free. There is also a tom part and a percussion part.
  • There is a part called “Soft Jupiter” and a higher synth that doubles the bass part, especially for people playing on mobile phones .
  • I then played “Moto Hekalu.”
  • Charlie split the parts into two layers, the “peace” layer and the “panic” layer. During the endless mode, the song morphs from “peace” to overlapping to “panic” as the panic meter rises and your time is running out.
  • The full soundtrack is available now at untiedgames.bandcamp.com.
  • Charlie hosts a podcast called “Composer Quest” where he interviews composers of various styles. Charlie interviewed me in episode 77
  • Charlie especially likes the late Romantic music from around 1890 to 1920.
  • Some of his favorite games are N64 games like The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, GoldenEye, Super Smash Bros N64, Mario Kart. He also has been playing Fez and Portal recently.

You can find Charlie McCarron on Twitter @charliemccarron and his website is CharlieMcCarron.com. The Star Reaction soundtrack is on Bandcamp.

You can find the Composer Quest podcast at composerquest.com. You can find Star Reaction on Windows, Mac, Linux and Android from unTied Games.

Is there a game composer you’d like to hear from? Let me know and I will reach out to them for an interview. Email tom@insidevgm.com or tweet at me on Twitter @TomSnively.

You can hear my music at TomSnively.com on the Music page or the Credits page. You can try Match Em and Molecular Music Box by finding the links on tomsnively.com/credits.

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