Obliterate any struggles faced on your path to musical triumph!
Last month, I got the chance to review Devolver Digital’s / Deadtoast Entertainment’s latest indie game, My Friend Pedro. I was really anticipating this banana frenzy hit and was pleased to have found out how exhilarating of a title it really was. That chance was further extended when one of the sound prodigies behind My Friend Pedro reached out to me with some behind-the-scenes footage of Cave Crawl — an interesting video highlighting how the soothing beats of the track had come to life.
Seth Cano: How did you get into creating music? And what in particular was the “driving force” behind choosing to do video-game music?
Navie D: I started taking creating music seriously when I was in university. I went to business school, which may be the polar opposite of where I should have been. I never really felt like I fit in, and that I wasn’t cut out for it. So I made the decision to at least try something else, something more creative. Initially, I produced for hip hop artists, but that was not very fulfilling (creatively or career-wise). So I eventually had the idea to pivot and thought it would be a good idea for me to try my hand at video game music since it may be a better fit for me. And this project was my first foray into it.
Seth Cano: Do you play video-games in your spare time, and if so, any particular games? Any Nintendo-related games?
Navie D: I do play video games still, although less now that I try to be as productive as I can with my other endeavours. I always loved strategy games, as well as RPG games growing up. Games like Chrono Trigger for SNES, or the early Final Fantasy games really informed my musical tastes.
Seth Cano: What’s your favourite thing about creating music — any particular experiences you’ve had that standout?
Navie D: For me, music provides me with a disconnect from everything else that may be going on, and it allows me to just be present. It’s like a meditation almost. In terms of standout experiences, I try not to romanticize the process or fall in love with any particular song or experience. Once something is finished, I tend to just move on and look to what else is new.
Seth Cano: How does the creation of video-game music work for you? Do you freelance for various game studios/companies, or do you have a full-time (or part-time) job for a studio?
Navie D: Right now, my focus is on freelancing for studios. I am not sure whether I would be a good fit for working a full-time job at a major studio. I like the idea of working on independent games, where there is more openness to alternative ideas and music. If I signed up to work on a franchise that everybody is already familiar with, there is far less territory to explore which takes the fun out of it for me.
Seth Cano: Do you have any particular tips for someone looking to get into the business of making video-game music? What helps in terms of standing out in the industry?
Navie D: I am not sure whether I have accomplished enough to merit telling anyone else how to get into making video-game music. As a broad principle though, I have learned that really understanding what you are good at and looking for projects where that style is valued is a good way to find opportunity. I try to go into a situation and figure out whether I can actually add value for a person or a project, rather than try to do the opposite and force my style onto a project for my own gain. “Get in where you fit in” as Too $hort said.
Seth Cano: What is your favourite soundtrack from, My Friend Pedro, and why?
Navie D: My favourite track is probably Pendulum by Nounverber. I wish I had made that song. It is an idea that would have never entered my brain, and I always enjoy things that are outside my own circle of thought. The weird sliding synth throughout the song; it’s so great!
Seth Cano: What are some of the other major video-game soundtracks you’ve produced, and which ones are your favourites?
Navie D: This is my first video-game project, so by default, this is my favourite one. Before this, I used to produce for hip-hop artists though. My favourite song that I did in that realm is probably Sweet Dreams by Joey Bada$$.
Seth Cano: How did you learn the various in’s and out’s of each music recording software? When? Any particular advice you can offer to those interested in pursuing work with music software/hardware?
Navie D: I learned through YouTube and trying things out on my own. I don’t have any formal training or education by any means. It’s been a learning process all along; every once in a while I will try out new software to see what things I can learn and change in my current process. In terms of advice, I would strongly advise people to limit themselves. A common misstep I see early on is when people are in the initial learning phase, they tend to buy tonnes of software and hardware, more than they need. There is always going to be a gap between where you want to be and where you are when starting out. But a lot of people blame this on their lack of resources when in truth, it’s a lack of skill. And the only way to fix that is through practice, not buying your way towards a more professional sound. As dull as it sounds, practice is the only way to get better.
Have you played My Friend Pedro yet? Are you a musician like Navie? We’d love to hear all about your adventures with music and/or My Friend Pedro! If you are on the fence about whether My Friend Pedro is worth a pickup, feel free to check out our review of the title.