Saturday, June 23, 2018

Fun: giveaway and writing contest!

Giveaway and writing contests this summer!

If you haven't yet, sign up for Andrya Bailey's newsletter:

This month, there's a giveaway going on and you can enter it for a chance to win a $15 Amazon gift card (worldwide) or a Starbucks $5 gift card (US only):

Between June 18 to July 14 enter for a chance to win a $15 Amazon gift card (worldwide) and a $5 Starbucks card (US only) by clicking the link below:

Giveaway sponsored by Andrya Bailey:

If you write, consider submitting to the following writing contests:

A prize of $750.00 and publication in The Ocotillo Review Winter 2019 will be awarded for a poem of up to 65 lines. Submit up to three poems of no more than 65 lines each with a $20.00 entry fee by August 20, 2018.

A prize of $750.00 and publication in The Ocotillo Review Winter 2019 will be awarded for a short story. Submit one story of less than 4200 words with a $20.00 entry fee by August 20, 2018. All entries will be considered for publication. All entrants will receive a copy of the journal containing the winning story.

For more info and to enter, click on the link below:

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Music: Interview with video game composer Monish Corona

This talented video game composer has shared a little about his life and music with us. He's developing music for a new video game and it sounds very exciting! Read on to find out more about his career and musical skills!

Please tell us a little about your background and where you are from.

I was born Downey California, and was then raised in the Hawthorne/Lawndale area. Music has been a big part of my life for as long as I can remember. I actually used to have fantasies about growing up and becoming a singer as a child. When I decided to learn how to play music I joined a rock band in middle school, where I learned how to play the drums and started singing. However, when I got to High School I began studying video game music in freshmen year. Since video games were a big part of my childhood, this seemed to be the natural progression. During that time I really focused on learning percussion in different forms, and began playing the piano towards the end of high school. After that, I studied music composition at Santa Monica College for 3 years, and then transferred to Berklee College of Music in 2016.

You mentioned you learned to play instruments. How many, and what’s your favorite?

As I mentioned, my main instruments of choice at this point would be my voice, percussion, and the piano. However, I also learned how to play a little bit of guitar and bass from the bands I played in growing up. In high school, I dabbled in the flute for marching band. I actually became pretty good at playing the Ocarina at some point. I was really inspired by the Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time to learn it, and to this day, I love picking it up every now and then.

Sounds like you really have a talent for music. Who was your greatest influence to follow in the music career? Why?

I’ve actually had quite a bit of influences growing up. I can definitely say in my early years learning music, I was into a lot of rock and metal bands, however I enjoyed a bit of everything. A few of my favorites growing up were Led Zeppelin, Avenged Sevenfold, Deftones, and Linkin Park. If I were to go on, there would way many to mention in this article. However, as I fell in love with video game music, I found my biggest influence to be Yoko Shimomura. There was just something about the way she brought very classical elements and made them sound modern that I loved. I discovered her music when listening to the Kingdom Hearts series, which to this day holds a very special place in my heart. I also fell in love with composers like Nobuo Uematsu, Yasunori Mitsuda, and Jeremy Soule, but in terms of pure influence, I always come back to Shimomura.

That’s great. So many great influences in music! What drove you to start composing scores?

I actually started off by transcribing some of favorite music from the video games I played. One day realized that I could use the knowledge I learned from the techniques I saw from the composers and started to create my own music. After that point, I wrote a lot of original music through high school in the style of my favorite composers growing up all the way up. When I started college I met up with few other students who were also trying to get into the game industry. We started making short games for fun, and I learned a lot more about the programming side of game audio. At some point, I started going to local Game Dev meet ups, just to meet other people who appreciated video games as an art form. I actually started writing music for a few games since than as well, and I always become excited to work on new projects!

That’s exciting! What's your favorite movie/game score? Why? Has it helped shape your work in any way?

Monish with his favorite composer Yoko Shimomura
I mentioned how my favorite composer was Yoko Shimomura, and while she composed the music for all the Kingdom Hearts games, my favorite soundtrack of hers so far have been her work on Kingdom Hearts 2 and most recently, Final Fantasy 15. However, I have to give an honorable mention to Uematsu’s soundtrack for Final Fantasy 8, Mitsuda’s soundtrack to Chrono Trigger, and Chrono Cross, and Nick Arundel’s work for the music in the Batman Arkham series. When it comes to movies however, my favorite soundtracks include Howard Shore’s work in “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy, and I actually really love the music in Hans Zimmer’s “Man of Steel” soundtrack as well! I think everything that Hans Zimmer does is really well done. I can’t get enough of that man’s work!

Hans Zimmer is great and “Man of Steel” soundtrack is one of my favorites too! How do you draw inspiration to compose?

It really depends on the game and what the emotion the development team wants to convey. I usually will ask devs for a screenshot, or script of the game to convey those emotions and see what fits then mood. When composing scores, it’s really important to focus what’s best for every game because you want the music to immerse players and not become a distraction. Music can still be noticeable, and the one I love about game music is that they have a strong focus on melody, but you never want to distract the player too much from the game. There are many aspects to video games, and music is just one of them.

That’s an interesting side of composing! Do you prefer to compose at night or during the day? When are you most creative?

I really prefer to compose at night since I’m a natural night owl. I feel like some of my best “hoorah” moments happened when I was up late, and didn’t want to stop composing until I couldn’t stay awake anymore. However, as I got older, and time became more valuable, I learned the value of getting up early in the morning to get work done. Now, I really enjoy composing after a morning workout, and a good breakfast. I know I will become a night owl again at some point in the future, but for now, most of my creative moments happen in the morning, when I am the most focused and energized.

What's the favorite music you've created? What inspired it?

Actually, the most favorite music I created at this point is for my soundtrack for an upcoming game called “Bindstone”, as well as a few solo pieces I’ve made in the last year that pushed me to experiment a lot with my sound. I think when it comes to the music on Bindstone, the reason why this project is different from others I’ve worked on is because up until this point, is because the team is really great at critiquing my work. It’s also a project that pushes me out of comfort zone, and forces me to experiment with new musical ideas. I’m used to writing music for RPG’s, Platformers, and Puzzler games, and I never wrote music for a online multiplayer game before. I’ve loved the ideas that have been coming out of my head, and it also seems to be some of the most polished work I’ve made since I’m going through many rewrites for some tracks.

I’m sure it’s a great soundtrack. What are you working on now and what are your plans for the future?

Well, besides the soundtrack for Bindstone, I’m actually working on creating content for my YouTube channel, where I release a lot solo music, and video game music analysis videos. I will also be working on my first RPG soundtrack next year when further developments come further along.

Congratulations on your accomplishments. Is there anything else you'd like to add?

I would just like to thank you for taking the time to interview me, and giving me an outlet to share my musical history so far! It’s always nice to have a conversation with someone about a composer’s story, since everyone’s journey will be different.

Thank you so much for telling us a little about you and your music. We wish you a lot of success in your musical career.

To connect with Monish and hear more of his music: