Thursday, October 21, 2010

Last Collector Standing: Safety Words Talks Video Game Music, Hip-Hop and Records an Exclusive MP3 For Us!

Posted By on Thu, Oct 21, 2010 at 3:38 PM

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Price: It wasn't pressed on wax initially. I had to do some finagling with a dude from England who had a copy of it. As far as I know now, it's still out of print.

Jones: That is the only reason why I got the CD. I felt like I had to have a physical copy of it, but it's not on wax. I've got to get it somehow.

How did you both get into music in the first place? Jones: I know what my first record is, but... my dad passed a bunch of his old records to my aunt. When I got out of school in elementary school I used to go over to my grandma's house and hang out with my aunt. She would play records for me. She gave me a bunch of Doors and Zeppelin. You think that my first records would have been that but somewhere in there I picked up a Cyndi Lauper record. I think "Time After Time" was that first record.

Price: Nice.

Jones: I don't know if it was nice or not. [laughs]

Price: I think the first CD I bought was Nirvana's Bleach. I'm trying to remember the first record I bought. When I first started buying records I was into bop jazz. It could have been a Thelonious Monk record. Some of my earliest records are that type of record.

How did your group Safety Words begin? Jones: I was going to UMSL taking Japanese. Jenny [Sean's wife] was the Japanese teacher, and I used to DJ at all of the events that they had. At one point, she was like, "You should talk to my husband. He makes beats and music."

I remember Sean actually came to one of these things where I'm playing records, and I'm looking at this guy. Sean had long hair. I'm like, "What is this supposed to be, really?" I didn't think he was somebody who was going to be into hip-hop. That's me judging a book by its cover.

I came over here and he said, "Dude, check some of his beats out." I listen to a lot of his shit and was like, "Oh man, I can't handle that. That's pretty intense." We started hanging out from there. We both like old-school Nintendo games. We sat down and I was like, "We should take lyrics from Ghostface and Wu Tang and all these Nintendo beats we've been making and make a CD out of it." That's how we got started.

Do you have a favorite video game theme? Price: What was that one guy's name who was doing all that crazy Nintendo music?

Jones: I don't know. The same guy who did the video game music for Wolverine on the NES... what else did he do?

Price: Solstice.

Jones: He's an 8-bit composer. While we were doing that album we [tried to find] as much Nintendo music as we possibly can. There are like a thousand games out there, so what's the easiest way to narrow this down? Us narrowing it down was trying to find different 8-bit composers who said they did stuff with this many channels of music. I don't know what my favorite theme is.

Price: What's a game with some awesome music?

Jones: Ninja Gaiden got some fire in it!

Price: Yeah, Ninja Gaiden does. The previously mentioned Solstice has some pretty crazy music.

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Jones: I do like Super Mario Bros. 2, but I don't know if it's because of the music in it. Actually no, Super Mario Bros. 2 is pretty badass. One of the reasons why we came up with the idea to make more out of it was because I learned from an interview with Oh No, he's a producer on Stones Throw, he was talking about if you play the game you can listen to the music and everything. But if you pause it all the melody drops out and there's a bassline there. We checked it out and we were like, "Aw shit, we can chop up all these different pieces."

Price: It's a pretty badass sounding bass, actually. [Also] the pause music from Battletoads.

Jones: That was the first time I realized that Nintendo music was a viable option for something to sample.

Price: It's [got] some crazy sounding drums! They sound great!

Jones: I remember as a kid, listening to Nintendo music and renting these games from Schnucks. I used to rent games all the time. I remember my mom would come home from work, and then we'd pick up a game. I would play the game, but then in addition to that I would let it sit on the title screen or go to where no enemies could kill me and just listen to the music. Battletoads is definitely one of those games, because you pause it and it's got this real meaty kick and this real meaty snare.

Nintendo music overall is pretty awesome. I don't follow too much of that 8-Bit sound now. The last thing I heard was stuff from the Scott Pilgrim game. All that was the shit! I think it's so cool when you think about what they had to use. Now, if you pick up a Final Fantasy there's all these orchestral arrangements and huge budget they can use. Back then, you had these four channels; you had this sweeping sound and a beep, and a little bit of a range for melody. They took it... like the guy who did Solstice and Wolverine.

Price: I actually found his name. Tim Follin. I think at one time we were like, "This guy's the Axelrod of video game music." [referencing producer David Axelrod]

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