Greetings gamers one and all. I’m sure many of you are familiar with the awesome work of brentalfloss and his brilliant “With Lyrics” songs. Well today I had the honor of interviewing the man, the myth, the comedian himself and dig into that singin’ gaming psyche of his.
Joshua: Ok, so first, an easy one: Why? What on God’s green earth possessed you to start writing lyrics for video game themes?
Brent: I wish I knew. I started singing my own words to instrumental themes as a kid. So it’s kind of like asking a bird why it flies or an Asian why he’s good at math. I thought it was a funny idea at the time, that’s pretty much it. :)
Joshua: Why retro games? Is there something about 8-16 bit tunes that lend themselves better to songwriting?
Brent: Are you kidding? Lemme ask you a question: Can you hum the tune from Modern Warfare? Or Portal (not counting “Still Alive”)? Or Bioshock? Nope. Because while games have gotten infinitely more detailed, they no longer rely on music to create a sound universe. The years 1985 to roughly 2003 represent a golden age of video game music that we will probably never see again, because games now tend to use atmospheric, ambient sound, or to use generic, Apple loops-sounding music for everything besides the title theme. Music from the game music golden age was literally more lyrical, meaning its melodies generally supported lyrics way more than modern day games. So yeah, the answer is yes. :)
Joshua: Touche sir. So do you plan on doing lyrics for modern games? (I think Civ 4 was the most modern one I’ve seen) It seems like a pretty open field. So far the only lyrics I’ve seen put to modern games are the “Literal” lyrics that Tobuscus does.
Brent: Well, I wrote an original song about Team Fortress 2, but again, a lot of these modern games don’t have tunes that you can lyrically sink your teeth into. The “Thief” series on PC is a lot newer than most of the songs I cover, and it didn’t have a tune, so I had to make a rap. I’ve been playing a lot more current-gen games lately, but it’s hard to “add lyrics”… that said, I may be doing more original songs as I continue playing more modern games.
Joshua: Ah yes, that Thief rap was pretty funny. So, you’ve probably answered this one a dozen times, but what is your general creative process for writing lyrics to these games? Is it largely inspiration or do you sit down and say “I’m going to write lyrics for this theme”?
Brent: This “inspiration” word is always confusing to me… like there’s some special topical cream that only creative people can buy, haha. :) For me, it’s almost always a matter of going “Man, that is a great tune!” … occasionally, it’s more about the concept of a game, like Castlevania II. Ultimately though, it starts with a lyric. Once I sang “Dracula, I am back-u-la!” I was in. It usually goes something like that.
Joshua: Ok, another common but I’m sure difficult question: What is your number one, all time favorite video game theme? (You can pick a series if you must)
Brent: Final Fantasy 4, probably. Close seconds include Chrono Trigger, Deus Ex, and The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past.
Joshua: All right, try not to get upset by this next question, but: Why no Sonic lyrics?
Brent: I just didn’t get into the Sonic series as a kid, so I have no real nostalgia for it. I may go back and play through the games some day, but more often than not, when I hear music from the series, it doesn’t appeal to me. That and Sonic took my lollipop as a kid: http://brentalfloss.com/comicGA9
Joshua: Yeah, Sonic’s a real heart-breaker. Anyway, onto happier things, tell us about your new CD, Bits of Me.
Brent: Well, it was a labor of love. We set out to outdo the first CD and bring people tracks that were “missing” from the first CD. We added in a few new songs, and tried to enhance all the tunes people had heard to distinguish them from the Youtube versions. It’s a bit more eclectic than the first album… it sort of has everything. :)
Joshua: I know you’re doing a big “marketing” campaign with this new one, so what makes this album so much more awesome-er than previous ones?
Brent: The main reason the new album is better is because it has a higher density of goodness. The first album had a lot of silly throwaway tracks that the listener might listen to once and then skip every time thereafter. We wanted to make every track essential to the disc, and to eliminate “skippers.” Moreover, the new CD has a lot of different emotional tones; most of it’s comedy, but there are also heartfelt moments and occasional storytelling surprises. It’s just a better album all-around.
Joshua: I’ve watched nearly all your “with lyrics” youtube videos and I have to say, you do a great job with all the visual gags and gameplay clips; it makes the song all that more fun. Have you ever thought of making a music video DVD? (now that I say it out loud, it does sound sort of silly;)
Brent: I have thought about that, but I’m kind of on the fence about it. So many of my “classic” videos are low-resolution videos, and I generally focus more on releasing re-mastered versions of my songs than the old dusty original versions of the videos.
Joshua: And finally, where can people find your new CD, when does it come out and what sort of awesome goodies do you have for those who pre-order?
Brent: The main goodie that pre-orderers get is a beautiful album autographed by me. Beyond that, goodies include hearing the album before anyone else does, since we won’t be releasing digitally for a month or two.
Joshua: Cool. Well thanks so much for your time and I look forward your new album and any of your future endeavors. Do you have any parting wisdom or important updates for our readers?
Brent: Don’t sweat the small stuff. And if you do, just watch my videos and relax.