Interview No. 135
Interview By: @The-Great-One
[ PART 1 | PART 2 ]
Q: In the thread NG CD Featuring NG Musicians! Join! you decided to contribute towards it. It ended up being a project to raise money for charity. What can you tell us about your involvement in the project?
A: It started with an audition of sorts by @FatKidwitaJetPak, calling for people to submit their works to this CD project, and the best 20 or so would make it into this CD, it would be sold on the Newgrounds store and iTunes (I don’t think Bandcamp was a thing then), and the proceeds would go to a charity of our choice. I decided to enter along with Kingdom of Herts and we put up our first song, Juventud, in my NG account. It wasn’t great, I’ll admit, and I didn’t make it in.
When the songs were all compiled together, FatKidwitaJetPak called for artists to design CD covers, and T-shirts for participants. @ForgottenDawn (who at the time was going under the name @KKSlider60) submitted a design, and so did I. Mine was chosen as the final T-shirt design.
However, the project fell apart because CD suppliers were just not cooperating with us, and there were just too many CDs to make. I don’t know what else led to the project falling apart, though I’m sure the organiser has said something about it. It was a sad end to a project with a lot of promise, and I do not doubt that there are many who would have loved to see the CD in their hands.
Q: Happy Sunday Morning! is a really fun 8-Bit song that reminds me a lot of Kirby. Do you have a fondness for 8-Bit music. If so... and this might be a silly question, then where did it stem from?
A: I do have a fondness for 8-bit music, yes, and this stemmed from my years playing on the Nintendo Entertainment System. Up till 2002, I played NES games… a lot of NES games, and my interest in these games has recently resurged and I’ve taken to reacquiring an NES and a few games for it. My favourite NES game to date is Kirby’s Adventure, and I especially remember its music, its chords… I borrowed inspiration from Kirby.
When making Happy Sunday Morning I was asked to borrow inspiration from Mega Man, which I had never played before. I decided to listen to the music of that game, and then combine it with what 8-bit influences I knew.
Q: The Overthere Shrine is an underrated piece of video game music. I am not a religious person myself so I can't make the emotional connections that others do with this song. I will not deny that it is a beautiful song. Your remix is quite spectacular and it hits on a lot of different levels with you. Would you care to share?
A: It all started when Chuggaaconroy, a video game commentator whom I watch on YouTube, asked if anyone could remix or cover The Overthere Shrine, a theme from Super Paper Mario. It was so angelic, so calming, that I decided to undertake it.
This was in 2012, and I was grappling with news that my father and a friend of mine had both lost their faiths. I try not to be sad, and I respect them in every way I can muster, but I cannot help but cry for them as if I cry for a lost one. I poured these emotions into my cover of The Overthere Shrine. I also mentioned in the description of that piece that it brought to mind a desire to go home and set things right – I know this is not possible now. Right now, when I listen to my version of The Overthere Shrine, I find peace, and I ask for the grace to accept the present moment, and not rant about what could be or what could have been.
I have a deep desire to be at peace with God and neighbour, however hard this may be. I poured this into the cover, too. These days, I don’t think I’m doing a particularly good job in being at peace with God and neighbour. But then again, we are our own worst judges. The people around us see in us many good qualities and things that we ourselves don’t see. I’ve learnt that ever since.
Q: Proper Te is quite the awesome French rock ballad you present to us. You state that is was an entry in the 2012 Newgrounds Audio Death Match and it got you to Round 2, but it took a lot of you out in the process. Was this unfamiliar territory for you or by critiquing yourself were you pushing yourself into the shadows?
A: It was a bit of both. I knew how rock pieces went, especially progressive rock pieces, and I had an idea of how it would sound in my head. But not only did I critique myself, others were bound to critique me. It’s natural, and only right and just for such a competition. I’d been pushing myself into the shadows thinking that it lacked the power that I had imagined – and now, when I come back and listen to it, I cannot help but think the same. It still lacks the power that I had imagined for it. I hope to remake this song one day, as it was intended to sound.
My fiancé says that it’s his favourite piece coming from me, and that it would make a good Bond theme. Seriously now, would you honestly imagine something like that in Bond opening credits??
Q: Quite possibly your best song out of all of your works I can strongly say is Supplication. It has been a while since a song has made me cry, but this got me to bawl like a baby. And yet... this is a beautiful song from beginning to end and one I listened to multiple times. It is just one of those perfect songs. I honestly don't have a question here, I just wanted to make this comment to you. You do talk about your family though. What can you tell us about your parents and their influence on you?
A: My family certainly wasn’t perfect. My immediate family consisted of just my parents and me; I’m an only child. A lot of traditional Indian families grew up with the concept of matha, pitha, devam – “mother, father, God,” as the order in which these people should be reverenced or worshipped. I hated that ideal. I knew my parents were not perfect. They were bound to make mistakes, and certainly would not deserve reverence for such mistakes. But this ideal was forced onto me. On the surface, my parents were Catholic; in practice, it does make me wonder how much they adhered to Catholic belief, the way they forced this ideal onto me…….
If I disagreed with it, or anything they did for that matter, I would be beaten up… very badly. Call out your parents’ mistakes? Get beaten. Insist on writing and performing music? Get beaten, and possibly see your sheet music torn up. Get any grade lower than an A+ in exams? Get beaten. Even for the most frivolous things I was beaten, and no apology was given. No, my parents could not possibly be wrong. And their influence on me was frighteningly great. I was often scared for my life. What if I got beaten again? What would happen to me? I often tried to run to the front gate and open the lock silently, in a desperate attempt to run away from home. But where would I go? In whom could I confide? My only confidante was God, to whom I cried in the silence of my room.
And on the subject of being beaten badly, I remember it happening a lot of times. It pains me to say that my earliest memory is of being beaten until I blacked out, when I was 2 years old. My paternal grandmother, who had witnessed everything, said that I nearly died. She couldn’t be far wrong…
I also remember being beaten after a teacher spread lies about me being involved in the occult. She was so persuasive that my parents believed her, and not me, and decided to abuse me. The next day, the truth came out. I was in the clear. But my parents and this teacher did not apologise one bit. I remember many, many occurrences like these…
All these abuses make it hard for me to remember that in spite of everything, my parents did try to love each other, and love me. My mother and father were faithful to each other until the end, when my mother died in 2008. I try to remember the good times, believe me. I try very hard.
Yes, some good memories come back, like when my mother first played the drum for me to show me what it sounded like. I remember our Uno and Scrabble games together. I remember decorating the house with them on the first Sunday of Advent each year, in preparation for Christmas. I remember the house smelling of cookies and fruitcake in the weeks leading up to Christmas. Or, at times, the house smelling of pepper because my mother put in a LOT of pepper in a certain dish she was making… and the sneezes I made thereafter.
But in hindsight, the family home was not a safe haven for me. I wanted to call an abuse helpline so many times… but I hesitated because if it transpired that I did, I would risk being killed through beatings. I couldn’t even go see counsellors about this, because any notes that I wrote that I wanted to pass on to counsellors got intercepted, and I was beaten badly. I cannot help but think that all the frustration, hurt and anger my parents had suffered under their parents, they were now directing it to me. This knowledge came to me from the way my mother spoke to her mother once – my grandmother did not want my mother to beat me up. My mother pretty much told her to go and fuck off.
In spite of all this, I wrote Supplication. Even if the good things I could glean from my family were vastly overshadowed by all the hurt and abuse I’d been through, I wanted there to be something good, something which I hoped my mother and father would be proud of.
Q: We cannot talk about these next two songs separately. To do so would be criminal. Through the Woods I and Through the Woods II are pretty much representations of day and night - light and dark. Truth be told a lot of your songs as I listen to them like to play in that spectral realm of the twilight and play with our emotions. Why the sense to teeter-totter at times? Or again am I missing something?
A: I teeter in between light and dark quite frequently in my music, because in daily life, we do teeter between light and dark whether we realise it or not. I try to reflect this in the pieces I write. The things we do, how we feel, or even what we say – all of it is a representation of the struggle between light and dark. Through the Woods I and Through the Woods II were written to represent the conflict between innocent childhood and frightening adulthood, day and night, dawn and dusk. The game for which these were written, The Hut in Ayre Forest, plays with these same themes. These are themes which tell us just how complex of a struggle human life is.
Q: We now come to Bataille Royale EXTENDED. Where did the inspiration come from to remix your remix of a remix of a remix of this already beautiful song?
A: Actually I would call it a remix of a remix. ^_^' This is only take three of Bataille Royale, not take five. All I wanted to do was hear this piece in full instrumental glory, beyond what Mario Paint Composer could do.
Q: Whenever I interview someone here, I usually find something that they have done that is my all-time personal favorite. For you though there are two songs that I just could not choose from. We will talk about them both, the first being A Night in the Attic. I don't think I have felt such a haunting nostalgia since I watched Bear Bear here on Newgrounds. I love the inspiration and the story you tell behind it, but the atmosphere you built once again plays in this twilight realm. What is it that you see in this song?
A: I see lots of things… firstly, I am reminded of my fiancé’s big chest of model trains, which is the main source of inspiration for A Night in the Attic. This chest made me imagine a roomful of toys that came to life.
This piece is something rather ambitious for me; it was my first attempt at cinematic music since Westminster Tune, and also my first attempt at recording another instrument besides drums, piano and voice. I chose to record glockenspiel, because I have one, and because I thought its sound would be very toy-like. Here, I also chose to experiment with sound effects; I toyed around with a kitchen timer and the plastic cover of my glockenspiel to imitate the sounds of toys click-clacking on the floor.
Emotionally speaking, the piece is meant to convey fear of being judged, and subsequent relief at being shown approval, mercy and love. The story that I had imagined for this piece is that, you walk into a roomful of your old, abandoned toys. You’d heard stories of people being flayed alive or tortured by their old toys, as punishment for treating them badly as a child. You fear that the same thing might just happen to you. And as you hear the clicking of toys behind you, you fear the worst. But they come out as if to greet you, fill you with joy, and they come and rest on your lap and in your arms.
I have an inane fear of being judged, and based on my previous responses, you can probably guess why. I yearn to be loved, to be approved of, to be cherished.
This piece also represents failure, disillusionment and betrayal to me, because I had given my absolute all in writing this piece, spending a good three weeks, toiling day and night, through fears and panic attacks, until this was done and my mixing had been improved on. My fiancé had to come in and check on me and tell me to go to bed, many times during that three-week period. The opponent’s song was done only in two days. Nearly every one of my followers just went gaga for his piece and abandoned mine when I was most in need of encouragement and support. And the opponent won.
To say nothing about his piece, I felt like I was a thing to be trampled on and thrown away, because I had poured myself into it so much, only to be forgotten. Comments and reviews began to flow in, weeks after the results for that round had been released, and I began to ask, where were you when I needed you the most? I felt betrayed. Disillusioned, I decided to stay completely away from the Audio Deathmatch. I don’t even dare approach that song now (or even my opponent’s song), because all the hurt associated with it just comes flowing back. Objectively speaking, everyone thinks both songs are good. I think my opponent’s song is technically sound. But I have to be honest about the hurt that I’ve faced.
This whole experience has made me lean towards seeing that I am an inferior composer, and that any hope of succeeding is gone. My fiancé tries to talk me out of this state of mind, and sometimes, my friends try to do so as well. But the hurt from this, as well as from very many other things associated with my passion for music, has marked me indelibly. I only hope and pray that one day, I may be able to look upon this song and the experience I had creating it, without flinching anymore.
Q: The second song that is tied with my favorite by you starts with As Stars that Shine - Teaser. Afterwords we get hit by the full version As Stars that Shine (FULL). When a musician releases a teaser are they simply looking for feedback or are they simply stuck? Also what was the full inspiration and process you brought into evolving this song to where it is now? Also why is the teaser available for download, but not the full version?
A: The way I understand it, when musicians release teasers, they are either looking for feedback, stuck, or unwilling to share the full version of a track that is going to bring them earnings as the result of its use in a game. Or, shall we say, unwilling to spoil the fun. It keeps listeners anticipating more. At the time of me releasing the full version of As Stars that Shine, I had no choice but to release the full version since I did not want to risk another unfortunate hard drive failure or great file loss, and this was the only full track that I had salvaged from this great file loss that I had earlier this year.
The teaser is available for download, but not the full version, because of its intended use in @CartoonCoffee’s upcoming Eden game. I figured that, since it would be used for the purposes of the game, I did not make the full track downloadable.
I wanted to combine electronic sounds and Celtic melodies… this is something I’ve noticed about my recent style. To me, both nature and machine can go hand-in-hand. Eden has graphics that are colourful and resemble vast caves with immense amounts of foliage, and also has a reference to the Tree of Knowledge in the book of Genesis. However, the mechanics and costumes worn by some of the characters in this game are very reminiscent of Tron and Tron Legacy. I’m talking, of course, about the blue colour, the lines that resemble circuitry, and the visors and gauntlets worn by some characters in this game. This is also a reflection of the instruments I have. I have a lot of acoustic instruments, and I’m especially thrilled about my harp and my bodhráns, but I also own a Stylophone (which is a 1960s synthesiser), and I like 8-bit music and I use a digital audio workstation. It’s a reconciliation of differences, a combination of two schools of thought (acoustic music, and electronic music) which would otherwise be constantly bickering and debating with each other.
Q: What is in your opinion, the definition of music?
A: The inner resonance of its creator’s heart (or the hearts of the community it is associated with). It is indispensable to our lives. And the way I see it, it is a gift from God. Done well, it is a relic that can be passed on to future generations. Done badly… well……. um. What do we do if we find a piece of music that has historically been trash? I guess each person has their understanding of what is trash and what isn’t.
Q: When you were at the University of Hertfordshire you wrote for the Students' Union blogging project called Soapbox. What can you tell us about Soapbox and what was the experience like?
A: Soapbox was a project run by the media division of the University of Hertfordshire Students’ Union (HERTSSU) beginning in the academic year of 2010-2011, where a set number of bloggers would write about their student life, their joys and sorrows, the problems they face, and the events in which they take part. To my knowledge, I don’t think HERTSSU runs this project anymore. Only two of us who were chosen for the project were avid writers, and updated regularly, which I think is the main motivation for HERTSSU to discontinue it.
I found it a bit of a mixed bag. As a member of the Soapbox team, I had VIP access to a lot of HERTSSU functions, like the Summer Ball at the end of the academic year. The Summer Ball was something I really enjoyed – rides, concerts (in my case, I attended those of Feeder and Ellie Goulding), and free drinks and a party atmosphere throughout the university grounds. I guess in most cases, it was fun – I enjoy taking pictures, recording stuff and writing; I enjoy creating in general, and this felt like a nice side project to undertake while I was not going through the drudgery of my law studies. I covered Freshers’ Fairs, where various clubs and societies would put up booths to attract students. I covered some Students’ Union meetings, which were quite dreary and overly riddled with legal jargon and made me aware that a lot of people didn’t even know what changes they were voting in. And I spoke about my life as a law student, and as an aspiring musician.
Some events which I covered were a bit underwhelming. For instance, Student Elections took place in March each year and covered positions for student representatives and Students’ Union members (i.e. who became chairman, who became media manager, who became manager of clubs and societies…). I often had to deal with the childish behaviour of the people running for office, and the people who voted, because I recorded footage of the Student Election Results, which took place in the university’s pub called the Elehouse. The Elehouse would be packed full with people, a lot of whom were drunk or slightly tipsy. It was alright, I guess, if I could make a quick quip about it, but after a while, anyone would get fed up of that sort of atmosphere. Tensions around me were high and patience was low.
Another example, and a unique example at that, would be Question Time with Uni Hertfordshire’s newly-appointed Vice Chancellor in 2012, who at the time was Professor Quintin McKellar. This was meant to be done almost in the fashion of Parliamentary question time, where questions would be asked about things that matter, and the person would have to reply on the spot. Professor McKellar was doing his absolute best to respond to people, and to remain level-headed at the same time. But how would people react when dealing with a bunch of annoyed teens? I think he tried his best to be compassionate to everyone. I wanted to record some footage then. I think I did. I don’t really remember much. But then I grew tired of people demanding things that just couldn’t be done within his power, like the abolition of tuition fees. There were some good questions, but a lot of them got overshadowed by the impatience of a lot of the audience. This event was followed by refreshments after, granted, but it drained all the positivity out of me.
Q: You are not only a musician and a writer, but you are also an artist. What inspired you to take up art alongside music?
A: I think, quite simply, because I felt I could! When I was 6 or 7, I did my first visual copy of a Looney Tunes screenshot (it was a Speedy Gonzales screen). I coloured it, and it made me positive that I could draw things on my own instead of having to copy them. I’m always intrigued by colours, and sometimes, I draw because I want to give my colours form.
When I was younger, I drew for school assignments – “Draw a sunset scene,” “draw a ‘Say No to Drugs’ poster,” (what is this, the NES game Raid 2020?), “draw a highway safety poster,” the list goes on. These tasks were quite generic and didn’t really encourage creativity, and now when I look at my art, I don’t think that I have the makings of a good artist – my art’s always picked upon for being disproportionate, lacking in perspective… But I still want to draw. Sometimes, I can express my thoughts best in pictures, and I’d rather use this ability than waste it.
Q: What can we expect from Troisnyx in the future?
A: Either lots of works, or nothing at all, depending on the outcome of events that are soon to take place. I ask for your prayers and good thoughts.
Troisnyx, as I said at the start of this interview, I have had my eye on for quite sometime. A couple of months to be precise. A link to her profile just sat in a folder in my browser for a long time. I would look through her stuff from time to time, but never got around to sending her an invitation. Once I heard her new song As Stars that Shine (FULL), I knew it was time. She is a very skilled musician who decides to constantly keep learning and share the fruits of her labor with all of us. We are most lucky.
[ PART 1 | PART 2 ]