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Tee Lopes Talks Sonic, Streets Of Rage, And Making Music On A PS1

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Tee Lopes Lead Image NL VMGFest
Picture: Tee Lopes

Over the vacations we’re republishing a few of our greatest options, interviews, opinion items and speaking factors from the earlier 12 months from workers and contributors alike — articles that we really feel characterize our greatest of 2021. In them you will discover our standard mixture of thoughtfulness, frivolity, retro experience, gaming nostalgia, and — in fact — enthusiasm for all issues Nintendo. Get pleasure from!


Followers of sure beloved Sega franchises must be very accustomed to this composer’s identify by now. Tee Lopes began out on the VGM scene releasing remixed and reimagined variations of a few of gaming’s most beloved music, with a particular concentrate on one blue hedgehog particularly, and his compositions and preparations now sit alongside these of collection legends reminiscent of Masato Nakamura, Jun Senoue and Yuzo Koshiro within the Sonic canon.

His expertise and fervour garnered the eye of the suitable individuals over the past decade, and lately he is equipped the soundtrack for the sensible Sonic Mania (a recreation that is now four-years-old!) in addition to the Mr. X Nightmare DLC for Streets of Rage 4, and his work may also be heard within the upcoming Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge and Steel Slug Ways. If you happen to’ve acquired a retro revival within the works and wish to seize the spirit of a treasured collection whereas additionally taking the audio to new and thrilling locations, it appears Tee Lopes is your go-to composer.

We kick off the Nintendo Life Video Recreation Music Fest — a season of VGM-focused options and interviews — with an e-mail chat with Tee the place we requested him about how he began out, how he goes about crafting new music for retro-inspired titles, and his first expertise with the Sonic collection…


Nintendo Life: How outdated had been you once you started making music? Are you able to bear in mind the way you began experimenting?

Tee Lopes: I composed my first authentic music once I was 8 utilizing a small arranger keyboard I owned. I bear in mind the music properly — gradual and corny, however catchy! In 1999, once I was 12, I got here throughout a really distinctive title for the PlayStation referred to as Music 2000 [see below], which allowed me to sequence my music utilizing a PS1 controller, after which save the venture recordsdata on my reminiscence card. I might then hook up the console to a boombox and document my songs onto cassette tapes that I’d give to my associates.

I took plenty of inspiration from the video games I performed throughout that experimentation interval. It’s curious that I began making game-inspired music utilizing a recreation console, and now I compose for video video games.

What had been your largest musical influences once you had been beginning out? Have your tastes modified over time?

I come from a small city in Portugal, and rising up, my entry to music was very restricted. We solely had 4 TV channels and an area radio station, which principally performed no matter was well-liked on the time, and there wasn’t a music retailer for miles. Due to this, video video games had been like a dimensional portal that allowed me to find music I wouldn’t have heard anyplace else. Particularly Japanese music, which I instantly recognized with.

video video games had been like a dimensional portal that allowed me to find music I wouldn’t have heard anyplace else. Particularly Japanese music, which I instantly recognized with

My checklist of influences is lengthy, however I’ll point out just a few names: Jun Senoue, Michiru Yamane, Nobuo Uematsu, Harumi Fujita, Takenobu Mitsuyoshi, Yuzo Koshiro, Shusaku Uchiyama, and lots of others. I can’t say my tastes have modified (and I’ve put that to the take a look at), however they’ve definitely advanced and expanded. A number of the stuff I discover fascinating these days most likely would’ve sounded too odd to me some years in the past.

What devices do you play? Do you will have a favorite?

I play the keyboard fairly poorly in the meanwhile — I’ve been coaching! Imagine it or not, I sequence all of my music with a mouse and a QWERTY keyboard. My course of includes plenty of modifying and automatization, and it’s a zillion instances much less fascinating than taking part in an instrument.

If I might dominate one immediately although, I’d most likely choose the guitar — all the things about guitars is extremely badass.

Are you able to discuss us by way of your private historical past with the Sonic collection, as a gamer?

My fascination with Sonic started earlier than I truly performed the sport. As a younger child, I beloved the Saturday morning cartoons, the adverts on TV, the merchandise… SEGA had a giant cultural influence on Portuguese youth in the course of the ‘90s. Sonic’s angle and velocity had been the best factor on the planet to me!

In ‘94 my dad purchased me a Grasp System, which was SEGA’s finances console by then, but it surely got here with Sonic 8-Bit within the inside reminiscence. This was sufficient to make me burst into tears of happiness. That was the primary Sonic I owned, and it’s nonetheless an exquisite recreation with a tremendous soundtrack by Koshiro-san. I didn’t totally expertise the Genesis titles till some years later, however finally, I turned accustomed to these as properly.

What was your first Sonic-themed musical venture, and what impressed it on the time?

It was a fast association of “Inexperienced Hill Zone” I made in 2006 to check out the sounds of a brand new arranger keyboard I purchased. It wasn’t impressed by something… it was simply the music that got here to my thoughts on the time. I confirmed it to a buddy, and he thought it sounded actually cool… and I suppose that prompted me to make extra stuff prefer it. I put it up on Youtube!

You gained a following and status not simply by way of early work on Sonic the Hedgehog 2 HD, however by way of remixes of varied soundtracks on YouTube. Are you able to discuss concerning the function of social media and these ardour tasks in establishing your music profession?

Social media performed a defining function in my profession. I bear in mind, again in highschool, I might burn my new music onto CDs and produce them to high school to indicate my associates. Then, some years later YouTube got here alongside, and all of a sudden I had entry to this international stage that allowed me to share my creations with the complete planet… which was a huge step up from an viewers of 4 or 5 shut associates.

With out this platform to showcase my work, it could’ve been troublesome for me to attach with the gifted individuals I’ve met alongside the best way; some who had been key to lots of the alternatives that may come my approach.

While you’re writing music for one thing retro-inspired, how do you strike that steadiness between capturing the spirit of the originals whereas creating one thing that’s completely your individual and never merely an homage? Do you want sure elements to make an amazing Sonic observe, for instance? A slice of electropop, a drop of jazz, a superb pinch of latest jack swing…

I imagine an amazing Sonic observe might be any fashion. Sonic music all the time got here in lots of flavors. I believe it’s extra about angle than it’s about style

Truthfully, it’s not one thing I take into consideration too technically. When writing for a venture like that, I simply attempt to create music that makes me really feel the best way I did once I performed a recreation as a child, and the elements I exploit simply work in direction of fulfilling that imaginative and prescient. My retro-inspired work tends to combine well-established parts, attribute of a special period, with my private style and influences, and I believe the result’s one thing new, but acquainted; kinda like what Bruno Mars does with pop music.

I imagine an amazing Sonic observe might be any fashion. Sonic music all the time got here in lots of flavors. I believe it’s extra about angle than it’s about style relating to the blue man. If you happen to’re accustomed to Sonic music, this can make sense to you.

How essential was engaged on Sonic Mania to you, personally?

Sonic Mania was an important step in my profession to this point, when it comes to publicity, within the sense that it shined a highlight on my writing talents, which had little visibility as much as that time. That opened many doorways for me professionally. I had composed my first authentic soundtrack for a recreation referred to as Main Magnet In 2013, and though it gained awards and many reward, it didn’t choose up the best way we anticipated, so I remained identified primarily for my recreation remixes till Mania got here out. The expertise additionally taught me quite a bit concerning the trade and the intricacies of recreation growth. Earlier than then, I knew little about that world. It was additionally a childhood dream became actuality, which clearly feels wonderful and carries quite a lot of feelings.

We’re enormous followers of the Streets of Rage collection and its music. Inform us a bit about how the Streets of Rage 4 DLC venture got here to you and the way you approached engaged on that collection.

I’m an enormous fan too! I aimed to make a soundtrack with parts allusive to the old-school themes, however with a recent twist. Initially, my demos sounded extra like what you’d anticipate from a SOR title (unused early demo discovered within the recreation’s knowledge) [see below], however as I started experimenting with completely different genres, and because the frenetic tempo of Survival Mode turned extra clear, the soundtrack advanced to accommodate that. These songs don’t have many breaks — they’re chaotic in nature and construction, very similar to the occasions on the display screen, particularly after just a few waves of enemies!

Once I joined the venture, Olivier Deriviere and the opposite composers concerned had already taken liberties that redefined SOR music, utilizing extra fashionable and even acoustic parts which had been not possible to recreate on a Sega Genesis, so I continued additional down that path by including much more outlandish options; heavy metallic, lure, dub, jungle and different parts we hadn’t heard in a Streets of Rage recreation earlier than. I took plenty of inspiration from traditional SOR music, but in addition from outdated motion pictures, fashionable music and popular culture media.

Every one of many 5 stage themes has two completely different preparations, kind of just like the “Act 1 / Act 2” deal in Sonic video games, besides the 2 variations alternate randomly in Survival Mode. This was quite a lot of enjoyable to make, as a result of I like rearranging and re-harmonizing current music.

Do you will have a set writing course of or methodology for getting your musical concepts down? Does it contain recording concepts in your cellphone or jotting down notes on paper? What applications do you employ once you work?

I don’t actually jot concepts down outdoors of the studio, as a result of my mind is normally in “receiver” mode… when it’s time to work, I simply change to “transmitter” and pour all of it out

There’s not a lot of a technique — typically I’ll begin off with a catchy riff, different instances with a drum beat, or a bass line, it actually is determined by the music. I normally write as I’m going, part after part, many instances linearly. I don’t actually jot concepts down outdoors of the studio, as a result of my mind is normally in “receiver” mode, simply absorbing my environment (or conceptual artwork from a recreation within the making), and when it’s time to work, I simply change to “transmitter” and pour all of it out — no matter I’ve collected in my head.

My program of selection is FL Studio, which I’ve used since 2003, and several other digital devices, relying on what the job requires. I additionally prefer to collaborate with different composers and performers if I really feel the venture requires it.

From the skin (and particularly as huge Sega followers), you appear to be ticking off a bunch of dream tasks, with incredible Sonic and Streets of Rage video games below your belt, and Turtles on the best way. What different collection or builders would you prefer to work with?

I all the time really feel lucky anytime I’ve the possibility to work on a franchise I grew up taking part in; it’s like the child in me feels achieved. There are many properties I’d be excited to jot down on, like a brand new Castlevania, or Mega Man, or Road Fighter, to say just a few. Klonoa and Tomba! additionally come to thoughts, on the extra obscure facet.

I’d additionally love the chance to work on a conventional RPG someday, simply to flex a extra emotional set of muscle tissues. With that being mentioned, I’m all the time very eager on engaged on model new, authentic titles as properly.

Lastly, your final identify – we’ve heard all types of pronunciation from ‘Lo-pez’ to ‘Loaps’, however as we perceive it, the proper Portuguese pronunciation is nearer to ‘Regulation-psh’. Are you able to set the document straight?

‘Regulation-psh’ is completely correct, however I don’t anticipate anybody to pronounce it that approach. I all the time introduce myself as “Tee ‘Loaps’”, however understandably, I hear “Lo-pez” many instances.


Many due to Tee for taking the time to talk with us. You’ll be able to observe him on Twitter @teelopesmusic and take a look at his work at teelopesmusic.com, Bandcamp, and your streaming platform(s) of selection.





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