RVG Interviews Allister Brimble.
I am pleased to announce our latest interview with Allister Brimble.
Allister Brimble (born 1970) is a video game music composer. Allister has written music and sound effects for the videogame industry since the mid 1980s for a vast array of games, such as Driver, Project-X, Superfrog, Alien Breed, Assassin, Colonization, Descent II, Dizzy series (except the first game, Dizzy), Slightly Magic on the ZX Spectrum and the Amiga.
More recently, he has composed music for the games RollerCoaster Tycoon 1 & 2. For Chris Sawyer's Locomotion, he created a couple of songs out of different eras, from 1900 to present day.
He also produced various audio tracks, as "Brimble's Beats", that were distributed on coverdisks of magazines including CU Amiga and Amiga Format.
More recently Allister created double CD album (limited edition) packed with 27 tracks chosen by the fans of Kickstarter and re-enhanced to studio quality and giving the tunes a more creative highlight. This will be the last time these tunes will be re-created.
Enjoy the Interview
Firstly thanks for taking part in this interview Allister, can you tell us a little about you?
I'm Allister Brimble and I compose the music & sound effects for video games. I've been doing this since the early days of the commodore Amiga and I still work in the same business today. I composed music for games such as Alien Breed, Superfrog, Full Contact, Project X, Driver & Rollercoaster Tycoon
What attracted you to composing music for video games?
I was a big games player as a child and was amazed by the music the early computers could produce. I think what really inspired me was a track by David Whittaker on the ZX Spectrum 128K, Glider Rider. Once I had heard this I knew what I wanted to do.
As a composer, is there a particular game type that you prefer to write music for?
Anything scifi is great for my style but I will turn my hand to any genre.
Has there been a game that has been very challenging to compose music for? If so, why?
My biggest challenge was to create the music for Rockstar Ate My Hampster by Codemasters & Colin Jones. In the game you had to manage a band and the music could come out either good or bad. I had to create many different parts that when mixed together would all work seemlessly and we had to be able to predict when it would clash as well so that we could deliberately make bad music.
How long were you working on the production of your double CD album? Were there any particular challenges you had to face with this project?
The Amiga Works took me about 3 months to create. The biggest challenge was to bring the tunes up to date but at the same time not lose the simplicity of the originals, thus staying as faithful as possible to them but at the same time make them very modern sounding. Perhaps the biggest challenge was the logistics of posting all the albums by myself! I now have huge respect for all those people who work in warehouses packaging things up and making sure the address's are correct.
Who are your own chip tune heroes?
The usual suspects, Rob Hubbard, Tim Follin, David Whittaker, Martin Galway, Maniacs of Noise
What piece of music do you feel was your greatest?
On the Amiga probably Alien Breed. It bought together all that I had learnt from the C64, The composer Jarre & various TV shows such as Knight Rider.
What was your favourite sound chip and why?
The Amiga's chip Paula as it was the first chip to make full use of sampling and gave me seemingly endless possibilities. I learnt to compose because of this chip as did many others.
What is your favourite chip tune by another composer?
There are many but I would say Agent X by Tim Follin on the ZX Spectrum 48K
Which company did you most enjoy working for and why?
In the early days it had to be Team 17 as I was given so much freedom to create what I thought best, in the modern era it has to be Curve studio's who gave me the ability to adjust the music & sounds in the game remotely and generate new builds of the game. This gave me complete creative control, especially over sound effects. The game I worked on for them was called Fluidity Spin Cycle for the Nintendo. 3DS.
Who would you most liked to have worked with on a score within the Industry back in the day?
Well, considering most composers are quite single minded this probably couldn't happen! However I would have loved to have worked with Rob Hubbard as he's a really nice guy.
Your so well known for your "Alien Breed" masterpiece, what was your inspiration for it?
The inspiration came from parts of Rob Hubbards Knuckle Busters tune, The TV theme from Knight Rider & the composer Jean Michel Jarre, all wrapped up in Alien sounds of course.
Did you find it difficult to switch platforms while composing for the Atari ST and Amiga?
Whilst each games system had its own sound driver format I wrote some software that would convert soundtracker data from the Amiga to the required format. Then all I had to do was create the instruments for each format.
With the release of your fantastic new album "The Amiga Works" was the music transferred from the Mod format to your sequencer, how did it work?
For most of the track I recreated them from scratch on my sequencer so that I could improve them as much as possible, both the instruments and structure to bring them up to modern day standard. However for some of the Superfrog tracks I exported the MOD to MIDI as I felt these tracks should not stray too far from the Amiga versions. I then created new sounds and added new parts.
Would you ever consider producing and performing at a live concert of your works?
Whilst it would be fun, I feel my early works should stay as they are. The Amiga Works album is as far as I want to take it. There are a few particular tracks that could be played live such as Spellbound Dizzy & Alien Breed but I would have to re-orchestrate them.
With the video game industry the way it is now, do you find it difficult to secure musical work or has your name made it easier to secure work in the gaming industry
I think making my name back in the early days has made it much easier for me. However, I have to keep up with modern day standard, buying all the latest instrument VSTi's etc. Some of the new up and coming musicians are really good so I have to be on my toes!
You wrote a lot of music for the Dizzy games, matching the melody to the games, were you asked to play these games before to find what the right style of music should be?
Yes, I had access to these games before I wrote the music. It really helped to get a sense of the style required. I was also shown previous versions of Dizzy so that I could compose music along the same lines.
Have you any intentions to produce an unique and brand new selection of tracks or album that will not be video game related in the near future?
Yes I hope some day soon to create Sounds Digital II, the sequal to my first album. The theme will be the same.. to use digital technology to recreate realistic sounds.
How do you feel things have changed within the video games industry now compared to the early days of the industry, has the magic of what once was (the environment, atmosphere etc..) been lost forever in your opinion? what are your views on this.
No, I believe the magic is still there but we are all older ;-) In the eyes of a young person its all new and thats how it was for us as well. One thing that was different back then though is that computers were new so everything you saw was something unexpected.. never before seen. Today we still have games like this but not so often, so the wow factor has to come from better graphics and physics.
What was your inspiration behind the kickstarter campaign for the Amiga Works Album?
I was inspired by Chris Huelsbecks kickstarter campaign for his Turrican 3 Anthology. Chris has showed the way forwards for me and I hope to produce more albums in this way in the future.
Do you have any chiptunes from games that never got released that you might like to share to the community?
I would have had some but unfortauntely due to a hard drive crash many years ago I lost it. I believe most of my work is publisher though. An excellent resource for listenning to all of my works (even on strange formats) is http://www.exotica.org.uk/wiki/Main_Page
What are you up to these days?
I still compose music for video games on all formats. You can look at www.orchestralmedia.co.uk for further info and a full portfolio. Most recent titles include Fluidity Spin Cycle 3DS, The Lighthouse HD (Ios) & Pro Foosball for Sony.
Are you a gamer yourself? If so what is you favourite game?
Yes I am a big gamer. My most played game is Eve Online but I am also enjoying Project Godus right now which is really good as an alternative to the Amiga's Popolous in its latest version.
Another fantastic Interview i am sure you will all agree.
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