composers series

Another Wednesday, another Hiveswap development team interview!

Hey there folks, we’re back to our new normal: it’s Ash here once again! I’ve returned from my brief outing to E3 last week and – don’t you worry – I’ve got a brand-new Hiveswap development team interview lined up for you today, just as scheduled!

But before we get to that, I’d like to toss a great, big “Thanks, man!” Cohen’s way for posting last week’s interview in my stead and, in fact, interviewing me so I didn’t have to very awkwardly interview myself. I may not be a super-cool artist or animator, but hopefully you all found what I had to say to be sufficiently interesting nonetheless!

But speaking of our illustrious creative types, today I’ve got an interview lined up with James Roach, Hiveswap’s sound designer and lead composer! These weekly interviews have been focusing mostly on the game’s visual elements and aspects up to now, but why should eyes get all the love? Not that eyes aren’t awesome and all, but I have it on good authority that ears everywhere are also looking forward to Hiveswap. Fortunately, James has very graciously prepared a smattering of Hiveswap sound samples for you to listen to as you read through the interview, so be sure to get equipped with some headphones before you begin!

Take it away, James!

Introduce yourself to the fans! What is your specific role on the Hiveswap team?

I’m James Roach, and I’m the Sound Designer for Hiveswap! I teamed up with [Undertale creator and composer] Toby Fox to compose the soundtrack for the game. I’m also responsible for most of the game’s sound effects and ambient sound alongside Marcy Nabors!

When and how did you get your start on the Hiveswap project?

When I saw the opportunity I reached out to What Pumpkin and sent along my portfolio. I was never part of the “Homestuck music team” in any official capacity, but I was pretty active in the community, so they knew of my work. I was as surprised as any of you when they offered me a job! They paired me up with Toby, who at that point was already a Homestuck music veteran. We’ve both been on the project ever since then.

Tell us a little bit about your career background! How did you get your start in music and sound design? Do you have any advice for others looking to enter this field?

I have been playing piano since I was about four years old. My family and culture have a strong musical tradition, and my mom thought playing music would keep me out of trouble. I got my start scoring web cartoons and doing freelance work. I only started doing sound design in the last few years out of necessity. A friend needed sound work done for their thesis film and had nobody else to do it, and I can’t leave a friend hanging! As far as advice goes, I recommend having your work accessible and easy to find. Make connections and be easy to work with. Being reliable, consistent, and professional will go a lot further than solely being good at something.

We’re making a video game, so of course the question must be asked: what’s your favorite game of all time, and what games are you playing currently?

The first game I remember having a big impact on me was The Legend of Zelda on the NES. My favorite game of all time is probably Bastion, but I don’t play a ton of video games anymore. I play a lot of Dungeons & Dragons. It’s all I ever talk about. My friends are so tired of me. Anyway, did you know a group of Myconids is called a “Circle?” Myconids are like cool mushroom guys that live underground. A lot of people think they might have a hive mind, but did you know they communicate using spores? Another cool thing about Myconids is–

Are there any games that you currently use or have used as inspiration for your own music and sound work here on Hiveswap, or just in general?

Obvious notes are stuff like Transistor, Luigi’s Mansion, Monkey Island, and so on and so forth. A lot of the inspiration for Hiveswap’s soundtrack comes less from games and more from my own musical and cultural background. There’s also a third-wave ska song. I have a really complicated relationship with ska.

As someone who writes music for video games, surely you must have a favorite video game composer or two (or three)! Who are they and what games have they scored?

You can’t talk about video game music without mentioning Nobuo Uematsu (the Final Fantasy series’ original composer) in some capacity, and his work has always been an inspiration to me. I think there’s an obvious Darren Korb (Supergiant Games) influence on my work as well. I’m really looking forward to hearing more of the Pyre soundtrack. I don’t know if I’m allowed to say that Toby has greatly influenced my work, since I worked with him specifically on this, but he absolutely has. The way he writes counter-melodies is phenomenal.

What’s your workstation like? Do you listen to any particular kinds of music while you work? If so, tell us about it!

Because I’ve been doing a lot of Foley work, I have this bizarre assortment of things lying around everywhere in my apartment for the weird, specific sounds they make. I’ve had this bundle of straws (which I flick rapidly to make monster footstep sounds) on my desk for weeks. There’s a broken umbrella (perfect for a monster’s wing flapping) hanging on the door, and a big pot with a fork and a broken slinky in it (scraped and slapped together to make creepy, echoey laser sounds) just lying around too. It’s a disaster to live in.

Favorite Homestuck character?

Aradia Megido.

Favorite Homestuck ship?

I used to be all about Intermission shipping, but it’s a little complicated to get into.

Favorite Homestuck flash?

I think like most people who started reading as a carryover from Problem Sleuth, “WV: Ascend” was the big “Whoa!” moment for me, so it’s always had a special place in my heart.

Do you have a personal message you’d like to relay to all the Homestuck and Hiveswap fans out there?


Where can people find more of your work? Link us to your own little corner(s) of the Internet!

Whenever you close your eyes and open your heart… I will be there. No, I’m kidding – please follow me. You can find me on Twitter and SoundCloud!

“Can’t hoooold on much longer… But I will neeee-ver let go!…” –oh, wait, I’m back on? Sorry about that, James’ last answer there brought out my inner Crush 40 fanboy. (Sonic Adventure had a killer soundtrack though, didn’t it?) Thank you again for letting us pick your brain for a while, James – and for those lovely sound samples, of course!

Photo by Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for Coachella

Grimes’ Visions Gets Classical Interpretation for New Concert Series

Composers reworked each song on the album for the upcoming “Many Visions” shows

The songs from Grimes’ 2012 album Visions will receive classical music interpretations by 13 composers during a concert series called “Many Visions: Plumes Deconstructs the Music of Grimes.” The event was conceived by Plumes, a Montreal-based ensemble. Shows will take place across Canada this month. See the itinerary below. There are also plans to record the performances for streaming.

“We wanted to see how we could bridge the gap between popular and classical music—we have a suspicion it’s smaller than people think,” Luke Nickel (co-director of Winnipeg’s Cluster New Music and Integrated Arts Festival) said to MusicWorks. “We want to think about interpretation and rearrangement, not only in terms of musical material but also in terms of the spirit of an artist. That led us to Grimes, whose DIY attitude seems to resonate across genres.”

“The theme of the festival is dismantling, taking something apart and reconstructing it,” Plumes’ Geof Holbrook told MusicWorks. In an interview with NOW Magazine, composer Monica Pearce said, “It’s going to be quite different from the album, which I think will be really exciting.”

“Many Visions: Plumes Deconstructs the Music of Grimes”:

03-10 Montreal, Quebec - Rocket Science Room
03-11 Toronto, Ontario - The Music Gallery
03-12 Hamilton, Ontario - The Casbah
03-13 Windsor, Ontario - University of Windsor
03-15 Guelph, Ontario - University of Guelph
03-16 Kitchener, Ontario - Wilfrid Laurier University
03-17 Winnipeg, Manitoba - Cluster Festival
03-18 Saskatoon, Saskatchewan - Village Guitar & Amp Co
03-21 Vancouver, British Columbia - Music on Main


today in straight nonsense

the ship name for Blake and Yang in RWBY is Bumbleby

The ship name, and other ship names, have been acknowledged in-universe in the show, multiple times, as names for combo attacks between the corresponding characters of that ship.  So, with that knowledge in mind…

The series’ composer released a song called Bmblb.

It is undeniably romantic (”babe, you could be with me” and “watch our love grow”)

yet people are saying that Yang is singing about her bike.  Because her bike. her motorcycle. is named bumblebee.

alternatively, they’re claiming that it’s one-sided.  because unrequited love.. definitely…grows?

lol nice try heteronis

The Mal’ta Culture

The vast territory of North and Central Asia represents a poorly understood region in the prehistoric era, despite intensive excavations that have been conducted during the past century. The earliest human occupation in this region probably began sometime around 40,000 years ago. Small groups of big-game hunters likely migrated into this region from lands to the south and southwest, confronting a harsh climate and long, dry winters. By about 20,000 B.C.E., two principal cultural traditions had developed in Siberia and northeastern Asia: the Mal’ta and the Afontova Gora-Oshurkovo.

The Mal’ta tradition is known from a vast area spanning west of Lake Baikal and the Yenisey River. The site of Mal’ta, for which the culture is named, is composed of a series of subterranean houses made of large animal bones and reindeer antler which had likely been covered with animal skins and sod to protect inhabitants from the severe, prevailing northerly winds.

Among the artistic accomplishments evident at Mal’ta are portable art – not murals, as is more common in Europe. The remains of expertly carved bone, ivory, and antler objects have been found at many Mal'ta sites. Figurines of birds and human females are the most commonly found items. Some of the most well known examples are the so-called Venus figurines.


These are the opening words to Lemony Snicket’s picture book The Composer is Dead. I picked up a nice copy of the book at a used bookstore a few days ago and am really enjoying it.

The story is about an investigator who attempts to solve the mystery of the composer’s murder, and does so by interrogating each section of the orchestra for their alibis.

The art is beautifully drawn by Carson Ellis, and the text is filled with all those great Lemony Snicket lines you’ve come to expect from his Series of Unfortunate Events, such as

”The inspector was a very handsome and intelligent person, not unlike myself.”


“The violin section is divided into First Violins, who have the trickier parts to play, and the Second Violins, who are more fun at parties.”

(click here or part two, and click here for part three)

What makes the book a great piece of children’s literature is how it uses the framework of a detective story to introduce the reader to the various sections of an orchestra. Each section has their own excuse for what they were doing at the time of the composer’s death, and their story lets in on the role and style of that particular section.

The book models itself clearly off of Peter and the Wolf, and also comes with a CD that contains an orchestral interpretation of the story (with narration by “Snicket“ himself). The composition has all the great bounce and drama you’d want a child’s first exposure to classical music, and helps the younger reader fully understand what each section of the orchestra does, as well as giving a taste for the wide range of sounds and emotions that can come from the great classical composers of history.

Although I think the story is best read with the physical copy in hand and the CD playing in the background, you can watch a video version above that combines the illustrations with the musical score to get the same experience virtually.


We’ve been excitedly preparing for our panel this year and it’s going to be the best panel ever! Jam-packed with music, exclusive clips, and surprises! We’ve got an incredible lineup of Crewniverse talent and I will be along as your humble host! If you’re at San Diego Comic Con this coming weekend, DON’T MISS IT!


10:15a.m. – 11:45a.m. Hilton Bayfront – Indigo Ballroom

The series cast and musical minds behind Steven Universe will give a never-before-seen performance of the series’ critically-acclaimed music, as well as exclusive previews from upcoming episodes and an extended Q&A. Scheduled to appear: Rebecca Sugar (Creator), Jeff Liu (Writer and Storyboard Artist), Zach Callison (Voice of Steven), Estelle (Voice of Garnet), Michaela Dietz (Voice of Amethyst), Deedee Magno Hall (Voice of Pearl), Ben Levin (Writer), Jeff Ball (Violinist), accompanied by series composers Aivi Tran and Steven “Surasshu” Velema. Moderated by former supervising director Ian Jones-Quartey.

How To Not Be A Cop

After composing this series of tweets, a friend has asked me to put together a blog post on how to document a demonstration without incriminating its participants.

It is common knowledge that photos and videos of people’s faces may be used by agents of the state to identify, and thus implicate individuals in criminal investigations. To thwart this identification process, many protesters opt to wear masks, and many photographers and videographers take care not to include faces in their documentation. While a good first step, this is not sufficient to prevent law enforcement from using your photos and videos to identify, and thus prosecute, protesters.

Biometric identifiers, which are distinct characteristics/traits that may be used to distinguish (and thus identify) individuals, expand far beyond unmasked faces. Some other metrics by which people may be identified include their build, the shape of their eyes and/or ears, the size of their hands and/or feet, their posture, their gait, their voice, and their speech patterns. Additional identifiers may include a person’s attire (clothing, shoes, bags, etc.), piercings, visible tattoos, and scars.

Where this gets complicated is, even if you, personally, do not capture a single face, your camera is never the only camera present. If you capture a distinguishing feature of any kind in an image or video of windows being broken or walls being spray painted, that can be cross-referenced with other footage of the crowd, and used to single out and identify suspects.

A hand with a tattoo on it clutching a hammer as a window shatters, or a sneaker with a pink midsole being captured kicking a police car may be the only thing needed to poke through footage from security cameras as the crowd passed by, high-resolution wide-angle shots of the crowd taken by journalists, or any other source of data that may have captured bits of the action.

To this end, if you care about documentation without incrimination, it is generally best practice to make sure that you do not capture any human body parts in your documentation of bonfires, broken windows, spray-painted walls, or torched police cars. This includes people’s backs, miscellaneous limbs, and reflections caught in windows.

Additionally, if you DO capture human bits in your images or videos, it is a good idea to blur those details, using ObscuraCam or a similar tool, to the point of being indistinguishable before publication. Additionally, it is important to DELETE THE ORIGINAL, UNALTERED PHOTOS AND/OR FOOTAGE. Data stored is data that can later be subpoenaed in a court case, which would defeat the purpose of your editing process.

Finally, when taking photos or video of protestors, it is always a good idea to ask for consent first. Whether or not you condone potentially criminal behavior is irrelevant: it is unnecessary for us to do the work of the State and Police when at an event protesting their actions.


‘Better Call Saul’ Season 3

As a series ‘Better Call Saul’ has had some truly stunning cinematography by Arthur Albert. There are shots of sprawling southwest vista and parking garages that are complex, simplistic and skillfully composed. Season 3 the series shines with each episode. These are two of my favorite shots from season 3 that have really stuck with me.


New SINoALICE Trailer - Introducing Characters’ Cast and Epic Music by Keiichi Okabe (MONACA)

Original Story, Creative Director: Yoko Taro (NieR, NieR Automata, Drakengard Series)
Music Composer: Keiichi Okabe, MONACA  (NieR, NieR Automata, Drakengard 3)
Character design: Zino

Coming soon on iPhone/Android 2017

More info about SINoALICE

Griffin McElroy, The Adventure Zone Pilot Episode: “I’m not gonna have any fun playing DnD (as the DM).”

Griffin McElroy, the rest of the series: *lovingly composes and compiles an epic soundtrack for his sprawling fantasy masterpiece*

“Yeah, I think I’ve heard of them, too. Are they even real? Like a Japanese X-Files Investigation Team, or a Japanese Fringe Team?”

The Keishichou Seikatsu Anzenbu Yuugeki Sousahan series is composed of two light novels penned by Kouzuki Hinowa, with a manga adaptation of the first novel drawn by Watanabe Asia. It tells the story of the Auxiliary Investigation Squad, a unit of the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department specializing in cases dealing with the paranormal.

The first novel and its corresponding manga, Zenra Otoko to Shiba Inu Otoko (The Naked Man and the Shiba Man), gives us Ishida Tomohiro, a newbie detective in the Shinjuku Police Station, whose life starts to turn upside down when he sees a naked man in his living room who suddenly vanishes. A bizarre incident in the station follows, involving a possessed sword that can absorb the spiritual energy of people nearby and drives the holder into murder. Only Tomohiro is able to go near the possessed victim without any ill effects. This incident brings in the Auxiliary Investigation Squad to the scene, which the naked man, Special Agent Kanze Kyousuke, is a part of. Tomohiro’s actions in that case gets him transferred to the squad, and he finds himself dragged in all sorts of scenarios by the squad’s quirky members, especially Kyousuke.

The second title, Zenra Otoko to Hebi Otoko (The Naked Man and the Snake Man), is…one that I have yet to read, but it seems to delve deeper into the relationship between Kyousuke and his stepbrother, Kanze Kyoaki, a powerful medium who is also part of the squad, albeit only as a consultant.

I really enjoyed reading the manga. The mix of mystery, comedy, the supernatural, and sprinkles of ho-yay was very entertaining. Tomohiro’s reactions to the weird things (and people) around him are fun to watch~

Unfortunately, the series stops at the second novel due to the passing of Kouzuki-sensei on December 2014. The novels seem to be self-contained so you won’t be left hanging, but I would’ve wanted to see more characterization of the AIS members. Still, it was definitely worth the read~

(I’m currently working on the translation of chapter 1 now that I’m done with volume 3 of Kami to Yobareta Kyuuketsuki (it doesn’t seem to be translated yet, nor licensed, so…), and will be posting them here(?) and in Batoto once I get chapter 2 done. I really want to introduce you to Doge!Tomohiro ahaha (´∀`))

A brand new show coming to Nickelodeon coming on July 24th. Welcome to the Wayne was a web short pilot aired in on November 2014 created by Emmy Award-winning writer and composer Billy Lopez. The series will follow to the adventures of Ansi, Olly and Saraline as they unlock the secrets and mysteries on the Wayne. The creator, Billy Lopez has written for the shows like Phineas and Ferb and South Park and also written for some pre-school shows like Wonder Pets and more. The series will debut after The Loud House new episodes on July 24th. Can’t wait to see this series come out




The music for Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra are two of the most daringly brilliant TV soundtracks ever. Composer Jeremy Zuckerman and series co-creator Bryan Konietzko visit the studio to discuss their decade-long musical collaboration. Hector guides the duo song by song through a selection of inspired and memorable tracks, discovering how and why they created musical magic worthy of the epic Avatar universe.

Listen on:

Many thanks to Jeremy and Bryan for joining! Don’t miss a beat and follow Jeremy on Twitter and Bryan on Tumblr

Keep up with our intrepid host Hector on his own Twitter and Instagram pages. And stay tuned to NickAnimation25 for next week’s episode featuring the legendary EG Daily, voice of Nick’s bravest baby, the one and only Tommy Pickles (Rugrats), as well as Buttercup (The PowerPuff Girls), Rudy Tabootie (Chalkzone), and many more.