Posts Tagged ‘ music

my debut album

hi there. as usual i’m going to start by apologising for the length between blog posts (over 18 months – a new record?) i will be updating the front page of this year (at least i keep telling myself that.) who knows, maybe i’ll even be releasing some more games in the next couple of years. however, this post is on an altogether different subject.

i’m releasing my new album on Bandcamp today, entitled “GHOST DRIVES” under my own name. i’ve prepared a few somewhat pretentious notes for your reading pleasure, after the jump. i’ve really put my heart and soul into this, and so i figured i could indulge myself somewhat.

jazz-style sleeve notes

so here it is, the album i’ve spent far too long working on, the larger part of four years i’m almost ashamed to admit. the title is supposed to represent the fragility of digital data in an age where a literal part of ourselves is stored digitally.

i was thinking of all these lost fragments of music, art, writing and videogames that i may or may not have on old failed hard drives, floppies, ZIP’s, sticks, DAT’s and CD/DVD’s in my drawers, or computers which have long since passed on, and so on. fragments of ideas that didn’t take form that were potentially better than ones that did. i’ve lost a great deal of digital work over the years (thank good for vinyl or i’d have little to leave my daughter) through combinations of travelling and failed hard drives and computers, and just being careless, and the modern age makes things even more ephemeral, with a reliance on the cloud and social media taking over the roles of preserving our creations, any of which could evaporate overnight at any point.

i feel that, these days more than ever, leaving behind something as a creator means going all in and shooting to make something that’s unique enough that people feel it’s worth preserving. so i made my humble attempt to try and make something that represented how i feel right now, without any concessions to genre or commerce, in the hope that it may at least turn out to be a little bit different, to try and give it some small chance of not being lost in the sea of ghost data.

that said, i do hope the next album takes slightly less time! this is my debut solo album, despite having had one out as ‘The Accidental Heroes’ back in 2002 with Silver, and and as i turn 40 today (which means i’ve been putting out records for half my life), it feels like a good time to release one. it will be coming to all other major online distributors soon, but i thought i’d give it a surprise release on Bandcamp first (as they are the best site for the artist currently, in my opinion.)

a very special thanks to Nick, Nick, Makoto, Dean, James, Kieran and Jimmy and to everyone who’s supported me on this project, to the kind fans of my videogames and music, and of course to my amazing family for putting up with me through projects like this.


i hope you’re having a great 2015 so far.

today marks the release of my “HOTLINE MIAMI 2 EP”.  it contains two tracks featured in the forthcoming game from the inimitable Dennaton Games, Hotline Miami 2, and two exclusive tracks.

“Decade Dance” is a different mix from both the game version and the forthcoming 12″ vinyl album compilation version.

“Voyager” is a rework of the bonus track originally seen on the first HM EP, and is the same as the vinyl version, but different from the game version.

“Kill Streak” is exclusive to the EP, and finally “Miami” is a totally new rework of the track from the original HM EP.

i also have an album ready that is nearly complete, containing ten original tracks, that i’ve been working on over the last couple of years, which is very nearly complete. i’m excited to finally get out there, and hope to release it in the next few months on my bandcamp.

there are also some other musical projects i’ve been working on that i’d like to release at some point, so it’ll be good to get the release schedule moving (and i really should get round to uploading the digital re-releases of my Space Recordings d’n’b vinyl back catalogue one day as the distributor, ST Holdings recently folded, sadly…)

i’m sorry i haven’t been around on social media much recently, and that i don’t have much to announce on the game front… but it does feel nice to begin the new year by sharing something i have been working on.

i hope you all have a great year, and thankyou all as always for all the words of support over the last few years.

i’d like to also say a big thankyou to my amazing daughter, Aila, who provided the artwork (then aged 4, now aged 5!)

Oh, what a week!

I have no idea how to word this post. I’m almost out of words, to be honest. I must have typed two million of the things this week, between support emails, promotional emails, emails of thanks, emails of apology, interviews, comments, texts, tweets and posts.

But what a week it’s been! The reviews have been remarkably warm about the game (RPS and Destructoid being a couple of my highlights.)  I can’t find one that hated it, anyway!  And the kind emails and comments you’ve all sent me have honestly made me feel like I’m floating for most of the week.

Sales have gone surprisingly alright – it’s still not recouped its costs, but unlike Soul Brother I keep my IP (intellectual property as opposed to web address.) So if the game continues to sell, it still could!

The bad news was mainly down to one issue – the Black Screen Of Death which started appearing on random users’ Macs (PC’s were unaffected.) This caused an absolute support nightmare, and I’ve spent most of this week writing support emails to people who’ve suffered the issue. Once again I’d like to apologise to anyone this has affected. It’s a problem with Adobe AIR, and it seems like it’s out of my control to fix right now. The ‘Flash projector’ version, which I’ve been supplying customers with as an alternative, has been fine for all users except one so far – he fell victim of the ‘reset browser killing Flash saved games’ issue which caused me to use Adobe AIR in the first place (it provides a way of directly writing and reading files from the system like a ‘real’ application.)  Anyway, the upshot of this is that I’m still looking into it, and I’m going to do some thorough testing on a machine I know doesn’t work pretty soon (‘unfortunately’ it works on mine so it’s hard to test.)

Anyway, things have calmed down to the point I was able to assemble the 19-track OST, and make an album sleeve for it especially. And it gives me great pleasure to announce that it’s NOW AVAILABLE FOR PURCHASE on Bandcamp for $6.99! Yay!

Click this pic to go the shop:

Anyway, once again, thankyou so much for your support, kind emails, help and friendship along the way.  I honestly could never have imagined it would go so well, despite the technical problems.

I’m really happy to have made something that’s interesting to you guys, and I’ll keep trying to do the same thing in future!

Soul Brother OST / Lone Survivor IGF

Ladies and gentlemen, it gives me great pleasure to finally present to you:


Available for purchase on Bandcamp on 11/9/11, with iTunes to follow in around a month.

So, without further ado, let me tell you a little about the project.  When I originally made the game, I figured it would be fairly small, and not have many players.  That of course all changed when it was picked up by [Adult Swim] Games!  The problem was I’d used loads of really famous samples, and if lots of people were going to play it, there was no way I could get away with it.  (It’s true, musicians do ‘get away with it’ all the time, because more often than not when sampling, the record the sample appears on doesn’t go on to make enough sales to warrant the sample owner chasing it up.  I’ll admit I’ve done it myself on my drum’n’bass work, although only on smaller releases.)

So this means I had to either clear or remove the samples.  Removing them would have been simple, and saved me a lot of money, but I felt that, even if the sales of the OST were less than the cost of the samples, (which is quite likely to be the case) people would appreciate it as a labour of love, which it definitely is!

The Ins and Outs of Sample Clearance

I was asked by a friend to recount my experiences with sample clearance, and it’s been a long and difficult process.

In the end, I removed a great deal of samples from the intro track, which had load of classic early-90’s hip-hop vocals and cuts… It would have cost tens of thousands to license them all, if I could even track down who owned the rights.  So I ended up re-working the track with my own vocal stylings and a bit of vocoder.

The problem was that left Mr.Soul, the ‘theme tune’ of Soul Brother, and the track Mirko, both of which used samples from classic house track ‘We Can Rise’ by Copyright (strangely ironic name), on Defected Records.

Defected are known for licensing their samples regularly – in fact it could be said they actively court it as a source of revenue.  They release all of their tracks as acapellas in compilation albums, and for many dance music producers it’s quite a tempting prospect to listen through them when looking for a vocal hook.  I’ve used plenty myself, in some cases as placeholders I then get a vocalist to re-record, but in the case of these tunes, the vocals are integral to the hook and feel of the tunes… I just wasn’t prepared to compromise, even if it meant making the project at a loss!

The Process Itself

The first step was to negotiate the retaining of the rights to the Soul Brother OST from Adult Swim.  Normally you sell the rights alongside the game, but I was very keen to keep the rights as the music had already taken as long as the game at that point.  Amending the contracts in this way took a lot of back and forth, but we got there eventually!  Once that was done I needed to work out how much it was going to cost…

First you get in contact with the label who owns the vocal.  The standard agreement is a percentage of profit along with a flat fee for each track.  Once you’ve settled on these numbers, contracts are drawn up.  Once I knew the cost I could get back to [Adult Swim], and once they were happy that there weren’t any gotchas (for example, restrictions on the reuse of the music on any ports, sequels, movies, TV spinoffs… etc) they were happy.

The tracks then need to be ‘published’ – a term used to descrive who takes responsibilty for collecting royalties.  Fortunately I still have a publishing company from my drum’n’bass record label, Space Music, so that stage was fairly simple.

The final stage is then to register the tracks with PRS (the Performing Right Society.)  This is where the majority of royalties come from, they track public performance of music using a number of different heuristics (it’s all a bit black magic.)  But of course they can’t track tunes they don’t know about!

I hope this explains a little about the process to those considering sampling…

Defected Records

The Album Itself

Now I’d like to say a little about the album and where it’s come from.  There are 11 tracks, of which 6 are from the game itself.  Each of these 6 tracks has been majorly re-worked, improving the production, adding new elements, additional vocals and so on, and extending them, etc.  I originally spent about two months on the in-game music, trying lots of things that didn’t work (and trying desperately to avoid falling back on chiptunes!)

Since then I’ve probably put another few weeks into those tunes, and I hope you’ll agree that the OST versions are a lot nicer!

The other 5 tracks are all unique to the OST.  Three of which feature me singing…  Which is, err, quite a new thing for me.  I often put little backing vocals on my d’n’b work, and used to sing in indie bands when I was younger, but this is the first stuff I’ve actually released with verses and choruses and so on.

Some of these additional songs have actually been in the works since 2008, when I was first experimenting with electro-house.  Nothing came of it at the time and I shelved the music until now.  I spent another few weeks completely re-working these tracks to bring them up-to-date, and make them fit with the existing tracks.


So that’s Soul Brother OST.  It will be available for purchase from this Sunday 11/9/11 (in UK date format.)  For now you can head over to the Bandcamp page and listen, and make up your mind whether you’d like to indulge come Sunday!

In the end, it’s something I’m really proud of, if nothing else because it’s the first project I’ve done which I feel somehow bridges my life as a musician and as a game designer…  hope you enjoy listening to it as much as I did making it!

*   *   *

One More Thing…

I know this is going to come as a surprise to those who read my last post… but!


Wait, what?


Yes, that’s right.

After a series of long discussions, emails, and tweets from friends and supporters of the project, I figured it really would be stupid to give up at this point.  I admit, I panicked.  I really felt it was too full of problems to be fixable.  But what I’ve done is to break it down in baby steps, try and get to the root of what the problems actually are, and whether there are ways to fix them.

Well I think I finally have a good idea of how proceed.  So my plan is to go all out for IGF now (it was always the plan – I just bottled it at the last minute.)  I do have a tendency to do this: it’s the third hiatus on Lone Survivor, and even Soul Brother fell off the map for over a year at one point.  In the end I realised that this is my last real chance to secure a future as an indie developer…  and it would be foolish to blow it.

I’ll be totally honest and say that development funds are running short (I have about three months living money left, until I hit the emergency cash reserved for finding another job.)  So, if you’d like to help in some way, I won’t be using the donation model (I much prefer to sell something rather than just ask for money) – the best way you can help me is by heading over to the Soul Brother OST page, and purchasing it!  There’s a low minimum price, but you can pay whatever you like…  So if you really feel like giving me hundreds of thousands of dollars for your copy of the OST, you’re more than welcome!

Seriously though, every purchase will really help Lone Survivor along the way.  So even if the music’s not for you, you can consider it a donate button if you like!

Thanks so much to everyone who’s supported me through this difficult time.  I hope to have it finished by New Year, but if it runs over I’ll consider taking preorders to help with the final push.  Either way, I promise to not stop until the game is done, and put every bit of remaining blood, sweat and tears into it.

Yes, you can quote me on that!

Who Am I?

I was asked over on to point out some links to some of my older music as Sonic.  I was and still am a producer and DJ, mainly making drum’n’bass.  So rather than clog up that forum, here’s those links conveniently laid out for your pleasure!

Sonic & Silver, AKA the Accidental Heroes, c.2001

Sonic & Silver, AKA the Accidental Heroes c.2001

So I took half an hour to pick out some random selections. Not the best tunes necessarily, just ones that popped into my head while trawling youtube. I dunno how good the recordings are on some of these as I haven’t checked them all. What I did hear gave me a massive nostalgia rush though though!

I lost my HD with all music pre-around 2004, so don’t have many of these tunes handy, except possibly on old DAT tapes, or the vinyls themselves, where I was sent copies – and not all record labels even get round to this! 🙂

Anyway, here they are, they spread from ’99 to ’11, on a bunch of labels and with different people. All but a couple were produced in my studio though…

My Label

Sonic & Silver – Space Cadet (Space Recordings)
Sonic – The Big Blue (Space Recordings)
Sonic – 4 Manchester (Space Recordings) (Space Recordings)
Sonic – Sunday Morning (Space Recordings)
Sonic – Feel The Vibe (Space Recordings)
Sonic – What U Do 2 Me (Space Recordings)
Sonic – Love Came In (Space Recordings)
Sonic – Galaxyflip (Space Recordings)
Sonic – Futureworld (Space Recordings)

Other labels / collaborations

Sonic – Piano Anthem (Hospital Records)
Sonic – All I Wanna Do (Hospital Records)
Sonic & Silver – On The Anson (Metalheadz Records)
Sonic & Silver – Under The Sun (Soul:R Records)
Sonic & Silver – Rocket Launcher (Virus Records
Sonic – Funckstation (Virus Records)
Bad Company – Rush Hour (Sonic & Silver RMX)
Sonic – Even When It Rains [Super Disco Mix] (Infrared Records)
The Accidental Heroes – Precinct 13 (Infrared Records)
The Accidental Heroes – Hydrophonics (Infrared Records)
Matrix & Sonic – Flashlight (Metro Records)
Sonic & Silver – Rise Up (Reinforced Records)
Sonic & Silver – Cool Intentions (Reinforced Records)
Sonic & J Majik – New Generation (Infrared Records) – (uncredited here!)
Sonic – Bounty Hunter (Bingo Records)
Sonic – Dreamscape (Bingo Records)

Earlier Stuff
The Accidental Heroes – YOUWITHMENOW (Freeform Records, my first release in ’99)
Sonic – Light Cycles (Formation Records)
MC/R Movement – Make It Bounce (Freeform Records)
Sonic – Searchlights (Formation Records)
The Accidental Heroes – Timecheck (Formation Records)

A couple of playlists I found that people put together…

Sonic & Silver