This past week we reported on fan projects to help you celebrate the 25th anniversary of Metroid. One of the standout projects on the list was “Harmony of a Hunter,” a compilation album consisting of over 30 tracks that revisit the musical history of the Metroid franchise. We had the opportunity to discuss the project with Darren Kerwin, director of the project and administrator of Shinesparkers.net, the Metroid fansite handling the project. In this e-mail interview, Kerwin recounts his musical and video game influences that led him to take on the “Harmony” project, and discusses some of his dream projects.
“Harmony of a Hunter” is available for download at Shinesparkers.net and music from the project will be featured in VGW’s upcoming 25th Anniversary Metroid Rock Party on turntable.fm!
VGW: What is your background in music?
Darren Kerwin (DK): Music has always been a great passion for me, especially the video game music genre. I love how I can connect with a moment in a game, whether it’s an epic battle against an evil overlord or a journey through a vast alien world. If the moment stands out to me as a great gaming moment, everything from that experience, including its music will stick with me. It was certainly the case with Metroid and although I don’t have the same musical talent of these great musicians from Harmony of a Hunter, I am passionate about music from a franchise I love.
Due to the fact that I adore the franchise and listen to its soundtracks so much, including many remixes and arrangements, I feel I can identify good music from a fans point of view and this is why I felt confident enough to go ahead with organising this project.
VGW: Do you have any stand-out memories of your time playing video games? Of playing the Metroid series specifically?
DK: When it comes to video games in general, The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past stands out to me. Entering the Dark World for the first time and realising just how vast the game actually is, was special to me. Metroid had many stand-out memories for me throughout the series. Two that come to mind immediately are when Meta Ridley swoops down on the Artifact Temple to destroy Samus just after she has collected all twelve artifacts, which I found to be a shocking twist to the game when I least expect it.
The climatic battle against Mother Brain in Super Metroid with Samus almost dying and the baby Metroid’s sacrificing itself to save her immediately also comes to mind and illustrates just how special the series is in my opinion.
VGW: Do you have a favorite level or level music from the Metroid series?
DK: I feel that one of the greatest pieces of music from the Metroid franchise is Brinstar Vegetation from Super Metroid, it suited the organic environment perfectly. I’ve also found the digital and electronic sounding music of the Sanctury Fortress from Metroid Prime 2: Echoes compliments the futuristic area very well.
VGW: Besides Metroid, what other games have you found to be inspirational or otherwise among your favorites?
DK: I enjoy a wide variety of games on many platforms and for varied reasons. I am a big fan of the Mass Effect series, the first game had a great story and had characters I could connect with and care about. It also had a threat that was so huge that you felt helpless, and was one of the first games I had to make tough decisions in, knowing that my actions would alter and affect the story. It’s one that has inspired me to play more RPG’s and a title I highly recommend. Another series I grew up with was Monkey Island, I loved the humour throughout the game and there’s plenty of memorable character. I’ve not found a point and click adventure game quite like it since, except maybe Flight of the Amazon Queen on the Amiga 1200… which was one of my first proper gaming experiences.
VGW: What led you to found Shinesparkers.net?
DK: After visiting various Metroid websites on the internet since I became a fan in 2004 and although many of them had a lot of content covering the games, I felt there was a lack of exclusive interviews and content. I wanted to offer fans of the series a further website that they could visit if they wanted to read interviews from people who worked on the games, and the opportunity to have questions answered that they had always speculated about, from the people themselves. It’s not the only aspect of our website though, we have always aimed to have up to date and accurate Metroid news, with a keen interest on working closely with other Metroid websites to help promote their own features.
Our site has been very communicative with various big names and we have networked with a variety of people in the industry. Because of this, we have had great interviews with some noteworthy people such as Nate Bihldorff, Gene Kohler, Mike Sneath and Tommy Tallarico to name but a few. We feel very privileged that they gave us the opportunity to speak to them and I hope that the fans appreciate the things that we’re doing.
VGW: When did you get the idea to take on a project like Harmony of a Hunter?
DK: When I realised that Metroid was soon to reach its 25th anniversary, I started to think about what our website could do to mark the anniversary. One idea that I had was to put together a Metroid album covering tracks that had never been covered before. I was already in touch with a lot of musicians who I had spoken to for years and I felt it would be a good idea to pull together those people to work on a project to celebrate this historic milestone in Metroid’s legacy.
I made some suggestions on the Overclocked Remix forums to see if such a project could get started and get off the ground, hoping to gather interest and suggestions of tracks. The members there were very supportive and it was great to see so many of them get involved to make up the numbers. We got some fantastic suggestions that I wouldn’t have first thought of and it was great to see more thoughts been expressed on the project. When I saw that the Metroid community welcomed my idea, it was satisfying and gave me that drive to ensure the project would be completed.
VGW: How did you get in touch with all the collaborating artists?
DK: I sourced musicians from various parts of the internet and as I explained in the previous question, I already had quite a number of friends who were musicians. We set up our project on Overclocked Remix forums and felt it was a great place to recruit further members into the project, to gather ideas and suggestions from video game music fans. I also gathered musicians from places such as YouTube, Newgrounds and individual websites. The response was positive and it was great to see so many people want to take part in the project. They should all be very proud with what they’ve achieved.
VGW: What were some of the challenges of putting a project like this together?
DK: From the beginning I was focused on having the album out in time for the anniversary. I started recruiting for the project in December 2010 and at first, there wasn’t many people taking it seriously. I feel it was a huge project for the OCRemix community fathom, a community known to have lots of projects come and go every month, and my main challenge was to prove myself to the users of OCR and the wider Metroid community that the project was different, one that was worth supporting and to show them that I was going to be there to do what I could to make it happen. I knew that with my passion for the series and my focus on creating a suitable tribute for Metroid’s 25th anniversary, that I had to have some reasonable success, I wasn’t going to abandon it.
VGW: If Harmony of a Hunter is a success, do you have plans to do any further projects of this kind?
DK: Right now I would like to see how Harmony of a Hunter progresses, so far it has broke all expectations for me. It was meant to be a tribute for the Metroid fan community and Metroid fans, but it seems to have developed into a tribute for gamers as a whole. So many people are supporting the project and I have received around a hundred e-mails and messages of support in a period of just a few days, passing on their kind regards for Shinesparkers putting together this project. Unfortunately at this time I am unable to say for certain if I could put something like this together again, but let’s see what the future holds, never say never!
VGW: If you could name the “top of your wish list” musical project to work on, what would it be?
DK: An ideal musical project for me would be to contribute my ideas to a future Metroid game and if possible, to work with Kenji Yamamoto on it. It would be an absolute honour! I’d also love to work on anything with Sam Dillard, that man is a genius! (http://www.samostudios.com)