Freezedream – retro tunes interview
Retro Faith was lucky to catch up with Freezedream who has been working hard on the soundtrack for new Neo Geo shmup Project Neon. Freezedream is also know in the retro community for releasing a Mega Drive cart album and the man behind the Tanglewood soundtrack.
For anyone who may not be familiar with your work, please tell us a bit about yourself and what you do.
I’m a digital audio artist. I create music and sounds in the digital realm using sound synthesis and sound samples. One particular interest I have is making music with retro video game consoles such as the Sega Mega Drive. I’ve also performed my music live using two Mega Drives and a custom hardware interface called VGX Live that my friend and I designed.
You released an album on a Mega Drive cart called Today in 2010. Where did the inspiration come from? What should readers know about the album?
Thinking back, Today came from a place of wanting to experiment with making music for the Mega Drive that was unlike most of the game music made for that console. I think the name Today came from using old hardware that many would consider obsolete to create something new, for today. Back then there were very few suitable flash cartridges for homebrew releases, so I designed my own simple printed circuit board. I used refurbished flash memory chips and re-used cartridge shells from old, unpopular sports games. So the whole project was really about breathing new life into old things.
What makes the Mega Drive hardware good to compose tracks on?
The Sega Mega Drive is one of the few home consoles that had an actual sound synthesizer chip on board. In fact it has two, since it also has one for backward compatibility with the Sega Master System. It can play up to 10 sounds at the same, 6 from the Yamaha YM2612 FM synthesizer plus 3 squarewaves and 1 digital noise channel. One of the YM2612 channels can even play lo-fi sound samples like drums or vocals. Even though it has so much limitation by today’s standards, it’s still possible to create really diverse sounds with the system and I really enjoy the challenge – it’s a lot of fun.
What has the feedback been like?
Over the years since its release, many people have said they were influenced in some way by the Today album and that was totally unexpected. People have also commented that they enjoy how different the music sounds to most video game music, so I’m glad to hear I’ve achieved that. Even after 10 years people still contact me and ask if it’s possible to buy a cartridge, but unfortunately because of the way I was making them in 2010, I only made about 30 in the end!
Are there plans to make more cart albums in the future?
Absolutely! In fact, it’s the 10-year anniversary for my Today cartridge album next year (2020) and I am hoping to release a brand new cartridge album to celebrate. Along with that I’m planning to make a re-release of Today, so keep a look out for that next year!
You are working on a new Neo Geo title, Project Neon, what are the plans and how did this collaboration come about?
So Sascha Reuter of Fullset was asking around on Twitter for someone who was keen to make music for a new video game project of his. He said it would involve syncing two copies of Deflemask. I was intrigued so I got in contact with him and we went from there. Project Neon will feature an all-original upbeat soundtrack, courtesy of the Yamaha YM2610 chip, to keep the action rolling along! The Kickstarter campaign to support that project is running right now.
What are you currently working on?
Well, apart from Project Neon, as I mentioned I’m finishing off a new Sega Mega Drive album on a cartridge which should be released next year. I’m also excited to announce that the Tanglewood Original Soundtrack (OST) is now available for pre-order on actual Sega Mega Drive cartridges! It’s also available for digital download, so definitely go have a listen. It features a previously unreleased remix of the Tanglewood theme.
Retro Faith would like to thank Freezedream for taking the time to answer our questions.