Many of you are still awaiting the digital release of the Twilight Symphony on iTunes and Joypad Records. Unfortunately, we cannot announce that as of yet, although we can substitute this interview for the time being. Zelda Informer recently got a hold of Wayne Strange, Tim Stoney, and Eric Buchholz long enough to ask them some questions about the Twilight Symphony and their own personal experience with the Zelda series. The ten questions asked will give you a window into some of the goals behind the project as well as an opportunity to connect more with three of its members. Read on to view the interview!
ZI: Would you please briefly explain what you did for Twilight Symphony?
Wayne Strange: Sure, aside from arranging, I was in charge of musical direction on the album, which included overseeing both virtual and live orchestration, musicianship of the arrangements, mixing, etc… Jeron and I decided early on that the album should have one sound. A lot of talented musicians contributed to the overall picture, and so it was my job, as well as Jeron’s, to make sure each song fit into that picture.
Tim Stoney: My main contribution to the album was arranging and mixing a number of the tracks. I also provided the team with British banter.
Eric Buchholz: Back when I was in my early years of high school I took care of a lot of the transcription work, but then moved on to creating arrangements. I was also in charge of preparing most of the sheet music for the soloists and choir parts, as well as managing our fundraisers and publicity.
ZI: Could you describe a fond memory of Zelda? Perhaps the moment you first discovered it or the moment you knew you were hooked?
Wayne Strange: A fond memory? Well… one of my earliest memories was of fighting Ganon in the very first Zelda, though I can’t say it was very fond, haha! It took me months to figure out that no number of stabs would kill him. I had no idea what I was doing wrong, poor little 5 year-old me. As for a fond memory? I really liked learning to play all the ocarina songs in Ocarina of Time. It reminded me a lot of an old PC game I’d played as a child called Loom.
Tim Stoney: My fondest memory… Well I certainly remember the first Zelda game I ever got, Ocarina of Time, which was for one of my birthdays and I remember thinking (brace yourselves…) “what the hell is this?” Little did I know it would be one of the best games I had ever played (although I never finished Ocarina of Time until around 5 or 6 years later for some reason). I also remember attacking the chickens in Kakariko Village, not realizing what I was getting myself into… Anyway, I called my Dad to come help (I was 7 at the time, so that’s my excuse) but by the time he picked up the control, it was too late. There are quite a few more like these… But I’ll keep them to myself I think. It seems my fondest memories are also the most embarrassing!
Eric Buchholz: A Link to the Past was the first game I ever remember playing. It was only while I was at daycare though, which meant that I ended up watching them play it a lot more than I actually got to myself. It wasn’t long after that I had gotten my own copy of Link’s Awakening. I played that game for countless hours.
ZI: What’s your favorite moment in Twilight Princess or favorite moment in the series as a whole?
Wayne Strange: In Twilight Princess, well come on, it’s definitely Midna’s Farewell. I still have to fight back tears when I watch that scene! Overall, I think Link’s expression in the Wind Waker as he’s about to be launched by a cannon will always stick out in my mind. (wink)
Tim Stoney: I’d have to say the monologue right before the final battle with Ganondorf. I reckon it’s one of the most epic moments. Lots of suspense!
Eric Buchholz: My favorite Zelda moment is from Wind Waker, when you discover ancient Hyrule underneath the ocean. It was one of those magical moments that totally blew my mind. I only wish it were explorable.
ZI: If you could bear one piece of the Triforce, which would it be?
Wayne Strange: I’d have to say courage, because it takes a courageous person to find true wisdom and power!
Tim Stoney: Wisdom, because I love magic (that’s what I associate it with anyway).
Eric Buchholz: Courage, definitely, because I like to dream big and can’t accomplish my goals unless I’m willing to take a plunge.
ZI: What’s one Zelda song that you think deserves more recognition?
Wayne Strange: That’s a good question! Hmm… the Dark World Death Mountain track from A Link to the Past. I’d love to hear a big orchestrated version of that, don’t you agree?
Tim Stoney: That’s a very hard question to answer, I’m terrible at making decisions like this! But I’m gonna go for the final battle from Ocarina of Time. I think it’s one of those tracks that deserve a huuuuuuuuge warm sound. And not in a nice way… But in a likable way… if that makes sense
Eric Buchholz: Wind Waker’s Grandma’s Theme.
ZI: How did you get involved with this project?
Wayne Strange: When Jeron first approached us (it’s odd to think that far back…) initially we had an entirely different group of arrangers all contributing equally with Sam Ferrara pretty much in charge. For several reasons the other arrangers couldn’t be a part of the project anymore, which left me alone for a while cranking out arrangements. Ultimately, this was a good thing! It enabled us to truly establish one writing style for the whole album, and by the time our workhorse, Tim Stoney, joined the team, we had a fairly decent idea of what we wanted to say.
Tim Stoney: I was about half way through my first year of university when I joined. It was one of the first classes and we all had to stand up and give a brief description of what we wanted to get out of studying at the uni. Only one, other than myself, said they wanted to get into the video game industry, and that was Leonard Cheung (A.K.A Mycro_chip). After the class I decided to go and talk to him and I soon found out that he was part of this group called, “Zelda Reorchestrated.” Eventually, Len asked me if I might be interested in being a part of the team, and without any hesitation I agreed to it. I had never heard of them before, nor had I any experience in using professional sample libraries. I can safely say though that it was one of the best things to have happened to me, it was one of those “one in a million chance of happening” types of situations (at least that’s what it feels like).
Eric Buchholz: I was conscripted! I was basically put right to work as soon as I joined the ZREO Team back in 2008.
ZI: Can you give us a very brief idea of the process each track underwent before completion?
Wayne Strange: Along the way, the arrangers would post up works-in-progress for Jeron and I to listen to. We’d give our thoughts—I’d usually give more of a technical angle while Jeron approached it from the organic angle, which, I think made for a very complimentary set of opinions. As Zelda said to Midna, it’s two sides of the same coin!
ZI: What’s your favorite track from Twilight Symphony and why?
Wayne Strange: Ohhh, for sure “Usurper King Zant.” It’s so bizzare and creepy… Believe it or not, that track almost didn’t happen! It was the very very last arrangement I made for the album, and I had 3 days to do the whole thing, mix and all. No one wanted to touch it for so long because, well, it’s the farthest thing from an orchestrated song in the entire soundtrack. The idea of orchestrating it was a daunting one. But right at the end, you know… I looked at the track list and there was this gaping hole between “Twilight Realm” and “Hyrule Castle.” I knew what was supposed to be there, and I just had to make it happen.
Tim Stoney: I can’t decide between the Zant battle (how do you even… I mean… but… It’s just…) and “End Credits Part 1,” which is just ridiculously pretty. So yeah, one of them two.
Eric Buchholz: “End Credits” (both parts), because transcribing them changed my life, really! I was 15 years old at the time, had no formal ear-training, and it was a massive challenge that took me a really long time to finish. I owe a lot to that experience and I’m super happy with how Wayne finished turning it out, especially with the grand finale.
ZI: Can you explain the initial goals you had for Twilight Symphony either individually or collectively as a group, and how did you set out to achieve them?
Wayne Strange: If you want the technical answer, the initial goal was to cover the major plot points of Twilight Princess, but eventually we decided it would be great just to go all out and make a huge musical journey through the entire game. For me personally, though (and I know for Jeron, too), this is a giant love letter to Kondo-san. The Legend of Zelda has been a part of my life since I was a child, and a big part of my love for music comes from his score for this series.
Tim Stoney: I don’t really think I had any proper initial goals, I was too set on constantly getting new and better samples and improving my skills in creating music with computers. I think as we all began to see and understand what we wanted to achieve from the project though, it became much more than that, on a professional level and showing our love for the music! It has definitely been an experience.
Eric Buchholz: As a team, we just wanted to show our love and dedication for Zelda music. For me, the project was a super-elaborate learning experience. I wanted to learn about every aspect of producing an album, both on the music side and the production side of things. I’m hoping that all of that knowledge and experience will come in handy for future albums!
ZI: If you had one last thing to tell listeners who are still unconvinced, what would it be?
Wayne Strange: Zelda Informer… I… see you later…
Tim Stoney: HEY! HELLO?!?! LISTEN!!
Eric Buchholz: We spent five years on this. It’s gotta be good, right?
Eric was spot on with the last comment. Having personally listened to the whole Twilight Symphony, I can safely say it is beyond “good”. As stated before, the world wide digital release is still forthcoming from the ZREO team, but it shall be well worth the wait.