We’ve already mentioned in an interview with Taylor Davis that one of the most famous aspects of the Zelda franchise is the music. While some musicians do music covers, other musicians like to add their own little twist on songs they love. This is quite evident when you check out the work from Adrisaurus, a YouTuber with a passion for gaming, Zelda, and music.
We recently had the great opportunity to speak with Adriana about her work, thoughts on music in The Legend of Zelda, the series as a whole, and the process of writing original songs. She’s a very talented singer-songwriter whose love of video games can be easily found in her work.
In the course of the interview, Adrisaurus discussed her experience in music and how large of a role it plays in her life. The Legend of Zelda has also had an impact on her, and we learn a lot of her thoughts as we jump into a discussion of the series. Read on and discover the inspiration behind fellow Zelda fan and musician, Adrisaurus.
First off, thank you for joining me today Adriana. I believe the best place to start is with music, as that is something you are known for. What first inspired you to start singing on YouTube and what has kept you going for four years?
Of course, thank you so much for having me! It’s an honor. My YouTube channel is a bit of a melting pot in that I sing and arrange songs from many different mediums of entertainment, but I think the strongest influence on my channel has been video game music. Originally, I began posting vocal covers because I wanted a way to express my deep love for the music in Capcom’s Ace Attorney series. Whenever I cover a song it’s because I have a deep love for its source material and I want a way to express that! I think the joy of being able to do that is what has kept me going for so long.
Do you perform original covers for songs that don’t have lyrics?
Indeed I do! To provide some frame of reference for those who are unfamiliar with my work, it’s sort of similar to what Brentalfloss does with his music, but for me it’s usually much less about creating parodies and more so about re-imagining the song in a new way. By adding lyrics to tracks that originally had none, I’m able to infuse some of my own creativity into the music and incorporate relevant story elements – and of course, it certainly makes the songs easier to sing, which is pretty important for me!
The gaming community online is full of talented content creators, from let’s players to reviewers. What makes gaming musicians unique in the community?
I’m constantly in awe of the huge variety of talent in the gaming community! I’d say that all content creators definitely share the common denominator of being passionate about gaming in some shape or form, but what I love about gaming musicians is that everyone seems to be so supportive of one another. Music is an art form that opens up a lot of opportunities in the way of collaboration, and I think this really shows in the gaming community. The musicians I’ve had the pleasure of meeting through my channel have been some of the most passionate and welcoming people I’ve ever met!
Music is also something that resonates with everyone, so I think it’s neat that while gaming musicians have their niche, they also have the ability to connect with greater audiences through their work.
Although musicians are definitely talented, there aren’t as many in the community as, say, let’s players. What advice would you give to those who want to start a music channel online?
My biggest piece of advice is to work on music that you’re personally very passionate about. It’s awesome if that lines up with what’s “popular” at the moment, but if you only choose songs based on what you think is going to get a lot of views, I guarantee you it’s not as fulfilling! It’s certainly important to listen to your audience, but if you pour your heart into your craft and work on what you personally love, people will be able to hear that and success should follow naturally.
Another great way of getting a strong start is to collaborate with other musician friends – not only does this help you reach a wider audience, it’s also super fun!
What collaborations have you done with other members of the community?
I’ve collaborated with a lot of friends in the past, but I recently collaborated with halc on a vocal remix of the Electrodrome theme from Mario Kart 8, and that I had a great time with that! I’ve also done some vocal work with Theophany on some original tracks and an upcoming Zelda project of his. In addition to musical collaboration, I frequently collaborate with visual artists whenever I need special artwork for my video stills.
Speaking of Zelda, you’ve made a lot of Zelda original songs on YouTube. What inspired you to jump into Zelda music?
Zelda music has always held a very special place in my heart. I grew up watching my older brother play Zelda games and listening to their music for hours on end. When I became old enough to start playing them myself, I took an even deeper interest in the music of the series. I particularly love the soundtracks from Ocarina of Time and Majora’s Mask because I associate them with lots of good memories, so many of the Zelda covers I’ve done have come from those games. Adding lyrics to songs I’ve loved for so long has been a great way to relive their stories and rekindle nostalgia!
How large of a role do you believe music plays in the Zelda franchise and in gaming in general?
Music plays a huge role in the series – much more so than in most Nintendo franchises — and I think this is part of what makes the Zelda series so memorable and beloved. Ocarina of Time was the first Zelda game I ever played, and I remember that a huge part of what caught my attention about it was the fact that music was so integrated into its gameplay and the plot itself. They’ve continued to integrate music into the series flawlessly over the years, and even though some people might not realize it, I genuinely believe this is a big reason as to why these games resonate in the hearts of so many. You never really forget warping to the Temple of Time with “Prelude of Light” in Ocarina of Time, or playing Nayru’s Harp of Ages to return to the past in Oracle of Ages. These melodies become engraved into your heart. Even games in the series without a huge musical focus are known for their excellent soundtracks, and I think they’ve played an iconic role in the history of video game music.
With Zelda songs, what typically inspires the lyrics you sing?
The more cinematic Zelda games are so rich with lore and memorable characters that they make it easy to write lyrics for! When I’m writing lyrics, I usually tend to focus on what feelings I associate closely with the track I’m covering, and what I personally gleaned from the characters or areas of the game related to the track. For example, I’ve always felt that the Zora are a very ethereal race, so I tried to capture that dreamy feeling in the vocals and lyrics of my “Zora’s Domain” cover. On the other hand, I associate Sheik with enigmatic feelings of mystery, so I chose to focus the lyrics and tone of “Sheik’s Theme” on that. Above all, I always try to treat the source material with the respect it deserves by trying to create lyrics that will do the original intent of the song justice.
“Shows like Symphonic Evolutions and Symphony of the Goddesses are so important because they really highlight the fact that video game music is a beautiful art form.”
You mentioned before that you have known about Zelda Universe for quite some time. How were you introduced to the site?
Yes, I’ve been familiar with Zelda Universe for a few years now! When I was first starting out with my channel, I remember ZU reaching out to me and featuring some of my early Zelda covers on the site. This was huge for me. It was the first time my work had ever been featured in that way, and it was one of the first times I really felt connected to the Zelda fan community at large! I’ll never forget that. I definitely feel like Zelda Universe gave me a big push when I was getting off the ground, and I feel just as honored to be featured now as I did back then!
I can see you dearly love the series. How did you first get involved with the franchise?
I definitely owe my love of the series to my older brother and my dad. I wasn’t kidding when I said I would watch them play these games for hours on end when I was younger! Even after I started playing the games myself, I still enjoyed sitting next to them to watch their own playthroughs. My brother has played a huge influence in my love for video games. We still discuss new developments in the Zelda series at length, and he’s been supportive of my musical journey ever since I first started sharing my creations with other fans online.
One such development in the Zelda series is Majora’s Mask 3D. The Song of Healing from Majora’s Mask is your most popular gaming song on YouTube. With the announcement of Majora’s Mask 3D, coupled with the popularity of Song of Healing, do you have any plans to make more Majora’s Mask songs?
Absolutely! I’ve been wanting to work on more Zelda material for a long time now, and now that we’re getting a chance to revisit Termina through Majora’s Mask 3D, I’d definitely like to feature more of the game’s soundtrack on my channel. There are just so many gorgeous and memorable songs in the game – Koji Kondo really outdid himself. “Astral Observatory” is a track I’ve always wanted to put my own spin on, so that’s one I know for sure I want to cover at some point in the future.
What projects are you currently working on for your channel?
Unfortunately I haven’t had a lot of energy to devote to new projects lately, as it’s my last year of college and the workload has been pretty brutal, but once I graduate in May, I plan to take a year to focus fully on my music and my channel! There are so many songs I want to cover, and so many musicians in the community I want to collaborate with!
The biggest project I have in the works right now is an album of original music that I’m hoping to record and release next year. I’ve been working with a music producer in Nashville to bring this vision to life, so I’m hoping I’ll be able to bring it to my listeners by the summer or fall of 2015! This producer actually did work on the soundtracks for Bioshock and Bioshock Infinite, so he has a sense of where a lot of my inspiration comes from as a musician, and that’s very exciting to me. My hope is to create an album that will appeal to fans of video game music, but also be accessible to a general audience.
You attended the World Premiere of Pokemon Symphonic Evolutions, but did you ever attend Symphony of the Goddesses?
I did, indeed! I attended the Atlanta show of the very first Symphony of the Goddesses tour, and it was an experience I’ll never forget. I’m a very emotional person, and I will fully admit to having cried during the show. It was the first time I’d ever experienced an orchestral performance of video game music on that scale, and it was incredible. Shows like Symphonic Evolutions and Symphony of the Goddesses are so important because they really highlight the fact that video game music is a beautiful art form that has the ability to resonate with large audiences. It’s my hope that we’ll be able to get more quality tours like these for other franchises in the future!
What are some of your favorite songs from the Zelda franchise and have you given any of them lyrics?
I literally just froze up – asking me to pick favorites is like asking me to pick a child! [laughs] I think it’s safe to say that all the Zelda songs I’ve covered so far are among my favorites, though. “Ballad of the Goddess” is a track that I constantly catch myself singing! I sang the official Hylian lyrics when I covered it for my channel, but I think it could be cool to do revisit it with an English adaptation. “Great Fairy Fountain” is another song I’ve covered that I’ve always found incredibly gorgeous and I hum to myself a lot. I believe that was the first Zelda song I ever tackled on my channel, so I’d love to revisit it someday now that I have more resources and the ability to record songs in better audio quality!
As for future projects, I’d really like to create a vocal rendition of “Nayru’s Song” from Oracle of Ages someday. I really loved the portrayal of Nayru in that game because I felt like I could really identify to her as a singer, so I’d love to pay tribute to that by re-imagining her theme.
What is the process of writing and singing music for your channel?
This definitely depends on the track and varies from song to song. The biggest criteria I have when choosing a song to cover is that it has to inspire me deeply or I have to have felt some connection to it in the first place – otherwise, the process just feels tedious and unfulfilling! From there, it depends on whether I’m writing lyrics or not, and whether I’m singing over the original track or creating a new instrumental for it. Generally, the order of the process is writing lyrics, creating instrumentals, and then recording vocals and mixing. My favorite covers are the ones that I can’t stop working on from start to finish because I’m so inspired by where the idea is going! I’ve had days where I forget to eat because I’m so immersed in the process. The fulfillment I get from the creative process is usually well worth it, though, and no worries – I treat myself to a huge bowl of pasta afterwards. [laughs]
As a gamer, not just of Zelda, what do you feel makes Zelda unique and how does the franchise stay fresh after several decades?
I personally feel that it’s been able to stay fresh and relevant because Nintendo has done a good job of recognizing what people love about Zelda and keeping that core spirit consistent, while still expanding and trying new things. The series has come a long way since its beginnings because they’ve allowed it to grow and evolve along with their technical capabilities. Furthermore, I think fans have really enjoyed getting to see all the different iterations of Link, Zelda, and other central characters over the years! I adore the fact that they’ve retained the original charm of the series over time, but haven’t been afraid to play around with changing up art styles and gameplay mechanics. I think it says a lot about the company and the series itself!
Have you had the opportunity to play A Link Between Worlds on the Nintendo 3DS?
I have not yet, but it’s definitely a game I’d like to play in the near future! I know it introduced some really fun mechanics to the series and took some excellent creative advantage of the 3DS hardware. I’ve heard so many great things about it from friends and from my brother – I know I have to play it at some point. My brother called me frequently during his play through to rave about how awesome it was, so I know they must have done a great job with it.
Every interview guest we’ve had on Zelda Universe has praised A Link Between Worlds. What has to be in a Zelda game to earn your praise?
Well that settles it – I’m definitely going to have to play it, then! [laughs] As for what I feel makes a good Zelda game, I’ve really enjoyed the cinematic nature of some of the more recent entries in the series. Zelda is awesome because it’s pretty much synonymous with adventure. When I think of the series, I think of that word in its most classic sense, so for a Zelda game to really feel fun and successful for me, it has to have a good blend of gameplay, world design, and music to reinforce the iconic theme of adventure it’s known for.
I’m particularly intrigued by the upcoming Zelda title that’s in development for Wii U – it looks like they’re definitely taking advantage of all of these elements to create an awesome experience for old fans and new gamers alike. It looks like they’re really placing an emphasis on having a very developed open-world setting, and I think this will lend itself really well to the series. I’m so excited to see where they go with it! It looks gorgeous.
Also, I guess Link should be in the game for it to feel like a Zelda game… That’s pretty important for me, I guess. [laughs]
Recently, demo footage of Zelda U was shown during the Video Game Awards. What did you think of the gameplay shown and what would you like to see shown in the future?
I think it looks awesome! Zelda U is another example of Nintendo taking the new technical capabilities they’ve got and letting those shape gameplay in creative ways. Like I mentioned previously, I’m absolutely loving the rich open-world design – it kind of reminds me of Xenoblade Chronicles (another game I adore) in the sense that it seems like we’ll be able to go almost anywhere we can see on-screen. It looks so rich and smooth, and I can only imagine what it’s going to feel like to experience it fully with a soundtrack. I’m getting excited just thinking about it!
What do you enjoy about the Zelda franchise overall?
This kind of ties in with the sense of adventure I mentioned before, but one of the things I really like about the series is that it lets me live vicariously through Link. I would never be able to do half the things he does, but it’s certainly fun to pretend I’m a hero who can! I also really like the fact that it’s a perfect marriage between combat and puzzles. I’m a huge fan of puzzles, to the point where Hershel Layton would be proud. I like the fact that Zelda is a series that gives me the satisfaction of being able to beat up baddies, but it also stretches my brain a bit and gets me to come up with creative solutions to problems posed.
One confusing puzzle is that there are some that haven’t even played a single Zelda game. Why would you recommend they check out the series and what game would you recommend they start with?
I think everyone should play at least one Zelda game in their lifetime! I have a lot of friends – ones who aren’t even avid gamers – who have played games from the series and loved them, and I think this says a lot about how welcoming and accessible the series is as a whole. It’s so iconic and fun that I think anyone can enjoy it … And I don’t think this cheapens its value in the gaming world in any way! In fact, I feel like this is one of its greatest strengths.
Since I personally started with Ocarina of Time, I’m a little bit biased, but I think it’s a great place to start for anyone wanting to get a taste of the series. I feel like Ocarina of Time was revolutionary for the franchise and it set the tone for future Zelda games, so I think starting there would be a good way to get a taste of the classics while seeing what the series is all about.
“Everyone should play at least one Zelda game in their lifetime!”
Finally, what do you look forward to in Zelda and what keeps you coming back for more?
I’m just excited to see how far the series goes in the years to come – just look how far it’s come already! It’s been so fun to see the characters I love evolve and to watch the franchise keep growing in good ways. We’ve come such a long way. Personally, I think it’d be really fun to have a new game where you get to adventure as Zelda herself! I feel like there are so many possibilities in this. Hyrule Warriors has recently brought that dream to life in some ways, but I’d love to see them explore this idea again in the future with a traditional Zelda title.
Despite the company’s highly innovative spirit, Nintendo brings this sense of familiarity to all of their games, and I think that’s part of why I enjoy keeping up with new developments in the franchise. It’s like keeping up with an old friend! I’m always interested to see what they’re going to do with it next.
Thank you Adrisaurus for taking the time to answer our questions!
Adrisaurus is a very talented musician who implements gaming into many of her songs on YouTube. Her music is entertaining and breathes new life into music we already love. If you’re a fan of The Legend of Zelda or gaming in general, you have to check out her channel! Adriana’s music will have you thinking about music in a whole new way!