Have you discovered Overclocked Remix yet? I’ve been following their album releases for about ten years now, and they never disappoint. It’s a crazy community of video game-loving musicians that criticize the heck out of each other’s work over multiple drafts until their music is top notch. In the video game music world, you know you’ve arrived when you’re a posted artist on OCRemix.org.
In early August, there was a free album (all OCRemix albums are free, by the way) posted with 18 eclectically remixed A Link to the Past tracks. It’s pure gold, and I’ve been listening to it for weeks now! I don’t have the ability to do each song justice in one post though, so let’s just start with one, okay? How about the opening track “Timeless Journey”.
While jamming out to this beautiful, epic, orchestral medley I was super impressed with the flawless transitions from theme to theme. It builds from one melody to the next without suffering from melody-itis, growing into a crescendo that leaves you with tears.
Yes, I’m totally geeking out about this track, but I promise I’m gushing because it’s that good!
Even better, while doing my gratis private investigation into this particular mix’s upbringing, I found a story behind the song so interesting that it’s almost as cool as the song itself. Prepare yourself for a tale of a hard-working, self-taught multipotentialite who, after years of practice and a decade’s worth of patience, has crafted an entire album stuffed full of cinematic orchestral Zelda pieces.
It’s an album made from passion in all the right ways, which makes it wonderful that when the creator humbly asked his fans for a minimal amount of financial support to make it a reality, they responded with a resounding ten times the amount he was asking for.
Prepare yourself for Zelda Cinematica. Hit play on the video below. Hurry up. It’s the perfect backdrop for the interview you’re about to read.
When we reached out to Sam Dillard to hear about “Timeless Journey” in his own words, he told us he had the idea to write an epic Zelda-themed orchestral soundtrack way back before it was cool.
“I’ve been wanting to do more Zelda music for many many years, and in fact came very close to making an album over a decade ago after Twilight Princess was released since I loved the soundtrack.”
“There weren’t any of the big symphony releases then and I thought it would be really awesome to produce this epic album of music from the series with my own film-score typestyle. Then right around the time I was seriously about to take the leap to gear up and do it, Nintendo released their own Zelda symphony CD, which had a very similar sound and direction I had in mind. They beat me to it.”
Discouraged, Dillard shifted his musical prowess from Zelda to orchestrating an entire Metroid album, which was a hit all on its own.
And then a Chrono Trigger album.
All while also padding his resume with film, 3D modeling, game development, and so much more. Seriously, who is this guy, and why am I just hearing about him now?
“Usually my work gets overshadowed since essentially I’m just a solo self-trained musician working from his bedroom with no resources and my work has to stand on its own next to these pros with actual orchestras and teams and such, which is a bit daunting. I play and compose everything by ear so I have to really listen and figure out what is going on in the songs, which can take a lot of time. But I had gained some supportive fans encouraging me to produce more music and that’s what keeps me moving forward.”
Which is where Dillard’s recent Kickstarter comes into play, a Kickstarter he built as a way to publicly ask his fans if they even wanted a Zelda album. Considering he only asked for $5,000 and raised more than ten times that, clocking in at a smoking $57,914, I’ll say they wanted one!
“‘Timeless Journey’ is arguably the most important track of the album. This is where the main overworld themes come in, easily the most iconic of all the Zelda music. I knew there would have to be a dedicated track for it, and since those themes have been remixed and remade over and over, I had to really dig into the essence of each theme and bring out the feelings there which people may be kind of jaded to having heard it all so much over the years. No easy task.”
“‘Timeless Journey’ is actually the final track from Zelda Cinematica: you could say the “end credits” piece of the virtual film/story this album is aiming to present.”
Which is interesting, because I originally found it as the title track of the Mirror Image: A Link to the Past ReMixed album on OCRemix.org.
“At one point I was asked to do some music for the OCRemix album, but since I was already knee-deep in my own project I just didn’t have the time to be involved, so I offered to ‘lend’ them one of my tracks from Zelda Cinematica, which worked since it focused on the main overworld theme.”
“When it comes to composing symphonic game-related music, Zelda is pretty much the peak of difficulty in all aspects. There are decades of music to choose from so figuring out just what themes to even play with, and how to blend them together, is a major challenge. Then there is the technical aspect as Zelda music tends to be fairly complicated in orchestration, and getting things to sound right with my limited virtual instruments is very difficult.”
“In the end, if a few people can feel excited or inspired after listening to Zelda Cinematica, then I feel I have succeeded.”
Seriously y’all, this guy is the real deal, and he’s doing it from the ground up because he cares to do it right. He’s earned a fan from me. Here’s to hoping you’re a fan as well.