Chris Huelsbeck – An Interview for Gamers Listeners

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This time we had a chat with a true classic, a virtuoso from the times of Amiga and Commodore – Chris Hülsbeck. His more recent accomplishments include Symphonic Shades, an orchestral reinterpretation of the composer’s works produced by Thomas Böcker, a continuation of Giana and his opus magnum: the remastered 4-CD edition of Turrican Anthology Soundtrack, which was a spectacular Kickstarter-funded success. In his brief (by Gamers Listeners standards) interview, Chris Hülsbeck talks mostly about his latest projects and reveals some of his interesting plans for the future.

Gamers Listeners: I don’t think anyone expected your Kickstarter campaign to become such a huge success. Now that TSA is released and you can finally look at things from perspective, could you sum up the whole action in a few words? Was there anything that you could’ve prepared for better?

Chris Hülsbeck: I am very happy with the result, but it was a long and hard way to get it done. In hindsight I would probably not have had quite as many different reward items in the campaign.

Gamers Listeners: Turrican II – Anthology Suite is a true masterpiece. Over 11 minutes of full symphony is like Symphonic Shades that levelled up. Tell us about how it was created… Was it due to those „pains of creation” that we had to wait for it “slightly” longer than planned?

Chris Hülsbeck: The Anthology suite was arranged by Roger Wanamo and produced by my friend Thomas Boecker who puts all these incredible symphonic game music concert together. We just talked about which parts should appear and in what rough order and Roger then created this beautiful arrangement. It was played in 2 concerts with the WDR Rundfunkorchester Köln (the same as for Symphonic Shades) which brought tears to my eyes.

Gamers Listeners: Chiptune seems to be experiencing a renaissance of sorts. Both amateurs and professionals have a try with retrosynths – many of them even base their careers on this stylistic. We find it hard to believe that nobody so far has suggested it to you. Can you envision yourself as a chiptune specialist in today’s industry?

Chris Hülsbeck: I actually used some chip tune elements in the soundtrack of Giana Sisters: Twisted Dreams, but otherwise my projects have not been the right fit stylistically for more. I could definitely envision doing more chip sounds in the future, maybe even as a pure hobby project, but I have to find some free time for it.

Gamers Listeners: And to finish this topic off: what’s next? We hope that you a have project up your sleeve that’ll be even more successful than Turrican Anthology and Symphonic Shades. Do you have any plans so far, vague as they may be? Or maybe you need a vacation after your Kickstarter victory?

Chris Hülsbeck: I definitely have some exciting ideas for new projects of this kind, but it’s too early to tell.

Gamers Listeners: Tell us about the creation of the soundtrack for the War of the Worlds, a 2011 platformer based on H.G. Wells’s prose. Did you work with the existing film scores in mind or did you concentrate on your own ideas? Also, we’d be exhilarated to hear that the soundtrack will eventually be released e.g. on Bandcamp ;)

Chris Hülsbeck: The War of the Worlds music was produced in close collaboration with my friends from Sound of Games and parts of it (the theme and some other pieces) were also recorded with live orchestra, which was very exciting. We definitely wanted to create something that captured the spirit of old Hollywood action movies, but without sounding too antiquated. I certainly hope that we will be able to release a soundtrack one day, but that’s up to more negotiations with Paramount.

Gamers Listeners: Recently, you’ve had the opportunity to revisit your classic melodies when working on Giana Sisters Twisted Dreams. Tell us more about this project. Do you enjoy such musical reminiscences?

Chris Hülsbeck: Yes, it was a lot of fun to revisit and expand the Giana Melodies and the soundtrack turned out fantastic thanks also to my collaboration with Fabian Del Priore and Machinae Supremacy.

Gamers Listeners: The Swedish act Machinae Supremacy owes a lot to your works. Their arrangement of the theme from Giana Sisters enjoyed a spectacular success, which quickly boosted the group’s popularity. When did you first hear about them and what was your first impression?

Chris Hülsbeck: It was 2001 when I found their awesome arrangement of Giana Sisters (it’s the Menu theme by the way, not the original title theme as often reported). I could hardly believe how cool the track was.

Gamers Listeners: Let’s stay on the topic of Machinae Supremacy for a little longer. As said before, you had the opportunity to work with them on Giana Sisters Twisted Dreams. Are you thinking about continuing this collaboration? Maybe even make an album with them, not necessarily devoted to game music at all?

Chris Hülsbeck: I have a good connection with them and thoroughly enjoyed our collaboration, so another project in the future would certainly a possibility.

Gamers Listeners: Recently, in your AMA on Reddit,  when asked about a project that you’d want to work on, you said Dead Rising 4. You also spoke fondly of the music in Dead Rising 3. Why did you choose these games?

Chris Hülsbeck: What I really liked was the clever use of electronic music in the background during the game. At a time when a lot of games now doing orchestral game music, this approach gave the game a different and cool feel I thought.

Gamers Listeners: That’s pretty much all we wanted to ask you. Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Chris Hülsbeck: Thanks to all my fans out there – you all rock! :)

 

Interview was conducted by Arek Haratym. Special thanks to Marcin Moń (FTL Translation).

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