Composer of Games Like Fez & Shoot Many Robots, Rich Vreeland Interview with Timothy Courtney

Interview Published: 03/26/2016

Interview with indie composer Rich Vreeland, who made music for games and movies like Fez, Shoot Many Robots, Runner2: Future Legend of Rhythm Alien, Mini Metro, and It Follows. Rich Vreeland is interviewed by Timothy Courtney about Vreeland's background in music and games.

Timothy Courtney: Hey Rich, will you talk about some of your most fond memories as a child? And is there one in particular that first interested you in music?

Rich Vreeland: As a child, I was mesmerized by drums. My step-father was the music director of our church and they would have band practice in the basement. Many of my fondest memories are of going down there to jam away on the drums, when they were there.

What did you want to be when you grew up? Was it always a musician?

I don't think I knew. I didn't study music until highschool. As a kid I loved sports, and I loved to do play-by-play while I played hockey video games. So maybe that!

Where did you spend your childhood and do you think that the area and way of life shaped your outlook or your approach in making music?

I grew up in Staten Island and the New York metropolitan area. All I can say for sure is I was influenced by the music of the time and the music of my parents: Led Zeppelin, The Beatles, Joni Mitchell, Vince Guaraldi, George Winston...

What kind of food do you like to eat?

Many many many kinds. I also like to feel good so I try to eat healthy.

I know you made the chiptune music for Fez, but besides that, what work are you most proud of whether it be well or less-well known?

I'm really proud of KRUNCH, I think those are some of my most interesting tunes. I tried to experiment with things like form, process and improvisation. The track, 'Cauchy Falsehood' is built entirely out of arpeggiators.

How much did you dig the 90's, and are you influenced by any era of music in particular? What is your favorite?

I dug the 90's a lot. I am influenced by all eras, I don't have a favorite. I would probably pick the 70's or 90's over 80's, though.

Do you ever get great music ideas at night when you're about to go to sleep or worse, when you suddenly wake up? Where do you do your best creative thinking?

Yes, sometimes while trying to sleep, I will get musical ideas. Sometimes I get up to figure them out, but I try to resist when possible. I think I do my best creative thinking while I'm walking, or on a plane.

Where does your drive come from?

Drive is very difficult, but I generally enjoy what I do and that counts for a lot. I am driven to see what I can realize and to see what others may realize about my realizations!

Was there a point in your dreams of making a living as a musician when you thought I don't think I'm gonna make it? Will you talk about that? (if there was)

No, I don't remember ever doubting my ability to succeed much. I did always see Graphic Design as a backup plan, though.

How much do you know about "King of the Hill"?

A lot. I've seen every episode! It's one of my favorite shows, I tell you what. I'm a huge Mike Judge fan.

Have you had a favorite person to work with/collaborate with, and why?

I've enjoyed so many of my collaborations and I'm cultivating more all the time. It's too hard to choose!

Have you ever tried your hand at programming? Either way, do you think there's anything in common creatively?

Oh yes. I made a music game called 'January', and recently did a very code heavy treatment for the game 'Mini Metro'. Programming scratches my problem solving itch like very few other things. The way I think about writing and coding is sometimes similar in its orderliness.

At what moment did you feel like "man (or woman), I'm pretty damn good at making music", like you even impressed yourself?

It was never about impressing myself. It was about bringing musical ideas into the world that I wanted to hear. Not to say that they were original, but to try and realize my own particular blend of taste. Being able to get excited about my work from the very beginning played a large role in my continuing interest in music.

Besides making music, what is your favorite thing to do?

Play ice hockey.

What did you almost name your work before you decided to go with "Disasterpeace"?

Disasterpiece was my first naming choice, but I changed the ending to 'peace'. My sister and I had a band called 'The Milkduds' when we were small.

Do you ever have trouble focusing on what needs to be done next? What's that like for you (conquering yourself)?

Time management is one of my most consistent obstacles. I find what consistently helps is getting away from music, and remembering there is more to life.

What are you most excited about as far as your music goes? What are you looking forward to with it?

I'm excited to work with live musicians more!

Will you tell people the best way to stay up to date with you and your work?

You can find me on the web @ Disaster.pizza.

💘 Interview by Timothy Courtney

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