Matt Gray Produced Box Set

Radio shows, podcasts, live events, CD releases, etc...
Post Reply
Ninja Sounds
Commodore Fan
Commodore Fan
Posts: 47
Joined: 24/08/2014 - 16:02

Matt Gray Produced Box Set

Post by Ninja Sounds » 24/08/2014 - 16:27

A big hello to the forum from myself.

I thought you guys should be the first to hear of my intention to re record the very best of my C64 soundtracks and hopefully also give my spin on other C64 tracks by some well known composers. The newly produced tracks will form a limited edition CD box set which I intend to record using the very best of my musician friends and associates that I have worked with in the last 20+ years in the music industry.

Obviously this is no small task not to mention a costly one,but I think if I don't do it now I probably never will. To finance this very special one off project I intend to use Kickstarter, but first I need to gauge the genuine appetite for such a big project.

Any thoughts are very welcome.

Very best wishes

Ninja Sounds aka Matt Gray

User avatar
Mayhem
Forum Celebrity
Forum Celebrity
Posts: 489
Joined: 22/11/2002 - 11:45
Location: London, England
Contact:

Re: Matt Gray Produced Box Set

Post by Mayhem » 25/08/2014 - 10:59

Welcome Matt :)

Pleasure to meet you here... and find a fan. I always ranked you up there with the greats such as Hubbard and Daglish ;)

Last Ninja 2, Driller, Quedex, Deliverence, Hunter's Moon... all excellent pieces. In fact I'd say LN2 is arguably the best suite of music on the C64.

So I'd definitely be interested in the project. Having backed a number of Kickstarters over the last couple of years, then publicity is the second most important thing to get right as part of the campaign, after the actual perk levels themselves. So once it's about to get going, spread the word!
Lie with passion and be forever damned...

Ninja Sounds
Commodore Fan
Commodore Fan
Posts: 47
Joined: 24/08/2014 - 16:02

Re: Matt Gray Produced Box Set

Post by Ninja Sounds » 25/08/2014 - 14:11

Hi Mayhem and thanks for your comments. :)

Very flattering to be mentioned alongside Robb, who for me was an absolute inspiration. His compositions were always sheer class and both he and Galway were always the benchmark for the rest of us. I spoke to Robb on several ocassions over the phone when I was just 17 and starting out and he was always helpful. Shortly after he left for the States and truth be told he left a gap in the market for many of us. Certainly Ninja 2 came my way in part due to his departure. I'd be given the task of doing the loading music to accompany his in game soundtrack for Bangkok Knights and Mark Cale at System 3 needed an in house musician so things fell into place and I started work on Ninja early '88. I know some people had problems with Mark, but I always found him pretty fair to deal with by and large.

Glad you're into the idea of a Kickstarter campaign. As you say getting the marketing right will prove crucial. Hopefully if it's viable and a successful campaign goes ahead then the work will be done within 6-9 months. Certainly I'm looking forward to revisiting some of those tunes and expanding them to their full scope. 8)

Matt

User avatar
tomsk
Forum Celebrity
Forum Celebrity
Posts: 379
Joined: 22/11/2002 - 20:09
Location: South Shields (nr Newcastle upon Tyne)
Contact:

Re: Matt Gray Produced Box Set

Post by tomsk » 26/08/2014 - 22:04

Yup, I'd really love to hear such a project and would support it. But can I be bold and ask why you're returning to the scene now ? No one knows for sure why but you seem to have been elusive when it comes to interviews and such, almost like you shunned your C64 musical roots for a long time. Maybe I've got this wrong, I'm not as informed as some SID enthusiasts. Getting back to support, Driller is one of my favorite ever C64 tracks, even if I do hear the theme from halloween in my head when I listen to it (and I listen to it still!). So many years on, your creations still inspire and delight people so it's great to hear you're back.

Ninja Sounds
Commodore Fan
Commodore Fan
Posts: 47
Joined: 24/08/2014 - 16:02

Re: Matt Gray Produced Box Set

Post by Ninja Sounds » 27/08/2014 - 1:01

Hi Tomsk. Glad you've enjoyed Driller so much. It'll be 27 years in October since I started work on that track. It's production was stopped for over a week due to the hurricane we suffered as my area lost power for around 9 or 10 days. You're not the first to notice similarities to Halloween. Admiration for certain soundtracks sometimes spilled over into inspiration in those days, but I always tried to take things in a different direction.

As for your question on "why now?", well there's no singular reason really. Obviously I'm a lot older now than when I stopped C64 composing around 1990. That was mainly due to game production dwindling and other musicians such as Maniacs Of Noise emerging on the scene. My interest was switching to the huge emerging dance music scene around that time also and I was becoming much more intrigued by samplers and synths. I did try and tempt Mark Cale into delving into the record making scene,but after initial interest he didn't follow it up, so I went about it myself. It was basically a new challenge and after a few months spent converting c64 methods to Nintendo for Codemasters whilst DJ'ing at raves during the weekends it soon became clear where I wanted to go. By the time the net came along with all the c64 enthusiasts and remixers I had crossed over into record production in the pop arena. There wasn't any plan to "shun" the scene, merely I wasn't really operating in it anymore. I know years later I read that not everyone was happy about the pop songs I was involved in, fair enough it's a very subjective issue and each to their own. But I do think that part of being a good producer or composer is in having a good appreciation of all genres of music. To me if it sounds good it's good. I don't care if it's a pop track, a film soundtrack or even a kids' TV theme tune, if it's good it's good.

And so basically,like everyone, as time goes by I get a bit nostalgic and interest in soundtracks has returned. It can be cyclic in music and as anyone old enough can see the charts are sounding like the early 90's again just with a modern twist so I'm not the only one revisiting past listening habits. As I said this intended project is only really viable logistically because of my experience gained in the broader musical scene. I've worked on just about every aspect of music production in the last 27 years or so and forged working relationships with many hugely talented musicians. I've had the great pleasure of producing and overseeing recording sessions at some of the best known studios on offer from the usual live band set up to entire string sections overdubbing under my watch. I thought wouldn't it be a great challenge to work with some of those musicians and arrangers again but recording fully blown versions of my old C64 productions. I could co ordinate the whole thing from start to finish even doing the final mixdowns (another task I've performed many times on hit singles).

Hopefully that answers some points for you? :)

64KReady
Newbie
Newbie
Posts: 8
Joined: 31/05/2013 - 6:23

Re: Matt Gray Produced Box Set

Post by 64KReady » 27/08/2014 - 4:06

Hi Matt,

Welcome back – I still can’t quite believe what I’m reading here …

I hope you'll be pleasantly surprised by the continued high level of interest in the music you wrote for the Commodore 64 (Mayhem is by no means alone in holding you up alongside the finest commodore musicians) and also by the intense curiosity about your disappearance from the scene (tomsk’s question has been sitting in the minds of many people for decades – thanks for sharing the answer … absolutely fascinating).

I’m just excited that you’re back and about the prospect of a new project from you ("fully blown versions" of your old soundtracks would be incredible). You can count on my contribution, but can I suggest contacting the following two people, who I suspect will be able to most-accurately gauge the level of community interest in your proposal as well as advise you on the best promotional channels to reach your target audience.

Chris Abbott: I believe you've dealt with Chris in the past over copyright of your material. To my knowledge he runs this website (Commodore remix) but I’m not sure how you might contact him. The website provides this contact form: http://www.remix64.com/remix64/contact.html

Jason 'Kenz' Mackenzie: manages Binary zone interactive. Like Chris, I think he’s a heavy-weight in the scene. This is the contact email listed on his website: kenz@bzpd.wanadoo.co.uk

I should mention that I know next to nothing about the C64 scene. Hopefully others who read your post can suggest alternatives.

Lastly, I wanted to send you a personal message but it appears that my 'newbie' status on this forum does not grant me that privilege. So instead I’m going to embarrass myself publicly by declaring that I am such a tragic fan of your work that last year I wrote you a thank-you letter in the form of an essay. It was my hope that you might one day stumble upon it and send a nod in my direction, but since I have this unprecedented opportunity I am going to shamelessly point you to it - I sincerely hope that you approve: http://mattgray64.wordpress.com/2013/03/19/2/

All the best,
Ruairi

User avatar
Dumper
Forum God
Forum God
Posts: 1148
Joined: 28/05/2003 - 18:34
Location: England

Re: Matt Gray Produced Box Set

Post by Dumper » 27/08/2014 - 9:12

Great news, you certainly have my interest if you start a Kickstarter project.

User avatar
tomsk
Forum Celebrity
Forum Celebrity
Posts: 379
Joined: 22/11/2002 - 20:09
Location: South Shields (nr Newcastle upon Tyne)
Contact:

Re: Matt Gray Produced Box Set

Post by tomsk » 27/08/2014 - 19:13

Hopefully that answers some points for you? :)
It does, thank you. It probably also help others see what was going on in your career (as 64KReady alluded too) and that's a good thing. Very interesting, and I'm glad you've decided to look over your shoulder and re-visit some of your early work, as you say it's good to do. In many ways it's actually quite easy as all of your SIDS are in HVSC, so your back catalogue is in tact, although I'm sure there are demos and things that never got released you've lost forever....just a sign of how old we all really are - lol. Don't worry I know the feeling. Thanks, good luck and you have my support!

User avatar
Waz
Forum Adept
Forum Adept
Posts: 812
Joined: 01/05/2003 - 22:23
Location: Croydon, England
Contact:

Re: Matt Gray Produced Box Set

Post by Waz » 27/08/2014 - 19:17

Matt,

First of all, a pleasure to have you on board. Like so many of us here, we grew up admiring the Commodore 64 tunes you made. I can remember the likes of Jukebox 64 (both parts) and your Rockmonitor version of Rob's "Phantom of the Asteroids" on Compunet (which I got via a friend who could afford the phone bill to go on there), as well as then seeing your music in the likes of Quedex and Hunter's Moon (still adore the loader and title of that) before the System 3 stuff such as Tusker, Vendetta and of course Last Ninja 2, which many of us still hold dear to this day.

I can remember attempting to play through the game in pretty quick time to try to get the solution to Zzap! 64 first, and the music from that game stuck with me. More notable for me as well was the influence of electronic artists that part of the soundtrack of that game had: renditions of Tangerine Dream (Midnight in Tula and Alchemy of the Heart) as well as a nifty homage to Bomb the Bass' "Beat Dis" in one of the level loaders.

I also remember when Zzap! 64 put a demo of Dominator on their cover mount and how much the loading music was enjoyed by many, then finding out purely by chance that there was a hidden remix of the loading music as a separate subtune, and actually preferring that over the original loader. I could go on, but I'm sure you can imagine there's plenty of really good memories a lot of us have when it comes to that era of C64 games and the soundtracks that defined them.

I do think Kickstarter would be a very good way to go in terms of being able to get the recordings and interest out there - I've donated to such projects, such as that for the Frank Sidebottom documentary "Being Frank" for example. I'm sure several of us would be more than happy to spread the word as well, I think as well that for many of us having the original composer re-interpret their own works can be fascinating to hear how they may have wanted it to sound with more expansive equipment at their disposal, although sometimes having to work with a limited number of sound channels meant the tune and melody was always massively important too.

Do you still have any of your C64 disks, just out of interest, or were they all thrown away? Fred Gray did keep a fair number of his work disks and via Chris Abbott, Fred and I spent some time resurrecting some unknown gems that he had composed but had never been released before (Sled and Mystery being the two in question) and I'd be more than willing to help out in a similar way.
Warren Pilkington (Waz)
Zzap! 64, CF and HVSC Contributor
Flickr! - http://www.flickr.com/photos/zawtowers/
Twitter: @zawtowers
--------------------------------------------
Image

Ninja Sounds
Commodore Fan
Commodore Fan
Posts: 47
Joined: 24/08/2014 - 16:02

Re: Matt Gray Produced Box Set

Post by Ninja Sounds » 27/08/2014 - 22:08

Hi Ruairi (64kReady). Thanks for your enthusiasm and support. I have actually read your essay before (a friend sent me the link last year I think) and before I realised it was a ficticious interview I was asking myself "I really don't remember doing this interview". I don't as yet know Kenz personally,though I obviously know of him and I've been in touch with Chris for some time now on and off. It was Chris in fact who suggested a Kickstarter campaign when I first mentioned I was interested in doing games soundtracks again as a side chain to my current production work.

Dumper - Again to yourself thanks for the support.

Waz - Hi to you also and many thanks for the kind comments and support. Those Compunet days seem so far off now. I remember spending virtually all of my office clerk wages on C64 related stuff not to mention a large part on having a personal seperate phone line installed in my bedroom at my parents house just to access Compunet. It was Cnet that got me noticed first and provided my first paying commissions. The first was a bit of a disaster as the programmers re-coded my submission using their own player. Out the window went any vibrato routines and other modulation fx I'd used. I think I did two games for them (God what was the name of that software house??) the first being a motorbike game and the other being Yogi Bear :0 Anyway they were a very nice company to work with but it made me realise I simply had to learn 6502 and code my own player. The next project I got was Quedex for Thalamus. They used the Soundmonitor engine for the loader and I just about managed to get a usable player coded in time to do the in game music and fx. Paul and Stavros came to my house for the pre-production meet and let me know that in addition to doing fx I only had 2 channels to work with on the music. Somehow it worked,but my player wasn't quite how I wanted it at that stage so I went about more mods to it. I'd spent weeks staying up til 3 or 4 in the morning night after night, learning to code and then applying it to the only use I really wanted out of the 64, to make music that could stand alongside the countless tunes I'd listened to in the previous 2 or 3 years. Working for Thalamus so early on was a real boost because like so many others I'd flipped over Sanxion. Robb's loader is perfection and his production of Prokofiev's Romeo & Juliet was equally brilliant,so I was a big fan and because they were such a brand name by then I got attention from other software houses. Again Robb leaving for the US opened up the floodgates a bit,but they were big shoes to fill. I was just grateful to finally be on my way and actually getting paid to write music for games. Certainly it was great to tell your boss at the office you were leaving to become a music programmer,so maybe he could get someone else to make the tea from now on :)

BTW I do still have some disks including my player's source code,but I've long since lost the c64 (kept the same one throughout) and the drive. Somewhere along the line they were ebayed or tossed out in several house moves. Having 3 kids seems to have made me ruthless in the "let's have a loft clearout" stakes.

User avatar
Waz
Forum Adept
Forum Adept
Posts: 812
Joined: 01/05/2003 - 22:23
Location: Croydon, England
Contact:

Re: Matt Gray Produced Box Set

Post by Waz » 27/08/2014 - 22:51

Ninja Sounds wrote:It was Cnet that got me noticed first and provided my first paying commissions. The first was a bit of a disaster as the programmers re-coded my submission using their own player. Out the window went any vibrato routines and other modulation fx I'd used. I think I did two games for them (God what was the name of that software house??) the first being a motorbike game and the other being Yogi Bear :0
Excellent news, confirming that you did indeed do the music for Yogi Bear. Explains why one of the Compunet tunes you did (Election) sounds the same melody. Many many thanks :)

Yogi Bear was published by Piranha, a subsiduary of Macmillan Publishing. I had a quick check of their back catalogue via Gamebase 64 and no motorbike game was published by either, so it seemed.

However, the programmers of the C64 version of Yogi Bear were Dalali Software, and they also had a motorbike game published by Mirrorsoft called Mean Streak:

http://gb64.com/game.php?id=4694&d=18&h=0

MP3 recordings of thae game music from the real Commodore 64 are here:

http://se2a1.iiiii.info:8080/soasc/inde ... ean+streak

Please do have a listen, and see if that brings back any memories for you :)
Ninja Sounds wrote:BTW I do still have some disks including my player's source code,but I've long since lost the c64 (kept the same one throughout) and the drive.
If you think there's anything worthwhile on those disks, I'd be more than happy (as would several others I am sure) to help transferring them to a C64 disk image for use with C64 emulators (so it's archived) if you'd like to.
Warren Pilkington (Waz)
Zzap! 64, CF and HVSC Contributor
Flickr! - http://www.flickr.com/photos/zawtowers/
Twitter: @zawtowers
--------------------------------------------
Image

64KReady
Newbie
Newbie
Posts: 8
Joined: 31/05/2013 - 6:23

Re: Matt Gray Produced Box Set

Post by 64KReady » 28/08/2014 - 3:07

Thanks Matt – you just made my week (sounds like I got some of the details right at least).

The essay gets a lot of traffic from all over the world so I’ll provide a link to this post as well as to your Kickstarter campaign when it gets up and running. Otherwise, I’ve no doubt that once word spreads about your project there will be surge of interest and support, aided by capable minds like Waz.

I’m prone to exaggeration, but as far as I’m concerned your re-emergence (so to speak) is no less a cause for celebration than when Rodriguez reappeared in Searching for Sugar Man. This is to take nothing away from your work in-between – especially your success with Xenomania – but there was something unique and exceptional about your sound when you composed for the Commodore 64. I can’t wait to see how your project revisits this.

Ninja Sounds
Commodore Fan
Commodore Fan
Posts: 47
Joined: 24/08/2014 - 16:02

Re: Matt Gray Produced Box Set

Post by Ninja Sounds » 28/08/2014 - 9:29

Excellent news, confirming that you did indeed do the music for Yogi Bear. Explains why one of the Compunet tunes you did (Election) sounds the same melody. Many many thanks :)

Yogi Bear was published by Piranha, a subsiduary of Macmillan Publishing. I had a quick check of their back catalogue via Gamebase 64 and no motorbike game was published by either, so it seemed.

However, the programmers of the C64 version of Yogi Bear were Dalali Software, and they also had a motorbike game published by Mirrorsoft called Mean Streak:

http://gb64.com/game.php?id=4694&d=18&h=0

MP3 recordings of thae game music from the real Commodore 64 are here:

http://se2a1.iiiii.info:8080/soasc/inde ... ean+streak

Please do have a listen, and see if that brings back any memories for you :)
Dalali !! Of course. They were based in Croydon so I used to go into their office for production meetings. Can't remember the name of the lovely lady who was in charge, other than she was from India I think. Meanstreak was the game in question and straight away I can hear how rubbish the lead lines are because they removed the pitch bends and vibrato routines !! :? I have to say I'm amazed I got any work after that first effort. :shock:

Ninja Sounds
Commodore Fan
Commodore Fan
Posts: 47
Joined: 24/08/2014 - 16:02

Re: Matt Gray Produced Box Set

Post by Ninja Sounds » 28/08/2014 - 9:31

64KReady wrote:Thanks Matt – you just made my week (sounds like I got some of the details right at least).

The essay gets a lot of traffic from all over the world so I’ll provide a link to this post as well as to your Kickstarter campaign when it gets up and running. Otherwise, I’ve no doubt that once word spreads about your project there will be surge of interest and support, aided by capable minds like Waz.

I’m prone to exaggeration, but as far as I’m concerned your re-emergence (so to speak) is no less a cause for celebration than when Rodriguez reappeared in Searching for Sugar Man. This is to take nothing away from your work in-between – especially your success with Xenomania – but there was something unique and exceptional about your sound when you composed for the Commodore 64. I can’t wait to see how your project revisits this.
Thanks. If everyone else has even half your enthusiasm then the project should be a go-er. :D

User avatar
Waz
Forum Adept
Forum Adept
Posts: 812
Joined: 01/05/2003 - 22:23
Location: Croydon, England
Contact:

Re: Matt Gray Produced Box Set

Post by Waz » 28/08/2014 - 12:46

Ninja Sounds wrote:Dalali !! Of course. They were based in Croydon so I used to go into their office for production meetings. Can't remember the name of the lovely lady who was in charge, other than she was from India I think. Meanstreak was the game in question and straight away I can hear how rubbish the lead lines are because they removed the pitch bends and vibrato routines !! :? I have to say I'm amazed I got any work after that first effort. :shock:
I think we're all glad you did, and many thanks for confirming Mean Streak to be yours as well. I suppose the name Dalali makes a lot more sense considering there was an Indian lady in charge.

I'm sure there are many memories of working for software companies back in the day - stuff like Rob H working on Commando overnight at Elite and having it play on every C64 in the building for when everyone came in the morning, Martin Galway's tales of Wizball with the Sensible folks etc, Ben Daglish being offered a car by Mark Cale for The Last Ninja etc.

Actually, thinking ahead, that might be something nice for the box set - recollections from yourself of each of the tunes you're going to reproduce (notably of course if they're your own). I'm also more than happy to contribute any sleeve notes, which I did for some of Reyn Ouwehand's CDs..
Warren Pilkington (Waz)
Zzap! 64, CF and HVSC Contributor
Flickr! - http://www.flickr.com/photos/zawtowers/
Twitter: @zawtowers
--------------------------------------------
Image

Post Reply