What is up good people! Today we have an interview with someone who may not be from Deviant Art, but many of you may know.
His name is Gavin Dunne. Irish born musician who goes by the moniker, Miracle of Sound.
For those of you who don't know, Gavin has been a musician for several years. But over the last couple of years has gained notoriety for his video game themed songs. From Mass Effect to Skyrim and even songs inspired by shows like Game of Thrones and Breaking Bad.
Gavin has crossed styles from dubstep to metal and always delivers. With five albums under his belt and over a hundred songs he is constantly pumping out music for those to enjoy and listen to and now he shares a bit of himself with us.
So...here we go!
So I know this is probably something that you answer quite often, but for those reading who are not all that familiar, could you tell us a bit about who you are and your work.
I’m not very good at describing myself, so let’s go with ‘Ridiculously handsome musical genius’? Haha. I guess I’d call myself a very nerdy music creator who likes to sing about the stories he enjoys.
Many aspiring artists and writers, like me, are attempting to make money with their craft but are currently working in non-related fields. You’ve mentioned that you are now able to make a living off your music thanks to Escapist, Itunes, and BandCamp. What kind of jobs did you do to support yourself before the past few years?
Oh, I’ve done it all... badly. Washing pots & pans in hotel kitchens, busking on the street, the world’s worst waiter, 3 years in a HMV store, I was even a cinema manager….. I got fired from a lot of them haha. Music is the only job I’ve ever been good at.
As it is a difficult process to keep things consistent and regular to keep revenue flow coming from your music; do you have particular habits during work to help keep the creative juices flowing?
Not really, I just work hard. I am very disciplined and am a firm believer that hard work is the answer to success. I usually spend 50-70 hours per week working on MOS. But yeah sometimes inspiration runs low and those can be challenging and frustrating times. It’s rare though!
I once watched an interview with Elton John where he prefers writing music in flats as it just works best for him and his style. How would you describe your style in creating your music? Do you prefer writing melody then lyrics? Flats vs sharps? Or do you just improvise to see what works?
I work in complete chaos! I have no set method really, no structure to my work flow. Sometimes I do a melody first, sometimes it starts with a beat or a riff – I don’t really have any rules. My workflow is a chaotic mess. As for sharps and flats, I can’t read or write sheet music sooo... no real preference there that I know of.
If you had to pick one, of all the styles you’ve written, which gives you the greatest challenges?
The biggest challeng for me is always coming up with a good chorus & hook that straddles that very thin line between catchy and singable, without becoming cheezy. It’s a very tricky thing to get right and I can spend hours or even days agonising over a song’s chorus. If your chorus doesn’t grab the listener then your song will probably not do very well.
I first found out about you looking for the Iz version of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” saw your version and then stumbled upon “Commander Shepard,” and have been following you since. How did you decide to write songs about video games? Was it an organic concept or something you decided to do out of boredom?
I wrote ‘Gordon Freeman Saved My Life’ to cheer myself up after my band fell apart and an album I spent 6 months working on got shoved in a hard drive never to be released. It did pretty well but it was when Commander Shepard exploded I realised there was a niche there waiting to be tapped into.
You’ve written music in a lot of different styles. What is your favorite type of music to perform live?
Honestly, I’m not really crazy about live performance in general. I get so nervous and scared and stressed, it’s just.. ugh. I am very out of practice too. My voice was just terrible this year at Escapist Expo and I am determined to get more practice in this year to do a better show. It is magical though when people sing your songs back at you. I like that part!
I love the comfort and permanence of the studio. Music you make there is solid, it’s forever. It lasts. You can also shape it and mould it with more precision.
You were diagnosed with Tinnitus. I know that it has made it difficult to do things live as it can aggravate the condition. Have you issues, not only with being able to perform live, but also with your production? Say for instance, do you not use certain effects because it bothers you more than it used to?
Nah, I just find the best way to deal with it is to ignore it. Sometimes that becomes impossible when it’s really loud but I am fortunate to be a gamer and musican because these activities distract me from it. On the downside, I spent my adult life training my ears and brain to isolate & recognise sound frequencies, so I probably notice the tinnitus more than most people would. It is really hellish some nights but I think I’m learning to ignore it now. It’s nowhere near as stressful as when I first got it.
In terms of games, what do genre do you find that gives you the most inspiration?
RPGS tend to have great stories & landscapes, so they’re my favorite ones when it comes to inspiration.
Since you write so many songs about games, do you find yourself looking at games from a more critical stand point because of your music or have you always been critical?
I play a lot of games nowadyas so yeah, it makes me not want to play games that waste my time. But I think most gamers are pretty critical, haha. It’s in our blood
Your former co-workers of “Extra Creditz,” did an episode about Aesthetics vs Graphics. Do you view music in games with the same regard?
Not particularly, modern tech allows game soundtracks to be as good as any other medium now so there’s an unlimited scope for variety & aesthetic orginality in them.
Music in games has always been an important factor in enjoying the game. I, personally, am a fan of stuff from the early gaming days. Though many of my favorites revolve around the “Persona,” “Final Fantasy,” series and many RPG games along with others. Do you have any gaming soundtracks that you find yourself getting lost in?
Deus Ex HR is a big favorite of mine when it comes to soundtracks. Also Assassin’s Creed 2 had a wonderful, haunting soundtrack that really fit the game’s aesthetic. The Elder Scrolls games of course have magical music and the Mass Effect series also has some amazing, stirring pieces in it. Sam Hulick is awesome.
Gaming is a lot about escape. Do you find yourself needing to be social online more often or do you prefer when gaming to keep it as more of an escape?
Gaming is my me-time. A lot of people don’t understand why I don’t like multiplayer gaming much. I spend enough time around other people in real life, so games are my chance to enjoy my own company and get lost. I prefer to socialise in a pub or at dinner - with people in the same room as me. I have maybe 2 or 3 good buddies online who I chat to every now and again on Skype and that’s it for me when it comes to web socialising.
During your Encore article where you discussed, “Rollout,” and the 2012 Escapist EXPO you said that your first comic of “Transformers,” helped you in a way escape from what was going on with your parents when your mother came out as a lesbian. How do you think this affected your views of gaming and the type of games you choose to follow?
It was my escape from life in general, not just parental issues. I was not a popular kid in school, got bullied a lot. I think it had a massive influence on which games I like, as it taught me that withdrawing into other worlds of imagination & stories was a wonderful way to experience something outside of reality in times when reality became really shitty. People are flawed and life is unfair. Stories are a nice way for us to find somewhere with more consistent rules and karma.
Many of us didn’t grow up in a situation like you did. Some of us never really had anyone to teach us about it. Do you think that with games today; with characters like Kanji and Naoto from “Persona 4,” the relationships in Bioware games, along with many other titles actually embracing the fact these characters are people is healthy? Or is it something that you feel may bring up unnecessary drama between kids and their parents?
I can’t say my own situation was the best way to learn about it to be honest. It resulted in more negatives than positives but not because of the sexual orientation but the way in which it impacted on our lives in the form of drama and estragement. I think the best way to learn about what gay people experience & feel is hanging out with gay friends and chatting to them.
As for gaming, think the medium is making progress in this regard (Gone Home being a great example this year). I do not see a problem with kids being explosed to stories about gay people, because anyone who thinks it will negatively affect them in some way is probably an ignoramus who thinks being gay is a ‘choice’.
What do you think about the gamers who raise a fuss over characters like this are created and that they don’t like being hit on? Say for instance, the complaints Bioware got about Hawke getting hit on by Anders?
Anyone who has a problem with that is either a moronic bigot or deep in the closet and getting uncomfortable at the funny sexy feelings it’s giving them in their repressed pants.
On a lighter note, as a fan who uses music as a way to express their appreciation, what do you think of people who do fanart, cosplay, and fanfiction?
I think it’s awesome! What better way to celebrate the stuff you love than by being creative & imaginative.
Do you think that this is a great way for others to hone a craft or learn skills that they’d otherwise not even attempt?
Fan art? Well I’m pretty much just a professional fan artist so yeah, I obviously think it’s a good thing haha
Do you occasionally find yourself looking at fanart, cosplay, and fanfiction? Or do you tend to focus more on the music fandom, like The Protomen, Malukah and BrentalFloss?
I don’t read fanfic but I do enjoy some fanart. And yes, I do like to listen to other people who do musical things like me. I LOVE Malukah’s stuff. Huge admirer of Malu as an artist, a producer and a buddy. She’s a good friend and a genuinely warm & lovely person. Dan Bull is also pretty amazing and a great guy.
Who are some of your favorite influences in not only the pop-charts but in the independent sector like you?
Oh man, have you got an hour or two? Haha! I have so many influences.... let me just rattle a few favorites off the top of my head... Kate Bush, Iron Maiden (they both do the same thing I do... writing songs based on stories they like) , Bowie, Peter Gabriel, Nine Inch nails, Devin Townsend... I love artists who try a huge variety of styles.
You’ve been talking about an instrumental album a lot lately. Is this an original work or still fan-based? If so, can we look forward to more non-gaming related music?
My fan based stuff is still original But yeah it’s a mix. Some of the songs are inspired by a pretty view, some by my time in New York (what a city), some by places in games... one track ‘Hitoshio’ is me trying to emulate the feeling Okami gave me. Another, ‘4am’ is meant to convey how I feel when I’m on one of my insomnia weeks. It was a fun album to make and it was a chance for me to relax and not have to focus on lyrics, structure and catchy choruses.
As for non gaming related music yes, I plan to do a lot of that in future!
Anything in regards to live performances for those near you or on the convention circuit?
Just Escapist expo. One gig a year is enough stress for me!
As we wind down I would like to ask what you think is going to be the most important thing for those trying to make their way as a professional in an artistic field?
Talent is only a little part. Hard work is everything. Be resilient, don’t let multiple failures get you down. Practice, practice, practice. Hone your craft. It has to be an all consuming passion. The people who are successful are the ones who give their all to their art every day.
And finally what parting words would you give to them?
Buy my albums!! Haha. Really though, I would say a massive thank you to everyone who listens to the songs & supports me because I could not do this without you all. I’d still be busking if it weren’t for my fans. You guys rock.
And there you guys have it.
Thanks to Gavin Dunne for this bit of wittiness and insight to himself.
If any of you are interested in hearing what Gavin's music sounds like, turn your attention to these sights
For the music videos www.youtube.com/user/miracleof…
For his albums be sure to check out Miracleofsound.bandcamp.com and Itunes for Miracle of sound.
Gav can also be found on the Escapist online magazine at www.escapistmagazine.com/video…
Gav updates his songs on Thursdays when he's into writing new music for the site
and be sure to check out his twitter under the name miracleofsound.
Thanks guys and I hope you all enjoyed!
I think my current favorite song of MoS is Under the Black Flag What can I say? Pirates.
Nice, really good read. Lots of really good questions
Thanks. And be sure to extend gratitude to Gavin as well. He's a busy guy and we were lucky he said yes.
Interesting read. Gav brought me here. I assume the paragraph after the "If you had to pick one, of all the styles you’ve written, which gives you the greatest challenges?" answer was supposed to be bold. Confused me a tad. :3
Sounds like an interesting musician!
Thanks a lot to you and Gav!
I was looking forward to this
You are most welcome. He was out at the pub last I heard via twitter so hopefully in the morning we'll see a retweet.