Let's take a look behind the curtain and learn a little bit about the many people who make RPGMakerWeb amazing! For our first RPG Maker Feature, let's focus on one of the many many DLC creators who make RPG Maker games sing, musical composer Murray Atkinson!
How long have you been an artist?
I’ve been making music pretty much my whole life! I started writing music when I was a teenager, and never looked back. I’ve been composing music specifically for games and game developers for about 8 years now. But I spent many years before that honing the craft and art of recording, building up a home studio and writing and recording music in a bunch of genres for various projects.
Tell us about you childhood years and what inspired you to become an artist?
I started taking piano lessons at age 4 and took lessons through until I was 19. I got a guitar for my 10th birthday and basically taught myself how to play by listening to records. And I was always interested in creating my own music and was already writing these silly little pieces on the piano by the time I was 10 or 11. I think the inspiration initially came from realizing that it was something that I really loved to do and that inspiration has pretty much stayed with me the whole time. It’s a labor of love for me, I love sitting down in my studio and creating and recording music, no matter what the style or genre, a lot of times I simply get inspired by the process of actually making it. Of course when I was a teenager I was into all the rock bands that were big at the time and that was my dream was to play in a band and be that guitar-player guy, and I’ve got to do that a bunch which has been fun, but ultimately the inspiration comes from simply making music that I truly enjoy making.
What are some of your career highlights?
I suppose winning a couple of awards was pretty gratifying artistically. In 2007 I won the Vancouver CFox Seeds battle of the bands contest placing first out of 500 bands and that was really motivating to take things to the next level. And then in 2012 on a whim I entered the USA Songwriting Competition and ended up winning the alternative hard rock category, which was a complete surprise and again just something that motivates you to keep doing what it is you’re doing. Ultimately it’s not really about winning things though, those are just nice little feathers for your cap that are nice to have come along once in a while since it sort of validates that somebody else thinks that what you’re doing is worth something. But besides that I’ve been pretty fortunate to get to do some pretty special and unique live gigs. Probably the coolest and most fun gig we had with my band The Odds was getting to be the Vancouver Canucks house band during their playoff run in 2011. We got to perform in the arena 4 times every home game, we would play for about two minutes during the commercial breaks with our gear set up on the steps amongst the fans in the stands and it was a total blast. We would do our two minute bit and then we would hang out and watch the hockey games and ended up getting to do that all 4 playoff rounds up until the very final when unfortunately they lost to the Boston Bruins at home in game seven, but we got to be there and we got to rock 16,000 people every night! We also had some amazing special guests join us like Elvis Costello, Randy Bachman, Paul Rodgers from Free / Bad Company, and a bunch of very well known Canadian musicians as well. Don Cherry even grabbed a guitar and joined us for one of the performances! Of course it wasn’t plugged in, but he still rocked pretty darn hard!
What kind of gear and / or software do you use to create your packs?
I mainly use Logic Pro, sometimes I use ProTools but mainly work in logic. Over the years I’ve amassed a collection of pretty fantastic music sample libraries. My go to favorites are a lot of selections from the Spitfire audio, I have a bunch of their libraries including all the Albions, the Bernard Herrmann orchestra, eDNA, chamber strings, solo strings, Symphonic woodwinds, Studio brass, plus a bunch of East West orchestral libraries, and I’ve also used the Silk and Ra collections lots, especially for the eastern flavored Heaven and Earth music pack.
Tell us about your creation process.
Once I’ve chosen a theme for a pack I try to listen to a bunch of different music in that style and get a feel for which instruments they tend to feature and then from there it’s just a matter of sitting down and fleshing out all the parts. I don’t really have a structured approach in that I’d start with certain instruments and stick to a usual instrumentation order, sometimes I’ll sketch out the melody and chords on a piano and then convert that into different orchestral instruments. Or sometimes I’ll just start with cellos and create a groove with strings first and then add everything else to it afterwards. It really depends on the song and the vibe that I’m going for.
Would you say you’re the type to binge-create or do you pace yourself when working?
Haha definitely a binge creator! When I get on to something that I feel is good I have a hard time putting it down for anything else. When the ideas are steam-rolling out I really don’t want to stop that train, that’s usually when the best stuff comes out so I try and see it through as far as possible to maximize capturing that initial magic.
What’s the latest software / plugins you use when creating that you absolutely love?
As I mentioned before the Spitfire libraries I could not do without, but another one I’ve been really getting into lately that I’ve actually had for about four years but just never really dove into it is Omnisphere 2 by Spectrasonics. The more I dive into the different patches and sound possibilities the more I am amazed by the versatility and creativity that I discover. And there’s so much really amazing usable sounds that if I’m stuck for something in a section where I need something that’s completely different or out of the box, Omnisphere is a fantastic place to usually find something that fits perfectly.
How did you become involved with creating asset packs for Degica?
Well it’s like they say, in life sometimes it’s not what you know, but who you know! I actually went to high school with Jack Momose who runs Degica, and he asked me to make music packs for them back in 2013, when they were just starting the whole DLC asset pack thing and building up a roster of creators. And I absolutely loved getting to create a whole brand new style of music, up until then I had really only been playing or recording rock music, but this opportunity afforded me the chance to make a complete left turn and do something that I always dreamed about which was composing orchestral music and having an outlet for creating all kinds of different music.
What are some of your favorite games?
I don’t play too many games but the main game I’ve been playing for the past year is Sekiro by From Software. I love the graphics and the world that they created, based on 15th century Japan. I love roaming around that world, the scenery and graphics are truly gorgeous and stunning, and the battle sequences and play is really quite adaptive and amazing. But I really suck at it and every boss I encounter usually takes between 40 to 50 tries before I finally beat them!
If you could bring one game character to life and meet them who would it be?
Dirk the Daring! He was such an animated character (literally!) I would love to go on an adventure in a castle with him leading the way it would be awesome!
Most difficult boss battle?
Guardian Ape in Sekiro. I finally beat it the other day but it literally took me almost 3 months of trying. After four or five attempts I would just give up and go grinding through other areas until I got up enough courage to try him again and I literally did that cycle probably almost 30 times.
Any bosses you’ve ever had to google how to beat?
Yup. Pretty much every one in Sekiro!
What hobbies do you have?
Depends on the season but when it’s nice out I like getting out in the kayak and paddling around the local lakes and waterfront. In the winter I like putting the skates on and going to the local ice rink for drop in stick n puck. And I’ve been getting into a bit of photography lately, mostly outdoor nature kind of stuff.
Do you have any favorite movies, filmmakers, books or authors?
Yeah my favorite author in recent years is a guy named Olen Steinhauer. I love the Tourist trilogy. It’s really amazing spy novel / black ops fiction series that’s extremely well written and super engaging.
What’s your desert island album or CD?
Chris Cornell Euphoria Morning. It’s so haunting, dark, but the songwriting is absolutely incredible and of course you can’t compare to his voice.
Favorite sport and / or sports team?
These days my go to sport to watch is baseball. I’m not a hardcore sports person but I like watching the Toronto Blue Jays play. They’re the “home team” even though they’re over 3000 km away!
Do you play sports or have you ever played sports competitively?
High school basketball was the last time I ever even tried to play sports competitively. I only played probably less than 10 games and barely even scored any baskets. I realized pretty quickly that sports were not my thing and it was music for me!
If you could time travel to any location and any time where and when would that be and why?
I would love to travel along the ancient silk road in China about 1000 years ago. To see the temples, mountains, bazaars, travelers, deserts, experience something completely different and experience such a completely different way of life I think would be an amazing journey.
If Degica was having a BBQ and you were invited and had to bring one dish for everyone what would it be?
I would bring my Parmesan and garlic baked broccoli dish and yes, you would invite me back!
What’s your favorite asset pack of yours / asset pack you’re most proud of?
I would say maybe The Emporium of Copper and Steel. It’s the biggest and probably the most comprehensive pack I’ve made, over 30 songs, with lots of different orchestral combinations and instrument varieties. It’s all geared towards Steampunk flavored themes and there’s the usual orchestral pieces but also some real heavy industrial metal style themes, some Victorian era harpsichord pieces, some spaghetti Western style stuff, music box pieces, lots of stuff!
If you had to pick only one of your asset packs for people to get to know you which one would it be and why?
Probably the Emporium of Copper and Steel as I mentioned above. I think the variety is a good starting point that if you like it then you might like my other packs as well. It’s a good all-in-one sample of what you will find in my other packs.
Where can people find you online?
You can find me at my site! https://www.murrayatkinson.com