I got the chance to chat with Meteo Xavier about his recent release Meteocrity Vol. 1. The album is a follow-up to his 2010 album Espers and is a collection of original material primarily composed on commission for video game developers. Meteo has made various connections with the arrangement community over the years, having been posted on OverClocked ReMix on more than one occasion and calling upon members to assist in the mastering of Meteocrity.
Among the things that inspired Meteo to put the album together, he noted that “I just got really sick of [the tracks] being on my hard drive purely unused after they failed to be published via the programmers and gaming leads that originally had hired me.” One of his intentions was to create a music portfolio for future video game commissions using the unreleased compositions. He also specified that, “I wasn't in any position to do another major project like my previous album. My hope was to show I could do more than experimental-sounding, heavily layered atmospheric pieces.” He considers game composers as influences in his own video game music. “Like every pretentious kid with FL Studio and a bunch of free soundfonts, I studied them in hopes of eclipsing them in the grand delusion that is my foray into music. I would have to say I took to Motoi Sakuraba and Hiroki Kikuta the best. Their music was the easiest for me to learn and digest. My rather repetitious forms come from Kikuta and my tendency to completely change up my tracks and have them go on forever came from Sakuraba.”
He elaborated on the "strict commissioner demands" mentioned in the Meteocrity Vol. 1 release notes. “Much of my early days trying to earn EXP as a composer were spent being far too naive and earnest for my own good. Granted I wasn't very good years before, but I genuinely believed I could rise to the task of being a not-for-pay Mitsuda and Uematsu. I had no idea what I was getting into - a sentence that basically is my music career in a nutshell. Spending hours making changes, waiting weeks to hear responses, and then after much severe burnout finding out the tracks won't work or the game is cancelled basically means ‘strict commissioner demands’ is the utmost generous term I can have for the freaks I used to work for.” Recently he has discovered more pleasant employers: “Mark Udit is my first paying employer and was good to work with. I'm currently working on a soundtrack for a Tower Defense game by Mike Bosetti for Android that I should be finishing up on.”
Meteo stated that his technique for composing video game scores and for creating standalone music are both the same. “I sometimes go in with a specific idea of what I want to do, but the music will not let me control it; it does what it wants to and my job as composer is basically to clean it up. Sometimes it starts with experimenting with sounds and structures and just playing around, and a lot of my music starts out as just practice or something I made that I kinda liked and saved to develop into something later.” He went into further detail on his process for creating a game soundtrack. “If I go in straight to do a new game track from scratch, I typically try to start with drums and bass to get a groove and some energy going first. I listen to it and see if I can build something off of it, then I go in for chords and rewrite the bass to accommodate the chords. I usually only do for about 4-8 bars and then add the accompaniment frills - arpeggiations, motifs, stabs, what have you - fill it up as much as I want, then I write a melody on top of it and use that for a start.”
Daniel “Usa” Lippert and Jordan “bLiNd” Aguirre were involved in the mastering of Meteocrity Vol. 1. Meteo described how this process came about: “When it came to do mastering for the album, the guy who was previously set up to help me basically screwed me and Usa offered to do it at a severely reduced price. bLiNd also mastered five tracks for me originally for a game I worked on in November 2010 and did a sweet job. I was extremely fortunate for their help and generosity. Daniel and Jordan are two of the nicest guys in all of Christendom and I will bludgeon anyone who says otherwise.”
Meteo explained his decision to release Meteocrity Vol. 1 on the Wardriver label. “I'm friends with my brothers' old bandmate of whom I approached with the idea to do a free video game album for and he liked it. But at the time telling me he'd master it and put it on there, he was also putting off his commitment to me to go on tour twice and basically leave me in the lurch. I looked for other netlabels and there is a surprising dearth of them for just original video game material and someone finally said Wardriver. I quite liked the idea of working with them to get this album through and, I hope, help get even more traffic and attention their way. ThaSauce treats me with respect as an artist and I cannot let that favor (because that’s what it is these days) go unrewarded.”
He also made his first ever compo entry fairly recently on ThaSauce. Meteo described that experience, and what he took away from it. “I wish I could've done a better job with it. Although there was a point where I could've been, I'm just not a compo guy. I don't have it in me to start up the creative process and speed through a song on a time limit. My greatest bane as a musician is that I don't work very fast. Someday I'd love to have another go at the compo, but these days as I work to market two albums, on two record labels, plus some new book publishing stuff on top of a full time job and a good wife I come home to, the time just doesn't line up for me currently.”
Meteocrity Vol. 1 is available for free alongside other artist releases on Wardriver. Meteo expressed gratitude regarding the response to the album. “I want to thank everyone who has posted anything anywhere promoting, endorsing and enjoying this album. Plus those who helped me bring it to life in the first place.”