Saturday, February 18, 2012

Composer Spotlight on Rexy

Beverley Wooff aka Rexy has been involved in remixing since 2004 and has made a mark on the arrangement community. From her earliest days at VGMix to her recent contributions to OverClocked ReMix and its various fan remix albums, Rexy has had her hand in multiple successful projects. Additionally she puts out a video blog on her YouTube channel wrapping up her thoughts on current releases by the community. As an active participant in composition compositions, she has seen herself improve and witnessed the rise of musicians in her peer group. I asked Rexy a few questions about her influences, her tenure as a compo organizer and her recent projects. 

Regarding her earliest exposure to music and how that influenced her current approach, she revealed that, “My first experience with a musical instrument must've been with the elementary school piano when I was about five years old. Eventually I'd learn the craft; the way a piano can interpret so many different styles of music left me open to expand my listening horizons too. This transferred over well to my current style of composition, even outside of piano solos.” Rexy explained her common workflow methods: “I'd plan everything out on paper first to cut the chances of artists' block, and then spend time writing the tracks out in Cubase and spending some additional time producing and getting a second opinion before getting the track out there properly. My soundbank has been changing over the years; currently it consists of many Native Instruments’ Garritan, Addictive Drums, Zebra, EWQLSO Gold and a handful of freebies I looked into over the years. My current solo piano weapon of choice is Alicia's Keys for its more delicate tone, though I do want to explore many more down the line, wallet permitting.”

As an avid entrant in compos, Rexy has shared her work and gained feedback from others. She detailed her early experiences in such competitions: “I got to hear about the Dwelling of Duels back in around 2004, followed by the People’s Remixing Competition (PRC) not too long after; in mid 2005 I finally got around to start taking part in both. What I find compelling about competitions is getting the chance to make music to accompany the corresponding theme. It's a great way to be heard, but also hard because you also have to think about what the voters want to hear too: tastes, production values, composition... It's hard to understand at times. But generally, if you understand the theme, give it your all and make something enjoyable, you'd often be proud of what you did.”

Among her contributions to the arrangement community, Rexy is also known for her tenure as an organizer for PRC. She recalled the events that led to her being handed the reins: “PRC round 65 was a bizarre event; at that point, the original host reelmojo decided to do a mid-season tie-in, in which the source tune was the Team All-Stars theme from Super Dodge Ball (SDB); the winner would go on to represent that source on Walan's SDB project Around the World. While it started out fine, the voting phase faced a delay because of reelmojo’s disappearance, extending close to PRC66's start date. As the winner for PRC64 I decided to take PRC66 into my own hands and let Walan host the voting for PRC65 alongside it. Then it was found out that reelmojo's internet problems meant he could no longer host it, and so it was decided that my position as host was made permanent.” 

Rexy further elaborated on the responsibility of running a compo by saying, “There was a lot of organization: keeping the inbox open for votes; getting MIDIs and MP3s ready; updating my forum signature every two weeks; noting that the dates for the mixing and voting stages are met; making sure the previous winners have their source material ready; and validating all submissions to make sure they fit the guidelines.” She added that despite the numerous duties, “I found it to be an enjoyable run with encouraging people to participate in things like this and get their foot out the door.” Her tenure ended at PRC130, and the torch was passed to Bundeslang, who continues to run it to this day. Rexy explained the reasoning behind her departure: “It got harder during season five when due to real life strains I felt I was getting more distanced from the community, and just as well that by PRC130 I had just started employment and took on a new responsibility.” That round gained an enormous turnout of participants and included acknowledgements of her contributions to the compo: specifically Hylian Lemon’s entry titled “We Love You Rexy” and analoq’s “cheers, rexy”.

Rexy looked back upon the experience with fond memories and noted that, “During my time I saw the competition as the launching ground for several newer artists who went on to be huge names within the community.” She pointed out avaris, Flexstyle, Joren de Bruin, Nutritious and Mattias Häggström Gerdt as examples. Several remixes from PRC later became posted on OverClocked ReMix, including Bladiator’s "Fast Cars, Russian Cigars", Suzumebachi’s "The Final Stretch", Showroom Dummy's "Pixelated Tales" and Heath Morris's "TimeShock". Theory of N's PRC130 entry "I Love This Radio" later appeared as a bonus track for the OCR album project Echoes of Betrayal, Light of Redemption. Rexy concluded her thoughts on PRC by stating that it “served as a great outlet to get newer blood started out, and to just have fun making music.”

I asked about her recent projects, including her participation in the Wily Castle Remix Gauntlet (WCRG). In an unusual turn, Rexy recorded her vocals in a team-up with Brandon Strader titled "Liquid Metal". She explained how this collaboration came about: “Brandon had wanted me to provide vocals for one of his works since he found out my microphone settings — intended for things other than singing, mind you — and thus the WCRG arose as a funny opportunity as he wanted to do a comedy metal entry for one of his submissions. He asked for a demo of what I could do, felt that my metal screams bombed (rightfully so!), and then later on we spent a night together on Skype trying to get me to improve the art of death metal growling. Then the next day he gave me the lyrics; I sent him five different takes with the intent of him just using the best parts of each, though as it turned out he layered every single take into that mix for some strange aquatic effect, which came across as unique and worked.”

Rexy concluded that, “Doing ‘Liquid Metal’ boosted my vocal confidence, though my reasons for not doing them often comes down to even my normal speaking voice rubbing people the wrong way in regards to tone and accent. Given the chance I'd still get to sing just for fun, though hearing my voice back on actual recordings without flinching may be another thing altogether.” Aside from her singing adventures, she also narrates a video blog summarizing arrangement community projects via her YouTube page. Rexy offered some closing advice for compo hosts and entrants alike: “Just sit back and have fun. Then you can look back afterwards and remember this legacy fondly, wherever it may lead.”

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