Among the many, many things that I am terrible at is writing music. Sure, I can noodle around on GarageBand, and I can fiddle with my bass guitar with a bit of aptitude. But when it comes to making the music that I think a project like this requires and deserves, I have to defer to those with more experience and more of a head for such things. So I consider myself lucky to be able to have a real life friend locally who is an avid member of the video game music scene in Jesse Bishop (no relation) or has he’s known in the scene: The MetalBishop.

Q&A With Jesse Bishop

  • How did you get involved with Aeternum?

    I met Brooks on July 4th 2009 at a LAN party hosted by a mutual friend. We found that we both had a lot in common, mainly in the Video Game department. I was in awe over what Brooks was able to accomplish in his art and programming skills and have attempted latched myself onto him like a cancerous boil. I just knew Brooks was onto something and I really wanted to be a part of it.

  • What is your job on the team?

    I make music. We’ll have long discussions about stylistic motivations and themes for the soundtrack, but ultimately I draw my motivation from the gameplay itself. The visual composure comes together so well that you almost feel the “Vibe” of the moment. What I try to do is capture that, and put it down in my DAW, so that it compliments the gameplay, effectively.

  • What kind of credentials would you say you have in video game music?

    I have been in the video game remix “Scene” for a little over a decade. It started with a live performance act “Glitch”, where we would deconstruct NES music and rearrange it for live performances. Later I joined the now defunct “VGMIX” and have entered into several “Dwelling Of Duels” comps. I started the successful “Nevar Say Die! Compilation” series for “Concatenation Records, which has featured several major players in video game music such as Temp Sound Solutions, Rich Vreeland, The OneUps, Spamtr0n, XOC, Josiah Tobin, and Prizmatic Spray. And have also been on several “ChipTune” comps alongside heavy hitters like Jake Kaufman, Alex Mauer, Norrin Radd, Neil Baldwin, Shnabubula, Disasterpeice, and the great Arise_Shine.
    When I was younger, I would hook my tape recorder up to the mono RCA output of my NES and make mix tapes of my favorite videogame songs. I would listen to them for hours on end while drawing pictures of each level, from memory, when the corresponding song came on. I don’t know if i would call that a “Credential”. But damn, It shows a dedication to the craft, right?
  • How would you compare writing music for yourself vs writing a cover song vs writing for a game under direction?

    Writing music for my self is easy. I put my headphones on with no preconceived notion of an outcome. Most the time my mind is blank and I have no preconceived ideas. I mess around with a new VST or something then I find something I like. I build upon it, then I have a song. “GORLOK IS PLEASED!”. the end. That is how most all the “Junktron” stuff was created.

    Writing covers is harder. I have to listen to the song. Well, first FIND a song I want to cover. Then I have to think about “How would this song be different if Jesse Bishop wrote this song”. Usually it involves some down tuned guitars. Some compressed and squashed drums, ect.

    But the most challenging for of all is writing for a game under direction. I consider this akin to playing a game in “Hard Mode”. Creating what you think the director wants is hard. Yes, you understand what he wants, but is it coming out of your fingers? No. I welcome the challenge. BRING IT “HARD MODE”!

  • What is the hardest part of writing music for a video game so far? Is that specific to a SHMUP or to a doujin style game?

    I go into this project, Aeternum, slightly ignorant to the genre. I have always imagined working on a beat em up, or an RPG. But its good to force yourself to broaden your spectrum on video game music. Most the shooters I have played were with spacecrafts or dinosaurs, so that music felt more like power metal “chug chugga chug chug, you’re on your way” music. But then I was exposed to Doujin, most specifically “Touhou”. All I can honestly say is, It is a learning experience.
  • From where are you drawing inspiration? Any particular game/tv show/anime/movie?

    I would say I am influenced by a lifetime of listening to music and playing video games. For this project I feel like I am trying to channel synth pop jams like Talk Talk, Alphaville, Camouflage, Erasure, A-Ha, Melotron, Howard Jones, When In Rome, and Limahl. But put a chip tune twist to them.
  • What video game composer(s) do you look up to most?

    A few that pop right into my head are Jun Chikamura, I can remember the first time I got my hands on Super Bomberman 5 for the Super Famicom, the title screen music just blew me away. I had the music for that game on heavy rotation. Later when the internets came around I was surprised to see she not only did the music for Super Bomberman 5 but almost every Bomberman game.Yoko Shimomura, Street Fighter 2 was a real eye opener for me. I have a lot of nostalgia over the game and I attribute a lot of that to the games music. Also Super Mario RPG was the first RPG game that I actually really got into, I can’t immagine that game being as good without Yoko’s OST.

    Yuzo Koshiro, Easily one of the best video game composer of the 8 and 16-bit era. ActRaiser 1 and 2, Legacy Of The Wizard, The Shinobi Series, Ys 1, 2, and 3, And most importantly, all 3 Streets Of Rage games. Witch in my opinion are the best soundtracks of all time. I have easily listened to the SOR OST more than any other game soundtracks.

    I also am a fan of Jake Kaufman (Virt). I’ve followed him since 2002 when a friend introduced me to him. Its been fun watching him grow from a super talented tracker who posted his Impulse Tracker files freely on, to a super talented in house musician for a major video game publisher. I make a point to pick up everything he produces, he currently has the largest footprint in my iPods library.

  • When Aeternum is super successful and makes us all mega-rich, where do you want to go from there?

    Forward! I will make sure I invest those tens of dollars back into the adventure of making sweet booty moving video game music.

    In all honesty though. Us poor people are the ones who know how to spend millions of dollars, because thinking about how to spend millions of dollars is our favorite pastime.

Quick Hits!

  • Favorite SHMUP?

  • Favorite musical instrument?

  • If you could be any computer input device, what would you be and why?

    Does the Steel Battalion controller for Xbox count? Because I would want to be that. Because those things are freaking awesome!
  • Are you Ken?

    Sure You’re Ken!!!!!
  • Last song you listened to?

    the Free Credit Report .Com song.
  • Thing you’ve procrastinated with the most instead of composing?

    Recently, My broken house, my kid, and my job…. But mainly working on expanding my Video Game and Laserdisc collection.
  • Dogs or pancakes?

  • Art or hamburger throwing?

    This is a hard one. There are two Jesses. Primary Jesse says art. I’ve been an artist all my life. However there is another Jesse who prefers to throw hamburgers. That Jesse can be a real jerk sometimes. I feel the two Jesses are locked in an eternal struggle.
  • Nate Graves

    Takes nothin’ to realize you’re Ken. Don’t back away from the love you deserve again!

    Also, art and hamburger throwing are one and the same.

    We’ve talked about this before, but R.I.P. VGMix…manly tears. Great reading this interview. I didn’t see it beforehand because I am airheaded, but better late than never, right?


WastedBrilliance is an independent video game development studio run by Brooks Bishop. With contributions by Nate Graves, Jesse Bishop and Geoff Schultz.