With the rise of video game themed music and even compositions created on classic gaming hardware, RetroCollect decided it was about time to get inside a very talented game inspired musician's head. Mustin, who operates OneUp Studios also performs and records with the well known and catchy video game music cover band, The OneUps.
For those unfamiliar with The OneUps are in for a treat. The Arkansas based band has been doing their own versions of video game music using a wide range of instruments for over a decade now. Their hits include a stunning laid back arrangement of Donkey Kong Country's Aquatic Ambience, an upbeat rendition of Sonic The Hedgehog's most memorable theme- Green Hill Zone, and even their own take on the famous Super Mario Bros theme tune. Without a doubt, there is a lot of talent behind the band, but today we're focusing on the band's very own Mustin.
Interview with The OneUp's Mustin
RetroCollect's Katsu: Hi Mustin and welcome to RetroCollect, could you give us a little bit of a background on how you started getting into music production?
Mustin: A friend bought me a MIDI editing program as a high school graduation gift in 1999. I've been producing ever since.
RetroCollect: What separates you from the other producers?
Mustin: I'm not sure I'm all that different from other producers. But I do love all genres of music (except for Reggae) and take in a whole lotta influences.
RetroCollect: Why did you decide to focus on Game related music?
Mustin: It seemed to garner the most attention for me. Lately, my focus has shifted back to producing original material and remixing material for artists.
RetroCollect: What have been the high and low points on your journey so to where you are now?
Mustin: There have been some low points, but it's hard to remember them because there have been so many highs. Playing at MAGFest and PAX with The OneUps, getting to meet Sakaguchi (creator of Final Fantasy), having Gerard Marino show me a preview of the God of War II score in his car half a year before the game came out - just so many cool things that I'm very thankful for.
RetroCollect: What was your first gaming system & which is your personal favorite now?
Mustin: I can't quite remember but it was either the NES or a Magnavox Odyssey². I remember playing the heck out of both of them, though. My favorite was my next system - the Super Ninendo. SNES is still my favorite system of all.
RetroCollect: Do you collect for any systems?
Mustin: No, I'm not much of a collector. Though I will one day buy back the complete sets of Final Fantasy VI (III) and Chrono Trigger for SNES. I sold them in the box, mint condition years ago and I have regretted it ever since.
RetroCollect: Has anything eluded you so far in gaming that you would have liked to have got your hands on?
Mustin: When I was a kid and the SNES was hot, I remember seeing in a video game magazine about a controller for SNES that came out in Japan that was one-handed. I remember wanting one so bad. It was made for RPGs and such. I still want one to this day.
RetroCollect: Can you tell us the story on how The OneUps came to be?
Mustin: The rhythm guitarist (William Reyes) and former alto saxophonist/flautist (Nathan McLeod) approached me about wanting to play some tunes from Super Mario Kart. We put together a group and have been playing as a band for over 10 years now, though the line up has changed many times. We're all musicians and our arrangements have been incredibly diverse considering all of our separate influences. The band has never been "stale." And here we are, just a little ways away from releasing our 5th album, "Intergalactic Continuum."
RetroCollect: Which other artists inspire you?
Mustin: My favorites are MJ Cole, Shinichi Osawa's Mondo Grosso project, The Neptunes, and Hall & Oates. My music just reeks of them. And I love so many others too numerous to list.
RetroCollect: Is there a track you have produced which you like the end result the least if so which is it & why?
Mustin: Interesting question! I really had to think about it. I love all my tracks - they're like my children. Some are fugly, but they're still mine. The one track that stands out, though, is a Mega Man III arrangement of "Protoman" where I sequenced the piano instead of playing it. I every time I hear it, I wish I had played it in. That's about the closest I come to "least."
RetroCollect: Which track would you say is your most accomplished work?
Mustin: I think my latest work is always my best work because it has come as a result of constant learning. The track I'm probably most proud of, though, is "You'll Never Get Away With This!" off of my "Vision Quest" EP. It features Nerdcore emcee Beefy and is an arrangement of some of Skeletor's themes from the show "He-Man and the Masters of the Universe." I am so happy with that track, even though it's one of the tracks I've received the least amount of feedback on. Love it.
RetroCollect: Any regrets along the way?
Mustin: No, I've been very lucky.
RetroCollect: If you could change one part of gaming history what would it be?
Mustin: Up until a while ago I would have answered this with "Squaresoft never leaving Nintendo," but it would have been detrimental to Square. Now I say, the cross-3rd party fraternization, such as Sonic in a Mario game and Solid Snake in Smash Bros. I don't know why, but it just irks me so much.
RetroCollect: What series/titles from the past would you like to see updated to current platforms?
Mustin: The Legend of Zelda. I just don't like where they've taken the franchise. I'd like to see it get more mature. Like a Shadow of the Colossus visual style and less cutesy crap. Also, I hate it when the protagonist doesn't speak. I don't think it helps "immerse me in the experience" as it is intended. It takes me out of the experience when someone answers to something my character never said. Plus, I've hated how the villagers look and speak in Zelda games since Ocarina. My favorite isLink's Awakening. That's an awesome game!
RetroCollect: What do you have planned for the future?
Mustin: I'm looking forward to the near future as I am opening a new company and all of musical doings will fall under that umbrella. There's a great distribution deal and some big changes coming up. These are exciting times for me! Watch for more original and video game hip-hop collaborations, a solo album of classic Squaresoft arrangements from me, and much more.
You can find more information on Mustin and his work via these links below:
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