Welcome to Sonic News Network's interview series: 12 Questions With! This week our interviewee is Lil Boulder. Lil Boulder is an electronic music producer who makes remixes and covers of songs from the Sonic series, and even a few original songs as well!
Without a further ado, here is 12 Questions With Lil Boulder!
What exactly got you into the Sonic series?'
- Honestly, it's all thanks to my uncle for introducing me to Sonic Adventure. Visiting his house with my older brother was like Christmas when I was a kid, he always had the latest consoles and fancy gadgets that were constantly advertised on TV, the kind that an impressionable young boy (AKA, totally me) would constantly wish he had his greedy little hands on.
- I didn't know much about the SEGA Dreamcast at the time, but when he showed it to us and proudly popped in Sonic Adventure to hold our attention, my fate was practically sealed and I was immediately enthralled. I was at the perfect age for something like Sonic to heavily influence me, to the point where I can definitely blame the series for my obsession with rock music and noodle-limb character drawings that would become a staple of my childhood.
- From that moment onward, I got into the habit of drawing Sonic all over my elementary school assignments. Totally worth it. Except for that time I got chewed out by my homeroom teacher, that was maybe not quite as worth it.
What got you into music production?
- I was always a creative kid along with my older brother, so growing up, the two of us would share story and character ideas with one another on an almost daily basis.
- On a whim, we picked up Marvel Vs. Capcom 3 on its release day, and that game's soundtrack resonated with my creative instincts like crazy. Every character had their own unique theme song that perfectly captured the essence of them through nothing but music, and I was just so fascinated by that and thought it was the coolest thing ever. I basically had the idea of hey, what if my characters had their own theme songs like in this game? Wouldn't that be awesome? I knew nobody was gonna make them for me, so I started looking up ways to make my own music, and the rest is history.
- It initially began as just a way to impress my older brother with something cool we both could enjoy about our silly made-up stories, I never expected my music to even be heard by anyone else but him. Crazy how things work out sometimes.
What was the first song/remix you ever made?
- That would be Splash Hill Zone: Act 1, from Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode 1. Really catchy tune! The game had just come out around the time I started learning how to create my own music, so before I set out to work on original theme songs for my characters I tried my hand at 'remixing' that track.
- Needless to say it was a terrible remix that... I mean, really only qualified as a remix by the vaguest of definitions. But hey, everyone's gotta start somewhere right?
On SNN, we have many articles dedicated to songs in the series; which game’s soundtrack is your favorite?
- Oh man, this is always such a hard question for me to answer. Can I cheat and say I love them all? No? Dang.
- My opinion changes depending on the mood I'm in, I sincerely enjoy almost every mainline soundtrack of the series. But if you were to sit me down and force me to settle on only one, I would probably have to give it to Sonic Adventure for having such a strong nostalgic hold on me. So many great tunes in there, I could listen to Emerald Coast and Windy Valley for hours if I wanted.
Who or what are some of your inspirations for your music?
- Jun Senoue, David Wise, Yoko Shimomura and Toby Fox are my prime inspirations when it comes to video game composers, along with a host of bands and musicians I listened to a lot growing up of course.
- Jun's use of electric guitars and his fast-paced frenetic catchy tunes shaped a lot of my musical tastes, and David Wise's work on the Donkey Kong Country series (and in particular, Tropical Freeze, which is one of my all-time favorite OSTs) is both legendary and incredibly inspirational. Yoko is my main inspiration for all things RPG, her iconic work on the Super Mario RPG soundtrack and, of course, the Mario & Luigi series has always been a big influence of mine.
- And do I really need to say anything about Toby Fox? The simplicity of his tracks yet their ability to become so ingrained in your head as you play through his games, it's insane to me. His use of theming and leitmotifs to really drive home the emotional impact of later story beats is something to behold, and only further proves how brilliant of a designer he is.
- ... I'm starting to realize how much of a fondness I have for music that perfectly captures the essence of something it's meant to represent. Huh. Neato.
Do you like Jun Senoue or Tomoya Ohtani’s compositions better?
- Oh come on how could you do this to me!? Don't make me choose! Well I think it's pretty obvious by now that Jun Senoue played a large role in my childhood and his compositions will never stop being incredibly beloved by me, so while I find Ohtani's work to be very impressive and inspirational, I'd have to give it to Jun as my preference for nostalgia's sake. But I love Ohtani's music as well, so good thing we get to have the best of both worlds.
Would you want to work on the music for an official Sonic game if given the chance?
- There'd likely be a ton of pressure involved, since the series is well-known for having some of the best music in all of gaming, so it'd be a pretty hefty task to work for an official title since expectations would be very high. That being said... OF COURSE! I'd be sure to give it my all! Working on a series that's meant so much to me for a majority of my life is dream-come-true material, I would be absolutely thrilled to work for an official game.
I’m sure plenty of people would love to know this: what are some of the tools you use to actually make songs?
- My primary DAW (Digital Audio Workstation, for those who may not know) is FL Studio, and it's been the main program I've used since I first began. Not to sound like a shill, but FL has always been really comfortable and user-friendly, aside from a few hiccups along the road I've had very few issues working with it. There are plenty of tutorials and videos online for it, so I'm never too far away from an answer if I'm struggling with something.
- Aside from that, I actually don't own any live instruments at all! I can play the drums and a mean trumpet, but everything I work with is digital (at the moment) and are the result of some pretty good VSTs or workarounds. So if anyone feels intimidated to work on music because they can't play or own any actual instruments, trust me, you don't absolutely need them to start creating something awesome.
I also know that you draw; is that more a hobby for you, or would you like to pursue it further in the future?
- I've been doodling since I was a kid, but it's always just been a hobby. I've often thought about creating stories and worlds for people to enjoy and get wrapped up in, but overall it's a bit harder for me to mentally approach my own art in a professional way or to work on things such as commissions/paid work. Maybe one day, but for now I'm comfortable treating it as just something I do for fun in my spare time.
We’ve been keeping track of the announcements for Team Sonic Racing on SNN; are you excited for the game?
- I'm not much of a racing game kinda guy so I haven't been very up-to-date with that title unfortunately. I've been into the music though, and I'm definitely looking forward to the full soundtrack once it's out! That's kinda the cool thing about Sonic games and spinoffs, even if it's not something you might personally play you can at least look forward to a lot of cool things that come with every release, whether it be the inevitably great music or super impressive fan works.
If there was one place in the Sonic world that you could visit, where would it be?
- You can't look me in the eye and tell me you wouldn't wanna hang out in Pumpkin Hill. Imagine the sick photos you could take there, there are giant pumpkin-shaped rock pillars everywhere, it's the coolest thing. And if a ghost tries to approach you, it'll get leery, so no worries there.
What can people do to support your works?
- Listening to and sharing my music with your friends or social groups helps my content to grow, so if you enjoy what you hear and wanna support me, it's as easy as spreading the word!
- Even then, just knowing people are checking out my art or listening to my tunes is an incredible feeling, and cliche as it might sound, I genuinely thank everyone for enjoying my stuff. It's been a wild experience sharing my creative content with you all.
Lil Boulder, thank you for interviewing with us!
This interview was conducted by Veralann