Three Years Later – Sky Force Reloaded and End Gameplay

Sky Force Reloaded is “that” game.  If you’ve spent hours searching games to find “that” one with good graphics, long term playability and the whole shebang, you’ll find it in Sky Force R. 

Continue reading “Three Years Later – Sky Force Reloaded and End Gameplay”

Track Review: “CANDY ☆ BABY” and “glitchaton_” by Zeno Lee

If last week’s fresh track (link to track review) was a bit of a downer, get ready for some real sunny beats this week.

You may or may not know Zeno Lee from his 2015 demo “Harajaku Boy”.  At a little bit over 7 minutes and 700 views, you could be forgiven for not hearing it; 700 views isn’t exactly 700 million.  Fast forward 4 years, and you get 2 pretty awesome songs:  CANDY ☆ BABY and glitchaton_. 

In the homogenous world of “emotron”, (see artists like ILLENIUM and pretty much whatever Seeb remixes), its hard to be different.  Even combining lyrics and glitch-hop barely appears on the radar because anyone with a credit card and a laptop can start shredding their music.  However, Zeno stands out with his inventive use of what seems like 8bit video game music.  Space Invaders and Donkey Kong, anyone?  This could be the first legitimate gaming music I’ve heard.

CANDY ☆ BABY certainly wouldn’t win any awards for its subject matter.  For its take on it though, it definitely stands out; with depressing stars like Billie Eilish, something happy is always appreciated.  That upbeat electronic beat with rising and falling sounds provides a great rhythm — despite being a child of the second millennium, I daresay that sounds retro.  Actually, as a child of a decade where everyone loves the 80s, I’d say that definitely sounds retro.  Beneath the instruments, Zeno’s husky voice shines through — did you know that it’s not all English?  There’s Korean and Italian too!  If you want to know the translations (and lyrics), scroll a little farther down.  

As for glitchaton_ (a real earworm by the way): first, there are pseudo electro vocals. Then we’re dropped right into a bass line, and a few hours later, you’re still planning an end of summer dance party and listening to this song.  Because it’s that good!  In a deeper look, the electronic lessens every now and then for a better listen to the lyrics.  With its inventive wording, steady rhythm, drums, and all sorts of electro, the background is great; with slightly understated music, the lyrics break through with shamelessly sensual lyrics.  The imagery is great too; its a sunny day, so lets jump into the sky blue sea!  Digiberry bubble gum, anyone?  Sign me up!  

This isn’t your average vacuous song; it really makes you think and stands out from the several hundred minutes of songs I’ve listened to this week.  And for that (and those previous reasons), I bestow a Bolt Award upon ‘glitchaton_’, for true uniqueness among aural media.  

And…. I was able to chat with Zeno and ask him some questions about his music! 

1. How did you first get into music?

I fell in love with music back in 1999, thanks to anime openings. I soon started to do researches on the internet about anime and ended up discovering J-Pop (Japanese Pop) in general. I’ll be forever thankful that such thing happened since, in fact, that’s still my favorite genre ever due to its absolute freedom in terms of creativity.

2. Where do you go for inspiration? 

I do not really have a very specific place… although I have to say that many of the melodies I create come to my mind while I’m working out or when I’m about to fall asleep. Maybe both gym and bed are a fair answer!

3. Who are your role models in music?

I personally have three role models, and I consider them so for different reason. 

The first Artist is Namie Amuro, someone who made music for over 20 years and who changed both J-Pop and Pop forever. She’s an incredible performer, her discography is incredibly diverse and includes so many genres (such as Eurobeat, Pop, Electronic, R&B) that she’s always able to  make her own. The main reason why I consider her one of my role models is that he went through pretty tough times during her career, yet she always fought for her dream, becoming a true legend.

The second Artist is a group called Perfume, a J-Pop trio. Perfume makes the greatest electronic music on Planet Earth, as simple as that. They pushed the boundaries of what can be considered a Pop song through their art, which includes a gorgeous digital pattern of melodies and sounds attached to it. They represent the future of music in my opinion, and I would not be who I am today without such influence.

To complete the list, I consider Carly Rae Jepsen an incredible songwriter. The way such a sweet Canadian lady is able to write so many perfect Pop songs is still a bit of a mystery to me. Since I’m a huge fan of “happy” and “positive” music in general, I find it fascinating how Carly Rae is also able to communicate sad or simply not so positive things in general through energetic beats (Tonight I’m Getting Over You and When I Needed You Are perfect examples). I also think she has the most beautiful voice around.

4. What is your creative process?

When it comes to that I think that the most “common” process when it comes to my music is represented by the creation of a melody, which I -don’t laugh” record with my phone, since most of the times I’m either not at home or about to fall asleep. Later when I get home I re-listen to that and, if it’s good enough, I start thinking about both theme and words to use. Once I figure out that, I analyze what’s missing in terms of structure so that I can fill that gap melody-wise. Once the structure is completed I write the lyrics and I record an a cappella version of it, to think about which sound and elements I should use. Later, I go to the studio and I try to do what I have in mind, it usually works this way although some changes tend to happen when I’m there. Being in the studio is my favorite part to be honest since, in fact, is a little bit like making your babies live.

5. I enjoyed your usage of other languages in your songs.  Could you translate them and describe their meaning in the song?

As someone who had the chance to study in several countries throughout his life and who’s been listening to music from all around the world since his early years, I consider being multicultural a beautiful feature that human beings should really try to implement, since we can all learn from each others. When it comes to the songs you listened to, I mainly mixed English, Italian and Japanese. 

In “CANDY ☆ BABY” you can find: 

– “Watashitachi” (Us) [Japanese]

– “Aishiteru” (I love you) [Japanese]

– “Saranghe” (I love you) [Korean]

– “Amaku sutekina deizu, watashi no number one star” (Sweet and lovely days, my number one star) [Japanese] 

– “Kira Kira” (sparkling) [Japanese]

– “Sumimasen” (sorry) [Japanese]

– “Anata-ga sukidesu” (I like you) [Japanese]

– “I can be your prince, più azzurro che mai” (I can be your prince, more charming than ever) [Italian]

– “Mi piaci” (I like you) [Italian]

With this track I tried to express the joy that you can experience while going through the sugar rush of a happy love, also adding multicultural elements to support this theme. You can go through love no matter where you are!

In “glitchaton_” you can find:

– “Shisen hazuse nai” (I can’t take my eyes off of you) [Japanese]

– “Ti divertirai” (You will have fun) [Italian]

– “Lead makasete” (I got the lead) [Japanese]

– “Espera” (Wait) [Spanish]

– “Ima ga sono toki” (Now it’s the time) [Japanese]

– “Deza-to wa ikaga?” (Would you like a dessert?) [Japanese]

The theme of this song is represented by a summer rendevouz, adapted to nowadays digital era. I always liked reggaeton, yet I never found a mix between such genre and the glitchy music I like, so I decided to use such theme to make something (I’ve) never seen before!

6. What inspired you to make these songs?  Any specific objects or people?

“CANDY ☆ BABY” has a long story… but I really saw its final form back in May. I was in New York and I stayed there for over a month, during such time I fell in love with someone who really made me smile after a long time, someone who literally turned me into a the sweetest kind of guy ever, making me think about presents, future and, of course, cheesy things to do together! I felt like those emotions were perfect for such an energetic tracks, and it worked, I say!

“glitchaton_” was born because I was listening to some reggaeton music one day, and I started to do researches about 8Bit driven reggaeton, finding nothing. That moment I decided I had to make it, mixing two worlds together. It’s great to experiment and I’m looking forward to do it again.

I also noticed that throughout your songs there’s a lack of gender-specific pronouns directed towards the subject of the song.  If you look at other songs, like Bruno Mars, they sing about “she” or “her”, but in your song there aren’t any specific references to a him or her.  So was this on purpose, so your songs could apply to anyone of any sexuality?  Or did it just kind of “happen” and wasn’t really on purpose.

Well, I think it’s great to allow as many human beings as possible to connect to a song, so that your message reaches many hearts. 

For these two tracks the main themes are both represented by elements (such as being in love, having fun) that several people can experience during their lives, not just me, so it was just natural to write the lyrics the way I did. There are a few songs I wrote in which I use gender-specific pronouns, but they’re not straight up love or party songs, they focus on very specific events, so the overall goal is different from my point of view.