Composer Grant Kirkhope is best known for his work on classic games like Banjo Kazooie and Donkey Kong 64, as well as modern titles like Mario + Rabbids. He’s a well known name amongst video game music fans today, but back in 1995, he wasn’t sure he could even get a job as a composer.

In a new interview with Nintendo Life, Kirkhope gives new insight into the process of getting hired by Rare, including what was required for his interview, and how surprised he was to get the job with so little experience. Check out a snippet below:

I had to write three tracks to take down on cassette. I had to get a Batman-style orchestral piece, a guitar-based fighting piece because they were doing Killer Instinct at the time, and a platform-y Mario-style piece — I wrote those in the week between getting the letter and the interview. But I was in touch with Robin [Beanland] all the time he was there, so I knew they were working on Killer Instinct 2 because they’d done the arcade machine. And they’d made the news at Rare, because the Donkey Kong had done amazingly well, like 10 million sales and Nintendo bought it. I remember that made the News at 10 in the UK. It was a spectacular thing. I felt like I was going to royalty. I really felt like, ‘What chance do I stand? Really none at all.’ And I really didn’t know who Dave Wise was. I knew he was the boss, he was the head of music at the time, but I didn’t know much about him. And I just sat there not really knowing what’s going on in this mad farmhouse where Rare were at the time in Twycross.

And I got the job on the Monday. Couldn’t believe it. So I packed my stuff, went to live in Coalville just off the M1, and started working at Rare. If Robin had not done it, I’d never have done it. If he hadn’t had the forethought to think I could do that and say to me, ‘Why don’t you have a go?’, I would never have done it. It would never have entered my head. It was an absolute fluke.

[Grant Kirkhope, Nintendo Life]

It’s always fascinating to learn more about the behind the scenes of video game work, especially from an era when things were decidedly more “wild west” in many ways. Fortunately for us, everything in this story worked out, Grant Kirkhope got the job, and the rest is history!

Click here to read Part 1 of the full interview.

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