Those are some big overalls to fill
Last week, we shared Part 1 of an interview with composer Grant Kirkhope over on Nintendo Life. For anyone unfamiliar, Kirkhope is the composer behind games like Banjo Kazooie, Donkey Kong 64, Mario + Rabbids, and many more. Now, Part 2 of the interview is available, in which he continues to discuss his career with Rare and Nintendo.
One anecdote in particular will be of interest to Mario + Rabbids fans. Kirkhope details what it was like when he was first brought on to be a composer for the game. At the time, there was so much secrecy surrounding the project, he didn’t even know it was going to include Mario.
No, they never told me it was a Mario game. They said to me, “You sat there quiet for the first hour, we thought you didn’t like the game.” Because I was white as a sheet. Jet-lagged, for one, white as a sheet going, ‘How the f*** am I going to write music for a Mario game? Koji Kondo is the Jedi master. I’m just a Padawan. It’s not possible, I can’t do this game.’ I just thought, ‘I’m going to have to say, “I’m sorry lads, I just can’t do it. It’s not doable for me.”’
So, they showed it to me. It’s a great idea. I was equal parts sh***ing myself, equal parts excited. On the way back on the plane I was thinking, ‘What am I going to do? How am I going to do [this]?’ So, I just wrote the first tune that I thought would be [right] and they liked it. And it just kind of went from there. And the rest is history. [laughs]
Kirkhope also discusses what it was like to play around with the music of Mario, and his working relationship with Koji Kondo:
I had to do a couple of the ditty things from Mario — I did the [sings] Game Over Mario tune — for orchestra. I did it and I had to send it off to Koji, he needed to okay it. I’d got some of the harmony mixed up. Not wrong notes, just like the wrong octave or something like that. This is one of the moments that I’ll remember forever. They sent me an e-mail through Ubisoft to say, ‘Dear Mr. Kirkhope,’ super polite. ‘Love your arrangement of the Game Over tune. Could you just alter some of the notes?’ And they sent me a little bit of sheet music off the actual game. I just thought, ‘God almighty! I’ve sat here looking at the Game Over tune in music notation from…’ You just pinch yourself, ‘How am I doing this? It’s unbelievable.’ You know? How did I get to be the first Western composer, I think, to work with Mario? Just unbelievable.
It’s great to hear from someone as passionate about games and music as Grant Kirkhope is. It sounds like he was just as awestruck by his position as any of us would have been, and he knocked it out of the park!
Click here to read the complete interview, in which Grant Kirkhope discusses more of his video game history, as well as what games he’d like to compose for in the future.