Sound Byte: The musicians behind The Sims 3
Find out how these musicians made it onto The Sims 3 on console and the soundtrack for The Sims 3: Late Night.
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Like the sims themselves, the music in the Sims games has evolved over time. Now that they are moving out of suburbia and into the big city, the sims need their own soundtrack to dance and thrive to. There are many artists that lend their talents to the soundtracks, and we caught up with some of them to see how they got involved in their music and how they stumbled into making music for games.
Below we have Mickey Factz who did "Dreamland" for The Sims 3 on console, along with King Fantastic (artists Killer Reese One and Troublemaker), Hadag Nahash (Guy Mar), and Electrolightz (Eroc, Name Brand, Rami Dearest, and Barry Romance) for The Sims 3: Late Night.
GameSpot: Tell us about yourselves and your musical backgrounds.
Mickey Factz: My name is Mickey Factz, and I'm an emcee. I have a love for art, fashion, video games, and women. As far as music, my father was an emcee and used to kick raps to me while I was in the womb. Also, when I would cry, he'd rock me while rapping. My mother would take me to church every week, so I have a huge love for gospel. Then she would always play soulful music. I love all kinds of music though.
Killer Reese One: I'm black.
Troublemaker: I grew up all over Southern California, went to college for a year in Ohio, dropped out, moved back to LA. I first worked at Epitaph Records, then started my own label and began producing hip-hop and drum and bass. Over the years I've honed my craft producing and remixing, and then found my comfort zone with King Fantastic and Rad Omen.
Guy Mar: Hadag Nahash was founded in Jerusalem in 1996, and the band's main interest is groove, in all shapes and sizes. The band has drums, guitars, bass, keyboards, brass sections, and a DJ. The general genre is black music, rap vocals, and lyrics including themes of protest. We've released six albums, all of which received gold status in Israel. Our songs were in the soundtrack for the film Don't Mess With the Zohan, and we've performed in different places around the world--the US, Europe, and Japan. We're also involved in different forms of activism in Israel. Our influences are as various as our members--from jazz to punk, hip-hop to rock, and dancehall. Most of our songs are in Hebrew, but some are in English, Arabic, and now…Simlish.
Electrolightz (Rami): We all come from different backgrounds. Name Brand grew up listening to hip-hop and started rapping at a young age. Rami comes from a rock-and-roll background and fronted an indie rock group called Something for Rockets along with Barry, who now plays drums for Electrolightz. Eroc, the producer, met Name Brand when he was producing hip-hop records a few years back. The group got together after Eroc and Name Brand put some musical electro songs together just for fun. Rami joined the group after hearing just two songs. The rest of you can watch on our YouTube channel, lol.
GS: What instruments do you know how to play?
MF: I can successfully play the trombone. I played as a kid. I played the drums about four times in my entire life. So fun.
TM: I can play a little bit of a lot of things, and I can program the s*** out of all of them.
GM: I'm the DJ of Hadag Nahash, so my instruments are scratching the turntables, samplers, and synthesizers.
EL (Eroc): All of us play many different instruments. I would say between the three of us we probably play 10 or 15 different instruments. It's funny that we are in an electro pop group, which is virtually all programmed beats and synths. But, our musical backgrounds are key to the creation of our music. At the end of the day, you have to write a good song.
GS: Is there an instrument you wish you knew how to play?
MF: I wish I knew how to play the trumpet better as well as the alto sax. I love the sound of the alto sax. So soothing. I also wish I could play the piano. It's like a universal thing.
KRO: Xylophone, cause Roy Ayers looks like he's having a great time.
TM: All of them.
GM: I wish I could play all instruments. I guess it's a wish all musicians share. But at the end of the day, I know how to play very little on each instrument.
EL (Rami and Eroc): Tuba. Sitar.
GS: What is your fondest memory when it comes to music?
MF: When I entered a rap battle in school with a rap book. By doing that, it ignited a fire. I wasn't supposed to do that. It's like an unspoken rule in hip-hop. Have the decency to memorize your lyrics! I didn't, and I got called out for it. That date would certify my determination to be great.
KRO: I have an evolving relationship with music. It would be impossible to pinpoint one memory.
TM: A couple that come to mind: Last year I deejayed President Obama's inauguration alongside De la Soul, Moby, Santigold, and Shepard Fairey; then, I went to Kenya and deejayed the Sawa Sawa Festival. Both were incredible and life changing. Separately, I've been going to see the Rolling Stones every couple years with my dad, all over the place, and that is pretty cool since he introduced me to them as a kid and they are both of our favorite group.
GM: I remember the first time I heard Pink Floyd's The Dark Side of the Moon. Anyone who's ever listened to this album knows what a spine-tingling experience it really is. That's the album that made me want to know more about anything related to music, sound, and musical production.
EL (Rami): Seeing Michael Jackson on the Bad Tour when I was a kid.
GS: How did you get involved with making music for video games?
MF: I met Raphaella Lima of EA sports, and we became the best of friends. It's surreal because I remember my first EA game that I owned. Bulls vs. Blazers for the Sega Genesis. I remember that the dunks were specialized, and the player had to be in a certain spot to make it happen. But I always remembered the cool music for it. I'm so glad that I've become a part of the EA catalog and got to work on rerecording a song for The Sims on console.
KRO: You bring a white person into the mix and several things can happen to you.
TM: I remixed and produced songs for different groups and caught the ears of the fine folks at EA. We've been friends ever since. I'm really lucky.
GM: We make our music regularly for our fans and audience. Every once in a while it'll appeal to commercial companies--sometimes in the film industry, like Don't Mess With the Zohan, and in this case, the gaming industry. Steve Schnur of EA Games has heard us before, liked our music, and offered us this great opportunity. It's the first we've actually made music for a game, and it's really cool. We'd be happy to go on and make music for more games; after all, we all love playing and the gaming world.
EL (Eroc): A couple of us are gamers, so when we had the opportunity to get on the Sims soundtrack for The Sims 3: Late Night, we were superexcited. Rami's old band, Something for Rockets, had also appeared on a Sims soundtrack back in the day.
GS: What were some of the challenges to creating music for The Sims? What was that experience like?
MF: Well, I played Sims one time, and I remembered they had this language called Simlish. I had to rerecord the verse a gazillion times! But I was definitely satisfied with the end result.
KRO: Rapping something that you have written in English to a specific tempo in Simlish is hard as f***.
TM: I laughed watching the above. It was fun.
GM: The recording for The Sims 3 was based on our song "Lo Maspik" ("Not Enough," in Hebrew), which is coming out now with a new video made in 360-degrees technology. It will be the third video ever to be made that way, worldwide. EA asked us to record the song in Simlish, which was very fun and challenging. We got completely different lyrics, which gave the song a new international feeling. It sounded like Spanish, German, and Japanese all together--pretty different than the original Hebrew lyrics! We ended up sitting in the studios and studying a whole new language. It wasn't easy, matching the Simlish with the way our language sounds, and it was a hilarious experience. But we love gadgets and games, and it was pretty cool trying something this different, especially for a game like The Sims!
EL (Name Brand): Recording for The Sims was probably the most difficult studio session. The translation of the Sims language was not that easy, but overall it was a hilarious and fun experience doing this particular record. Hearing Rami translate his singing had me on the floor laughing my butt off. Great times!
GS: What kind of music do you listen to now?
MF: I've gained a love for house, electro, and rock music. That music is great to work out to. You hear the bass and the intensity of the music, and you just want to go hard!
KRO: '80s R&B.
TM: I balance between bass music and feel-good stuff. Currently in main rotation are Arcade Fire, Autolux, Deadmau5, How to Destroy Angels, Magnetic Men, and The Dream.
GM: Right now I'm going back to different things from my record collection: Erykah Badu, NERD, Aphex Twin, and Drum 'n Bass from '97.
EL (Rami): We all listen to a mix of everything. A lot of hip-hop records. We are all really feeling Wiz Khalifa, Drake, and Arcade Fire.
GS: What are your biggest influences?
MF: Biggest influences are Michael Jackson, my mom, John P. Kee, Banksy, and Big Punisher. A culmination of these things make me who I am. I'm an entertainer who loves, has a fear of god, but fearless with his art. Lastly lyrical as hell. I'm influenced by those people and anything remotely close to being relatable to those figures.
KRO: The Raiders.
GM: My biggest influences as a rapper are Roots Manuva, Chali 2na from Jurassic 5, Biggie, Jay-Z. My biggest influences as a DJ are Mix Master Mike, Kid Koala, and DJ Shadow.
EL (Name Brand): Life seems to be our biggest influence. We write about what we know about: love, life, family, relationships, partying. It's all in our music.
GS: What projects are you currently working on?
MF: I'm currently finishing up my album as well as a possible new mixtape. We'll see though. Still working though!
KRO: It depends on what day this comes out.
TM: Right now we/King Fantastic are remixing The Bangerz and Jabbawockeez "Robot Remainz," as well as producing a few videos for our album. We're starting to figure out our next album as well. Also, I'm working on my other project, Rad Omen, as well as producing and remixing for different groups/people.
GM: We're currently in the middle of a long tour in Israel, and the promotion of "Lo Maspik" on Israeli radio stations. It's already a big hit, out of our latest album 6. We're also collecting lip dub videos of our song "Hasalon shel Salomon" ("Solomon's Living Room," in Hebrew) and editing them into the official video. We'd love to have Sound Byte readers in the video! For you, singing in Hebrew should feel like singing in Simlish. (Hasalon shel Salomon - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uDGl5VgejEE.) Other than that, we're trying to promote our music in other countries. On February, we're going on a US tour and starting to collect materials for a new album.
EL (Rami): We are doing a bunch of remixes for different artists in addition to creating new Electrolightz music. We also have a brand-new album on iTunes that everyone who plays The Sims should go out and get. It will make you want to shake your booty…in real life!
GS: Do you have tips for aspiring musicians who are trying to work in the industry?
MF: Be yourself and follow your heart. Consistency and being persistent. Also, quality and quantity should be on an equal measure. Once that happens, things will definitely begin to change.
KRO: Absolutely not. Have some other money, cause you're probably not gonna make it.
TM: Figure out what you are good at, maintain focus, and work harder than everyone else.
GM: Mostly to work hard, perform a lot, never stop creating, and keep in touch with your fan base. Hadag Nahash has been around for over 10 years, and some of these people have been following us the entire time. We've always believed in what we do and made sure to work together and make good music.
EL (Rami): Follow your heart, and if you truly love what you do, you should live it, breathe it, and eat it…and that will create a much happier life for you!!
Sound Byte is GameSpot's game music blog, which covers every aspect of music in games, including interviews with top game music composers and discussions of new and classic game soundtracks. The blog is usually updated on Fridays, but things might happen midweek too. Have a question or suggestion? Leave us a comment below. For a list of previous Sound Byte features, click here.