About this project
Hello friends! Mazedude here. Thank you for taking the time to visit my very first Kickstarter campaign.
About American Pixels
Well, I’ve been arranging game music for over 15 years now. I’ve been a part of some amazing projects, I’ve made some great friends and connections … I’ve even had the opportunity to have original Mazedude music featured in a couple video games, which is pretty sweet.
You’ve probably seen my name show up on various arranged albums via Overclocked Remix, the Bad Dudes, and more. That said … American Pixels is something unique, and it’s a very special project to me. And, it’s several things at once.
The American Album Sequel
Yes, first and foremost, this is a sequel to the album I released over 10 years ago, simply titled “The American Album.” At the time, it was the first-ever tribute to American game composers, in a scene where pretty much every remix project was an ode to Nobuo Uematsu, Koji Kondo, or Yasunori Mitsuda. And while there's no problem with that, I felt there was a lot of great talent here in the U.S. deserving similar recognition. So, I set out to turn the focus around and honor the likes of Jeremy Soule, Tommy Tallarico, Jack Wall, The Fat Man, Peter McConnell, Alexander Brandon, and others.
Ultimately, it was a success; the music was well received, it raised awareness, and the composers appreciated the gesture.
Fast forward to today, and there are a lot of new games, new faces in the industry, and a lot of composers that weren’t on the first tribute. So this time around, I’ve added to the list of honorees by including guys like Garry Schyman, Ron Fish, Jake Kaufman, Jason Graves, Matt Uelmen, Jimmy Hinson, Gerard K. Marino, and others.
Without further ado, here’s the official track list:
- 1. The Dragonborn Concerto [Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim] (Original Theme by Jeremy Soule)
- 2. Liquid Tribes [Puzzlejuice] (Original Theme by Jimmy "Big Giant Circles" Hinson)
- 3. Aurelia for Trombone [Advent Rising] (Original Theme by Tommy Tallarico)
- 4. Switch Force Ballad [Mighty Switch Force 2] (Original Theme by Jake Kaufman)
- 5. Agent Sprawl [Dead Space 2] (Original Theme by Jason Graves)
- 6. Purple Streets [Sam and Max Season One] (Original Theme by Jared Emerson-Johnson)
- 7. Maniac Muzak [Maniac Mansion] (Original Theme by George "The Fat Man" Sanger)
- 8. Metropolis for Guitar [DC Universe] (Original Theme by Gerard K. Marino)
- 9. Angelhenge [Brutal Legend] (Original Theme by Peter McConnell)
- 10. Tribal Clayface [Batman Arkham City] (Original Theme by Ron Fish)
- 11. Bernard Electric [Maniac Mansion] (Original Theme by Dave Govett)
- 12. Transponder Mission [Mass Effect 2] (Original Theme by Jack Wall)
- 13. Big Sister Matti [Bioshock 2] (Original Theme by Garry Schyman)
- 14. Tristram in Flames [Diablo] (Original Theme by Matt Uelmen)
A New Kind of Fusion
Additionally, this is a vehicle to make some really cool music, and in so doing, craft some very interesting (and challenging) performance pieces. I’ve always liked the idea of an instrumentalist (acoustic or electric, doesn’t matter) performing a virtuoso-caliber solo over electronic accompaniment. And while you may find that in the world of neoclassical, much of that fare tends to be more avant-garde, and less upbeat or, well, kickass. So I’m setting out to change that as well, and have called upon some very talented guest performers to lend their abilities to the project. When their flavor gets fused into this project … wow. It just takes things to a whole new level.
Currently, the roster of guest performers includes:
- David "Dhsu" Hsu (Bad Dudes) on Concert Piano
- William Reyes (OneUps) on Classical Guitar
- David White (David White Jazz Orchestra) on Trombone
- Maho Azuma on Flute
- Matt Vacanti (E.S.P.) on Electric Bass
- Jennifer Vacanti on Marimba
- Waleed “zyko” Hawatky (Bad Dudes) on Electric Guitar
- Kunal Majmudar (Bad Dudes, Smash Brothers) on Keys/Electric Piano
- Sean “Ailsean” Stone (Bad Dudes, Smash Brothers) on Electric Guitar
With this project, I’m going all in. Proper mastering, licensing, getting the CD printed, etc. Simply put, that requires funding. The 14 tracks represented in the list are already finished, so that’s not the issue.
But … I’d also like to keep this project alive, and continue to release tracks along the same theme for free, far into the future. There are a lot of composers that I didn’t get to include on this CD, simply because I ran out of room! I’d like to honor them properly, too. I have ideas in mind (and even some works in progress) for tributes to Michael Land, Cris Velasco, Winifred Phillips, Danny Baranowsky, Christopher Tin, Michael Giacchino, Clint Bajakian, and many others.
Speaking of which, here’s a bonus track as a thank you for reading this far! Below is a remix of the Asteroid Dance theme from the game Tyrian, originally by American composer Alexander Brandon.
“The Beautiful Spaceships”
(The above track is cool, but I ultimately felt its style was a bit too dark for the CD itself.)
I’d also love to write some more solo or even ensemble performance pieces, and let instruments from all families have a chance to rock out over a video game remix, fusing electronics with the classical and beyond. And, I’d love to release the sheet music for the solos that are already completed. The list goes on. Hence the stretch goals.
This project has been a journey. Five+ years in the making. Since the time I started it and now, my life has changed dramatically … I’ve become a father, I’ve gone through a career shift, and much more. I’m sure you can look back at the last five years of your life and make similar claims. It’s all good; life happens, and I thank you for taking this journey with me. Heck, thanks for taking the time to read this, and of course, thank you all for your pledges. I really appreciate it, and I can’t wait to show you the finished music!
Initial Goal - $5,000
Let’s get this thing done. We just need to cover the costs of mastering, licensing, CDs, and all the rest.
"Baba Yetu" Remix - $7,500
Help me reach $7,500... and I'll remix this piece next, as a follow-up bonus track:
"Baba Yetu" - By Christopher Tin, from Civilization IV
(For those who are unfamiliar, this is the Grammy award-winning theme to Civilization IV, featuring the Soweto Gospel Choir. The lyrics are a Swahili language-translation of the Lord's Prayer. Read more here.)
I've actually received several requests to remix this track over the years, and while I also love the theme, it does present certain... challenges. But, help me reach the stretch goal, and I'll make it happen. Can't say yet whether it'll be with a choir, an instrumental solo, or otherwise, but... I have ideas. :)
Sheet Music! - $10,000
All sheet music and stem files for recording and live performance will be made available on the American Pixels website (including any future and/or commissioned tracks as well). Would you like to perform any of the solos presented on the album, or know someone who would? Let’s make it happen.
It’s Aliiiiiive! - $20,000
Thank you! Seriously, a huge THANK YOU for all your support! The project will live on; future remixes will continue to be crafted in the same theme, and released for free into the future.
Star Spangled Chips 2! - $25,000
A purely 9-bit EP will be set in motion for free future release, like the first EP, but bigger and badder. The following list is purely tentative (and could certainly get longer), but does represent some clear ideas I have in mind that I think would fit the chiptune aesthetic beautifully.
- Sisters of Fate [God of War 2] – original theme by Gerard K. Marino
- Monkey Island Theme [Curse of Monkey Island] – original theme by Michael Land
- Welcome to Rapture [Bioshock] – original theme by Garry Schyman
- Sweet Little Dead Bunny [Doom] – original theme by Robert Prince
- Plight [Infamous 2] – original theme by Flea
Should the above be fully met, I do have other stretch goals in mind, including other albums of different themes, American Pixels live in concert, music videos, and more ... but let's start simple and I'll add to this as the campaign goes on. :)
Special thanks for their assistance with developing this Kickstarter page: Randall Drew, Jimmy "Big Giant Circles" Hinson, Kunal Majmudar, Mustin, Matt Spears, Sam Kenyon, Jayson Napolitano, and Tommy Tallarico.
Album art by Randall Drew and Mazedude.
Also, a huge special thanks to everyone who showed their support for this album long before the Kickstarter campaign!
P.S - What is this "Join the Choir" pledge level about?
It occurred to me that not everyone will be familiar with the game Phantasmagoria, or the main theme that's being remixed as a post-CD release, so here's some background. Phantasmagoria, from 1995, was one of the first-ever games to incorporate live actors into digital scenes. The game was full of puzzles, intrigue, and well, a fair amount of horror. Setting the tone for this was "Consumite Furore," a powerful yet playful main title theme by Mark Seibert.
That said, here's the remix in development by yours truly:
What's wrong with this picture? No vocals! So, I'm opening it up to you. If you'd like to lend your voice to a Mazedude remix, now's your chance. Let's make this track epic, and make American composer Mark Seibert proud. Join the choir.
Risks and challenges
God has put it on my heart to finish this album. It's getting finished. The music is written, most of the guest performers are recorded, a studio has been selected for the mixing and mastering, and a plan is in place regarding the licensing and distribution.
I'm being very careful not to over-promise on the future releases lined up for post-CD release. There are a few in the works already, and of course I'm going to keep making music... but can I promise a disc 2, specific release dates, etc.? Nope. This initial album took 5 years to come together, so even if this project stays alive, it's hard to say how frequent new remixes will be released in the same theme.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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