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Gaming goddess and G4 TV host Morgan Webb shares some stunning soundtracks to prove game music is not just random bleeps and bloops, but in fact a major part of the emotional experience of playing. Alongside diverse instrumental pieces, the SoCal native plays a favorite ska band from her teenage years and her introduction to hip hop. Webb currently hosts the shows X-Play and G4 Underground on G4 TV.
For More: http://g4tv.com/xplay/hosts/morgan.aspx
1. Dance Hall Crashers - Othello
2. Bahamadia - 3 tha hard way
3. Keiichi Sugiyama - Buggie Running Beeps
4. Jami Sieber - Maenam
5. The Go Team - Panther Dash
Eric J Lawrence: Hi this is Eric J. Lawrence from KCRW and I’m here in the studios joined by gaming goddess Morgan Webb, who hosts the shows X-Play and G4 Underground on G4 TV. We’ll be playing some excerpts of some songs that she’s selected that have inspired her over the years, as part of KCRW’s Guest DJ Project. Morgan, welcome.
Morgan Webb: Thank you very much for having me.
EJL: What is the first selection you’ve got for us.
MW: Something that people always say to me is, ‘LA’s fantastic, there’s so much to do, there’s great jobs here, but I would never raise my kids in Los Angeles.’ And I need to respond -- as someone who was born and raised in Los Angeles -- that it’s fantastic growing up in Los Angeles because there’s so much to do. We would go to LACMA in the morning, then we would go maybe over to the Bourgeois Pig, have some coffee
EJL: Ooh, Bourgeois Pig
MW: Yes, exactly. Then we would listen to some music. And one band that we listened to a lot was Dance Hall Crashers. They would always open for No Doubt, who we also saw a lot because they were an Orange County band.
I actually picked that one because it’s very fast paced and that was so much fun when you’re in high school. You have limitless energy, you could dance all night. We’d always go to their shows. You know they had horns, and it was just always a great part of my childhood and we used to go and go skankin’.
EJL: All right, well here’s some skankin’ music from the Dance Hall Crashers. A track entitled Othello, here on KCRW.
Song: Dance Hall Crasher’s Othello
EJL: We just heard something from Dance Hall Crashers, a track entitled Othello. What’s the next selection you’ve got for us?
MW: Well, then I went off to college and I discovered Hip Hop. And Bahamadia always inspired me. She’s a very little known hip hop artist, not many people will have heard of her. But she is very smooth, she’s very lyrical and she really uses language in an interesting way. I was always interested in language at the time, I still am, I guess, as a rhetoric major, and I was just fascinated with the way she could just sort of weave the language together.
EJL: Well, the track you’ve selected is entitled “3 Tha Hard Way.” This actually comes from, I guess her debut album.
MW: Yeah, Kollage, with a K.
EJL: Kollage, with a K.
MW: Very difficult to find I would have to say.
EJL: It is. In fact we had to ask you to bring this one in. So, we appreciate that you did that. Here’s something from Bahamadia. The track is “3 Tha Hard Way.”
SONG: Bahamdia’s 3 Tha Hard Way
EJL: That was a track from Bahamadia, a song entitled “3 Tha Hard Way,” as selected by our guest Morgan Webb, who is the host of the show X-Play as well as the show G4 Underground, both airing on the G4 network.
Now, being involved in a show that deals a lot with video gaming, what about soundtracks to video games? How does that fit into a) your own tastes and what is the general state of soundtracks in video games?
MW: Well there are some amazing soundtracks to video games. There’s a game called Little Big Planet, for example, which features music from the Go Team. You’re seeing that more and more often, where you’ll bring in actual musicians and license the music for the game. So, you see some really stunning soundtracks. The problem with video game soundtracks a lot of time, a lot of the time they’re orchestral. The Halo soundtrack is amazing, it’s orchestral, it’s hard to translate just in a radio studio.
I wanted to find something that translated to a listening audience at home. Because the music sort of resonates with these emotional experiences you’ll have with games and you take that song out of that context and all of a sudden you’re like, ‘gosh that sure is a lot of bleeps and bloops and blats and why is that girl singing about that.’
So I tried to find something, well I picked something from Rez first. This is called “Buggie Running Beeps,” it’s by Keiichi Sugiyama. This is from a game called Rez. And this was one of the first video games as art games. It’s an on real shooter. It’s all wire frame. And as you shoot these little things that come at you – I think they’re technically called viruses or something, but they’re these little things that come towards you -- the soundtrack builds upon itself and more layers are added onto it and you’re playing with the music and it’s supposed to be this kind of synesthetic experience. I mean, it’s like legendary. It’s one of the seminal video games that anybody who calls themselves a gamer needs to have played and needs to have listened to and understand. I mean, it’s just part of gaming canon. And the music is what makes the game so special. So, that’s why I felt like I couldn’t let the audience off the hook without hearing something from Rez.
EJL: I see. OK. Well here it is. Something from the video game Rez, as composed by Keiichi Sugiyama?
MW: Your guess is as good as mine
EJL: Buggie Running Beeps is the name of the tune, from the video game Rez.
Song: Keiichi Sugiyama’s Buggie Running Beeps
EJL: That was a selection from the video game Rez, an excerpt from a track called Buggie Running Beeps.
I can tell you, from my perspective, we get a lot of CDs here at the radio station and listening to a ton CDs is great, but there’s only so much that’s actually kinda good, the rest of it is stuff you kind of have to wade through. And I’m thinking sort of specifically about music. When you listen to the games, the music that’s used in the games, do you think it’s at a general level of quality or do you think that’s something that’s sort of an afterthought.
MW: There is a HUGE range. Some games they just say ‘gosh we need an orchestral score and we’re gonna go hire one guy with a keyboard and pro tools to go make that orchestral score.’ And then some games really rely on their music. Songs are becoming more and more important in games and we have a lot of composers now who have been doing this a long time and really know how to make some good music.
EJL: Being exposed to so much video games and the music, do you find yourself sort of humming the different songs when you’re driving around town, songs from the games, or do you switch over to pop music mode.
MW: If you had an emotional experience with that video game, that emotional experience comes just rushing back and hits you over the head. And that actually sort of leads us into our next song which is Maenam. Jami Sieber, I don’t know exactly how to say his name. This is a song…and they took a lot of tracks from a lot of different sources. This is a game called Braid, and this is another downloadable game from the Xbox 360, and it’s about a guy searching for something that is always just out of reach. And when he finally does reach it, you realize not only that it’s been trying to run from him, but you realize it’s an incredibly selfish desire and he’s brought destruction on the world. I mean it's, it sounds so cheesy when I say it out loud like that, doesn't it? I think it's actually just a story that resonates with a lot of people and it just has a lot of petals and a lot of depth to it and a lot of pain and a lot of longing and a lot of sadness and that's sort of what this song represents to me when I hear it I just can't help but be brought back to that time when I was experiencing and sort of unfolding those petals for the very first time.
EJL: Well here it is, the emotionally resonating song from Jami Sieber, a track entitled "Maenam." Is that the name of the game?
MW: The name of the game is Braid.
EJL: Braid is the name of the game, from Jami Sieber.
Song: Jami Sieber’s Maenam
EJL: That was a selection from Jami Sieber and a selection from the soundtrack to the video game Braid, a track entitled "Maenam." Also, you had selected something from The Go Team, a track entitled "Panther Dash." Tell me a little about that.
MW: The Go Team is a band that I love, that's a current band. And I think the reason that I love them is because they're so reminiscent of those old Ska Bands that you would go see, where their concerts are all about fun, the music's all about having fun and dancing and enjoying yourself. I actually, of course, have a soft spot in my heart for The Go Team because they were used in a video game Little Big Planet. Now it's not this track, "Panther Dash," it's a different track, but "Panther Dash" is a little bit more accessible on its own. The track that they use in Little Big Planet is wonderfully used to have that experience of joy that they’re trying to bring to the video game, which is what Little Big Planet is about. It's about youthful exuberance.
EJL: Ok, a track from The Go Team, a song entitled "Panther Dash."
Song: The Go Team’s Panther Dash
EJL: Morgan I want to thank you for coming down and sharing some of your music selections with us.
MW: Thank you so much for having me.