Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Where are they now? - Tim Wright

Lemmings was one of the first commercial games Wright composed music for

Tonight I'd like to talk about a video game composer that has been interviewed several times which means there's no shortage of information on this fellow which is a far cry from most video game composers, believe you me. For tonight's "Where are they now?" post I'd like to give some insight into who Tim Wright (aka CoLD SToRAGE) is and what he's up to nowadays. If you ever played the games Shadow of the Beast II, Lemmings or Wipeout and really enjoyed the music, you've got this guy to thank.

Wright was born in Wales in 1967. He developed an early interest in music (as most composers do) and started taking piano lessons from the age of 7 until about 16. During the late 1970s and early 1980s he attended high school and did very well in computing, electronics and science which no doubt helped him with his Electronics and Communication Engineering degree at London Metropolitan University which he attended between 1985 - 1987. He got his first job as a VCR repair technician in 1987 but that only lasted 6 months before he joined a company called Littlewoods PLC as a trainee developer in 1988. Wright worked his way up over the next few years, becoming a senior developer and then eventually PC Systems Manager. Around this time, Wright started composing music for computer based demos. It was when he composed music for a demo called "Puggs in Space" that he got the attention of game development studio Psygnosis's Managing Director, Ian Hetherington. This eventually landed Wright a 4 year gig at Psygnosis from 1994-1998.



Prior to working there full time though, Wright was working for Psygnosis as a freelance composer. His first official video game soundtrack was for 1990's Shadow of the Beast II but he also composed music for 1990's Powermonger and, my favourite, 1991's Lemmings. Wright was actually a latecomer to the Lemmings project since the producer noticed that the most recent build contained covers of famous tunes such as the theme from Batman. Wright was tasked to help them out of this pickle by creating cover versions of well-known folk tunes or remixes from other Psygnosis games - basically anything that wouldn't get them into trouble. Wright developed the soundtrack but unfortunately a few years later the copyright holder of "O Little Town of Bethlehem" complained about not receiving any royalties for the use of their melody in one of Wright's tracks. As Wright mentions in an interview by RetroGamer:

" Yes… the one thing I was told to avoid I fell foul of, and by the time this happened I was actually employed by Psygnosis too, so I was quite worried how they would take it."

Lucky for Wright the Managing Director was fine about it and they paid a modest fee for its use. Ironically, the song fell out of copyright a few years later.

Wright was also responsible for composing some music for the 1995 Playstation game Wipeout with famous electronica artists such as the Chemical Brothers, Orbital and Leftfield. While the style of music on Wipeout wasn't Wright's forte, he quickly adapted and the soundtrack is arguably the most popular amongst his fans.

Wright left Sony/Psygnosis in 1997 and formed a company called Jester Interactive to develop music creation software. He developed several programs such as MUSIC(TM), MUSIC 2000, MTV: Music Generator and MUSIC 3000 before he left to form Checkmate Solutions in 2003 with his brother which continued to develop music creation software but for the eJay brand. It was also in 2003 that Wright founded his own multimedia company called Tantrumedia based in Wirral, UK. The company does all things multimedia including website design, website hosting, software development, I.T. consultancy, sound effects, audio post-production, graphic design, 3D illustration, printing, stationery and, of course, music composition.

Checkmate Solutions closed in 2006 but the mid-2000s was a time where Wright started releasing his first albums - i.e. albums with original music not specifically created for games. He also continued to remix his old game music too which he still does to this day. Wright still composes music for games with the most recent games he's composed music for including Gravity Crash for the PS Vita and Dynablaster Revenge on PC, only last year. He is also very much active on the myriad of social media services that he has a presence on (Google+, Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, LinkedIn, Tumblr - you name it, he's on it) so it's good to know he's easily contactable, something I'm sure his fans take solace in.

So where is Tim Wright now? Running a web/software/graphics/audio development company and creating game music on the side. Basically keeping himself busy!

LINKS:
[ Wikipedia: Tim Wright (musician) ]
[ RetroGamer Interview with Tim Wright dated April 2014 ]
[ MobyGames: Tim Wright ]
[ OCRemix Interview with Tim Wright dated May 2008 ]
[ Tim Wright's official website ]
[ Tantrumedia: Tim Wright's company website ]

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