Cuthbert: Very different. I’m not sure how many other companies have a band that jams every lunchtime, but I kind of feel we are unique…especially as the president of the company — me — jams too. We also rope in guests from time to time. For example, Sagar Patel, who is interning with us, has been having fun on Indian tablas drums, which you can hear in “Albatross Aligned.” And another artist here, Andy, sometimes steps up for some acoustic guitar.
Mielke: I can tell you with certainty that I never got to play music with the president of any company I worked at prior to this. Ever. So it’s very awesome to be able to have fun like this.
GamesBeat: What’s it typically like when you meet to practice? You said you normally hold these “PixelJam” sessions at lunchtime, right?
Cuthbert: Yes, at Q we have a system where lunch can be freely taken between 12 and 2, and in order to jam, we take a couple of hours [to] start practicing and setting up at about 12:45, after we’ve grabbed some food. Stragglers come along a little later, giving us about an hour to play about with the full ensemble. Quite often members are indisposed, so we just jam without them. In fact, it is fairly rare for us to jam with the full set of members: Milky, Jaymin, Eddie, Kalin, Paul, and Dylan.
GamesBeat: For you and the others at Q-Games, does creating music for The Electric Bends improve your productivity? Music and games go hand in hand so well, especially with the PixelJunk titles.
Cuthbert: Most definitely. It also teaches us a lot about how audio works, an area none of us were experts in. But now we are beginning to understand how these things work at a professional level. It’s been a great learning experience and a hell of a lot of fun. Maybe we’ll do the soundtrack for a future PixelJunk title.
GamesBeat: What have your inspirations been for the kind of music you’re creating? Your members share a love of prog-rock, synth-pop, and New Wave bands….
Cuthbert: In no particular order, The Beatles — especially their experimental and jammy stuff, such as Tomorrow Never Knows and “Helter Skelter” — Pink Floyd, of course; New Order — “.chroma” is heavily influenced [by them] — Depeche Mode; David Bowie; Coldplay; and Radiohead. There are others, but those are the main ones.
Mielke: Jaymin never stops talking about the Cocteau Twins. It’s like he’s obsessed with them, so I reckon that’s an influence. Eddie shreds on guitar like he’s got something of a blues-metal thing going on, and Paul plays like he wants to open an acid house nightclub in the early ’90s. So there’s that.
GamesBeat: How do you visualize your music in your head — how do you respond to it? What kind of sensations does the music evoke for you?
Cuthbert: We “feel” everything on the fly, and it really depends on the general mood of the band. If our moods are all over the place, we produce bad jams — and I don’t upload those ones! However, if our moods are just in the right place, we all contribute our own peculiar harmonies. And because we are all so different, we find these combine really well — almost spontaneously — to create some beautiful sound. We surprise ourselves all the time. For example, “Enter the Unknown” came out of absolutely nowhere, and it is one of our favorite tracks. It was actually the wind down of the end of a lesser jam.
GamesBeat: Do you listen to your music when playing video games at all, either your own or others?
Cuthbert: I don’t think we’ve tried that, but it would definitely be interesting!
GamesBeat: What video game music has had the biggest impact on you throughout your life?
Cuthbert: Too many to count, I think! Some of the first tracks I remember that impressed me are from 8-bit games, but the first game where I just left it on to listen to the title music loop was Speedball 2 on the Amiga…. Oh, and then there was Hybris with its astounding synth track. You can find YouTube videos of both.
Mielke: I’m a big fan of the Sega Saturn era of game music because the CD format allowed for some beautiful orchestral scores. Panzer Dragoon, Nights into Dreams, and Grandia all have amazing soundtracks, and Saturn Bomberman has some of the most nuanced drum and bass ever. It still sounds contemporary [even] now.