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Interview: Video Game Composer & Sound Designer Chase Bethea

Dec 21, 2015

Producing sound effects and composing music for video games is no easy task. It takes a creative mind and often requires some truly outside the box and perhaps unusual methods to bring interactive worlds to life through sound.

Kidzworld got the chance to chat with one such creative mind, composer and sound effects designer Chase Bethea.

Composer and sound effects designer, Chase Bethea.Composer and sound effects designer, Chase Bethea.

Q: How long have you been composing music and designing sound effects for video games? 

  • I have been composing and creating sound effects for video games since 2011. So, four years.

Q: At what point in your life did you realize you wanted to work with video games?

  • I realized in 2008 that I wanted to work in the video game industry. The hint had always been thrown at me subtlety but it never clicked until I was working at an Internet Media Company. I had composed some orchestral music for a video clip and my friend Jason, who worked as the  main IT guy there, told me that it sounded similar to Castle Crashers. From there I researched the game and compared the music. Then, I realized I CAN do this. From there, I began to pursue my career in video games.

Super Happy Fun Block - Audio By Chase Bethea

 

Q: Put us in the head of Chase Bethea. What's your creative process like?

  • It's all about figuring out what fits the game best. Choosing my instruments for audio consistency, using various techniques and tools to create what is in my head. From there, I implement the music or sound effects in the game and test it. 
  • I like to noodle around with a lot of modulation effects (flangers, choruses, phasers etc.) and filters to bring about ideas that I may hit a brick wall on. Sometimes I use these tools to add more polish on top of the sound I had in my head in the beginning. These effects allow me to hear what I may not have thought existed or heard before. Sometimes it takes a couple hours to get the right length, timbre and mood that I am looking for but, if it makes me feel good, then, I know I'm doing something right.
  • Viewing my work from the perspective of the player is important. I play games, toy around, listen well. I know what would and would not annoy me as a player. I try my best to avoid those annoyances and instead convey positive and effective sounds and tunes for the game. In a nutshell, I want to make ear candy for the player.

Q: If you could be hired to do the music and or sound effects for any known IP, which would be your dream gig and why?

  • Man, that's tough and a really great question! I think it would have to be Castlevania. Two years ago, I played Castlevania Lords of Shadow for the first time. Then, last year I found Castlevania Symphony of the Night in a thrift store. I fell deeply in love with both of those games and I think my sound and creativity would blend well with that franchise. 

I Can't Escape: Darkness - Audio By Chase Bethea

 

Q: Are you working on anything exciting at the moment?

  • At the moment, I am currently working on a couple titles. The first is a mobile game called "Not A Clone" which is satire game based off the clones in the mobile market stores like Super Hexagon, Flappy Bird, Threes, Fruit Ninja and more. The gameplay is similar to WarioWare on GameBoy Advance.
  • I am also working on a game called "Beyond the Stars" which is a multiplayer real time strategy game where a group of 1-8 players must guide a fleet of ships through a hostile galaxy to save the last of the human race. I am tentatively apart of three other projects but I can't say yet what they are as I have not signed a contract yet.

Cubic Climber - Audio By Chase Bethea

 

Q: Is there any one composer that you would say inspires your sound?

  • Jesper Kyd inspires me a lot. I'm not sure my sound is like his or not. I hope not because that means I sound like me (laughs).

Q: What video game music do you have on your phone right now?

  • Right now, I have Castlevania Symphony of the Night, Assassin's Creed Revelations, Bugs Bunny Crazy Castle 2, Castlevania: Lords of Shadow, FEZ, Final Fantasy Legend II, Goldeneye 64, Gungage, Hotline Miami, Kingdom Hearts, Mega Man II (GameBoy), Pokemon Snap, Pokemon Trading Card Game, Rise of the Tomb Raider, my original game soundtracks and way too many more to list (laughs).

Super Happy Fun Block is one of Chase's favorite projects.Super Happy Fun Block is one of Chase's favorite projects.

Q: Do you have any advice to give those budding video game sound designers out there?

  • Advice I would give is don't work for free! Know your self worth. The best way I can recommend to get started is to participate in Game Jams. They happen multiple times a year and most of them are online. The other circumstance you can work for free is for a friend that really needs your help. Also, remember to play games and have fun! That's what this industry is all about! 

Thanks, Chase!

  • Thanks for having me! It was a great interview!

For more on Chase Bethea, check out his official website right here or give him a follow on Twitter!

Have You Say!

Could you see yourself as a composer or sound effects designer? Sound off in the comments below!

 

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