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Jumpman and Robinhood’s interview on Koopa.fr

Published on April 28th, 2008.

Please consider this interview is a Google translation from French, so it may be imperfect with several mistakes.

First, good morning and thank you for kindly answer a few questions.

Hi there, O great Koopa, and hello to your team and all your readers.

Hello Koopa! Thank you to integrate me in the interview despite the fact that I didn’t contact you directly, it’s very nice. (hands over the collar of his shirt, slips a note into the pocket of Jumpman)

A small presentation maybe in a few lines?

So this is me Jumpman, a fan of Nintendo and video games in general. I’m a dreamer, newser for Puissance Nintendo, and I listen to Nintendo music all day long. Otherwise I am a musician, guitarist especially. And in life I am a student in computer engineering. A geek, whatever ^ ^ [toady mode] And of course, a great fan of koopa.fr! [/toady mode]

I’m Robinhood, a fan of Nintendo and video games in general but especially Nintendo anyway. I am perhaps a little less geeky than Jumpman but I still spend a lot of time with my Wii and my DS and my PC between two courses at the university and conservatory. Indeed, in addition to my piano arrangements of music from Zelda and others, I’m studying maths and L2 I have lots of music lessons.

The question everyone asks: why did you start filming yourself playing a musical instrument?

Well actually I started 6 years ago when I opened my first personal website, because well I had to put something in it ^^ As usual people like my classical pieces and adaptations of my variety songs, I made some videos of this. Then one day I realized that I could combine my two passions, guitar and video games, while trying to play Mario on my guitar. At that time, a new site called YouTube appeared on the web…

In my case, it is very new, and I started mainly because of Jumpman. It’s been almost a year, this dear nolife approached me and whispered in my ear: "Rha your lovely piano arrangements, you should post them on Youtube, I would enjoy to suscribe to you, you got skills, you are awesome, amazing" and all these things. The game was played, I posted my first video with tears in my eyes and success followed immediately (showing off). That was for the Internet side, but my piano arrangements of game music (especially Mario and Zelda, actually) date from long ago, when I started to have enough ear to reproduce and themes into chords, I did that with everything going on, including video game music.

This is very popular overseas, do you think of the competition?

Competition? Wahahaha, it’s a good one! Just kidding. There is competition, but if I made classical music or rock, for example, I would have a much tougher competition! Here, among game musicians, there are plenty of people who discover their instruments at the same time they make their video, then it is a little sleazy, and thanks to them we look skilled… Well, on the other hand there are some really talented guys (i.e. the guy who plays Mario with two guitars at the same time!), we are between the two. Some people have the same level as ours, but we make our videos in our side without thinking about them and we dig our hole on YouTube, it works well… And when we succeed to exceed their number of visits we’re happy! It’s just a game, they are not our enemies and we often help each other by sharing the scores we write ^^ (don’t we, Stamen?;-P)

I agree completely. I do not care about the competition, in fact, when I stumble upon a video of an arrangement that I intended to do, I can draw my inspiration from it if it’s really good, see what sounds good or bad, or just say to myself, smiling, that once posted, my video will be probably the best version available on YouTube (shows off again). Actually I think I don’t proceed that way now, I constantly search for perfection in my arrangements, it is perhaps also why my production rate is not as fast as it could be if I played with my feeling all my arrangements. Each video is the result of a long work, in order to try to provide a final version (almost) zero default (except in my interpretation of course). Still I don’t think to limit myself only to video game music later, I’ll soon have piano exams at the conservatory so I should post classical pieces. But nothing is less certain.

Do you start to have some fans?

Yes, there are few. Often people write to ask for tabs and they don’t even say please, hello or thank you, that’s nice -_- But other times we receive very warm messages from fans it’s rewarding. Be it 14 year-old kids who want to learn to play the same (special dedication to a Killer ^^) or nymphomaniac girls looking for nice musicians (that’s Robin’s fangirls, lucky he is XD) it’s what makes us want to go :-). Something very encouraging, we were published on several international sites, including GoNintendo (and Puissance Nintendo, but they pulled strings for me :-D )…. I even a picture of myself in the British magazine Ngamer! I admit it was a shock.

It’s true it’s pretty nice to go home at night after a hard day’s work (but you do not know what a hard day’s work, Pippin) and read 25 new comments and messages on YouTube. I made many friends, I have a "youtubers" folder in my MSN now… And most of them have a Wii! Logical, they are mostly gamers like us. So I added a lot of friends codes in Mario Kart. And you’re exaggerating about the nympho girls, Jumpy, except for the Mexican who wants to meet me in France because she loves me, or the Belgian who recites me tirades a la Victor Hugo, they are not so much. But it’s true that the more we produce, the more people have choice and reasons to appreciate, the more they tend to subscribe to our videos, and when the next video comes, they are the first ones to comment on. For my part, I’ve never been published in a magazine and Jumpman is sponsors me on various websites. I would like to thank him very warmly.

Reassure me, you were not sent plushes to autograph? :)

No, no plushes. But I have a roaring Yoshi and a Mario with unstitched overalls in my room. That said, plushes would be boring to autograph, and after we would have to send them back; 500 grams for the States is expensive. I prefer demonstrative comments such as "YOU ARE A TANK!" It’s cheaper and funnier.

LOL I still haven’t autographed anything except one or two videos and I was at best congratulated and requested for tabs (that unfortunately I don’t have). But I’ve had amazing reactions, like "OMFG, amazing you rock" etc. And one video which reached 100 000 visitors. It’is my poor adaptation of Pirates of the Caribbean, made quickly on the guitar with mistakes in the chords. I can not believe this thing could be my best success on YouTube. Otherwise, fans asked me to integrate my music to their fanmade RPG (nostalgeek eh:-p) it’s rather gratifying.

Let’s get back to the point, how many instruments do you play and how long for?

When I was a child I started learning classical guitar in music school. Later at school I started to play the recorder, like any French secondary school student, but in fact I’ve played a lot on my side. I had fun trying to play everything I heard, I started with Titanic and I came out not too bad. For piano, hard to say when I started, I played when I had the opportunity. But I always rush into action when I find a piano, and most recently Robin has helped me to improve my skills. As for the ocarina, when I discovered the site songbirdocarina.com last summer, no sooner said that done! I ordered one for myself and one for Roby as a present ^^ After some trials and thanks to the provided booklet, I finally managed to play pretty much what I wanted. Well I also play the kazoo, but it matters not.

Well firsl I am a classical pianist, I’m working fo my final graduation at the conservatory this year, and also a trumpet player. I started the piano at 5 years old and the trumpet at 8. I play the guitar a little too, but nothing very impressive so we can forget. And since Jumpman gave me my ocarina for Christmas, I enjoy playing a few songs. But I have little time for me this year so my technique leaves a bit to be desired; well, it will come, I do not lose hope. I focus especially on the piano, it’s the instrument that demands me the most time, but I love it, for woking on my classical pieces or playing by ear the soundtrack from the movie I watched the day before, or write music.

For you it is above all a passion or a challenge to put some music up to date?

Mostly a passion. Basically we make music for ourselves, the idea of filming came much later. In fact there are tons of game music I try to arrange, according to my tastes, and when some are playable and sound good, I keep them. My hardest videos are not always those people like best, however. But I prefer to make difficult arrangements and following my tastes, rather than appealing to the audience! With my "self-duets" I can play together many voices that I could not provide alone. I’d like to make the ultimate collection of Mario and Zelda videos (and Sonic and FF if I can) on guitar…

It was first a hobby, it became a passion, and I would say that it was gradually transformed into a challenge. As I am quite a perfectionist, I don’t post a video if I think it will best the videos already made, otherwise I work on it again and again, finding a more original and more comprehensive arrangement. Hyrule Field is a good example of this behaviour - which seems questionable and almost anti-productive, I admit. If you know The Video Game Pianist, the guy who plays blindfolded to show off (whereas it changes nothing), I intend the match his level; my Zelda’s Lullaby and my Fairy Fountain are already better, however:-D I only regret not having a better recording equipment, as the sound tends to saturate sometimes.

Well, speaking of songs, which one was the most difficult for you, globally?

Hard to retain only one, but I would say, my Super Mario World credits with the game image. The video assembly, sync, the single fact to play that long without mistakes is difficult. It took me a whole afternoon, besides writing the score (well, in my head) and practising. Concerning musical skills, I’d say it’s Super Mario Bros. 2 on guitar.

Mine is Hyrule Field from Twilight Princess. It’s just my pride, even if my version is not perfect. I spent considerable time on it, both for the arrangement I wanted as comprehensive as possible (I wrote the score, for those who are interested) but mainly for my work on the piano. First I wrote the score by ear before going to the piano and then I realized that I had been a bit much. But I hanged on, and I finally managed to release a correct version. There are still many improvements to make, but for this I need to improve my piano level and my writing and arrangement techniques. Then I will send a new version; if I find a better recording equipment, it should sound 100 times better.

A favorite one, perhaps? Why this one?

I would say… the Hyrule Field from Zelda Twilight Princess. Because the original song rocks, we arranged it by ear (yes this time I used Roby’s musical skills), I did a faultless version and that sounds great with the flute. I would add that when I started playing the ocarina on YouTube, it has been also a great time thanks to the extraordinary reactions of visitors.

I do not know. I love all my videos, I spend much time on each. I’d say Hyrule Field too, because it took me a crazy time, but my Faron Woods also are close to my heart because I think I managed to reproduce the atmosphere. My Midna’s Theme makes me happy too, because the harmonies are particularly great.

Doing that kind of video requires a lot of work and practice, how long?

It highly depends on the song. In rare cases I have scores (for FF) so it is easy. On the other hand, the "duets with myself" such as Village Cocorico, Saria’s Song where made quickly when I got the idea. It was easy, I already knew how to play them. I listen to the guitar part at the same time I record the flute part, and I assemble it all. Two or three times to avoid mistakes, and presto! in the box. But in general I need: a few days to compose an arrangement by ear, a few days / weeks of practice, and 1-2 hours to make a rather correct video (because there is always something going wrong!) with our equipment (which is pitiful next to yours!). Then first, do not ask me why I was slow to post a video, I have my student life too… it’s not as if I was a civil servant, like some:-p. And second, when you see I look staring, frightening or so, in my videos, consider the concentration, the irritation and the time it needs and you will understand!

Writing the score is usually fast, I mean in general, sometimes the pieces are like symphony and I want them to be as accurate as possible, it requires a lot of thinking about the piano arrangement. Afterwards, the job may take several months or only a few days, then the recording generally requires several hours of an afternoon. I can not stand mistakes, then as soon as there is one, I stop and I start again. In Midna’s Desperate Hour, I lost whole afternoons without result for minor mistakes that no one would hear. But I’m too perfectionist. Still, it makes a little crazy sometimes, when I decide to spend one hour and finally I spend 8, whereas I have three exams the day after while my sister gets nervous because I uncharge all the batteries of her camera, eheheh. But it’s so good to post after the job completed…

Do you keep all the time close to the partition or you allow yourself a few changes in the notes?

So there I want to say, anyway, as I often say to our visitors: Most of the time we don’t use scores. When it says "arrangement: Jumpman", that means I’m starting from scratch, that I tried to reproduce themes from MP3s with my guitar, + my flute when it was enough, that I recorded the notes and progressions in my head to finally get to my own arrangement. I wrote a few personal scores thit are available on my site. Well there are some exceptions: sometimes I use existing scores to make my arrangements, and then I make it clear. And for FF I keep close to the sheet music from Squaresoft.

Same for me, it’s usually by ear. The scores of such songs are hard to find and when you put the hand over, they are often wrong. However, when I find an arrangement on the Internet that I think is very good, I sometimes play it as is, except some details that I rearrange my way. But it’s still fairly rare. Besides, I do not think there is only one of my YouTube arrangement that is not from me. For now at least. Everything is a matter of time. Otherwise, we can consider that I am using scores in that it is scores I personally wrote, such as Hyrule Field: it was so hard that I spent time practicing with the score before memorizing it.

My favorite music is "Tapion theme" from Dragon Ball Z, can see the video for the ocarina one day?

Okay, I know nothing about DBZ but send me the tune. I mean, the song, eh ;-)

What are your future projects or accomplishments?

I hesitate to speak about it, we must leave a little surprise ^^ First, with Robin we will finally record a duet, Gerudo Valley with him on trumpet and me on the guitar, it’s gonna rock. As we live far from each other, we can not often see each other so we’ll make a video editing as usual. Concerning future projects, I have some ideas: some duets with myself, some guitar solos, a "quartet with myself 2 guitar + flute + jalopy" some Twilight Princess, some Mario again, some Tetris… Well, let’s do them now!

I do not know, I hardly have time to think about right now. Surely Kakariko Village, perhaps Mario Galaxy… I’ll see when the year is over, there will be sun and girls and I’ll have time to think about it more quietly.

Are you gamers? On which console?

I already said above but you’re never listening:-p I started on Megadrive (Sonic FTW!), But as I had no TV at my parents it couldn’t be much. So I had a Game Gear, a Game Boy, lots of emulators, and finally a DS and a Wii!

I went through all or nearly Nintendo consoles: two NES with 45 games, a Super Nes with 10 games, an N64 with 10 games, a Game Cube with 25 games, a Wii with 10 games, 3 Game Boy Color with 20 games, an old Game Boy, two GBAs (regular and Micro) with 30 games and a DS with 10 games. And a PC with some older games but I haven’t played on PC for long, actually. I regret it when I see the killings apps released on PC, either strategy or MMORPG.

Your 3 favorite games?

I’m not going to give my favorite (too hard to choose) but those that come to mind instantly for emotions they bring to me, either for a specific moment or for their charm, the gameplay… So let’s say Sonic & Knuckles, Mario RPG, Yoshi’s Island, Zelda: Link’s Awakening, Earthbound and FFVI. And Mario Galaxy (oh, that makes 7… well I stop but I have lots more:-D).

It depends on the moment, it depends on the time I spend on them. Now I am back on Mario kart, I tend to say it’s one of my favorite games and I started Baten Kaitos and I’m already in love with the scenery, but I need enough distance. And with that distance, I’d say Ocarina of Time, Golden Sun 1 and Rayman 1. In fact these are the games whose music enchanted me most.

I want to thank you for this interview, hoping to discover your new video compositions soon.

Many thanks to you Koopa and koopa.fr FTW!

Thank you too, happy to answer your questions.