Javi Diez from rock act MA�go de Oz, the man behind the music on Wincars Racer
From the very first day when Wincars Racer started to take shape as a project it was already clear to us that its soundtrack would have a huge importance in its final result.A� Honestly, we could not imagine by then that we would have the chance to count with the work of such a great artist as Javi Diez whose curriculum stands out for being the current keyboardist for Spanish rock act Mago de Oz amongst many other honours and professional achievements.
Javi Diez, who from the very start has put all his effort into the game, answered this interview so we can all get to know him better and understand his personal journey from the music world to videogames.
-When did you decide that you wanted to be a musician? Was it while listening to any particular band?
I dona��t think it was me the one who decided it, I wouldna��t know how to explain it. As a kid music was one of the few things that always made me feel good, so I constantly sought refuge in it. I suppose one thing led to the othera��
-Now that we are talking about your beginnings, could you tell us about your favourite styles and bands back then? And now? Have your influences changed a lot over the years?
The first thing I remember is listening to Dire Straits in my dada��s car when I was really young, from there I moved on to Michael Jackson and Queen. I dona��t think Ia��ve ever had a favourite music style, Ia��ve always liked to listen to whatever fell into my hands.
Ita��s like just eating vanilla ice cream all your life without ever tasting any other flavour. If there has ever been a band that has made an impression on me though, that is without a doubt Dream Theatre.
-Talking about videogames, do you remember your first experience with them or at least the first titles which you really played?
I remember on my way to school there was a bar and they had the DoubleA� Dragon arcade machine and every time I walked by I stood there, staring fascinated at that arcade machine. I had my first console when I was 4, a NES, which I still have today, right beside my Playstation 4, but I was always more into PC. I remember Monkey Island perfectly, and how we used to leave school on Fridays to spend all the weekend with our faces stuck to the computer screen only to go back on Monday and see how we were all stuck in different points of the story.
The tune that welcomed us into the magical world created byA�Ron Gilbert, Tim Schafer and Dave Grossman.
-The usual thing for little kids nowadays is to play videogames from an early age and then start showing interest in music later on when they grow up, was it also like this for you?
Yes and no, because videogames called my attention from the very first time I discovered them but music has been with me since I have my first memory, so I would say ita��s a draw.
-Which game was responsible for making you pay attention to the musical aspect of videogames?
Ia��ve already mentioned it before, Monkey Island.A� Ita��s impressive how the years have passed and the theme song is still an icon in the videogame world, ita��s still covered every year. I also remember I was impressed by the music of the arcade game Bad Dudes vs Dragon Ninja, I liked the theme of the second stage in particular. I liked it so much that we even covered it a couple of years ago and you can find it in my Soundcloud profile
Bad Dudes vs Dragon Ninja theme covered by Javi Diez
And the original tune as first appeared in the classic game
-The next question is a thought more than a question. It also affects other professionals involved in the development of a videogame like testers o people with more artistic profiles. Is the musician a game developer too? Whata��s your opinion?
Everything that happens around the creation of a videogame affects in a way or another what will come next. I dona��t think developer is the right word but I do consider that the work of a musician has a big influence in the final result. A great videogame with a great soundtrack is a delight, a great game with a poor soundtrack will always be worse, no matter how you look at it.
-How did the collaboration for Wincars Racer come up?
I was looking for the chance to do the music for a videogame for the first time, and Fernando Ortega from MadeInSpain Games and to whom I am so grateful, offered me the chance to do a sort of a�?castinga�? during last yeara��s Madrid Games Week, where a number of indie developers would opt to me writing music for them.
It was really hard to choose, I loved all the games I saw, but with Wincars Racer I felt I would be comfortable being it a debut title and knowing how to face the project, so I went for it.
It will take a long time to see Javi Diez in a white t-shirtA�again!
-How do you approach your music writing for a videogame? How is it different from your work with rock bands and your other facets as a musician and producer?
Well, the difference is basically that when I work with rock bands we are a team that works together, and as a producer Ia��m on my own, the responsibility is all mine. In the case of a game, I need to play it and I need it to hook me, as a musician and a gamer I need to know what it needs and how can I add it.
For example, as Wincars Racer was in a very primitive way, I wrote songs and tested them on other car racing games, if they made me not wanting to take my foot off the accelerator then I was on the right track.
No need to use other games footageA�anymore, this is Javi’sA�Burning Wheels in Wincars Racer Beta trailer
-What are your favourite musical a�?toysa�? in the studio? Real instruments, synthesizers, audio libraries or any other thinga��
The only thing I always need is a weighted keyboard, the feel of the piano is something I miss whenever I dona��t have it. I couldna��t work without Spectrasonicsa�� Omnisphere either, I use it a lot. Likewise I like having as many instruments as I can play at home. Next project is to get hold of a violin, time will tell.
-Being able to balance work and personal life is difficult for a creative professional. Is there anything you do in your daily routine to keep this balance? What are the future projects for Javi Diez?
I try to go jogging everyday and take my time for a game at night, when the day is over. I try to help the brain to disconnect so it can rest properly and videogames have always been good for that.
We are currently recording Finisterra Opera Rock with Mago de Oz, celebrating 15 years from the release of the original Finisterra which marked the banda��s more successful period.
Arwen, a band Ia��ve been part of for ten years now, should release its third record this year. After Wincars Racer I will continue looking for games to write music for them, and in a more distant future, we will premiere a Michael Jacksona��s tribute spectacle which has been in the works for a while.