John Weeks is well-known in the Sonic community for his outstanding MIDI compositions, which show his growing talent with every project while remaining very faithful to the original music. Andrew previously interviewed John, which you can read here, and now Dreadknux has come back to ask him a few more questions about his awesome work. Read on...
TSS: Dread here, kicking off this Sonic Stadium interview, with John Weeks, thanks for your time to do this interview.
JW: Glad to be here.
TSS: What made you decide to want to become a midi artist? Did it derive from a love of music earlier in life?
JW: Yeah, I think the main thing that made me wanna become a MIDI sequencer was the interest in music I've had for so long.
TSS: Why did you choose to create Sonic midis?
JW: I chose to stick with Sonic music because at the time I started to sequence MIDIs back in 1997, my main musical taste was with the songs from the Sonic games.
TSS: Would there be any other video games of computer heroes you would like to create music upon, but until now never had the time to do it?
JW: Not really. I just mainly wanna stick with Sonic music, though I have sequenced MIDIs of songs from other Sonic Team games like NiGHTS and ChuChu Rocket. And, I plan on eventually gettin' around to sequencin' some MIDIs from Phantasy Star Online. That game's got some really awesome music.
TSS: You take a lot of care into your midi creations - it can be heard from your work. Is creating midis a detailed process?
JW: Yeah, it really is. Especially when it comes to sequencin' MIDIs of songs like what we've got from Sonic Adventure and Sonic Adventure 2. But, I try to spend enough time with each o' my MIDIs to make sure they sound as close to the original song as possible.
TSS: How long does creating an average Sonic midi take?
JW: That really depends on a lot o' different factors such as how much free time I've got, how complex the original song is, and other things, but just to give an average on how long it takes to complete one MIDI, I'd say about a week. Sometimes it can take a lot longer, sometimes a lot less.
TSS: What would be the necessary tools for creating your own midis?
JW: First, you'd need a MIDI sequencer -- a program you can use to create MIDIs with. The next important thing to have would be knowledge of and interest in music.
TSS: You own a website in which you host all of your midis, most (if not all) of the Sonic ones of which are also hosted at the Sonic Stadium. In your Sonic directory of midis on your site, which section (Mega Drive, Game Gear etc) do you tend to pay most attention to and why?
JW: Hmm. That's kind of a tough question. I mean, I don't really try to focus on one section. I just go by the Request Lists I've got to decide which song I'd like to sequence a MIDI of next.
TSS: What is the Sonic midi piece that you are most proud of?
JW: Heh. Another tough question, because sometimes my opinion changes on which o' my MIDIs I think is the best. But, two that I'm incredibly proud of are Icecap: Snowy Mountain (Sonic Adventure) and Green Forest (Sonic Adventure 2).
TSS: There are also many other Sonic midi creators in the Sonic community. Who do you respect most in the community in this aspect, and in general, and why?
JW: It's kind o' hard to choose just one, since there're so many great sequencers out there -- Jarel Jones, José Felix, and Koryan to name a few. But, I think I'd have to go with José. I really admire his incredible patience. It seems that once he decides on a MIDI to sequence, he sticks with it until he finishes. That's somethin' I've had a little trouble with in the past and still do today. I sometimes find it difficult to decide on one song to sequence and stick with it until I finish it. But, I think I'm gettin' a little better with that. ^_^
TSS: Funnily, Jarel Jones creates a lot of Sonic music too, and much of his work seems to be the same levels and stages that have been chosen by yourself to be composed in your own MIDIs. Is there a possible friendly rivalry between you two? Are you guys good pals online, or is it just a big coincidence due to my obsessive detail-picking? Had to ask ^_^
JW: Heh heh. No, we really are pretty good friends online. Neither of us see other sequencers or each other as "rivals" because we just enjoy MIDI sequencing so much.
TSS: You also take requests for Sonic midis through your website, www.espiokaos.com, as well as creating your own compositions. What is the difference between fan midi requests and your own creations? Is it a case of making bespoke (original, one-offs for certain requestees) midis for fans or is it simply asking you to make Sonic midis you haven't already done?
JW: There really isn't much of a difference between MIDI requests and the MIDIs I sequence "just because." Really, the only difference would be that I try to focus my attention toward the requests instead of just sequencin' MIDIs that haven't been requested just because I feel like it, although I do that from time to time if I really like a certain song a whole lot.
Such as right now, I've been workin' on some Sonic Adventure 2 MIDIs on the side that haven't been requested because I really like the original songs -- Boss #6, Metal Harbor #1, and Mission Street to name a few. But, I haven't finished those yet because I'm tryin' to focus my attention toward the Request List.
TSS: While we're on the subject, do you create bespoke midis?
JW: Do you mean original compositions, as in songs that I created completely from my own original ideas, or remixes? In the first case, I don't do original compositions any longer because I just lost interest in it. I found sequencing a whole lot more enjoyable.
And, if you mean remixes, I occasionally create those. I've got a few at my site, and I plan on makin' more eventually. There're a lot o' songs I've had some pretty good remix ideas for, but I just haven't set 'em all down yet.
TSS: Is there pressure put on you most of time by the amount of requests you get? You do get an awful lot of requests.
JW: Oh, yeah. I won't lie, it does get to me from time to time. Sometimes I feel incredibly over-powered by the sheer number of requests I've got and'll more than likely continue to get. That's why I decided to temporarily close down the Request Lists at my site -- in an attempt to clear 'em out some. That's been pretty successful, too. I've almost got the number o' requests back under 100. ^_^
TSS: Speaking of requests and creation, there were rumours of you stopping the creation of Sonic MIDIs and halting all requests that have been going around. Is this the case? Is it simply a time out or a complete retirement?
JW: I've only stopped takin' new MIDI requests for a little while -- I haven't stopped MIDI sequencing. And, I've got no plans of quittin' Sonic MIDI sequencin' for a long time. ^_^ It's just too much fun. But, like I mentioned above, because I get so many requests, I closed down the Request Lists at my site for a little while so that I could catch back up on some o' the requests.
I mainly just wanna get the number of requests a little under 100 again. Right now, there're 106 requests left -- down from nearly 150 earlier this year -- and, I'm almost finished with two more MIDIs. I'll probably be re-openin' the Request Lists soon.
TSS: Finally, any words of advice to give any budding Sonic midi creators out there?
JW: I think the best thing I can tell anyone who wants to start MIDI sequencing is to not give up. No matter how difficult somethin' may be, don't give up on it, especially if you truly wanna do it.
TSS: John Weeks aka EspioKaos, Thanks for your time for this Interview.
JW: You're welcome. It's been my pleasure to do this for ya.
Head to John's website at http://www.espiokaos.com/.