6.13.2007

How a Russo-Nigerian Stallion Found Video Game Music, Part 6: Joining the Establishment

The coolest aspect by far of working at OC ReMix has been the job of helping select which tracks are posted. Especially as a listener/non-musician judge, being invited on board the Judges Panel validated the extent of my fandom for the amateur video game music community. Getting into the stories of my time on the panel will be cool for those insterested enough of the inner workings of the site, so I might as well lead off with how I ended up joining them.

Dain "Beatdrop" Olsen had recently stepped down from the panel after his second go-round, again for a lack of time. Long-time judges Ari "Protricity" Asulin and Binnie "Digital Coma" Katti were pretty merciless in pointing out that they thought he was a shitty judge for being so inactive at the end of both of his stints. I wouldn't know firsthand, but their complaining was probably a significant reason that pressure came down on Beatdrop to step down.

Myself having been on the panel for almost 3 years, I can tell you that the collective mindset of the panel never dwells on a loss. When someone resigns or is removed from the panel, it's unfortunate, but the gears immediately spring into motion for selecting a replacement. At the time Beatdrop left, several people were immediately brought up. JigginJonT likely would have been invited had he had the free time to join, but told whomever asked him about the opportunity that he didn't have the time. In the end, the two serious candidates brought up were Jack "Adhesive Boy" Ryerson and myself.

If you ask me, Adhesive Boy got a raw deal when he was nominated. If you listen to his material, you'll find that he's an A-grade arranger that's come out with some really impressive and creative pieces. By the time of his second posted ReMix, Treasure Hunter G 'Linoleum Stalactites', I had felt that he was on the road to making it onto the panel if he continued on that level, as he was only bound to get better.

When it came down to him or me, I ended up winning out, but at the same time, the potential to simply take on two new members was there, so AB and I weren't in any direct competition. After I joined though, I learned that close to the end of the selection process, the panel collectively decided they didn't need two people (which would have put the panel size at a then-unheard of 12 members). On top of that though, two mainstay judges felt AB made calls that nitpicked details and missed a lot of the big picture, and unfortunately that was it.

I was nominated by Protricity after a brief AIM conversation. From the looks of it, he had read the summer music reviews I had maintained for VG Frequency as he told me that he had the impression that I was enthusiastic about the community's music, but was able to call and spade a spade and be honest about when something was weak. I'd never find out that he was actually the one who nominated me outright until I joined.

Because I had always gotten along well with Gray "GrayLightning" Alexander, and he was my main source of communication as to what was going on in the judges panel, I had assumed that he had been the one who put my name forward. In actuality, he had reservations about me because I was already devoting so much time to college and the VG Frequency radio show there; he was wary of a someone coming on board who wouldn't make the panel something of a priority.

Digital Coma had bigger reservations about my objectivity but was ok enough to give me his support. I wouldn't know it until years later, but a long vote on one mix in my third day on the job caused him to go on a rant in the private judges chatroom on how I ended up being a terrible choice.

Vigilante intially had a bad vibe about my objectivity as well, but after he got a hold of me on AIM and gave me some test songs, I ended up with his strong support. Paraphrasing him, he could tell that I was capable of giving critical opinions and not trying to figure out what he wanted me to say. I forgot the other songs I listened to, but my first vote was one of the test batch songs Vig asked me about, Koelsch1's Valkyrie Profile 'Blind Eternity'. I figured it was worth it for my first vote to be a submission I would remember. My first YES vote went to a young up-and-comer by the name of Andrew "zircon" Aversa, for his very first passable submission Chrono Trigger 'Calamitous Judgement'.

When I was finally selected for the panel, djpretzel messaged me that night and made the official invitation. While I was secure in my skills, I was ecstatic that I was selected. As a non-musican, the fact that I had won the support of a very talented and selective group of musicians was especially gratifying.

Five hours later, after talking with djpretzel about the responsibilities of the job, getting congratulated by my new collegues, and reading through all the old topics and policy debates in Judges Discussion, I was ready to go. In my first four days, I had voted on everything there was to vote on, which was around 35 submissions.

After seeing my opening flurry of voting, Gray immediately warned me about working too hard and risking burnout. I dunno if he had ever seen anyone come in and annihilate the queue like that. And as soon as djpretzel posted the next flood of submissions a few days later, I voted on all 20 of them in 16 hours. There's no way I could do that nowadays, but my overall work ethic remains the same to this day. If a submission comes through the panel, I've voted on it 99% of the time.

Working these past three years evaluating OC ReMix's submissions has been almost nothing but fun. There have been plenty of internal squabbles, bouts of panel ennui, emo artists, ignorant assumptions by outsiders, and straight up crappy subs to weather. Depending on how forthcoming I am, you'll get to hear bits and pieces of all of that stuff if you stick around the blog. At the end of the day however, I'm currently one of only 10 people on earth who decided what you hear at OC ReMix. It's an envious job if you have an open mind and really, really love video game music.

And ever since I found it, I've really, really loved video game music.

Let's talk about someone other than me now.

1 comment:

Andrew said...

very interesting stuff, hearing about hilarious old-school dramaz of communities is a favorite past time of mine, and it's cool seeing links to some of your early judging.