Some Warcraft-inspired projects just take a little bit of time and a whole lot of patience, while others take a little more know-how. Singing, however, takes a little bit from both and combines it with the need for a voice -- and today, we've got a golden set of pipes. While there's a whole lot of singing machinima out there suitable for Moviewatch, there are still plenty of musicians and singers out there merrily pushing out the tunes without machinima. Today, we've got a mage with a passion for singing and the voice to back it up.
DarkPippi's been quietly putting out songs for well over a year now. While many of his tunes have been heard on The Instance podcast, his YouTube channel doesn't exactly have a ton of traffic -- I only just stumbled across his work last week when working on The Daily Quest. Needless to say, I was stunned with the quality of vocal work and immediately went about contacting Darkpippi for an interview, which he graciously accepted. Follow after the break for more with Darkpippi and plenty more tunes!
World of WarCrafts: Hello Darkpippi, and thank you so much for taking the time to chat! Can you tell us a little about yourself and your background in WoW?
Darkpippi: I started playing just after The Burning Crusade came out. Before that, I was a big EverQuest player and had tried several other MMOs, but I kept coming back to WoW. Initially, I tried several classes and races, but I finally fell in love with my mage, which was a gnome at the time. During the Lich King expansion, I was able to what some WoW geeks only dream of -- I convinced my wife to play. Unfortunately, in an effort to get her to enjoy the game on her own terms, I let her choose her own race/class. So she chose a tauren druid. So after much deliberation, I decided to move my characters to the Horde and have been there ever since.
I'm guessing from your singing that you've got a background in music. What's the story there?
I have been singing since childhood and have always had a love of music. I always had a lot of support from my mom, who encouraged me and tried to help me do something more with it. I started to listen and sing along with things back in the '80s, hence the amount of tunes I parody from that era. My favorites are '80s, rock, and pop. Right now my favorite artists are Alice in Chains, Tool, Zero 7, Imogen Heap, and Counting Crows.
When I really began to get serious about music, it was back in the early '90s when country music was a big thing. I really was not into the sappy stuff but into the music that had more of a rock feel to it. You should have seen me back then, you would have laughed. I would get decked out in jeans, a western shirt, and a cowboy hat and go out to karaoke joints. I was a minor at the time, but my mom would get me in, and since I sang so well they let me stay.
One Christmas, my mom bought me some PA equipment so that I could do shows in different places. I would go anyplace they would let me set up the equipment and a tip bucket. The tips I received helped to purchase studio time, where I would go and record covers. Of course, this was way before recording at home was feasibly inexpensive.
Finally, I just got sick of getting nowhere. I was not enjoying it anymore. Later, after I got married, I got in with a little cover band called Just in Case out of Little Rock, Ark. We did mostly classic rock tunes, but alternative was making its rise at the time, so I convinced them to work in songs like Plush by Stone Temple Pilots. I fell in love with rock at that time, although I still can sing a country song like I came straight off the farm. I finally had a falling out with the bass player, who also owned all the stage gear, and I left the band. After that, I really did not do a lot with music other than sing along with the radio.
Then I began playing World of Warcraft and later started listening to The Instance podcast. Sometimes on the show, they would feature some of the early parody songs of the time, like Roninhobbit's parody Action Bars. So in December of 2008, I came up with my first parody, Stuck in a PUG, and submitted it to The Instance. Scott played it, and it got some good comments. At the time, I did not have a good place to get tracks without background vocals, so I was reduced to using MIDI tracks that I edited and changed in Garageband (I am a Mac user) to make it sound as good as I could.
What is odd is that I did not make another parody for over a year. I later came across the song in my iTunes shuffle and remembered how much fun I had making it. So I started looking for more songs to parody, and in April of 2010, I came out with my second song PWN More based on I'm Yours by Jason Mraz. I have also been spurred on by the lack of vocal songs in the parody community, which is only now beginning to see more rise with some of the more popular WoW parody artists. I am still one of the few male parody artists who sing and do it without any autotune. Please do not read this as thinking I am better than anyone else, because I am not. I do, however, have a deep hatred for autotune.
Do you write your own lyrics, or do you collaborate with lyricists?
Most of my songs, I have written myself. I will hear a song and a line will jump out at me as something I could replace easily with WoW lyrics. Sometimes I force myself to write lyrics to a song I like, as in the case of Epics, which is a parody of Secrets by One Republic. I absolutely love the original song, and so I wanted to do a parody just to see if I could.
Recently, I have begun getting and accepting some offers for collaborations. Mostly due to moving my songs to YouTube. I began finding other parody artists that I liked there and decided that I might want to add my stuff as well. Before this, my only exposure to the world at large was through The Instance, who have been very gracious to play most of my songs on the show, and through my website.
The most recent collaborations have been You Give PUGS a Bad Name with ShadowDragonia, where he wrote all the lyrics; Don't Stop BGing with Letomi, where we both collaborated on lyrics; and This Ain't a BG with Addy, who wrote all the lyrics, save a couple minor tweaks. I really have enjoyed working with all of these awesome people. I have had some other people offer lyrics, but they did not flow well, so I declined.
Out of all the parodies you've done, which is your favorite?
That is a tough question because of all the work I put into them all. I guess you could say that my newest song is my favorite, because I try to up the quality each time. Not saying I am successful, but I try. One thing I would like to point out is that on all of my songs, I have recorded all of the background vocals myself with the exception of the Don't Stop BGing, which I used a background track for the doo-wop stuff. If you hear it in the background, it's me!
Have you done any other Warcraft projects people ought to know about?
Actually, yes, I have. I had the pleasure of working with Ben Dressler on his short film /AFK. I was the voice of Nippi in the film, Nippi in a teaser (in gnome voice), as well as several background voices. If there is anything I like more than singing, it is doing voices. /AFK was my first chance to really voice act, and I found I really enjoyed it. Since then, I have gotten a couple of queries about voicing some machinima but nothing have come to fruition as of yet. I have been thinking of doing a voice reel when I get a chance. You can hear some of my voice stuff in my song Truth About Murlocs, where I attempt to do a Kermit the Frog impression through the whole song.
Do you have anything new on the table you'd like to tell us about?
Nothing that I have a release date for. Most everything I put out comes at a "when I have time" time frame. I currently have another collaboration with Letomi in the queue to be recorded, and I am working on a cover of I See the Light from the movie Tangled that I am collaborating with Rawrbug on. There is a machinima in the works, but I do not know how much I can say about it.
Anything you'd like to add?
Just as a quirky mention, in case anyone has wondered why I go by Darkpippi and have a female toon as my mascot. Darkpippi has been my character for most of my time in WoW, and so when I put out Stuck in a Pug, I released it as the toon name my friends knew me by, which was a female gnome at the time and has not morphed into a female goblin. So once I released a few songs and realized I was going to keep going, it was too late to change it. Also, Darkpippi is a reference to the storybook character Pippi Longstocking. Since she chucks fireballs and kills things then she would be the bad, or "Dark" Pippi. Oh, how she loves her fireballs.
I want to tell everyone that has enjoyed my music and have been supportive thus far, thank you. If you were not listening and enjoying the music, I do not know if I would be making it. I would also like to thank Scott Johnson of The Instance podcast and Randy Jordan, formally of The Instance podcast, for playing these tunes during the show and allowing me to connect with their audience. They have been super-supportive, and I appreciate it. If your readers do not already listen to The Instance or any of Scott's other podcasts, they need to tune in!
Thanks for chatting with us Darkpippi, and good luck on all future projects! For more of Darkpippi's music, visit his channel on YouTube, or check out his website.
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