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Sometimes fan music comes in the form of parodies or remixes of contemporary music. And sometimes we get covers of music from the game itself. Today, we've got the latter -- haunting and beautiful remixes of original Warcraft music. Katethegreat19, as she's known on YouTube, has been creating breathtaking covers of gaming music for several years now from Warcraft and from other popular gaming titles. Her moody and evocative tunes highlight a background with a Celtic influence and show off some serious skills with composition and mixing.
We've featured katethegreat19 on WoW Moviewatch before, including her first foray into machinima with her Temple of the Moon cover. But Kate's covered a lot more than just Warcraft tunes, and she's got a definite talent for composing, mixing and creating original lyrics -- even songs that never had lyrics to begin with. Kate was gracious enough to sit down and have a chat with us about her musical background, composing, the process of creating tracks, and of course, Warcraft.
World of WarCrafts: Hi Kate, and thanks for chatting with us! Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Kate: I'm a singer-songwriter. I released my debut original album Raindancer last November under my stage name, Erutan. On YouTube, I'm known as katethegreat19 mostly for my covers of video game music. Video gaming has been a longtime passing of mine, and I've always found their soundtracks inspiring.
I got into WoW like many girls -- seeing their boyfriends playing nonstop and wanting to know what the big deal was. I had always been a console gamer, and I'd never played a MMORPG. Out of curiosity, I created my Night Elf priest, Lunastelle, and I've been addicted to this awesome game ever since. Luna has since undergone two faction changes and several race changes ... making sure my boyfriend's wandering toon has heals wherever he goes! I've been playing since the days of The Burning Crusade.
You've obviously got a background in music; what kind of training have you had?
My mother started me on violin training when I was just two. She was a classical violinist and gave lessons in our home, so I grew up surrounded by music. I went very far with my violin; I won quite a few competitions and was playing the toughest repertoire at 16 and 17; however, I started to feel a little unfulfilled in the classical world. I was intensely interested in ancient music, Celtic music, and also the video game soundtracks I loved.
I began composing profusely around this time, wanting more than anything to be a composer for video games. I started picking up other instruments as well, starting with the piano and guitar, and then a barrage of others including my trusty harp. Singing was almost an afterthought, just another instrument, although I became more and more comfortable using it.
At first, I recorded my songs at a professional studio. It was expensive, but I learned so much from the amazing sound engineer and from the experience. Later on, I bought home recording equipment. With that and the knowledge I learned from the sound engineer about what makes sound quality good, I set up my "recording studio" in my clothes closet. We lined the walls with foam and blankets to create the sort of soundproof area necessary for recording. I've learned tons over the four years I've spent recording at home and have produced many recordings I'm very proud of.
Temple of the Moon is absolutely stunning. The machinima is great, but the vocals are just gorgeous. Did you compose and perform all of it?
Thank you very much! Yes, I arranged, performed, and recorded the song here at home. I discovered my new kantele (a traditional Finnish psaltery) created an almost identical sound to the original main instrument, so I used it for the base track. I wanted the vocals to be very powerful near the end, so there are around 12 different vocal tracks going at once there. A very fun but very tricky track to arrange!
You had another Warcraft piece you did, a Lament of the Highborne cover -- I loved that one too, it had this deliciously melancholy air about it. Have you done any other Warcraft pieces besides those two?
I haven't done any other tracks from WoW besides those two, although there are many on my agenda. Many of WoW's tracks are fantastic orchestral scores that would be difficult to convert into song form; however, their allure keeps me thinking of ways!
I notice you've done a lot of different video game covers. How do you choose what to cover? What's your favorite?
I am extremely attracted to any game score that features a lot of medieval or Celtic influences. However, I like to pick things that are just different enough from my style for me to be able to add something new to the track. Nobuo Uematsu's and Yasunori Mitsuda's scores for console games are some of my favorites.
Can you tell us a little about the process behind recording a track?
I will usually play around with keys to see what is easiest on my voice (I don't have the most impressive range) and while doing so, figure out which of my instruments will serve as the base track, which will be used as a guide to layer everything else on top of. I'll record that track first -- in Temple of the Moon, the kantele part was the base track -- and then add layers of other instruments to add depth and texture.
Most often this is completely improvised and hit and miss. I never know what will sound best arrangement-wise until I try it out. Vocals go on last. Mixing is basically figuring out the volumes of each instrument and voice and their position (more to the left ear or more to the right ear) in order to create a pleasant sound. It is quite tricky especially with many, many tracks to worry about. After that, I'm all done!
Are there any other Cataclysm tracks you've been dying to cover?
Definitely Nightsong! I also want to go back and do some classics like Invincible and any of the tavern themes.
Anything else you'd like to add?
Just that Blizzard should let the /sing emote have a sound clip to go with it! I'll audition!
That's an excellent idea, actually! Thanks again for taking the time to chat with us, Kate. Good luck with your future projects, and if you come out with any future Warcraft material, let us know!
Dying to hear a little more? You can check out a lot more of Kate's music covers and original works on her YouTube channel. World of WarCrafts spotlights art and creativity by WoW players, including arts and crafts, fan art, WoW-themed recipes, comics, cosplay, music and fan fiction. Show us how you express yourself by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org with your not-for-profit, WoW-inspired creations.