Final Fantasy VII is oft spoken of in reverence, it’s in the dictionary under nostalgia, and any negative commentary will bring down a hail of fury unlike you’ve ever seen, and very much deservedly. So, with the 20th Anniversary of the Australian release of the game coming up, 17th November, Nick Young and The Consouls thought it appropriate to celebrate the anniversary of the game’s release, and more specifically, the music of the game.
Nick Young says the show came out of a long aspiration to do something different, and try out new forms of live performance, and giving the timing of the anniversary, Final Fantasy fit well into the timeframe of trying out this new concept. Live renditions of video game scores have come before, but this is a reimagining on a new level.
While Nick Young may be a classically trained pianist, and The Consouls generally described as a jazz group, they are hesitant to describe the show as slotting into either of these genres.
Tin Teylan, who plays Saxophone for the group, says saying it’s a jazz show would be too limiting in describing what they’re trying to produce, ‘jazz has been taken and fused with so many other styles of music, I’d say we kind of take that approach to what we do, some of our tunes are more funk inspired, or more rnb, hip hop, latin, so to say jazz is the umbrella term is the way to look at it, but it’s not limiting in that sense.’
The music for Final Fantasy covers such a broad spectrum of styles itself, and Nick didn’t want to settle on just one genre, ‘the music actually itself spans a wide variety of genres so there are the more classically oriented symphonic numbers, and there are the more obviously jazz, rock inspired sections in the program, little bit of latin, what’s so special about this soundtrack of ff7 is how broad and how much of a variety there is in the music, so that’s something we really wanted to showcase’.
It’s not just a one for one transcribing of the music however and the performers weren’t content with sticking with the original concepts, but instead they decided to take some creative liberties and recreate the music in their own image.
Julian Sanchez, pianist from The Consouls, say’s they wanted to do it differently, ‘even in certain songs where they start off in a certain idiom or genre, both Nick and The Consouls reappropriate certain ideas where we take the classical idea and make it jazz and vise versa, so not only are we just paying homage to the original soundtrack, but I think it’s a little bit different to other endeavours of video game music, where we reappropriate the music to how we would play it in our own respective genres‘.
Julian described the blending of styles as necessary to telling a story, ‘the crossover, the juxtaposition of the two genres both fits chronologically and to the story, where we reappropriate things is more to set the mood for the whole show instead of performing piece after piece separately, we’re trying to retell a story in how we see it’
Nick continued with this idea, ‘it’s one thing to choose the music and the songs that we’d like to do, and it’s another thing to also craft that into a performance that won’t just be a list, there has to be something special for the program as a whole, an artistic vision behind the whole production, to really bring it to a next level where it’s something really special for everyone.’
Nick Young and The Consouls won’t be trying to retell the story via just their music, Nick said they will use lighting and sound effects to push the story ahead, ‘the lighting will serve a very important part of guiding where we’re up to in the program, as well as the moods and the emotions that change throughout the concert’.
Julian says this, and the sound effects are important to heighten the feelings they evoke, ‘I think on an audio level, we’re obviously performing the music but there’ll be little elements of the show where we’ll be incorporating sound effects which people will remember, so hopefully we can make those emotions even stronger, we’ll make sure people cry at the right points’.
They mention a huge repertoire of chipset sounds and music to really amp up the ‘retro’ and nostalgic aspects of the performance. They don’t want a silent auditorium, Nick says they’re hoping to evoke enough emotion to encourage people to ‘laugh, and cry, and cheer, and clap.’
Nick wants to condense all the emotions and experience of the game into their performance, ‘for the fans of final fantasy I hope this really sums up the awesomeness of the game in the space of an evening without having to play through the game itself, and for everyone who hasn’t played the game at all, I warmly invite and encourage people to come along and check it out, and check out our vision for live performing and also to experience and we hope to share our love and passion for the music from this game. We’re looking forward to a night of fun and maybe even a bit of emotion as well.
Nick Young and The Consouls are performing Final Fantasy VII Live at the Zenith Theatre in Chatswood on the 17th of November. Tickets are available from https://www.scintillationsmusic.com/ff7/.
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