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🎵 IT182: Press Start and Play
✏️ Lewis Fraser
🗓 13.10.22

Lewis is an illustrator, designer and artworker based in Aberdeen, Scotland.

Hey Lewis, Can you tell us a little bit about your tape and your song selections?

I am a big overthinker and I find it hard to relax a lot of the time. One thing that can help is playing video games. This has been especially true over the past few years as I have been struggling with my mental health. An element of video games that helps distract me is the music. There is nothing quite like the right track dropping at the right time to further draw you into the experience. My tape is a collection of tracks from video games that I have played from the past few years and beyond that have great soundtracks.

Some of the songs I have selected are from games that I have really enjoyed over the past few years and wanted to highlight. Games such as Chicory, Sable, Persona 5 Royal, Deathloop, Umurangi Generation, Paradise Killer and Neon White.

Other song selections are from older releases that I wanted to include because they have really great soundtracks that have stuck with me through the years that I didn’t want to miss out. Songs from games such as Life is Strange: Before the Storm (‘The Right Way Around’ was the track that played on the PS4 dashboard theme), Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII, Kingdom Hearts 2 and Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (one of the first games I remember playing on the Sega Mega Drive).

There are a few songs from games that I have not played. One of these is the playlist opener ‘Moody’s Shuffle’ by Hideki Naganuma from Jet Set Radio. JSR is a game I have long wanted to play but haven’t due to not having a gaming PC and it not being re-released on any newer hardware. Everything about it sounds like it would be right up my street, but the music is very good. I picked the track as the opener because I thought it would be funny to have the playlist announce that it is beginning. The second of these tracks is ‘Into Free -Dangan-’ by B’z which is the main menu music from the original release of Dragon’s Dogma. I listen to a lot of video game podcasts and one of my favourites is Waypoint Radio from Vice. This song was brought up because it wasn’t included in the re-release of the game due to rights issues. They played it for everyone who hadn’t heard it before and it’s great.

The playlist ends with the game over song ‘Determination’ from Undertale before fading out with the track Calicomp 1.1: Shutdown from VA-11 Hall-A.

I have tried to include a mixture of games. Triple AAA to indie. Some well known, others less so. Who knows, maybe the playlist will lead to someone picking up a game that they had never heard or heard of before!

What direction did you take with your cover art, and what was your process?

It took me a little while to land on the idea that I went with. I started off by exploring a few concepts about replacing game discs with vinyl records. These ranged from someone trying to jam a record into a PS5, a disc wallet but for video game soundtracks and a combination Playstation 1 and record player. While I didn’t think these ideas were bad, I felt that they were missing the mental health element which was the driving force for the playlist.

I decided to go for a simpler concept that better reflected the inspiration for the tape itself; me listening to video game music. For all of my ideas I did small rough thumbnail drawings to get a feel for composition and layout. I then did some larger drawings to include a little more detail. After that I scanned some drawings for reference to create a digital version in photoshop. I usually feel out the colours as I go, however, I do have a green carpet and a yellow jumper.

Please excuse my awful handwriting.

What are your fave album covers, records with a great music and artwork combo, or musical projects with a visual component?

To keep things on theme here are a few sections from games in which music/audio plays a big part + some packaging for video game vinyl soundtracks that I like:

“Take Control” – Old Gods of Asgard
Control: Original Soundtrack
2019, Remedy Entertainment

Control was my favourite game of 2019. Control is set inside a building called the Oldest House which is the shapeshifting headquarters of the Federal Bureau of Control (like the FBI but exclusively for interdimensional/unexplainable stuff). One area of the game requires you to navigate an area called the Ashtray Maze. However, you quickly learn that the walls keep looping back to the start so you have to find the secret to successfully navigating the maze. This turns out to be… listening to Scandinavian Metal? The journey through the maze is visually spectacular and it is made all the more enjoyable by the metal track throughout the entire sequence.

“Fly Octo Fly” – Various
Octotune: Splatoon 2 Original Soundtrack
Track composer: 峰岸透
2019, Enterbrain

There are next to zero Nintendo game soundtracks on Spotify. Which sadly means that one Nintendo game series that couldn’t make my playlist is Splatoon. The game just oozes style and is just such a well executed concept. The music rules and the track I would have included is the track that plays during the final boss of the Octo Expansion DLC for Splatoon 2. The level is timed to the song and the boss is ultimately defeated by a combination of paint and music.

Persona 5 Original Soundtrack – Various 
2021, iam8bit
Artwork: Drew Wise

I really like the packaging for the Persona 5 Royal vinyl soundtrack from iam8bit. Each of the 3 record sleeves has illustrations of various characters from the game on each side. The cover has several clear panels that show a set of illustrations depending on the sleeve you have chosen to insert. It’s a small thing but it makes the packaging more engaging than a static image and it can be personalised based on your own favourite characters.

Donut County – Daniel Doestner 
2019, iam8bit
Artwork: Lily Nishita

Another iam8bit release. In Donut County you play as a hole in the ground that consumes everything in its path. The packaging features a really nice 48” fold out illustration of characters and objects falling into the hole eventually reaching the spot where they camp out and complain about the hole.

What did you listen to growing up?

Most of my early taste in music was defined by my older sister. I would hear whatever she would be listening to at home, in the car or on a music channel on TV. The first album I remember becoming obsessed with was the debut album from Franz Ferdinand. I might have stolen the CD from my sister...? I remember sitting in the back seat of our car and having to hold my slightly broken CD player at a specific angle just so I could listen to it without songs skipping. I also remember my sister buying the Interpol single “Evil” and really loving that.

Paramore were another big band for me. Me and one of my school friends lent each other some albums after discussing music recommendations. I lent them Absolution by Muse and they lent me Riot! By Paramore which I really liked and I am still a fan to this day.

Beyond that, other big bands for me growing up were Muse, Arctic Monkeys, Radiohead, The Strokes, Queens of the Stone Age, Bombay Bicycle Club, Biffy Clyro and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs.

And what’s on heavy rotation for you at the moment?

Illuminati Hotties, The Beths, Japanese Breakfast, Metronomy, IDLES, Beach House, The Strokes, Tricot and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs.

What’s happening in your creative world at the moment?

My creative practice has been a bit all over the place for the past two or three years due to my mental health. It’s currently quite sporadic, the most notable thing I have probably made for myself in the last few years is a latch hook rug.

I also co-run an Instagram film poster challenge with Glasgow based designer Ophelia Davis called Poster By Poster (@poster_by_poster) which we started at the beginning of 2021. We choose a film, tease it with illustrations/animations and ask people to design posters for it. We then post the submissions we receive. 

Where can we find you?

You can find me at the following places:

Instagram: @shiningpie
Twitter: @ShiningPie
Website: www.shiningpie.co.uk

Cheers Lewis 👋🏽