Most interviews with games industry figures tend to be about our latest game or “hot new thing” we’re working on. But what about the people behind the games we play and, hopefully, love? Little is said, or explored, of the actual person’s tastes, or how they got into the hobby, etc.
Face The Music is a new column in which I aim to explore a side that is rarely explored – music tastes of the people behind the games we play. What do they listen to? Bands they love? Greatest gig? Do they use music whilst they work, or whilst they game?
Each week I’ll be chatting to someone in the games industry about their musical tastes. This week Sarah Newton gets center stage. I first met Sarah around 2008 I think, although we’d be exchanging emails for a while before hand. She attended a small convention, Concrete Cow in Milton Keynes (UK) which I was exhibiting at. I was in the process of taking Cubicle 7 fulltime and Sarah had been chatting to Chris Birch, Dominic McDowall-Thomas and myself about Starblazer Adventures, which was a licensed pulpy sci-fi game we were developing using the FATE system. Anyway, that eventually led to Sarah becoming more involved with company and we released her Mindjammer setting as a supplement for Starblazer Adventures. Sarah now runs her own company, Mindjammer Press, which not only publishers the Mindjammer RPG and novels, but also other games including the English translation of French RPG ‘Capharnaum’.
What are your favourite bands and genre?
That’s an almost impossible question! Anything good! I guess I love rock music, in the broadest sense, right from pop rock through blues rock to psychedelic, stadium and gothic rock. As for favourite bands, that kinda changes all the time, right? But there are a few that always stay the same: I love Bowie, Neil Young, Hendrix, Janis Joplin, The Velvet underground, The Kinks, Peter Murphy, Kate Bush. Recently I’ve been digging the “SF Sorrow” album by The Pretty Things and pretty much anything by Barns Courtney.
How many gigs have you been to? What was your first/last? Your favourite? What band/performer have you never seen live but would love to (or have loved to if the band/performer have broken up, retired, or died)?
Weirdly going to gigs has never been part of my DNA – I guess growing up in a relatively out -of-the-way part of the northwest of England, music came via radio rather than concerts. So I don’t think I’ve ever seen a really big artist play live. I’ve been to a lot of second-tier gigs – Underworld, Chumbawumba, Julian Cope, Gary Clail, Goldier, Suede, etc – and festivals like Reading, Phoenix, etc. But I’ve been going to small-scale gigs all my life, both as a punter and a manager/performer, and I *love* the whole live music vibe, the grittiness, the excitement, the feeling of danger that comes with a really rocking live gig. My favourite? Well, the most *memorable* gig I’ve ever been to was by a Soviet heavy metal band called “The Shah” in 1988 in Moscow. Real Spinal Tap stuff, with an extremely moshy audience, and a bunch of terrified 16-year old army conscripts doing “stage protection duty”. Halfway through the lead singer, resplendent in tiger skin spandex and with a Genghis Khan beard and massive afro, gestured to the increasingly frenzied audience to invade the stage, and they descended like a wave and knocked seven bells out of the hapless army recruits! I still remember huddling in the wings watching the melee open-mouthed!
Who would I have loved to see? Well, I’d still like to see Peter Gabriel, he does an amazing live show. But, really, UI’d loved to have seen Bowie live, back in his 70s heyday. That would have been mind-blowing.
Do you listen to music whilst writing/designing?
Never. I need complete silence when writing – that way I can hear the voices in my head more clearly 😉 I play a lot of music with the band I’m in, and practice guitar and signing a couple of hours a day. but listening to music is mostly something I do in the car, usually on a pile of CDs, or occasionally on the Alexa in the living room.
Do you use music whilst gaming?
Nope, never. Again, I like to control the vibe, and I find music a distraction when getting creative.
What are your top five favourite albums?
Yowza. Just five? That’s incredibly tough… Specially albums, too, well that doesn’t necessarily gel with favourite artists, but here goes. I’m gonna cheat with one pseudo-compilation too, if that’s okay. And valid for tonight only! 😉
1 – Hunky-Dory, David Bowie
2 – Dark Side of the Moon, Pink Floyd
3 – The Kinks Ae The Village Green Preservation Society, The Kinks
4 – Aerial, Kate Bush
5 – Decade, Neil Young
If you were stranded on a ship hurtling through deep space, which ten tracks would you want to have with you?
I couldn’t manage to reduce it to ten, so here are eleven! And valid for today only again! 😀
1 – Shine On You Crazy Diamond, Pink Floyd
2 – Memory of a Free Festival, David Bowie
3 – The Sensual World, Kate Bush
4 – Expecting to Fly, Neil Young
5 – Ball & Chain, Janis Joplin
6 – Sympathy For The Devil, The Rolling Stones
7 – Relax (Sex Mix/New York Mix), Frankie Goes to Hollywood
8 – Love Comes Quickly, The Pet Shop Boys
9 – Enter Sandman, Metallica
10 – Bela Lugosi’s Dead, Bauhaun
11 – All Tomorrow’s Parties, Velvet Underground
Of course, I’m duty bound to say I’d probably also want to take my band’s debut album, “Way Down On Mercy” (by RELOAD – see below). RAWK!
And a non-music question – any plans/projects for the coming year that you’d like to talk about?
Yes! After a couple of years’ hiatus due to personal life upheavals, I’m finally back working on Mindjammer Press, so this year we’re going to be releasing several supplements for Mindjammer and Capharnaum, as well as the much-delayed Chronicles of Future Earth RPG. I’d like to thank everyone for your patience whilst I’ve been pulling myself back together, you guys are *awesome*! And also I’m going to be gigging (vocals and guitar) with my new dark country rock band, RELOAD, here in France, including some big dates over the summer season!
Thanks everyone – rock on, and happy gaming!