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 I chat to the multi-talented Jaym Gates. Jaym is an author, editor and game designer and has a host of credits to her name including work for Pathfinder, 13th Age, Blue Rose, and Tiny Wastelands.
What are your favourite bands and genre?
A few years ago, my best friend and I were on a road trip through the southwestern US. About 14 hours of driving in one day, so we needed a lot of music. About half an hour into the soundtrack I’d put together, she looked at me and said “I’m getting whiplash, you’re never allowed to choose the music again.”
Which is to day I like a little of literally everything, and all of very little. I grew up with classical and country, an early boyfriend got me into German industrial, my mom’s best friend is Indian and introduced me to Bollywood music, the years of Limewire got me into weird Eastern European/South African techno/industrial, I managed a nightclub group and got into house/rave/edm, and now I have a ton of musical friends who get me into the most surprising things.
Some bands I really love though: The HU, Huun-Huur-Tu, & Ethnic Zorigoo; Bloodywood & Ego Likeness; Atomic Drum Assembly, Glitch Mob, and Danger Twins; Rammstein & Eisbrecher; Dandy Warhols & Nick Cave; Heilung & Wardruna; Vivaldi & Strauss. I also love a lot of the more orchestral soundtracks like anything by Mark Mothersbaugh or Ramin Djiawadi.
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)?
My first ‘real’ gig was Soundgarden, ironically, given that I now live in Seattle. A friend took me when we lived in the Bay Area. I’ve also seen Imagine Dragons, Huun-Huur-Tu, Combichrist, Velvet Acid Christ, The HU (twice), Bella Morte, and Babymetal. I had plans to go to a lot more, but… COVID.
The last one I saw, and also the best, was The HU, just a few months ago. My partner and I masked up and took the risk to see them in a Seattle club and it was like coming back to life. It was so stressful and risky, but they have this amazing energy and it was just astoundingly needed. Everyone was screaming for an encore but they weren’t coming back out, but we just kept screaming. Suddenly they came back out, all wearing custom Seahawks jerseys. Everyone just lost it. That encore was a good twenty minutes long. I was deaf for a week, but it was so worth it.
There are two bands on my “dammit” list: I’ve been trying to see Rammstein for almost 15 years at this point, but they don’t tour the States often and literally every time they do, I have previous engagements I can’t get out of. The other one is Faith & The Muse. I had tickets to their show, but the venue did something really shitty and they had to cancel. I couldn’t make it to the replacement show, and they broke up like a month later.
Do you listen to music whilst writing/designing?
Absolutely. I listen to music a LOT, and it very much helps me focus. What I listen to depends on my mood, but it’s generally soundtracks, Scandinavian folk metal (Heilung & Wardruna), or EDM.
Do you use music whilst gaming?
Generally no. Part of that is that I don’t get much gaming in, but I also have a background in playing and singing, so I get distracted too easily when I’m also trying to listen to other things.
What are your top five favourite albums?
Haha. I cannot even begin to narrow it down this much. I am much more about individual songs anyways.
If you were stranded on a ship hurtling through deep space, which ten tracks would you want to have with you?
This answer changes a little by whatever I’m currently addicted to. I have whatever audio version of an eidetic memory is, thanks at least in part to years of playing piano and singing for churches, so I’ve got an amazing library of music in my head.
But if I could never hear any other music again: Vivaldi’s Winter, Jalan Jalan’s Lotus, Heilung’s In Maidjan, Bloodywood’s Gadaar, Glitch Mob’s Warrior Concerto, Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah, Rachmaninov’s Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, Saweetie’s remix of Dean Martin’s Sway With Me, and Rammstein’s Zerstoren.
And a non-music question – any plans/projects for the coming year that you’d like to talk about?
So many, but not many I can talk about! I’m getting back into writing and design in a big way after a year off. I picked up an old prototype of a crisis-response simulation RPG I worked on with an academic team years ago and am looking at that with a new team.
I’m writing for a Lynnvander RPG setting called Legacy of Mana (not related to the video game) and have two personal RPG projects I want to get sorted – a Bronze Age-inspired pulpish fantasy world and a horror-mythos setting. I’m not sure if either of those will go anywhere, but it feels good to be working on my own stuff again.
Jaym Gate’s Website : http://jaymgates.com