The story of the Italian musician who composed the Puma Street Soccer soundtrack

The story of the Italian musician who composed the Puma Street Soccer soundtrack

(The cover of the reissue of the Puma Street Soccer soundtrack by Vanni Miele)

The world of music related to video games is returning to have a certain weight and the right gratitude. Partly thanks to the diffusion of musical genres closely linked to that world, such as Nintendocore or chiptune, which around the 2000s had a certain prominence in the independent world, and partly also due to the growing collaborations of contemporary musicians and producers. to great video games: Alain Johannes, Alessandro Cortini and Norm Block for Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Breakpoint or Flying Lotus for GTA V. In short, there is a world that too often remains in the shade. And there is also a lot of Italy in the videogame sound history of the 90s and 2000s. Vanni Miele, composer and musician born in Telese Terme in the province of Benevento, is one of the names that in this musical and digital imagery dedicated to gaming has taken off many satisfactions. One of these responds to the name of Puma Street Soccer, the video game released by Sunsoft in 1999 for PC and Playstation, and one of its flagships in its electronic productions. It's not the only one, of course, there are also Chris Kamara's Street Soccer, R-Type and Wing Commander Prophecy among other names. On the occasion of the reissue of the album for Bulbless! - which we can preview below on Italy - and which contains both the music of Puma Street Soccer and as a bonus track those of Chris Kamara's Street Soccer and R-Type, we let Vanni Miele tell us how it arrived in the 90s to compose music for videogames, because as Sunsoft executives told him: "You are not a musician, you are a sound designer".

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How was music composition for videogames perceived when you started?

"When I started this adventure, everyone thought of video game music as small, small sounds, which were a bit like the initial sounds of gaming. Instead it's a crazy world where you have to accept a challenge: to push the player not to turn down the music while he plays. You have to do something that doesn't bother you and that is a plus for the game. This is the first challenge: trying to find the right interaction between the game and the player, mediating between the two ".

Your background is that of a classical musician, right?

“Yes, my first diploma is in double bass and my first teacher was Rino Zurzolo, double bass player of Pino Daniele, and later we became friends - he passed away in 2017. The teacher with whom I graduated was the first double bass of the Teatro dell'Opera di Roma. So you can imagine the classical and academic setting even if he was very modern, but he would not have understood the electric bass or rock, the Bisca, the evenings at the Diamond Dogs, the 666, the Walhalla and all the Naples wave that was in the 80s. In the film Blues Metropolitano there are all these groups, and also my group, the Zou Da Party ".

(Photo: The Diamond Dogs of Naples)

To electronics as did you get there?

“I was always very curious as a kid, especially about sound treatment. I remember that I did the first experiments with a tape recorder and I made the battery case with a roll of paper, a piece of paper and with the felt-tip pen I hit as if it were a case. I have always experimented, and therefore the world of video game music has become a sea where I can pull out my tools ".

With the video game Puma Street Soccer you were able to give your best in composition…

“In addition to the music of the videogame, I also made all the sounds of settings and collisions. I did some foley art [n to recreate sounds and effects to be included in a film or video game] and I enjoyed it a lot. It was a useful experience to learn and understand the various surfaces and sounds. "

What was the step that made you go from a musician who loves sound treatment to video games in the 1996?

“I used to play in a rock band but we also had a collaboration with an experimental theater group called Temperafusibili and we did shows together where we did live music. So this experience has already been a fertile ground for experimenting with new sounds. I come from analog sound and then there was my transition to the computer, but there is an episode that was a watershed. One day a Neapolitan company called me and asked me to do a demonstration during the Mostra D'Oltremare in Naples on how to make music with the computer. I accepted and prepared a demo cd: I used an Akai S950, the computer and various tapes. It was a moment for me that was a hybrid of digital and analog. I burned this CD and brought it to him ”.

How did the demonstration go?

“This demonstration then did not take place but some time later the company that contacted me was at the center of the construction of a Neapolitan team to create video games: a software house. Massimiliano Sacchi was the manager who resided in London, had worked for Sony, and composed the Naples-based work team. They needed all the figures: from the game designer to the beta tester, up to the musician. He made a box of all our materials and sent it to Sunsoft, a video game creation division of the Sun Corporation group. Inside was also my demo cd for the 1994 exhibition. Hardy Fujiwara, the CEO and manager of Sunsoft said that I would have to take care of the music but I didn't even know that the cd had got there. Thus began this immense story that continues today in this world. The first game was a space-themed bubble puzzle. The software house, which was called Pixelstorm, went ahead and we made another game, Puma Street Soccer ”.

(Photo: Vanni Miele)

And then?

“There was another key episode: the Pixelstorms which was Neapolitan was taken over and became Trecision. Part of the team was transferred to Rapallo, in Liguria. With Fausto Cardone, Francesco Paduano, Massimiliano Di Monda, Guido D'Albore was the group that then formed Raylight Studios, a new software house that brought us closer to the world of portable consoles and we became official Nintendo developers, and above all Gameboy Advance ".

What changed in your work?

"For me it was a downsizing as a musician. With Puma Street Soccer and Chris Kamara's Street Soccer we were on PC and Playstation on which there was a lot of space for music as a medium: I was acting in 44100Hz 16-bit stereo format, a standard CD quality. Coming to portable consoles like the Gameboy Advance I find that I had a space of half a megabyte. There were oscillators in the machine and luckily the Nintendo sent me all the specs to be able to do my job. With my friend and colleague Fausto Cardone - who had taken care, among other things, of the transmission protocol for the joystick that moved the Rosetta satellite that was to go s u Jupiter - we invented two things: the blue rose, that is a graphic engine that had a great success evolving the Gameboy Advance for fluidity and definition at very high levels ".

What have you invented for sounds?

"The other idea was to make micro-samplings already harmonic, with chords and therefore more sounds because not having many tracks available, I had to find a solution. We invented both graphically and on a level sound this new guise of the Gameboy Advance. We were nominated at the Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles and we won the "Best of Technology" Award for the video game Wing Commander Prophecy developed for Destination Software (USA) and Electronic Arts (USA) on Nintendo platform GameBoy Advance. For me it was a fantastic thing. We were at the beginning of a period and we had taken the right wave. The segments of videogames have now moved away, the intermediate one between the big productions and the independents has disappeared ".

(Photo: Team Raylight in Los Angelese)

Puma at the time pushed a lot on video games and created live street soccer tournaments to engage the public. In short, new opportunities were being understood to be exploited through gaming. What was it like working on the Puma Street Soccer video game?

"Puma was doing these events around and it was a very strong advertising moment. In that period the Pringles potato chip brand appeared one of the first times. Of course there was also the game that provided various settings to play: from ships to the road, to grass and other places. I remember what Hardy Fujiwara told me in the composition phase: "You have to make a music that next year, when it comes out, is still ahead. You don't have to. make music for the present, you have to make trendy music for the future. ”That was the sound and they tell me it's still interesting today. We didn't invent anything but then from there we were among those who collected this vein with lounge sounds and subsequently became vaporwave in some way "

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Did you have any references to electronic music?

“When I was a kid even though I studied double bass I grew up with Kraftwerk, while listening to other genres. I went to buy the records I didn't know because I wanted to discover other worlds. The Kraftwerk, but also Jean-Michel Jarre, there was a groove that is still extraordinary today. Then I graduated in music applied to multimedia contexts and I deepened the discourse on sound treatment. I was witnessing the first stereo experiments and was sensitive to the position of sound in space. In the compilation of music for virtual reality it is no longer left-right with the listener in the center forming the classic triangle, now there is a concentric ring that surrounds you, everything has changed ".

Not just football video game music, as we said.

“Wing Commander, R-Type and other games where the music has been upset and changed. We did Osmosis Jones for Universal, based on a movie. In the end we made a good journey with these consoles and then the total crisis ".

What equipment and what computer did you use?

"The first things I used were a 4 track Tascam and the Revox for analogue. But the first approach to computer music was the Atari Mega STe which at the time had 16 Mb of RAM and a 50 Mb hardisk, black and white with cathode ray tube. Then I switched to the PC with the first sound cards. Puma Street Soccer I worked it with a CreamWare sound card which was a very complicated one to use. Then I have my dear Yamaha NS10M speakers as an heirloom. Finally, there was this intermediate part using the PC with Cubase, then iMac with LogicPro and other more specific software not very experimental on the market ".

What were you working on now?

"Before the pandemic we were playing a virtual reality game with Oculus and Sony told us to continue because they appreciated a lot, but the situation, the large investments and the need to find and keep about 50-60 people slowed everything down. "

(Photo: Wikipedia Commonsa / Francisco Rodrigo Escobedo Robles)

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