Let’s Interview: Video Game Remixer and Cover Artist The Noble Demon!

The Noble Demon Cover

Well everyone, it’s time for another interview here on Gaming Reinvented! Yep, to kick off 2022 in style, we’ve got an exclusive interview with YouTube remixer and cover artist the Noble Demon! Known for their remixes of games in the Mario, Zelda and Pokemon series (among many others), they’ve quickly built up a growing fanbase online, with over 25K subscribers since their debut in August 2013.

They do some great work, and we’re very interested to hear what goes into it…

So without further ado, let’s start the interview!

With a bit of personal background info. So who are you? Who is the Noble Demon?

Howdy! I’m Evelyn Lark (They/Them), your local woodsy dark roast enthusiast. I’m always very bad at describing myself, but according to a close friend I’m “sweeter, more talented, and coolerthan they give themselves credit for, perhaps speaking to their nobility…or maybe they’re just a dweeb.” I tend to agree with that! I’m a bit reclusive and shy, extremely nerdy, and very thoroughly married to my work.

And where did your username come from anyway?

I’m so happy this question was asked! I’ll give you the full, honest, embarrassing truth – when I first made this channel, I was 16 years old. A very goth and edgy 16 year old. (Not much has changed, honestly). Back then I had a fascination with darkness and light, and flexible morality. I was kinda enthralled by the pre-established “Noble Demon” character archetype found in media, loosely described as “a villain with a moral code.” This appealed to my young brain, and thus it became my username… not knowing years later my entire music career would revolve around it. Occasionally I’m embarrassed by it (it’s really hard to bring up to extended family), but more often than not it’s sweet and nostalgic, if not a little fun and spooky. Nowadays I see the aesthetic of the username with less of an emphasis on edginess, but perhaps more as a vintage whisky brand name? That’s what I’m going for at least.

What kind of career goals do you have? Is there an endgame for your music?

At the moment I don’t have any strong expectations – almost every bit of work I’ve gotten involved with has purely been by chance. Though it would be lovely to provide music in some capacity for future Indie games, or to find more dedicated orchestration/arrangement work outside of my channel. I do dream of finding a really solid music group or development team to be a part of some day! For my channel specifically I don’t have any significant endgame plans. I’d love to keep doing what I’m doing for as long as I’m able, even if my primary source of work
changes.

How did you get into gaming? What was your first game?

I picked up gaming very early on, at about age 3-4 I think? I was lucky enough to start out on an SNES, which at that point was eclipsed by the newer N64’s, PS1’s, etc. I’m really happy I got tostart out with that generation, as it really influenced the aesthetics and music I appreciate today. Growing up, some of my favorites were Donkey Kong Country 1-3, Super Mario World, Super Mario All-Stars, Super Mario Kart, and Yoshi’s Island.

Donkey Kong Country 2 Box Art
The Donkey Kong Country titles were some of their favourite games when growing up

What about now? What games are you playing at the moment?

Well, it’s no secret that I’m a bit of a Souls fan! There’s hardly a moment where I don’t want to start up a new Bloodborne character, or attempt another Dark Souls randomizer run. Recently I’ve been really enjoying being a fashion model in Destiny 2. Other than that, I’m trying to catch up as much as I can! There are tons of games I still need to try. FF9, Hollow Knight, and Chicory are on my radar.

Which video game soundtracks are your favourite?

Truly an impossible question! I’d make sense to call Bloodborne my favorite, but FF6, Mother 3,Majora’s Mask, Celeste, DKC2, and Spirit Tracks hold a great deal of significance to me. There are so many fantastic ones, I’m positive there’s one or two that I’m forgetting. For a bit of a sleeper hit, I’d really recommend giving a focused listen to the Little Nightmares II soundtrack! Definitely in my top 3 for 2021.

The Bloodbourne soundtrack is one of Evelyn’s favourites

How long have you been creating music for now?

I started doing something similar to what I’m doing now in 2011, so roughly 10 years! That’s wild to contemplate. I remember studying and picking apart old MIDIs from VGMusic in GarageBand, and trying really hard to figure out how they were made. This inevitably led me down the path towards transcription, and eventually piecing together my own scores. I also remember purchasing those old GarageBand orchestral instrument packs, and replacing some of the presetMIDI tracks with them. So much of this was a precursor to what I do now.

How did you learn how to write music?

I’m mostly self-taught! Even before I messed around with MIDIs, Rock Band 2 was hilariously my very clear catalyst into the music world. I played that game more than almost anything I play currently. It inspired me to join my high school’s wind band as a percussionist, and I kinda fell in deep. I had an absolutely fantastic music teacher who really encouraged my digital composition as well as my traditional playing, and it led me into taking one of our school district’s only AP Music Theory classes. It informed a lot of what I know and use today. But outside of that, I only know what I know and do what I do because of hours of diligent practice, research, failure, and hard work.

Rock Band 2 Game Cover
Rock Band 2 was their intro to music

Do you play any live musical instruments, or are you a purely digital composer?

Nowadays, yes, I only work digitally. After high school I was set to continue playing more advanced percussion in college, but I had to abruptly leave due to a developing physical disability and a decline in mental health. The world of music performance is tough! I find it very fortunate that I’m still able to work digitally now at my own pace. I still casually play some percussion, ukulele, and a bit of bass!

Do you ever write much of your own music?

I do! Though I’m often very shy to share it. In the coming years I’m hoping to come out of my shell and share more, especially for a portfolio’s sake. And perhaps everyone will hear something I’ve written even sooner than that!

Caption: Interestingly, they also created the soundtrack for the indie game Mythic Prelude, a game by Dmitri Lowell that can be downloaded and played here.

Onto YouTube now. What inspired you to start a channel?

I honestly can’t remember the specifics! Maybe it had something to do with the scope of its audience? New musicians have always had a hard time on social media, and at the time the sharing options were slim. (They still are, honestly). YouTube seemed like a good compromise between audience interaction, and being able to share audio quickly.

And why was it a video game remix channel?

It just seemed like the most fun thing for me to do! And I think that’s still kinda the mentality today, that it’s fun. It was the perfect combination of all my interests, and it felt like a natural fit for the skills I had been developing. There weren’t a lot of expectations going into it really, it started as a place to just share the music that I happened to make. But as folks caught on there was definitely more motivation to continue down the VGM path.

How do you choose which songs to cover?

Songs usually pop into my head as I’m replaying old games, or if I’m thinking about a soundtrack I’m particularly nostalgic for. I also draw inspiration from my friends, as they have a much more encyclopedic knowledge of the classics. Other than that, I loosely follow the trends of new game releases, series anniversaries, holidays, and selections from my community!

Are there any video games you want to cover any songs from in future?

One goal that I keep pushing off into the future is giving Majora’s Mask another go, with my updated sound samples. A lot of my old Majora covers are the foundation of my channel, and I’d love to return to form (Perhaps with a group of live musicians!). Other than that, I’d love to cover more FF6, Chrono Trigger, Pokémon Black and White, and Earthbound.

What’s your favourite cover you’ve done?

That’s a difficult question for me! I’m very critical of my work, and I always have a hard time being satisfied with what I make when I can still see room for improvement. That being said, a few years back I worked on a small collection of Pokémon Mystery Dungeon arrangements with several talented VGM musicians, and it still holds a very dear place in my heart today.

Caption: The Pokemon Mystery Dungeon arrangements are some of their favourites

Any least favourites?

I have a hard time listening to my old work! There’s nothing inherently wrong with it, but I can’t help but cringe a little bit when I hear my old mixing habits and instrument samples.

What are your VGM inspirations?

I have many! My father shared a lot of classical music with me as I grew up, and that was probably the deciding factor for the type of music I primarily arrange. For a general sound, I always fall back on Tchaikovsky, Shostakovich, Mahler, the Boulanger sisters, and for something more modern, the film composer John Powell. For actual VGM folks, it’s hard not to be inspired by Koji Kondo and Nobuo Uematsu (The list goes on forever). Any big SNES soundtrack likely played a huge role in the way I like to frame music. More casually, I can usually be found listening to ABBA, DEVO, Within Temptation, and AJR.

Have you ever done any kind of music work outside of YouTube?

While the music still appears on YouTube, I’ve been very proudly providing the soundtrack for Lilith Walther’s Bloodborne PSX project, a recreation of Bloodborne’s first zone in the style of a classic PS1 game. It’s been a complete dream to reimagine Bloodborne’s soundtrack with a retro twist. For the moment my music work exists entirely online, but I’d love to branch out if the right local opportunity presents itself!

Caption: They also worked on Bloodbourne PSX, a fan made recreation of the game’s first zone

Are you intending to continue producing this kind of content, or do you have any plans to change your direction in the future?

For now, I don’t have any plans to stop arranging. In the future I see myself making more focused albums and changing minor visual elements, but the core content will remain the same. If I had to think hypothetically, there have been some requests to do arranging and virtual instrument tutorials, but it may be a good while before I feel ready to appear in my videos, if at all.

Are you happy with how you’ve been doing on YouTube?

I’m mostly surprised! Going into this I had no expectation that I’d be even close to where I am now. I’m not sure if I’ll ever get over the shock that there are people out there who listen to what I do. This year in particular has been my biggest year for growth, and I can’t wait to see if I can go any farther!

What motivates you to keep working on music?

I think the fact that it’s fun and engaging is enough to avoid regular burnouts. Doing creative work can cut through monotonous days and depressive spells, but at the same time making your hobby your work can have some serious downsides. The best thing I (try) to do is pace myself, and take scheduled breaks.

Are you happy with how people have responded to your work?

The positivity is completely shocking! Honestly, most days it doesn’t feel real, and that I’m still a brand new channel stressing over whether or not folks will like what I’ve made. But I’ve met so many wonderful people, and so many have been overwhelmingly kind. I feel like I’m still learning to take it to heart, but in the meantime I’m just so honored people enjoy what I do.

Is there a cover that you’d do differently now with hindsight?

Oh plenty. The more I learn, the more I want to go back and redo everything I’ve ever done. This year I’ve even attempted to revisit some songs I’ve already covered, and I’m planning to do that more in 2022!

How do you feel about the progress you’ve made since starting your channel?

It’s really wonderful to see how much it’s grown! (It’s always a puzzle figuring out where all these people come from). I’m always ready to go beyond, but at the end of the day this channel is the best thing that’s ever happened to me, and I’ve met some of my greatest friends and family as a result of this work. So numbers aside, that’s enough for this work to feel completely satisfactory.

Otherwise, I really can’t wait to see where I’m swept off to next!

What advice would you give other creators wanting to get started on YouTube? Or who want to become musicians in general?

YouTube is a strange beast – I’m still figuring it out myself! I think something that helps though is consistency. Don’t be afraid to regularly upload your music! You never know what’ll stick. For musicians, the most important advice I can give is to frequently and deeply listen from as many eras and genres of music as you can. Really familiarize yourself with how instruments sound, how they’re mixed, their constraints, and their strengths. Don’t be afraid to regularly compare mixes with your music and another song that inspires you! If you’re lucky enough to have a study score for a piece you enjoy, pick apart how the composer accomplished their sound! But my greatest advice is to remember that realism, perfection, and genre conformity is never the goal – make something YOU like, make something to look forward to.

Thanks Evelyn, those are some great answers there! It was really interesting to read about your work and influences, and we’re very excited to see where your channels goes in future.

And yeah, you’re 100% right there. Genre conformity is never the goal. YouTube isn’t just a box ticking episode where you take someone else’s work and clone it. You won’t become successful by going through the motions and copying other people.

No, YouTube requires originality and passion. Otherwise, burn out and failure are all that’ll follow.

Trust us, we’ve seen it a million times. The copycats never win, and pretending to be something you’re not online is just asking for a quick trip to miseryville.

Still, if you found the interview interesting, check out the Noble Demon’s work on social media via the links below…

Then tell us your thoughts on everything in the comments below, on social media or on the Gaming Reinvented Discord server today!

The Noble Demon on Social Media:

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