As anyone who has spent their formative years chasing mushrooms or trying to keep up with a super-speedy hedgehog, the soundtracks from classic video games are very much burned into the brains of filmmakers Nick Dwyer and Tu Neill.
“These tunes feature some of the catchiest and most beautiful melodies I have ever heard,” says Dwyer. “If you look at Super Mario, the theme is one of the most recognisable melodies in the world. These guys really had it down to an art form.”
The guys he’s talking about are the unsung heroes of your childhood, musical pioneers who are being justly hailed in Red Bull Music Academy’s brand-new documentary series, Diggin’ In The Carts.
Created to coincide with the Academy’s first foray to the Far East between October 12 and November 14 for RBMA Tokyo 2014, this six-part homage to the art of bleeps and bloops explores the history of Japanese video game music from the 8-bit era up to now.
“We want to show that these Japanese men and women had an incredible influence on the global culture and on some of the biggest names in modern music,” says Dwyer.
Each episode looks at a different moment in the history of video-game music and talks to composers including the likes of Hirokazu “Hip” Tanaka, who gave us the sounds of Tetris and Metroid, Streets Of Rage soundsmith Yuzo Koshiro and Final Fantasy musician Nobuo Uematsu. These rare interviews are interspersed with the thoughts of some of their biggest fans – modern luminaries like Flying Lotus, Dizzee Rascal, Just Blaze and their contemporaries.
“You can see how a contemporary beatmaker like Just Blaze was heavily influenced by a composer like Yuzo Koshiro, who wrote an incredible soundtrack to Streets Of Rage in the early '90s while frequently going to Tokyo’s famous nightclub Yellow,” says Dwyer. “Through Kushiro’s game music, so many young kids around the world encountered house and techno for the first time.”
Get a taster of what to expect from the series in the trailer at the top of the page. You can watch the first episode of Diggin’ In The Carts – which looks at the birth of videogame music here on Red Bull Music or at the Red Bull Music Academy website on Thursday, September 4.