Robert Mai joined the DinoByte team back in September as the composer for our upcoming game Midli, and we pestered him with 21 questions to help you get to know him better!
How did you end up working with DinoByte Labs, and what exactly do you do?
I wanted to start writing music for video games and decided to browse Kickstarter for potential projects. It wasn’t long before I came across Midli, and immediately fell in love with the story and beautiful artwork. I immediately started pestering DinoByte with emails and music samples, and after a couple of weeks of talking back and forth and sharing ideas, it was clear that we shared the same creative kinship. Luckily, they decided to bring me on board, and the rest was history!
What was your favorite game growing up?
I grew up in the age of old-school N64 platformers, so it’s a tough choice… I would say a three-way tie between Super Mario 64, Banjo Kazooie, and Rayman 2, although if forced to pick, Rayman 2 is closest to my wacky sense of humor. However, my favorite game of all time is Majora’s Mask, although I just started playing that a couple years ago so it doesn’t really count.
Which games composer inspires you?
My favorite video game composer is Austin Wintory, hands down! I listen to his albums for Journey and ABZU once or twice a month, if not more, and his whole body of work is just sheer brilliance. I also love Grant Kirkhope, Koji Kondo, and Peter McConnell. Currently obsessed with the music from Cuphead. Previously obsessed with the music from Ori and the Blind Forest… bring on the sequel!
Biggest video game character crush?
Samus Aran. I guess I’m just really into strong, independent female characters that wield guns and attitude, heh heh.
What’s your favorite thing about working on games?
The freedom of unbound creativity! I love being able to create music that has structure, that is able to take on a life of its own without having to support dialogue, scene changes, or editing cuts, and yet is enormously critical to the atmosphere of the game world. Being able to explore my own musical voice and write something so intensely personal and intimate is an untold blessing. And being able to collaborate with wonderful people that share my geeky interests is icing on the cake!
If you could be teleported into any game world, which would it be?
STARDEW VALLEY. I want my own farm. I want my own vegetable patch. And I must marry the love of my life, Maru. It’s such a soothing, peaceful world, but there are little strains of darkness and imperfection that make it even more appealing to me. I would also love the life of an NPC in Breath of the Wild.
What game are you currently loving and why?
Without a doubt, Cuphead. It looks gorgeous, it sounds gorgeous, and it’s SO GODDAMN HARD but I can’t hate it for that. Brb, going to fight Cala Maria for the 10,000th time…
Favorite soundtrack of all time?
Boy, that’s an impossible question! I created my top ten favorite soundtracks of all time, but the order changes from day to day. Right now, it goes: Star Wars 4 & 5, Cutthroat Island, Lord of the Rings Trilogy, Legends of the Fall, How to Train Your Dragon 1 & 2, The Land Before Time, Jurassic Park, Vertigo, Conan the Barbarian, and Star Trek: The Motion Picture.
What’s one thing you can’t be without while composing?
My piano is my #1 most important tool! 90% of all themes I come up with start at the piano, or by humming and then playing it out at the piano. I’m not even that good of a piano player (I learned violin in my youth), but I trained myself to play most chords. It really helps me compose on the fly.
Who is your favorite composer?
In film music, it’s a three-way-tie between James Horner, Jerry Goldsmith, and John Williams. In Broadway, probably Lin-Manuel Miranda. And for rock, Pink Floyd.
What’s been the most fun project you’ve worked on so far?
Apart from the video game projects that I’m currently working on, my favorite project to date was a short film called Intrepid. It’s a fantasy adventure that involved witches and wizards at a magical university, so I got to fulfill a lifelong dream of writing something in the vein of Harry Potter.
Do you have a favorite instrument or sound?
The didgeridoo! It’s a funky Australian wind instrument with really resonant bass tones. I think I slipped it into four or five different projects to date, including Midli.
Best thing to listen to while you work?
Whenever I compose and need to take a break, I actually take a break from listening to music and usually cue up Let’s play videos, podcasts, science videos from Vsauce, basically anything where people are just talking. Or I cue up some ocean sounds and do a little meditation. Otherwise, the only thing I get to listen to while working is my own music. :p
Chaotic neutral! I love sowing silly chaos everywhere I go, which is why I’m probably not the easiest D&D player to get along with when a group has to adhere to a tight, coherent story. One of my previous characters was Nicholas Cagenus the Third, a disgraced dwarf actor that was prone to diva-ish behavior.
Meyer Briggs personality type?
ENPF, or Campaigner personality.
Which fictional character are you most like?
Ben Wyatt from Parks and Recreation. My favorite fictional dork of all time!
If you could have one magical power what would it be?
To be honest, the power of amazing luck! That way, I’m not actively manipulating others in order to achieve my own goals, nor am I possessive of a dangerous power that’ll land me on government lists. Mind control or reading minds is a little too invasive for me, despite how cool it sounds.
In real life, are you more of a warrior, rogue or mage and why?
Definitely a rogue! I love to play by my own rules and drifting from place to place or project to project. I can be pretty mischievous and indulge in wacky antics, but always with a healthy dose of lovable charm.
Hufflepuff all the way, baby!
Do you prefer playing on PC, console, mobile or tabletop?
I am open to playing on any platform, but when it comes to multiplayer I definitely prefer console or tabletop.
Most importantly, what is your favorite donut?
Jelly-filled or glazed blueberry!
How does the rest of the team describe Robert?
"Amazingly talented! Keep an eye on this guy, cause he is going places! Hope he comes to the UK sometime so we can properly have a nerdy team gathering."
- Louise Leolin
"Robert was a great fit with our team, he's got this energy level and positive attitude that matches my own crazy excitement perfectly!"
- Christian Lovdal
We hope you've liked getting to know Robert! Midli's Soundtrack is still available at a pre-order discount when ordering from IndieGoGo InDemand for just £5 so grab it at this price while you can!