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Interview with The Legend of Zelda Symphony of the Goddesses Producer Jason Michael Paul

The Legend of Zelda Symphony of the Goddesses has pleased the ears of millions of Zelda fans and music lovers alike since 2012. In the symphony’s third season titled “Master Quest”, the tour expanded to include venues around the globe. We got the opportunity to talk to the Executive Producer of the concert series Jason Michael Paul. Please enjoy our conversation with the man behind one of the most beloved video game concert series of all time.


 

Top Shelf Gaming: You’ve mentioned before that it was difficult for you to find musicians who wanted to perform video game music. How did you ultimately convince an orchestra to get behind the proposed musical content.

Jason Michael Paul: It is not about convincing the musicians or orchestras to perform the music. For the first stateside video game music concert with Dear Friends- Music from FINAL FANTASY I hired the LA Phil and LA Master Chorale. The fact that people are paying to see video games music performed live at venues that have grown old with seats. It is programs like this that breathe fresh air into the halls and a new generation of symphony goers.

With the new Zelda game for Wii U slated for a 2016 release, are you already preparing new music for next year’s tour based off of themes from the unreleased game?

JMP: We’re so excited for the new game and have many ideas in mind for the future – but for now we’re concentrating and putting our efforts toward Master Quest. We’re continuing to add more and more tour dates!

How has the SotG evolved over the years? What new things can fans expect to see on this leg of the tour?

JMP: It started with Nintendo asking me to produce the opening for the E3 press event at the Nokia in 2010. I produced three concerts in London, Tokyo, and LA as part of the 25th Anniversary series of concerts. I also produced the Orchestral CD that was included as part of the bundle with Skyword Sword. After the success of the 25th Anniversary concerts I came up with a touring show, Symphony of the Goddesses and the rest as they say, is history. We wanted to represent some of the newer games – for instance there’s never before seen or heard themes from “A Link Between Worlds” and the brand-new “Majora’s Mask”. It was a careful balance between old favorites and new content.

What are some of the criticisms you’ve received about the show? Have you addressed any of these concerns?

I believe I have addressed any criticisms of the show. We are constantly improving the show. I am my own worst critic so as you can imagine the show continues to get tighter and tighter. I have been doing this over a decade- producing VGM concerts and I think Zelda Symphony is one of the finest productions on tour today.

What is it like to work with legendary composers like Koji Kondo?

It has been the honor of my career to work with the likes of Koji Kondo and everyone over at Nintendo involved with the Zelda franchise.

Do you think concerts like these add to the credibility of video games being a true art form?

Of course. Videogames are true multimedia with so many levels of experience – audio and visual. Zelda Symphony tries to marry the two for people to experience in an awesome, over-whelming way.

What is your musical background? 

I studied percussion, piano, and guitar in my youth. I production managed my first Luciano Pavarotti concert at the Fleet a Center in Boston at the young age of 24. That is where my true appreciation for symphony and opera concerts began. I have worked with many artists in the past including Elton John, Michael McDonald, Outkast, Macy Gray, Beck, Foo Fighters.

How did you get into producing concerts?

My first shows were for corporate clients such as Playstation,Sun Microsystems, Bank of America, Square Enix. The first concert I produced on my own was Dear Friends in 2004. Meaning it was a JMPPINC production.

How has music shaped you as a person?

It has definitely inspired me to be the best I can be at everything I want to be called on to do in life.

How have video games shaped you as a person?

See above. Music and video games go hand in hand for me. They both motivate me to continue to evolve and find creative ways to present.

What is your favorite Zelda game? What does it mean to you?

Ocarina of Time is my all-time favorite!

Will this concert appeal to non-Zelda fans? Will it appeal non-gamers?

Yes! There are so many ways to appreciate Zelda Symphony – for fans of the franchise they’ll be able to experience their favorite virtual experience in reality, and fans of music will appreciate the gorgeous live music. It is truly a special evening out that anyone can enjoy.

Where do you see the SotG going from here?

While we’re focused on Master Quest currently, we’re always open to new exciting opportunities. I hope to be announcing some of these ideas soon!


 

The tour kicked off on May 22 in Vancouver but with over 30 tour dates still slated through the rest of the year there’s still plenty of time to see this season of The Legend of Zelda Symphony of the Goddesses. You can buy tickets here!

For more on Jason Michael Paul follow him on Twitter and check out his website.

Written by Marcus Garrett

Marcus created Top Shelf Gaming to celebrate the awesome things about the video game industry while challenging the areas of the video game community that could be improved. He loves playing guitar and eating tacos, but never at the same time.

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