The sound and style of iosys can be described as electronic music, or more accurately as complex technical beats and rhythms with unique melodies, extremely dark atmospheres, chill vibes, and a high amount of experimentation. It is truly unique, hand crafted music that you haven’t heard anywhere else. Some genres that influence this style would be: Drum and Bass, Trip-Hop, Classical, Experimental, IDM, Glitch, Ambient, New Age, Soundtracks, and Industrial.
Music production is something that I’ve had a strong passion for ever since I was young. I can recall a time when I knew nothing about music other than how it sounded to my eardrums, and how I wrote piano “scores” by noting down each key on the keyboard, based on sequential order (1 through 49 on a 49 key piano). It was tedious but at the very least I was able to translate those ideas into something I could reproduce until perfected. Without doubt, I’ve had a very unconventional self-taught introduction to music composition and theory.
I created my first few songs under the name iodine in the year 1999, and while these songs definitely have an amateur sound, they carry the essence of my modern, experimental style. I retired the name iodine for a more unique name and began releasing music as iosys in 2001.
I don’t like to limit my creativity to any single genre, yet most of my songs consist of classical elements such as piano and strings, with an ambient or dark vibe. It may be the vast range of music I listen to, and my auto-didactic tendencies, which lends me this convoluted, experimental style.
Where there’s competition, there’s a strive for excellence
I started out with just a computer, $10 speakers from Target, and some free (terrible) music software that came with my sound card, whose main purpose was to play sampled wave files in 3-Dimensional space using EAX.
The best way to learn is to dive right in and start experimenting.
It started one day in a friends garage with a pending game of Quake 2 Lithium 2. Sooner or later someone started making wicked cool sounds out of their PC, and after several interrogations this led some of us to installing the free Future Beat 3D software that came with our SonicVortex2 sound cards with 3D “Aureal” technology. Who would’ve thought? A bunch of geeks in a garage competing to make the ultimate song with Future Beat’s sound clip library:
For those of us who found interest in music, we eventually switched to better software. Orion Pro was the first good sequencer we found; it really opened up a world of experimentation with music that I never knew possible. I just sat there for hours turning knobs and nudging sliders to fine tune the sound in real-time. The Orion Samplers were by far the coolest with their unique parameters – we could load up our voice recordings, automate the starting offset linearly, and trigger the sample ~10 times per second for the duration of the sample to create a cool vocal effect. We spent hundreds of hours coming up with our own techniques. Our LAN parties quickly turned into music collaborations.
I did not produce a good song in the first few years; the music was just too terrible for someone to enjoy. There was so much to learn and I was tackling it all at once. Synths, MIDI, VSTs, songwriting, music theory, etc. I also had high school going. Music was like skateboarding, something fun to do with friends. As I started producing some really unique sounds that people thought were great, I gained the confidence to take it as a serious hobby and devote some time/money to it. My amateur songs are still available to the public, because like any budding artist we all start somewhere, and I have no shame in my roots.
Sequencing and humanizing notes manually wasn’t so difficult in software like Orion Pro and Fruity Loops, and it was not until several years later that I set my eyes on a MIDI keyboard controller.
When I was still a kid, the newest babysitter on the block was the Nintendo Entertainment System. Parents all over America had sudden relief from their children, and the children had sudden relief from their boredom. The music from Nintendo’s video games were very inspiring and memorable to me at the time (it’s not like I wasn’t a kid absorbing the world or anything) and as it turns out, the composers from this 8-bit era evolved with the technology and they continue to create some of the most diverse, highly acclaimed music in the video game industry to this day. They made the perfect investment too, while the music industry recently collapsed, the game industry has surpassed the movie and music industries in gross sales.
Nobuo Uematsu, the japanese video game music composer responsible for scoring many of the Final Fantasy games, is without a doubt the most notable musician from this era. It was his character themes, tear jerkers, and epic heart pumping battle music heard in songs like The Decisive Battle and One Winged Angel that gave Final Fantasy its devastatingly emotional effect. I firmly believe that without Mr. Uematsu, the Final Fantasy series could have never made it to the top. Chrono Trigger, another excellent title created by the same studio, was catapulted into classic status with the help of Yasunori Mitsuda’s excellent soundtrack.
Nintendo may have started the habit, but another game system – Sony PlayStation – continued my obsession with video game soundtracks due to some excellent titles like the horror series Silent Hill, where Akira Yamaoka nails the atmosphere perfectly with his eerie, monotonous vibe reminiscent to Aphex Twin’s Selected Ambient Works, Volume II. Perhaps the greatest thing about Playstation was Sony’s successful bid for Final Fantasy, so again we had Nobuo Uematsu putting out some of the most awe inspiring music ever, as heard in Final Fantasy VII for the PlayStation.
(This part is incomplete)
Some artists and bands that have influenced my style, which I also highly recommend:
|Nobuo Uematsu (Final Fantasy)||Opeth (Prog Metal)||Infected Mushroom (Psytrance)|
|Harold Budd (New Age)||Persephone (Folk)||Gridlok (Drum & Bass)|
|Yasunori Mitsuda (Chrono Trigger)||The Cinematic Orchestra (Jazz)||Biosphere (Ambient)|
|Paco De Lucia (Flamenco Guitarist)||Gazpacho (Prog Rock)||Daft Punk (House)|
|Akira Yamaoka (Silent Hill)||The Dear Hunter (Prog Rock)||Shpongle (Psytrance)|
|Matt Uelmen (Diablo II)||Deradoorian (Triphop)||Aphex Twin (Ambient, Techno)|
|Clint Mansell (Requiem for a Dream, Pi)||Amon Tobin (Triphop)|
|Ennio Morricone (Western Films)||AnalogX (Techno, Programming)|
I have experience using some of the finest tools in the industry, including:
- Most of the major DAW’s (Cubase, Reason, Orion Platinum, FL Studio)
- Some of the major VST instruments (Omnisphere, Absynth, Reaktor, Kore2, Kontakt, Guitar Rig)
This equipment gets the job done:
- Custom PC – AMD Quad-Core
- Sound Blaster X-Fi HD USB Soundcard
- Edirol PCR-50 MIDI Keyboard Controller (broken! darnit!)
- Les Paul Studio Electric Guitar
- Audio-Technica MB 1k Dynamic Microphone
- FL Studio
- Guitar Rig
- Various samples, soundfonts and vst instruments
Love That Tune
This is an experimental music appreciation section that I’m not quite sure what to do with yet, but it highlights the similarities that I’ve found between songs from different artists, sometimes from completely different genres, purely from hearing right away the familiar melody, rhythm, beat or track.
|Camel – Lunar Sea (7:15)||Opeth – Patterns In The Ivy II (3:17)
(Similar riff, about half speed)
|Deradoorian – High Road (4:00)
|Elton John – Bennie & The Jets (0:55)
“You know I read it in a maga-zi-iiiine oh, ho”
|No Doubt – In My Head||Pat Benetar – It’s a Tuff Life
|Led Zeppelin – Kashmir||Final Fantasy VII – Inflitrating Shinra Tower
(Main melody similar to Kashmir riff)
|Metallica – For Whom The Bell Tolls (3:56)||Final Fantasy VII – Those Who Fight Further
(Intro riff similar to For Whom The Bell Tolls riff, slightly faster)
|Jimi Hendrix – Purple Haze||Final Fantasy VII – One Winged Angel
(Intro riff similar to Purple Haze)
|Boston – Smokin’||Final Fantasy VII – Still More Fighting|
|Twinkle Twinkle Little Star||Gotye – Somebody That I Used to Know
(Xylophone melody very similar to Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, with a note roll in place of the word “Little”)
|Eddy Grant – Electric Avenue
“We gonna rock down to, electric avenue”
|Rita Ora – How We Do
“Cause when the sun sets baby, on the avenue” (Shares the same syllable rhythm and word “avenue”)
|Sugaray – Fly
“Put your arms around me baby, put your arms around me baby”
|Rita Ora – How We Do
“So put your arms around me baby, keep tearin’ up the town” (Shares the same syllable rhythm and entire vocal phrase)
|Eminem – My Name Is||Miguel – Kaleidoscope Dream
(Shares the same beat+bass track)
|No Doubt – Don’t Speak
“You and me, we used to be together; Everyday together; always”
|Miguel – Girls Like You
“Someone, anyone to listen; I feel like I’m missing the real thing” (Shares the same syllable rhythm)
|Bach – Tocatta and Fugue in D minor||Final Fantasy VI – Dancing Mad
Ulver – It Is Not Sound
(An organ masterpiece, adapted across the world for it’s cathedral/gothic/ominous/meditation undertones)
|DJ Shadow – Organ Donor||iosys – Onix Boundary
(Yep, listing one of my own songs! Didn’t know about DJ Shadow when I composed this; the main organ riffs are very similar, Onix Boundary’s being slightly faster)
|David McCallum – The Edge (1967)||Emperor Penguin – Burnt Sienna and Avocado
Dr. Dre – The Next Episode (1999)
(Both songs directly sampled from “The Edge”)
|Final Fantasy VI – The Mines of Narshe Listen||Beyonce – Superpower Listen
(First 10 seconds very similar, one slightly faster)
|Terranigma – Evergreen (0:15) Listen||Ragnarok Online – Streamside (0:18) Listen|
|Beethoven – Fur Elise||iodine – culture Listen
(I produced this song over 10 years ago under an amateur alias)
Craig Urquhart – Along the Seine Listen
(Sounds like an extended play/homage to Beethoven)
|Tom Petty – I Won’t Back Down||Sam Smith – Stay With Me
(Main vocal pattern is nearly the same)
|Ragnarok Online – Zingaro Listen||Ronald Jenkees – Clutter Listen
(Main melody follows similar riff)
|Final Fantasy IV – Main Theme Listen||Anima – Incubating In Ice (0:28) Listen
(Main melody follows same pattern)
For me, this insight shows how pop music is made, and perhaps why it has proven to be universally arousing. We can see how a nostalgic melody from a children’s song can be reborn as a classic hit in Gotye’s Somebody That I Used to Know, allowing us to reach way back into the dustier domain of our brains where some reminiscing feelings that you used to know are surely kept. Pop music hints on something way larger than just the music it was meant to be. It is a super genre, an amalgamation of that which has been memorable, preferable, and prolific throughout music’s history. You might say music is always evolving and inscribing culture along the way, much like how our brains remember certain things among the vast amount of input we endure. It is a language not unlike English which we use to convey our understanding of the human condition and life here on Earth; a way of coping in our strife. But unlike English and those who creatively abuse it, music is also an expression of how to live and think freely in a way that transcends malicious intent and asks us not to understand life from one skewed viewpoint, but to appreciate life from any and every angle. Music is awesome.