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Talking with Tommy Tallarico, Part 2

Talking with Tommy Tallarico, Part 2 (photo)

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The chat with the maestro of Video Games Live includes comparison between the games and films differ in their treatment of music. Tommy Tallarico also offers up thoughts on why video game music is specially situated to make lasting impression on players. (See part one.)

Have there been times when you’ve been playing a game and it has been like, “Okay, this music works. I want it?”

One of the segments we just added in is a game that no one really ever bought. It’s a recent game that wasn’t really popular. “Afrika,” I don’t if you played that one.

I didn’t play it.

Some people didn’t like it — it’s a photojournalist kind of thing, but I loved the game. And the music is just incredible; that’s in our show now. In fact, in San Diego, we did the world premiere of “End of Nations,” which is this big military RTS game, that had a big splash, won a lot of Editors’ Choice awards at E3 a few weeks ago. That one is not coming out till the end of the year but has some great music by the composer who did all the “Command & Conquer” music, Frank Klepacki.

C&C is another one of those franchises with a rabid fan base, so they’ll be stoked. And getting kind of, I guess, at the core dynamic that drives the show, do you feel like there is a special relationship between music and gameplay?

Oh, absolutely! In fact, more so than film and television. The music for film and television — it’s called background music or incidental music. And the reason is that you need to relate those films and television stories through dialog. So, there’s a lot of talking in films and television. So the music is always secondary, unless you get the big title theme or the big chase scene or whatever, then the music is out front.

Well, in video games, I like to call what we do foreground music. Not background, but foreground music. It’s the music that drives the interactivity and the design, that’s what drives video games. Yes, there is story, yes, there is dialog, but mostly it’s about the action. Viewers may get a few big action scenes watching a film. But you get that big action scene in every level of a video game. And the music reflects that.

And the other difference is that, obviously our stuff is interactive as well, so it’s changing, it’s morphing. It’s almost as if the player is the conductor sometimes, where it’s changing and morphing. But then I will give you the biggest difference, is that, let’s compare, again, let’s compare to films, as we always do, and say, I can see the latest — watch a movie like ‘Avatar’ and you see it in the theater and for two hours, you heard two hours of music, most of which was probably under dialog, right?


And then maybe six months later you buy the Blu-ray or the DVD, you take it home, you watch it again, and again, you get this same experience. Now, I will also ask you this, hum me the theme to “Avatar,” how does that go?

I have no idea.

Exactly! Because there was a lot of talking over it, there was a lot of dialog, and it had its place, and they had some big action scenes, and you heard the music, but for the most part, you heard the entire score, probably about four hours this year, 80% of which was being talked over.

Now, let’s take a game like “Halo”. Now, hum me the melody from “Halo”? Boom! Took you two seconds, you knew it, right? And people are playing games like ‘Halo’ and ‘World of Warcraft’ 20, 30 hours a week, and the music is out front, and in your face, and driving the action and the interactivity.

So again, when you compare video games to films, it’s not even in the same league. And I would go as far as saying, and if you can think of — if you can call me — call me a liar, please let me know, because I can’t think of anything else, I would go on record as saying that no time ever in the history of the world has more music been played more often than in video games.

And you are just saying about sheer volume of the amount of video games?

The amount of time that people listen. People who play 30, 40 hours of “Warcraft” a week, from months and months on end, I mean that’s the equivalent of taking your favorite recording, say, “Led Zeppelin IV,” or Pink Floyd’s “The Wall,” or your favorite Beatles, like “White Album”… That would be like putting that on repeat for 40 hours. And I mean, I am sure in the 60s people were freaking out on LSD and doing that.

Overall as an industry, no one hears more music at one time than during a video game, I would imagine. Maybe I’m wrong, but where else are people listening to 40 hours of music of the same thing a week for months and months at a time?

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A-O Rewind

Celebrating Portlandia One Sketch at a Time

The final season of Portlandia approaches.

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Most people measure time in minutes, hours, days, years…At IFC, we measure it in sketches. And nothing takes us way (waaaaaay) back like Portlandia sketches. Yes, there’s a Portlandia milepost from every season that changed the way we think, behave, and pickle things. In honor of Portlandia’s 8th and final season, Subaru presents a few of our favorites.


Put A Bird On It

Portlandia enters the pop-culture lexicon and inspires us to put birds on literally everything.

Colin the Chicken

Who’s your chicken, really? Behold the emerging locavore trend captured perfectly to the nth degree.

Dream Of The ’90s

This treatise on Portland made it clear that “the dream” was alive and well.

No You Go

We Americans spend most of our lives in cars. Fortunately, there’s a Portlandia sketch for every automotive situation.

A-O River!

We learned all our outdoor survival skills from Kath and Dave.

One More Episode

The true birth of binge watching, pre-Netflix. And what you’ll do once Season 8 premieres.

Catch up on Portlandia’s best moments before the 8th season premieres January 18th on IFC.

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WTF Films

Artfully Off

Celebrity All-Star by Sisters Weekend is available now on IFC's Comedy Crib.

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Sisters Weekend isn’t like other comedy groups. It’s filmmaking collaboration between besties Angelo Balassone, Michael Fails and Kat Tadesco, self-described lace-front addicts with great legs who write, direct, design and produce video sketches and cinematic shorts that are so surreally hilarious that they defy categorization. One such short film, Celebrity All-Star, is the newest addition to IFC’s Comedy Crib. Here’s what they had to say about it in a very personal email interview…


IFC: How would you describe Celebrity All-Star to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Celebrity All-Star is a short film about an overworked reality TV coordinator struggling to save her one night off after the cast of C-List celebrities she wrangles gets locked out of their hotel rooms.

IFC: How would you describe Celebrity All-Star to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Sisters Weekend: It’s this short we made for IFC where a talent coordinator named Karen babysits a bunch of weird c-list celebs who are stuck in a hotel bar. It’s everyone you hate from reality TV under one roof – and that roof leaks because it’s a 2-star hotel. There’s a magician, sexy cowboys, and a guy wearing a belt that sucks up his farts.


IFC: What was the genesis of Celebrity All-Star?

Celebrity All-Star was born from our love of embarrassing celebrities. We love a good c-lister in need of a paycheck! We were really interested in the canned politeness people give off when forced to mingle with strangers. The backstory we created is that the cast of this reality show called “Celebrity All-Star” is in the middle of a mandatory round of “get to know each other” drinks in the hotel bar when the room keys stop working. Shows like Celebrity Ghost Hunters and of course The Surreal Life were of inspo, but we thought it
was funny to keep it really vague what kind of show they’re on, and just focus on everyone’s diva antics after the cameras stop rolling.

IFC: Every celebrity in Celebrity All-Star seems familiar. What real-life pop personalities did you look to for inspiration?

Sisters Weekend: Anyone who is trying to plug their branded merch that no one asked for. We love low-rent celebrity. We did, however, directly reference Kylie Jenner’s turd-raison lip color for our fictional teen celebutante Gibby Kyle (played by Mary Houlihan).


IFC: Celebrity seems disgusting yet desirable. What’s your POV? Do you crave it, hate it, or both?

Sisters Weekend: A lot of people chase fame. If you’re practical, you’ll likely switch to chasing success and if you’re smart, you’ll hopefully switch to chasing happiness. But also, “We need money. We need hits. Hits bring money, money bring power, power bring fame, fame change the game,” Young Thug.


IFC: Who are your comedy idols?

Sisters Weekend: Mike grew up renting “Monty Python” tapes from the library and staying up late to watch 2000’s SNL, Kat was super into Andy Kaufman and “Kids In The Hall” in high school, and Angelo was heavily influenced by “Strangers With Candy” and Anna Faris in the Scary Movie franchise, so, our comedy heroes mesh from all over. But, also we idolize a lot of the people we work with in NY-  Lorelei Ramirez, Erin Markey, Mary Houlihan, who are all in the film, Amy Zimmer, Ana Fabrega, Patti Harrison, Sam Taggart. Geniuses! All of Em!

IFC: What’s your favorite moment from the film?

Sisters Weekend: I mean…seeing Mary Houlihan scream at an insane Pomeranian on an iPad is pretty great.

See Sisters Weekend right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib

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Reality? Check.

Baroness For Life

Baroness von Sketch Show is available for immediate consumption.

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Baroness von Sketch Show is snowballing as people have taken note of its subtle and not-so-subtle skewering of everyday life. The New York Times, W Magazine, and Vogue have heaped on the praise, but IFC had a few more probing questions…

IFC: To varying degrees, your sketches are simply scripted examples of things that actually happen. What makes real life so messed up?

Aurora: Hubris, Ego and Selfish Desires and lack of empathy.

Carolyn: That we’re trapped together in the 3rd Dimension.

Jenn: 1. Other people 2. Other people’s problems 3. Probably something I did.

IFC: A lot of people I know have watched this show and realized, “Dear god, that’s me.” or “Dear god, that’s true.” Why do people have their blinders on?

Aurora: Because most people when you’re in the middle of a situation, you don’t have the perspective to step back and see yourself because you’re caught up in the moment. That’s the job of comedians is to step back and have a self-awareness about these things, not only saying “You’re doing this,” but also, “You’re not the only one doing this.” It’s a delicate balance of making people feel uncomfortable and comforting them at the same time.


IFC: Unlike a lot of popular sketch comedy, your sketches often focus more on group dynamics vs iconic individual characters. Why do you think that is and why is it important?

Meredith: We consider the show to be more based around human dynamics, not so much characters. If anything we’re more attracted to the energy created by people interacting.

Jenn: So much of life is spent trying to work it out with other people, whether it’s at work, at home, trying to commute to work, or even on Facebook it’s pretty hard to escape the group.

IFC: Are there any comedians out there that you feel are just nailing it?

Aurora: I love Key and Peele. I know that their show is done and I’m in denial about it, but they are amazing because there were many times that I would imagine that Keegan Michael Key was in the scene while writing. If I could picture him saying it, I knew it would work. I also kind of have a crush on Jordan Peele and his performance in Big Mouth. Maya Rudolph also just makes everything amazing. Her puberty demon on Big Mouth is flawless. She did an ad for 7th generation tampons that my son, my husband and myself were singing around the house for weeks. If I could even get anything close to her career, I would be happy. I’m also back in love with Rick and Morty. I don’t know if I have a crush on Justin Roiland, I just really love Rick (maybe even more than Morty). I don’t have a crush on Jerry, the dad, but I have a crush on Chris Parnell because he’s so good at being Jerry.



IFC: If you could go back in time and cast yourselves in any sitcom, which would it be and how would it change?

Carolyn: I’d go back in time and cast us in The Partridge Family.  We’d make an excellent family band. We’d have a laugh, break into song and wear ruffled blouses with velvet jackets.  And of course travel to all our gigs on a Mondrian bus. I feel really confident about this choice.

Meredith: Electric Mayhem from The Muppet Show. It wouldn’t change, they were simply perfect, except… maybe a few more vaginas in the band.

Binge the entire first and second seasons of Baroness von Sketch Show now on and the IFC app.

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