Hello from Christopher Tin

christophertin

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Hello Civ fans,

This is Christopher Tin here. I believe some of you may know me as the guy who wrote 'Baba Yetu', the menu theme to Civ IV.

I've been chatting with some of the Mods about my brand new album release, and they invited me to post here on the forum, and maybe talk about it a little, answer any questions, and generally just hang with you guys for a bit. :)

My new album is called 'God of Love'--it's the debut release from my electronica duo Stereo Alchemy. (For those of you who know my album Calling All Dawns, it's a partnership with Kametron, who played and programmed percussion on the album.) It's not an orchestral album like Calling All Dawns is--it's sort of a fusion of trip hop, synth pop, and post punk. Or to put it another way, if you like bands like Massive Attack, Portishead, Nine Inch Nails, The Postal Service, and M83, you might find something in there that appeals to you.



You can get a free download of our title track 'God of Love' just be clicking the picture above and going to our website. Just enter in your email address, and we'll send you an MP3. (You can also get a free download of our song 'A Rapture' by liking our Facebook page: facebook.com/stereoalchemy)

Another interesting thing about the album: all the lyrics are taken from Renaissance and Romantic Era poetry. A little known fact is that I was an English Literature major (in addition to being a music major) in college, and I actually spent several months at Oxford studying Romantic literature with the grand nephew of William Wordsworth. So I finally got to put my English major to good use. :) We took poems about love and death, from authors like Christina Rossetti, John Donne, and Lord Byron, and turned them into these dark, brooding trip hop songs. And it works!

Anyway, I'm here for the next couple weeks, if anyone wants to ask any questions about the new album, Calling All Dawns, what the Grammys are like, or even Civ/gaming questions. I think the Mods have some other fun things planned too, so be on the lookout for those.

Best,

Chris
 

The_J

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:wavey: hi, glad to have you here :).

[...]
Anyway, I'm here for the next couple weeks, if anyone wants to ask any questions about [...] what the Grammys are like [...]

Directly a good entry point for one of the questions I have :D:
You recieved the most precious award in the music bussiness. After the initial pleasure, is this still somehow...motivating? Or do you rather say "everything achieved, now everything else is boring"? Okay, I guess not the second, because we see you're busy, but does this feeling also sometimes appear?
 

christophertin

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:wavey: hi, glad to have you here :).



Directly a good entry point for one of the questions I have :D:
You recieved the most precious award in the music bussiness. After the initial pleasure, is this still somehow...motivating? Or do you rather say "everything achieved, now everything else is boring"? Okay, I guess not the second, because we see you're busy, but does this feeling also sometimes appear?

You know, the truth is, I don't even keep the Grammys on my shelf. They're still sitting in their boxes, in my closet. I got tired of people coming over and picking them and getting their fingerprints all over them. (They're gold-plated, so you have to use special polishing cloths for them!)

It's a nice thing to have, but it doesn't really change my way of thinking about music, or myself. I'm just going to keep doing things my way... because whatever it is that I did on Calling All Dawns got me some good results, so why change anything?

I will say this, though. Being able to say "Hi, I'm Christopher Tin, and I have two Grammys" makes it a lot easier for me to get my phone calls returned by people in the music business. :) So that's the biggest benefit for me, I think!
 

Camikaze

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Thanks for taking the time to answer some questions! :)

Were you a Civ fan before Baba Yetu, or was your work the first time you'd come across the series?
 

gangleri2001

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Wow!

I've always admired your Baba Yetu. It's one of the best tracks I've heard in the last decade but I've always wondered one thing and I hope you know the answer. Have you ever spoken with a native speaker of Swahili about Baba Yetu? If so, what do they think about it? Is the Swahili in it good enough for a native speaker of that language or do they think that the singers have strong accents?

And that's all I want to know. But since I'm a neopagan I've always wondered why can't we neopagans have our own Baba Yetu. It's not like we lack good musicians, but it's only that, you know, after hearing it so many times I've always wanted to know how would a neopagan Baba Yetu sound like. Anyway, since I know that asking you to compose a neopagan Baba Yetu would be a bit to excessive, I'd like to give you a couple of musical recommendations just in case you ever decide to take some inspiration out of pagan and neopagan sources. I strongly recommend you the Greek band Daemonia Nymphe (&#916;&#945;&#953;&#956;&#972;&#957;&#953;&#945; &#925;&#973;&#956;&#966;&#951; in Greek) and the Norwegian band Wardruna. Here's a couple of tracks so you can hear how do they sound like:


Link to video.


Link to video.

Thank you in advance.

PS: BTW, do you ever use your Chinese name?
 

landlubber

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First off, I want to let you know just how much your work means to me. I have an autographed copy of Calling All Dawns (which I listen to at least once a week in full) and I've pre-ordered the autographed copy of God of Love. I also purchased the orchestral score of Calling All Dawns and I'm working to distill it into one piano part suitable for concert performance. People don't get why you're one of my favorite musicians, even when I put on some of your music. They get frustrated that Calling All Dawns isn't in English. I really like the fact that you were willing to work with so many unique and exotic languages, though, and you're an inspiration to me. My favorite song of yours is Hamsafar, although Hayom Kadosh follows quickly behind. I've also listened to the preview of My Heart's Fit to Break and have fallen in love with it as well.
So, here's my question; why electronic? Not to say that I don't like what I've heard, but it's not really my thing. I like it more for the poetry aspect than the music itself, and I think a lot of your fans would agree that this isn't really what they expected from someone who's already got quite a large fanbase of people expect "World" style music. So, what made you want to form Stereo Alchemy and make God of Love?
 

christophertin

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Thanks for taking the time to answer some questions! :)

Were you a Civ fan before Baba Yetu, or was your work the first time you'd come across the series?

Man, I played Civ from the very beginning of the series. I was in high school when the original came out, and spent ridiculous hours playing it. (You all know what I mean. You know those days when you wake up, start playing, and then nine hours later the sun has set and you haven't showered or eaten anything? Yeah.)

I've played I, III and IV... I have V, but haven't played it yet. Played a little CivWorld too, but not too much yet... hard to find the time these days!

IV has a special place in my heart, though. It's my go-to game these days (when I'm not playing MW3 or Red Dead Redemption).
 

christophertin

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Wow!

I've always admired your Baba Yetu. It's one of the best tracks I've heard in the last decade but I've always wondered one thing and I hope you know the answer. Have you ever spoken with a native speaker of Swahili about Baba Yetu? If so, what do they think about it? Is the Swahili in it good enough for a native speaker of that language or do they think that the singers have strong accents?

And that's all I want to know. But since I'm a neopagan I've always wondered why can't we neopagans have our own Baba Yetu. It's not like we lack good musicians, but it's only that, you know, after hearing it so many times I've always wanted to know how would a neopagan Baba Yetu sound like. Anyway, since I know that asking you to compose a neopagan Baba Yetu would be a bit to excessive, I'd like to give you a couple of musical recommendations just in case you ever decide to take some inspiration out of pagan and neopagan sources. I strongly recommend you the Greek band Daemonia Nymphe (&#916;&#945;&#953;&#956;&#972;&#957;&#953;&#945; &#925;&#973;&#956;&#966;&#951; in Greek) and the Norwegian band Wardruna. Here's a couple of tracks so you can hear how do they sound like:


Link to video.


Link to video.

Thank you in advance.

PS: BTW, do you ever use your Chinese name?

Wardruna is interesting! Exactly what makes it neo-pagan? (The other video wouldn't show, maybe because I'm based in the US.)

I rarely use my Chinese name, but the Chinese record label that handles my Asian distribution uses a hybrid of my English and Chinese names.

As for speaking with native Swahili speakers, I have a few times. Every time I speak with them, I'm sort of worried that they'll be annoyed that I sort of mangled their grammar in a couple of spots, but as it turns out they're always totally cool about it. Most of the time, they're just excited to hear their language spoken in a Western video game. I do, however, have some friends who are Kenyan, and they've helped me with translations and so forth.
 

christophertin

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First off, I want to let you know just how much your work means to me. I have an autographed copy of Calling All Dawns (which I listen to at least once a week in full) and I've pre-ordered the autographed copy of God of Love. I also purchased the orchestral score of Calling All Dawns and I'm working to distill it into one piano part suitable for concert performance. People don't get why you're one of my favorite musicians, even when I put on some of your music. They get frustrated that Calling All Dawns isn't in English. I really like the fact that you were willing to work with so many unique and exotic languages, though, and you're an inspiration to me. My favorite song of yours is Hamsafar, although Hayom Kadosh follows quickly behind. I've also listened to the preview of My Heart's Fit to Break and have fallen in love with it as well.
So, here's my question; why electronic? Not to say that I don't like what I've heard, but it's not really my thing. I like it more for the poetry aspect than the music itself, and I think a lot of your fans would agree that this isn't really what they expected from someone who's already got quite a large fanbase of people expect "World" style music. So, what made you want to form Stereo Alchemy and make God of Love?

Good question! Why on earth would someone want to follow up a Grammy-winning Classical Crossover/World Music album with an electronica album?

Well, truthfully, I just needed to do something different. As much as Calling All Dawns was rewarding, it was an incredibly exhausting project. I just needed a change of scenery, and since I'm a big pop music fan (as well as electronica), I just wanted to try something different... but still try to give it my own stamp, so to speak.

I'm sure there are plenty of people out there massively confused by God of Love. :) I suppose lately I've also been thinking of myself as a record-producer, in addition to being a composer. I've been drawn to the idea of working with other artists in other fields, making great, genre-defying music. That has a certain appeal to me.

That said, however, I'm already at work on the next release, which will be orchestral. So stay tuned.

And hey... thanks for buying all the albums, and the score! That's really cool of you. :)
 

Camikaze

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Another interesting thing about the album: all the lyrics are taken from Renaissance and Romantic Era poetry.

Was there any particularly deep and meaningful reason for using these lyrics, or was it more a matter of being familiar with them and thinking, 'hey, why not?'
 

The_J

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What I forgot to said: Thanks to Camikaze for organizing this all here, and thanks to Christopher for agreeing on this all and for supporting the competition :).


Good question! Why on earth would someone want to follow up a Grammy-winning Classical Crossover/World Music album with an electronica album?

Well, truthfully, I just needed to do something different.

So there was no desire for another direct grammy attempt?
(okay, this one might be an indirect one :D)

I'm sure there are plenty of people out there massively confused by God of Love. :)

At least not from the title song :) (nice work imho, but I'm not really into music, can't judge).
 

Midnight-Blue766

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Hello, Mr Tin. It's quite an honour to meet you, especially on this forum.

Who will be helping you preform the songs, and when can we expect a release?
 

Ozbenno

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Or to put it another way, if you like bands like Massive Attack, Portishead, Nine Inch Nails, The Postal Service, and M83, you might find something in there that appeals to you.

You had me with at this. 5 bands currently on my iPod, have another song to add to it now. Thanks!
 

christophertin

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Was there any particularly deep and meaningful reason for using these lyrics, or was it more a matter of being familiar with them and thinking, 'hey, why not?'

Yeah, that's sort of it. Why the heck not? :)

But really, once we had that as our source of inspiration, we decided to actually pattern the music around those sorts of Romantic Era sensibilities. So it's a case of an arbitrary decision, that later got turned around into a serious creative direction.
 

christophertin

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So there was no desire for another direct grammy attempt?
(okay, this one might be an indirect one :D)

Well, sure I'd love another Grammy, but I probably have to get through people like Lady Gaga and Deadmau5 to win one for this album. And I'm pretty sure they're both more famous than Stereo Alchemy is.
 

christophertin

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Hello, Mr Tin. It's quite an honour to meet you, especially on this forum.

Who will be helping you preform the songs, and when can we expect a release?

We have three great singers on this one:

Mozez (from Zero 7)
Melissa R. Kaplan (from Splashdown)
Lia Rose (from Built for the Sea)

And the album is mixed by Darrell Thorp (who mixes for Radiohead, Beck, and Air) and mastered by Tom Baker (who masters for Nine Inch Nails).

It comes out on Valentine's Day, so in about two weeks!
 

gangleri2001

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Wardruna is interesting! Exactly what makes it neo-pagan? (The other video wouldn't show, maybe because I'm based in the US.)

I rarely use my Chinese name, but the Chinese record label that handles my Asian distribution uses a hybrid of my English and Chinese names.

As for speaking with native Swahili speakers, I have a few times. Every time I speak with them, I'm sort of worried that they'll be annoyed that I sort of mangled their grammar in a couple of spots, but as it turns out they're always totally cool about it. Most of the time, they're just excited to hear their language spoken in a Western video game. I do, however, have some friends who are Kenyan, and they've helped me with translations and so forth.


Wardruna is a musical project based in Norse spirituality, specially the runes of the Elder Futhark. Each of their albums is dedicated to each of the three aettir (groups of runes). Their singing tecnique is based in the galdr tecnique used by ancient seeresses and shamans and even their band symbol is a sigil (magical stave).

I've tried to find another video that can be seen in the US of the song of the Greek band Daemonia Nymphe. I hope this time you can enjoy de music:


Link to video.

So the Swahili in it contains some errors? I knew it! Anyway, if some of your friends have checked it and native speakers are cool about it means that it's not that terrible, which is good news. I hope you encourage your native-speaking friends to upload a video singing it so we finally know how should it sound ;)

As for your Chinese name, that's weird. I mean, I would have expected having you not using your Chinese name in the US but I don't get why does your label use an hybrid of your both names in Asia. Wouldn't it be easier to use the Chinese name in the whole of East Asia?
 

markusbeutel

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Really enjoying the preview tracks on the website so far - great work! It's gone into heavy rotation during homework/study sessions and it's already pre-ordered. :) When composing these songs, do you have a specific program that's your go-to? Or does it vary based on the type of music you're working on? (Orchestral vs Electronic). I graduated from a sound design school a few years back, (VFS in Vancouver) and while Pro Tools was kind of the main thing for everyone - I preferred Logic, especially for orchestral instruments and synths.

Also, are you in touch with Soren at all these days still? Kind of amazing that you two were roomates once and combined to work on the amazing CIV IV. :)
 
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First of all, I just want to say it's so awesome you're responding to questions here.

Is there any sort of connection between what sorts of music (i.e. classical crossover and electronic) you want to make, or do you just have different sorts of interests?
 
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