If you’re a thirtysomething, you’re no doubt familiar with those video game themes. You know the type — the 8-bit, crushed synth scores that loop with intensity as you battle a boss.
The hooks are no doubt present in the theme songs and sound effects of “Super Mario Bros.” and “F-Zero,” two old Nintendo games that are close to my heart.
Those sounds are close to Baton Rougean Danny Bourque’s heart, too.
When the 32-year-old isn’t working on motion graphics for the local ad agency, The Moran Group, he’s at home. His eyes are glued to a computer screen that’s filled with sound emulators and plug-ins. He is creating soundtracks for unmade video games, under the moniker Glitch Black.
Since 2014, he’s released three albums. Just a few weeks ago, he released the 14-track “Death Spiral.” Listening to it is like playing a ‘90s Super Nintendo game that’s part shooter, part horror-fantasy and all fun.
And he’s received mounds upon mounds of support from across the globe. The release is currently No. 1 on the best-selling album charts on Bandcamp.
So just who is this guy? In the middle of the day, Bourque came out from the shadows of his day job to answer a few questions.
I can tell you love that old-school video game music. What sort of games are we talking about?
I always like that music. I had one of those old-school kiddie cassette recorders. I remember recording themes from games that I liked when I was 9 or 10 years old. The old “Mega Man” games and “F-Zero” on Super Nintendo were huge for me. The energy, the music and impulse of that era — I liked that arcade action feel. The music reflected the pace you needed to play at for those games.
I imagine you’re kind of like a Duke Silver-type character from “Parks and Rec,” in that no one knows you do this type of stuff at night.
Some of the guys I work closely with, they know I do it. It’s two different lives. At work, I’m doing video stuff. In the evenings, I work on music.
What is this genre of music called?
The bigger genre I’m a part of is synthwave. It’s a pretty big niche movement. It’s the idea of bringing back the ‘80s cinematic action movie music that’s full of synthesizers. I bring in a little more of the video game side.
But it sounds like you are aware of the level of cheese that’s involved in this music. How do you balance the cheese?
Oh yeah, you have to have a balance of that cheese and the intense elements. It’s hard to say exactly when I decide enough is enough. You just sequence out a song. It’s painterly in a way. You think, “What additional layer of sound can I add” that will give or remove some cheesiness or intensity. You don’t want it to be too crowded of a song. I’m just trying to get something down that I think sounds cool and fun to listen to. Then, it’s a matter of stopping before things get too overcomplicated.
Have you ever thought about getting away from these genres, doing something different?
I definitely like making this music. The last album, people said it sounded more industrial. I have liked Nine Inch Nails. Maybe at some point, I’ll go less video game and more grunge. It’s hard to know. Right now, I’ll take a break and see what gives me inspiration.
What’s amazing to me is you’ve gotten big response from across the globe.
Yeah, the people who are making this music — they’re from everywhere. When I release something, I notice people are buying it from all over. It’s an international genre. It’s such a particular taste in music. No matter where you are, you’re able to find it.
So what’s next?
I started an indie record label, called New Horizons. It’s a play off the NASA mission. I want to organize, produce and promote albums with several contributors who make the same kind of music. So far, we released “Pluto: A Synth Odyssey,” and it’s got some of the well-known, more respected artists on there like Dynatron and Starforce. It’s done better than my personal albums.