Gaming

How EVO 2022’s official soundtrack almost missed the show

This past weekend, the world’s largest fighting game tournament, the Evolution Championship Series, colloquially known as the EVO, featured a cavalcade of announcements such as Netcode rollback is coming to a couple of fighting games that desperately need it. as well as some smooth character announcement trailers. But what barely made it to the event due to some last-minute delays by music streaming service distributors was the official soundtrack of the fighting game tournament.

New album Believe: Music EVO 2022 was conceived as the official soundtrack for EVO 2022. It not only features hip-hop artist and project organizer Zaid Thabani long awaited update to his FGC anthem 2011 “Evolve”, but the main EVO games like Tekken, Street Fighter, Guilty gearas well as Mortal Kombat also received original songs. Other writers and performers include such famous artists as Ty Lopez, the composer for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Revenge of the ShreddersCasey Williams of RWBY gloryand Mega Run.

Screenshot with the names of the artists involved in the EVO 2022 soundtrack.

Image: Zayed Thabani Productions

Everything is very good, and, according to the members, the album turned out great. The only thing they didn’t expect was that at the last minute the company they chose delayed the movie for streaming. This made Tabani scramble, and in the end Believe barely squeaked on the Internet on the last day of the tournament. (Fortunately, EVO himself had all the tracks on hand, so the audience had time to hear them. live during the respective parts of each EVO tournament.)

Anyway, Believe: Music EVO 2022 right now in all the usual places (also Group camp, YouTube) and is both relaxing and noisy AF listening. I sat down with Mega Run, Casey Williams and Thabani to talk about their experiences on the soundtrack and ask what EVO and the fighting game community means to them.


Back in late 2021, Thabani put together a group of musicians that Mega Run called “a range of killer talent” to bring together Believe.

“My goal was for people who have never set foot on EVO, who don’t know what the hell Street Fighter there are those who have never heard of [anime fighting game] Granblue can listen to it and think, “Oh man, this is like a family.” I want to be there,” Tabani said.

Along with this guiding principle, Thabani said that in order to give authenticity to a soundtrack, it is necessary that each musician be passionate about the games for which they wrote songs and understand them well.

“EVO is the most hardcore of hardcore and I mean it at its best,” said Mega Run. “But these people can definitely smell fake and call you to the carpet on it, so it’s important to truly love what you do.”

Thabani said that to make sure that each song gained momentum, he handed out (for example) an eight-page document with Fighter DragonBallZ terms and document on five pages Melted blood conditions for Mega Run as well as Mason Liebermanaccordingly, so that they can incorporate the history and context of the FGC jargon into their songs.

Zaid Thabani

Reflecting the diversity of fighting games on EVO, BelieveX The track listing is a hodgepodge of different musical genres, often switching genres between metal, jazz, rap and, as Tabani puts it, “Paramore-style vocals” depending on the video game they’re tied to.

Believe also tries to add more authenticity to the album by interweaving it with oral “confessions” from prominent members of the fighting game community such as James Chen, L.I. Joe, Sherrigenix and Seth Killian. Everyone talked about topics such as the impact the FGC had on them and the incredible growth of EVO from a tiny community event to the biggest fighting game tournament in the world.

“If you ever listen to a rap album, a parody is like a cheat code to help you immerse yourself in the aesthetic,” Tabani said. “It’s like when you listen to a Kendrick album and you’re not from Compton or you’re not from Cali, but you feel like you are. This is a distilled essence. That’s the power that music or an album can give you.”

The addition of “FGCconfionals” also served as a means of smoothing out the transitions between the album’s different genres, where musicians can transition from singing to song. anime lyrics about Melted blood to scream about deaths in Mortal Kombat 11 in horrifying, poignant detail.

One of the problems the artists faced when making the album was the limited time frame in which they could finish the tracks. After receiving the go-ahead, Thabani said the musicians “had to basically run” to finish the tracks on a tight deadline from late May to late July. Another sticking point for the band was deciding how EVO actually sounded. This led to many emergency recording sessions in between the artists’ busy schedules on other projects, not to mention juggling time with their families.

“We had a budget for certain things, like hiring players here and there, mastering, mixing, but we needed to make all sorts of valuable props to make this project happen,” Tabani said. “A lot of people did it out of love for the community.”

As if running out of time to complete the album wasn’t enough, the members also faced the challenge of putting the album on streaming services, barely squeaking a full release at the end of the EVO weekend. Luckily, digital music distribution service Soundrop has made sure that the FGC community doesn’t have to wait a week to buy and listen to the event’s official soundtrack.

“We said [Soundrop] situation and instantly, without any promises of promo or anything like that, they just helped us,” Tabani. said on twitter. “They not only worked with us to make sure the process went smoothly, but also made sure our album was in stores by the end of Sunday’s finale.”

Read more: Evo Suspends CEO Following Sexual Harassment Allegations

Back in 2020, EVO canceled due to covid. Shortly thereafter, EVO Online was shut down due to allegations of sexual harassment by EVO. suspended co-founder and CEO Joey “Mr. Wizard” Cuellar.

“We’ve been through three years like a pandemic, EVO shutting down and people losing their reputation because they’re pieces of shit,” Tabani said. “These games mean something, and I’m very happy that we were able to do it.”

Reflecting on what EVO means to him, Mega Run mentioned comment made by fellow musician Mason Lieberman which equated the fighting tournament to the digital version of the Olympics.

Believe was made with love for the community by extremely top notch artists who went out of their way to make sure nothing was wrong [left to] Accident,” Mega Run said. “It’s all very intentional and premeditated and the heart came first.”

Although Casey Williams, singer Melted blood Anthem “Race to the Light” Not much of a gamer herself, she said she follows the community like a hawk and that’s a huge part of who she is.

“I was very pleasantly surprised and humbled, like I always read people’s tweets, um, over the last few days,” Williams said. “I read a tweet where someone said that during the competition they heard the intro and they knew exactly who it was, and that encouraged them even more to perform well, and it made me tear up. I thought it was so cool.”

Thabani said that FGC and EVO gave him the ability to survive in a world full of inequality for people of his skin color. Thabani also appreciates the dichotomy of rivalry and camaraderie that EVO offers players who wouldn’t be able to make friends if it weren’t for arcade fighting games.

“There is art and culture in this community and music is one of the best ways to show that. Basketball has hip-hop, streetwear, street games, strategy and cultural discussions,” he said. “Fighting games have it all, but it’s not presented and multiplied in the same way, and it can and should be. That’s how you start making the community healthier, that’s how you make people feel noticed.”




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