Project Majestic Mix

   Stephen Kennedy is a man with a dream. It's a dream many game fans have had at one point or another: to hear their favorite gaming tunes freed from their MIDI-chip shackles at set loose to reach their full potential. Unfortunately, most of us lack the musical talent or inclination to do anything more than ponder wistfully. Stephen, however, has done much more. For the past two years he has been choosing Final Fantasy songs, courting musicians, renting out studio time, and creating a disc full of arranged musical masterpieces. Moreover, Stephen has been in correspondence with Square Sounds Co., Ltd, and will be able to make this CD available to the general public. The disc's name? Project Majestic Mix.

   Now, thanks to the donations of dozens of interested fans, the CD is almost a reality. Stephen has graciously donated several exclusive sound samples to the GIA so that our readers can hear what the final product will sound like. It should be pointed out that nearly all of these samples are currently on the "B-list" of songs, and will likely not make the final CD. (They will, however, be included on a "bonus" disc sent do fans who donate something extra.)

   The music speaks for itself, so download, listen, and be amazed. If you like what you hear--and want to help make the CD a reality--head on over to the Project Majestic Mix website, order your copy, and get your generous donation in the mail! It's only through the contributions of interested fans that this project can become a reality. Please be sure to read the FAQ before e-mailing Stephen with any questions!

   After hearing what PMM has to offer, read our interview with the project's creator, Stephen Kennedy. Stephen fills us in on the trials and travails of making this incredibly unique project a reality.

MP3 Samples
3.01 MB, 3:16 Project Majestic Mix Promo
   A non-stop medley of many of PMM's tunes! Includes snippets of Forever Rachel Emotion Remix (Final Fantasy VI), Final Fantasy Battle Medley, Anxious Heart (Final Fantasy VII), Eyes on Me (Final Fantasy VIII), Final Fantasy VI Ending, more Forever Rachel Emotion Remix (Final Fantasy VI), and the Final Fantasy Victory Theme.
1.47 MB, 2:08 Anxious Heart
   A slow-moving trance mix of Tifa's theme (Final Fantasy VII).
1.00 MB, 1:27 Forever Rachel
   A building orchestral arrangement of Rachel's theme (Final Fantasy VI).
2.15 MB, 2:20 Battle Medley (Raw)
   An unrefined version of a multi-game battle medley.
1.22 MB, 1:19 Cait Sith (Demo)
   A doo-wop rendition of Cait Sith's theme (Final Fantasy VII).
1.50 MB, 1:38 One Winged Angel (Demo)
   An stirring orchestral arrangement of Sephiroth's final theme (Final Fantasy VII).
1.96 MB, 2:08 Underneath the Rotting Pizza (Demo)
   A free-form jazz rendition of the Midgar slums theme (Final Fantasy VII). Recorded in a single take! This song will not be found on either disc.

Interview with Stephen Kennedy

GIA: For those who haven't heard of it before, what exactly is "Project Majestic Mix?"

Stephen: Project Majestic Mix is an arranged CD of Final Fantasy music I am producing. I hope to make something that greatly expands upon, and compliments, the beauty which is already there [in Final Fantasy's songs].

GIA: This is an awfully ambitious project ... what made you decide to actually follow through with it?

Stephen: I knew that I would either fail or succeed -- but the odds weren't quite 50/50; with my God-given gift of persistence, I knew the odds were slightly in my favor.

GIA:Why did you decide on the name "Project Majestic Mix" for the CD?

Stephen: My intentions for the music are to emphasize the 'Majestic' qualities that each tune possesses. I wanted to show that even some of the less popular [Final Fantasy] songs have a lot to offer. I hope that by istening to these new arrangements, others will look at previously overlooked songs in a whole new way.

GIA: What songs did you choose for the album? How did you select these particular songs?

Stephen: Here's a list of the songs I submitted to Square for their approval, pending licensing issues. Not all of them will be used, but all are prime candidates for appearing on the CD. All the tracks were chosen by Internet-based voting and polls. [All polls are held at Project Majestic Mix's website.]

  • Prelude (Final Fantasy series)
  • Chocobo (Final Fantasy series)
  • Matouyas Cave (Final Fantasy 1)
  • Dead (Final Fantasy 2)
  • The Shrine (Final Fantasy 2)
  • Elia Maiden of Water (Final Fantasy 3)
  • Eternal Wind (Final Fantasy 3)
  • Boss Battle Music (Final Fantasy 4)
  • Random Battle music (Final Fantasy 4)
  • Zeromus Battle (Final Fantasy 4)
  • Within the Giant (Final Fantasy 4)
  • Battle with Gilgamesh (Final Fantasy 5)
  • The Decisive Battle (Final Fantasy 5)
  • Fierce Battle (Final Fantasy 5)
  • Unknown Land (Final Fantasy 5)
  • Battle with Atma Weapon (Final Fantasy 6)
  • Random Battle music (Final Fantasy 6)
  • Dancing Mad 'Kefka Battle Music' (Final Fantasy 6)
  • Victory Fanfare (Final Fantasy 6)
  • Forever Rachel (Final Fantasy 6)
  • Terras Theme aka. Tina (Final Fantasy 6)
  • Final Fantasy 6 Ending (Final Fantasy 6)
  • Jenova (Final Fantasy 7)
  • Anxious Heart (Final Fantasy 7)
  • Costa del Sol (Final Fantasy 7)
  • Crazy Moto (Final Fantasy 7)
  • Eyes On Me (Final Fantasy 8)
  • Schala (Chrono Trigger)

GIA: In what style are you recreating the songs? What instruments and tools are you using in the production?

Stephen: The CD will feature a wide variety of musical genres, ranging from Symphonic to Techno and Rock. Live instruments and vocal talent will bring the songs to life. For production mastering and recording we are using devices from three different studios. Recordings are done on ADAT and then mixed down to DAT. Most mix-downs will be performed on a 24x8x2 Tascam M2600 and mastered with Micro Technology to ensure that the noise floor is a minimum and that digital output is right at optimum levels.

GIA: What musicians are actually doing the arranging of the music? If there are multiple musicians, how was it decided which musicians would work on which songs?

Stephen: At this time, I cannot give a concrete answer as to which musicians are working on which arrangements; I don't want to name any names until I know everyone who will be appearing on the CD. I am organizing arrangement talent by the style in which they are most skilled.

GIA: What is the "goal" of "Project Majestic Mix"? What are you hoping to accomplish by arranging these songs?

Stephen: One of my main reasons for creating Project Majestic Mix was to give talented musicians who 'slip through the cracks' a better chance at making it big. There is an incredible amount of undiscovered talent out there, and I hope to give some of the individuals [working on this project] a reference and work in the professional music industry.

I feel that videogame music in general has gotten 'stuck' -- it seems that nearly everything is symphonic these days! I want to push the envelope a little and give everyone something just a little bit 'different' than the typical videogame arrangements.

I also want to spotlight Nobuo Uematsu's incredible music -- not change it, but give it more 'oomph', so to speak. I want to actively involve the gaming community in all aspects of the CD's creation, from choosing the tracks and arranging the music to creating the disc's cover artwork. Finally, I want to give people an affordable CD with the maximum amount of music they can get for their money.

GIA: How complete is the project? When do you foresee the project reaching 100% completion?

Stephen: The project is roughly 50% finished. The official release date is February of 2000, but it may be released sooner. I've scheduled enough time that there shouldn't be any unfortunate delays.

GIA: How is PMM being funded? How much does it cost to produce a CD of this sort?

Stephen: PMM is being funded entirely by gamers who have enough faith in the project to support it. You cannot believe how honored I am to receive such help ... it's so much more than just a donation to me.

It will cost me roughly $3000 to $4000 to produce 1000 CDs. The more CDs that are made in bulk, the cheaper it gets. Also, things like hiring musicians, arranging the music, and renting studio time are also expensive.

GIA: During the course of the project, have you learned anything about music production?

Stephen: I have definitely gotten my feet wet when it comes to professionally producing and releasing a CD. It's a lot more work than I ever thought it would be. I will tell you that it is far easier and more profitable to produce a CD of your 'own' music rather than an arrangement CD of someone else's work!

GIA: How is PMM being distributed? How many copies are being produced? If the demand is there, will any additional copies be produced?

Stephen: The first 1000 CDs are being distributed directly by me. After the first 1000 limited edition CDs are sold I will no longer be selling any more directly. However, I will probably be sending GameMusicOnline ( 50 additional copies of the limited edition CD, as they have agreed to purchase that many in order to test sales. If sales demand it, a non-limited version will be mass produced and distributed by GMO and any other interested stores. The non-limited version will not feature a 'making of' booklet, foil inscribed cover, or sheet music.

GIA: Square is notoriously protective of their copyrights. How did you get copyright clearance for such an ambitious project?

Stephen: Because of a strong company policy, I cannot use any logos, images etc. of any games related to Square. However, once someone releases a piece of music, anyone can use it and/or arrange it to a certain extent. The only catch is that you have to pay a mechanical license fee as well as royalty rates -- which gets expensive.

You have to admit -- if you were a large company, you wouldn't be very fond about some 'kid' telling you that he was going to make a CD of your music and sell it to the public. But I'm not just some 'kid;' I'm an adult with the ambition, motivation, and ability to create something on a professional level. Now that Square is convinced I intend to approach the project professionally, they take me seriously.

GIA: Have you gotten to meet, speak, or work with any Square employees in the course of this project?

Stephen: Yes. Besides corresponding via email with some of the 'bigwigs', I had the pleasure of talking with Mr. Uematsu about the project. He seemed very happy and was most helpful.

GIA: If, for some reason, PMM falls through, what will happen to donations?

Stephen: I don't see any reason for this would flop, now that Square is behind us. But if for some reason it did, all donations would be promptly returned to the sender.

GIA: How can interested fans contribute (financially or otherwise) to PMM?

Stephen: We are accepting donations postmarked up until the 1st of December. The best thing fans can do to help with this project is participate in the fundraiser. The more money raised, the sooner the CDs will be released and the more extras we can include. Full details can be found at the PMM website, especially in the fundraiser section.

Besides that, the best thing readers can do is to sign up on the mailing list. The mailing list can be subscribed to at the ListBot website.

Oh, and purchase the CD when it comes out!

Interview by Andrew Vestal, GIA.
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