With an impressive collection of originals and VGM covers, Kade Kalka certainly showcases incredible, fresh talent. I had the pleasure of interviewing the young composer, where we talked about musical influences, compositional processes, recent challenges, and future projects.
All right, cool, let’s get right into it! How did you get started in music? Do you play any instruments, or do you have any formal training?
Kade: I’ve never really been trained, but I started playing guitar when I was 8 or 9, maybe. And I sorta play keyboard… And I play percussion in my high school band.
Oh, nice! What do you play?
Kade: Just anything in percussion, like timpani, mallets…
Oh, so you’re in the pit?
Kade: Yeah. I’ve done marching before, but I like the pit better.
I was in the pit in my high school, too! So who are some of your main musical influences?
Kade: Well when I was younger, I started out listening to a lot of classic rock, like ACDC. Eventually I moved on to metal a lot more, started listening to bands like Metallica, Megadeth, Avenged Sevenfold. I play their music all the time. Recently, like last year, I stumbled upon a game called Xenoblade Chronicles.
Oh, Yoko Shimomura, right?
Kade: Yeah, all the people that made the soundtrack for the game… I was blown away. So that inspired me to actually do more with video game stuff.
Okay, nice. So what do you generally get inspired by outside of musical sources?
Kade: I don’t even know. I just think of something, and I write. (laughs)
Okay. So what is the first piece of music you ever composed? What inspired that initial creativity and what was the experience like?
Kade: I first started composing for the first time this year, in January. I decided I was gonna start composing, so I did. I wrote something, it was kinda weird. I don’t know if it was that good or not. I don’t even remember what it is.
Oh, you didn’t upload it?
Kade: I might have. I have so much stuff on the Internet that I don’t even remember all of it.
Yeah, wow. So you just started this year! That’s incredible! So what software and equipment do you use to make your music?
Kade: Primarily, my DAW is Garageband on my Mac. I record with guitars… But then I also use FamiTracker for the chiptune stuff. That’s part of an accessory.
Okay, so what’s your compositional process like? How do you usually go about writing a new song?
Kade: It usually starts with a chord progression or a bass line. If it’s chiptune, you have to start off with a bass line most of the time, or a melodic sequence, cause you can’t really do chord progressions. Well you can apply them, but you can’t really just make one.
So which composition of yours are you most proud of, and why?
Kade: That’s a hard one… A few weeks ago, I wrote this song called “Expedition of the Unknown”. I screwed up the mix the first time, but I fixed it. It sounded pretty cool. It was just a simple chord progression with some crazy synth stuff. It’s on my soundcloud and my YouTube.
So what is the most recent compositional challenge you’ve faced, and how did you get through it?
Kade: Oh, just the other day, I tried writing a blues song with chiptune. It was kinda weird. I don’t know why I decided to do that.
Was it difficult?
Kade: It was at first, cause I was really confused by the blues scale. But after a while, I got it!
All right, awesome! So which piece of yours is the most different from any of your other compositions, and what did you learn from writing that piece?
Kade: I wrote this one… It was called “Lavender Sky (Blizzard)”. The inspiration for it was weird… It was my first time trying to write with piano.
Did it turn out like you wanted it to, or did it go a different direction?
Kade: Well at first, I was like, this isn’t going anywhere… But after a while I started liking it.
Okay, that’s good. It’s always good to like your own compositions! So what sorts of hobbies or activities do you like to do outside of video games or music?
Kade: I’m not into sports anymore… I like graphic design, I’ve been dabbling in that.
Oh yeah, did you create your picture yourself?
Okay, awesome. Now I have a list of rapid-fire questions. Give short answers as quickly as possible!
Kade: Oh no…
Okay. Favorite video game series!
Kade: Legend of Zelda.
Favorite video game protagonist!
Kade: Shulk, from Xenoblade.
All right, favorite arcade game!
Okay, favorite dungeon in any video game.
Kade: Stone Tower Temple, from Majora’s Mask!
Ohh, nice!! Pick one: magic, physical strength, or defense!
Okay, favorite Pokémon!
Kade: Uh… Oh god. For some reason I always liked Mankey! I thought he was funny.
Oh okay! I like fighting type! Favorite character theme!
Kade: Well… In Xenoblade Chronicle, there’s the Shulk and Fiora theme, basically the main theme but a little bit different.
Okay, favorite time signature!
Kade: 4/4… (laughs)
(laughs) Okay, if you could live in any video game world for a week, which world would you choose?
Kade: Oh no… They’re all usually bad… Pokémon seems fun!
Yeah, cause it’s not like post-apocalyptic and scary?
Okay, if you had to make a weapon out of any instrument, which one would you choose?
Okay, cool! End of rapid-fire questions. So what are some of your future plans? What are you working on right now?
Kade: Well, I’ve thought about actually having consideration for an album, instead of just that random thing I spat out a while back, that EP.
“Chronic Cybertronic Fever”, the title track from Kade Kalka’s EP of the same name.
Okay, awesome! So are you working on any particular tracks, or are you just gonna sorta compile things together?
Kade: Right now, instead of focusing on the tracks, I’m more focusing on the style. I’m trying to go for a mix between rock, chiptune, and synth pop.
Yeah, like a concept album?
Awesome, cool! So you said you’re into graphic design. Do you have a deviantart?
Cool! Awesome, that’s all the questions I have. Do you have any final thoughts?
Kade: No, not really.
Okay, thank you so much!