It’s been nearly a year and a half since I released my last EP, for which I’ve made several vague excuses. At long last, I can finally reveal what’s kept me so busy!

I was invited by my good friend David Ortega of Boston Soundlabs to record three songs for Ubisoft’s newest dance game, Just Dance Kids 2014 (for Wii, Wii U, and Xbox 360), and master the entire set. I’d previously mastered the original Just Dance Kids and The Smurfs Dance Party, but this was my first run as a composer.

My first contribution was an original song called “Interstellar Simon”. Ubisoft provided a rough outline of the concept (astronaut meets alien who teaches him to dance – y’know, the usual) and a Yo Gabba Gabba song as a reference. I came up with the idea of connecting dance steps to the children’s game Simon Says. After running it by their legal department, Ubisoft gave it the thumbs up!

Just Dance Kids 2014

You’ll probably recognize my heavily processed vocals on lead. My son, daughter, and wife handled the remaining vocal duties. Here’s just the music over gameplay, minus the UI and sound effects (it takes a few seconds for the music to kick in).

Next up was a cover of Owl City “Fireflies”. Of course, there are no samples. Most of the synth patches were created from scratch. I must have spent 10 hours just on the opening sound!

The Ubisoft team had a hard time telling my version apart from the original, which was the goal! Apparently YouTube can’t tell the difference either:

YouTube Owl City

My biggest challenge was emulating Dr. Luke’s amazing production on Becky G’s “Problem (The Monster Remix)”. The original is featured in the end credits of the movie Hotel Transylvania, with a guest rap by Will.i.am of The Black Eyed Peas. The obvious choice to fill in for Will.i.am was… me, right? Somehow my overly white sounding “rap” passed inspection. It didn’t hurt that it was pared down to a couple lines and a few yo’s. Lead vocals were much more ably handled by the talented Gigi Abraham.

All in all, I invested roughly 150 hours into the project, and I’d do it again in a heartbeat. It’s humbling to think how many man-hours must have went into producing the gameplay, sound effects, choreography, and video – all on top of something that came out of my studio! In total, 35 vocalists, instrumentalists, and composers contributed to the project. From the reviews I’ve read so far, the result is a great game.

Here’s a taste of some actual gameplay on “Fireflies”:

I’ve still got one more surprise in store for 2013, so stay tuned!