Posted by: dafster | March 16, 2012

Concept art, Triple Trouble and Alex Makhlouf (Cash Cash) interview

First up this week, we have our weekly Sonic: 4 – Ep 2 concept art which is…

A statue called “Strange Relief”

Also a bird called a “Zoomer”

It’s nice to have some slightly more interesting concept art for a change…getting a little bored of those platforms!

On a more exciting note, Sonic Triple Trouble is now available for download on the Nintendo 3DS’ eShop in the US!

Cool.

Now for an interview by “The Sonic Stadium” to Alex Makhlouf of “Cash Cash”.

Sonic Generations saw many memorable tunes reworked for both classic and modern stages much to the delight of the fans, old and new. This week, TSS caught up with Cash Cash’s Alex Makhlouf, performing artist extraordinaire and the driving force behind many of the remixes on Sonic’s 20th Anniversary title.

 

What does a typical (if there is one!) day in the life of Alex Makhlouf consist of?

Well, lately my “typical day” has been pretty low key. We’ve been incredibly busy with our production company, recording/producing and writing for artists. We are also in the process of making our third record, so the majority of my days are spent in the studio/dungeon. I definitely need to get some fresh air now that it’s getting warm out! Haha!

When did you first pick up a musical instrument, and what inspired you to take it up as a profession?

PI first started playing piano when I was about 7. About 5 years later, I quit because I hated it! The lessons were so boring, and I hated the music I was learning. It felt more like work, and all I wanted to do was go outside and skate with my friends. Years later when I was about 15, I started messing around on my old keyboard and learning my favorite songs by ear. This felt amazing since I wasn’t restricted to playing certain songs. After that point, music became my life.

As music plays a big part in your life, who are your great musical influences? What gets listened to most on your iPod/CD player etc…at the moment?

This list would be PAGES long since I love every genre of music out there. I grew up as a 90s kid, so I’ll always love bands like the Goo Goo Dolls, Smashing Pumpkins, and Stone Temple Pilots. Also, since I grew up in the Dreamcast years, Crush 40 was always on my CD player as a kid. It’s pretty crazy that I now have great relationship with Jun, and got to perform on stage with the band. It’s almost hard to believe! Haha.

In recent years I’ve been heavily influenced by electronic music. Ever since I heard the album “Cross” by Justice, I’ve been hooked on Dance and Electronic stuff. Lately I’ve been into a lot of Electro-House, Dubstep, and Drum and Bass. The scene is pretty over saturated (ESPECIALLY DUBSTEP) and a lot of it sounds the same. But there are some high-quality “gems” [Nero! – T] if you dig deep enough.

Great taste in music then! So, do you have any songs you love singing at Karaoke, or songs you mime to in the mirror with a hairbrush as a microphone?

As for my karaoke/hairbrush microphone jam…it would be “That’s The Way It Is” by Celine Dion. Hahaha that song is literally a pop masterpiece!!… And a guilty pleasure. “Don’t hate, appreciate”!

No comment! So before there was Cash Cash, you were in the band the Consequence – how did the band come about? When did you become involved?

My brother had the band for as long as I can remember. They were looking for a keyboard player for a few years, but none of them were working out. Eventually I was old enough, and my brother realized I wasn’t just the annoying little brother who played piano. He said I was better than a lot of the kids they were trying out, so he asked if I would join. We’ve been making music together ever since.

Where did the name Cash Cash come from? Were there any other names that were in mind but didn’t make the cut?

We got signed to Universal as “The Consequence”. As soon as we signed the deal, the rapper “Consequence” sent us a letter asking us to change our name or expect to be sued. Also, we had an old lawyer/manager trying to get money out of us that we didn’t even have. It was quite a mess. We had the song “Cash Cash” first, so JP said “Why don’t we just call the band Cash Cash, since everyone’s after our money!?” We all looked at each other and were like “Alright I guess that works!” It’s not the most ground breaking and compelling story, but its how it all went down.

What are your favourite memories from recording and touring your most recent album? Which songs a do you get the most kicks out of performing?

Most of our touring was done during our first album cycle “Take It To The Floor”. It’s tough to just pick one memory from that time of my life because everything seems nostalgic at this point. I must say though, one of the greatest experiences was touring in Brazil. Our music reacted way more than it did in the USA. It gave me chills to hear giant crowds screaming our lyrics at the top of their lungs. I never thought my music would leave my basement, let alone go all the way to another continent.

Out of all of our songs, I like performing “Party In Your Bedroom” the most. It always gets the crowd going crazy. We feed off the energy from the crowd and it always feels really good when we play it. It’s also the song that started it all for Cash Cash, so it’s definitely special to me.

Besides the plethora of amazing musical abilities, what other skills (as well as being able to robot dance) do you possess?

I can moonwalk fairly well, as well as juggle! I also used to aggressive skate. (Like rollerblading on rails/half pipes and stuff) In the time period I mentioned earlier where music wasn’t a part of my life, skating was quite abundant.

Ok, some rapid-fire questions now…Sonic CD (US OST) or Sonic CD (JP OST)? Sorry, just had to be asked!

DEPENDS ON THE LEVEL!!! I refuse to take a side! Haha. When I play on my iPhone I constantly switch between the two.

Bruce Springsteen or Bon Jovi?

Bon Jovi.

Connery, Lazenby, Moore, Dalton, Brosnan or Craig?

Connery.

Correct answer, haha! Sonic the Hedgehog 1 or Sonic the Hedgehog 2?

Sonic 2

Mac or PC?

Right now I’m 100% Mac… but each day I find myself inching closer and closer back to PC. It’s like dating a girl who is absolutely gorgeous and then slowly finding out her terrible personality. Time will tell at this point.

NY or LA?

NY

We’ve talked about your history in Cash Cash, so lets move on to Sonic! What is your VERY first memory of Sonic the Hedgehog?

I can’t recall the first memory exactly. All I know is the first Sonic game I played was Sonic 3. After playing that, I back-tracked and played Sonic 1 and 2. In my first Sonic years I dreaded “MARBLE ZONE” in Sonic 1. I swear to this day that level is harder or equally as hard as “Scrap Brain Zone”. Sonic 1 was truly the ultimate recruitment for fans. Those who couldn’t surpass Marble Zone were left behind. Those who could were hooked for life!

Who is your favourite Sonic character, and why? What is your favourite game Sonic the Hedgehog game?

Hands down, my favorite character is Princess Elise from Sonic 06…..

*Crickets*

Hahaha, sorry I had to do it. In all seriousness my favorite character is Metal Sonic. His overall design and concept are really cool. I just wish he was featured more in the story lines. I guess fans like me will be pleased with Sonic 4 Episode 2! My favorite Sonic game would be Sonic 3 and Knuckles. I feel like this is the Iconic Sonic game that defines the series at it’s finest. Everything about it was epic. The Death Egg, the epic Doomsday space battle, and the Knuckles vs. Mecha Sonic fight are all things Sonic fans will never forget. They painted the best story without the use of extensive dialogue. That game is timeless.

Which Sonic the hedgehog videogame soundtracks are you most fond of?

I love the Music in the Sonic Adventure games a lot. I think those songs work great with Modern Sonic. As for Classic Sonic games, it’s hard to pick one. I really love the music in Sonic 1 and 2. Those basslines and chord progressions are amazing!

Are there any other videogame franchises you enjoy?

I like the Zelda and Mario Franchises a lot. I just recently bought a 3DS and got Ocarina of Time and Mario Land. Both of which were amazing. I also am a huge fan of the Halo series. I hope the next installment stands up to Halo Reach.

When were you first approached by SEGA to produce music for Sonic Colours?

We were approached before the game was even announced which was pretty cool. We basically got a 2-page sheet describing the basic premise of the game as well as overall lyrical content they wanted to cover in both of the songs. Writing those two songs was very different than anything else we’ve ever done. We were given instrumentals with melodies already mapped out, so it was tough to fit the lyrics with the melody. We usually write the melody and lyrics simultaneously so this was trickier than usual. I think both songs ended up fitting the game quite nicely though.

What elements did you focus on when reworking tracks Sonic Generations?

For City Escape I knew I had to keep it kind of light and fluffy. I knew putting any heavy electronic sounds would stray too far from the light-hearted vibe of the level. I think I ended up with a very good Classic representation of the song. I kept the synths and drums very poppy and simple. It sort of ended up sounding like 80s synth pop mixed with Daft Punk. As for Speed Highway, that remix is way heavier than City Escape. I knew I had to use way more aggressive drums and a dirtier bass tone to exemplify the high-speed element of the level. 

How have your experiences differed from performing with Cash Cash to performing with Crush 40?

Performing with Crush 40 seemed like too crazy to be true. Like I mentioned before, I was huge Crush 40 fan as I kid. I would literally burn mix CD’s with songs like Live and Learn, and It Doesn’t Matter and play them on the school bus for my friends. When I was on stage with them I kept having those “Is this really happening?” moments. I’m looking forward to hopefully playing with them again this year.

Can you tell us anything about what to expect at Sonic Boom this year?

I definitely cannot reveal anything Jun and I have up our sleeves just yet. I can guarantee three things without a reasonable doubt though: 1) Something in the venue will be blue. 2) Justin Bieber will be somewhere in the crowd in a gorilla mask holding a sign that says “Salmon Masters Anonymous”. 3) I will be at Sonic boom doing something. 

Haha…in that case, can we expect any albums or tours from Cash Cash in the near future?

We are in the process of writing and recording our 3rd full length record. This record is going to be very different than our previous 2. There will obviously be some “radio friendly” pop jams because that stuff runs through our veins. But there will also be a lot of songs that break that pop mold on this one. We’ve been experimenting with a lot of remix style influences -lots of synth breaks and instrumental stuff. Also the sounds are going to be a lot less fluffy and dinky. We’ve been messing with lots of heavier grittier synth sounds this time around. I don’t want to give too much away though, so ill stop. :p We are touring Japan this summer, but I’m not positive on the dates yet. We will make a big announcement soon though.

Thanks for answering all of our questions Alex!

See Alex and Jean-Paul perform later this year with Crush 40 at Sonic Boom in San Diego!
More details on the event and tickets can be found on the SEGA blog

Keep up to date with future Cash Cash Tours:
Cash Cash Official Site

That’s all the news for this week, once again, almost lasted a whole week without any news, but we wouldn’t want that to happen now, would we?

-Dafster

Source(s): Official SEGA blog, Official Sonic Facebook page, The Sonic Stadium

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