EVE Online has many talented artists in the media. When I started making it a priority to dig in and find as many of these gems as I could, one of the first people who I came across was Luobote Kong. He’s been a silent star for writing an official theme song for Signal Cartel, and helped us with various projects here at The Neocom, through writing and producing original music and background tracks that we use on various podcasts. He is also a contributing writer at Crossing Zebras.
I originally was contacted by Mynxee of Signal Cartel who told me that Luobote was making a theme song for them. The end result was one that got a lot of attention due to his clever use of using Morse code in the track to spell out “Can’t Stop the Signal”. I’ve been a fan ever since.
Now that the holiday madness is behind us, I finally got an opportunity to speak with Luobote one on one to learn more about his history and creative process.
How long have you been playing EVE Online? Tell us a little bit about your history in game.
It has been a troubled history. I started playing in late 2012. I stopped playing 2 weeks later. Then I restarted in mid 2013 and joined Eve Uni. Then stopped and got booted for failing to attend. I pretty much gave up on my main at that point, and concentrated on setting up traders and haulers. Then came the Astero in Rubicon – and that changed everything for Luobote. It gave him purpose. He is of course a complete and utter carebear, and the challenge remains to find a way through the game without killing anyone, while also not hanging around highsec. I am a casual player who prefers to work with rather than for someone to achieve an objective. So I play solo in the main.
How long have you been writing and producing music?
I suppose I started writing music when I was about 15 or 16. I started producing after the band I was in had spent what was then a fortune on time in an eight-track recording studio, only to find that the engineer didn’t have a clue what he was doing. I would have been about 19 then. I had a spell of about 2 years where I did it professionally, but other priorities kicked in as they do. I now find I am doing it more for my kids and their friends. I actually enjoy it more now than I ever did when I first started.
You’ve recorded several songs for people like signal cartel, Nova Haven, and have been featured in podcasts of The Neocom. Is the creative process more difficult when you are doing a commissioned song for someone?
“Commissioned” is perhaps too strong a word. I do these things because I enjoy doing them, and because they are for people that are a positive force in the game we all love. Because I enjoy them, they are not difficult in that sense. But creating anything has its pain points. The worst thing is to be given a blank sheet. While I am quite capable of dreaming something up, it might not be what the recipient expected, so you always have that doubt in your mind while you are creating it. This adds an element of stress because you want to do a half-decent job.
Which of your songs are you most proud of?
I like all the EVE songs for different reasons. The boring but true answer is I like the latest one most – The Learning Cliff; I regard it as the background music to my journey through Eve. Also, trying to master it sitting in a Las Palmas beach bar on New Year’s Day will be a memory I will treasure. Out of game, I have recently worked on a song of my daughter’s, which I think is stunning. I am biased, obviously, but it is so good. It will be a theme song for a VR game she is developing, so I am not sure if it will get that widely heard, which would be a bit of a shame. As for for my own stuff, there was a song I wrote in 1984 that I will never beat – mainly because I’ve damaged my hearing due to my reckless youth. But I have a couple of personal compositions that I haven’t released that give me quiet satisfaction.
Most of your music seems to be influenced by techno, a little industrial, and European electronica. Where do you find your musical inspiration?
This is hard. First thing to say is I am just I guy with a laptop, so that constrains the choices available to an extent; a full brass band is not going going to be an option. Then again, the first real band I ever saw live was Kraftwerk – it was supposed to be Uriah Heap, but, long story. Also, I grew up in Sheffield (UK), where synthpop/electronica was in our blood. Then there was the introduction of Midi at that time into recording studios, which changed everything – so perhaps it is not so surprising that I lean to the electronic side of music. But the stuff I have done outside of Eve has been more diverse.
Who is your favorite band or artist?
Again, this is hard. I don’t tend to be nostalgic about music. So things I used to like, don’t seem that important now. I can always listen to Arctic Monkeys and Radiohead, but more likely I will find something obscure on Soundcloud and play that to death instead. While on holiday I was listening to Seven Lions. It seemed appropriate. It will be something different next week.
What equipment or software do you prefer to use for your music?
What I would prefer is a full recording studio, with decent reference speakers, but what I have is a laptop and some dodgy ear buds. I use Reason 8, the same Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) used by CCP RealX – you can see him using it here. I started using Reason mainly because the interface was just like old 8 Track and 16 Track studios I used to work in; it’s not for everyone. But my, how it has changed! It is really quite astonishing what can be achieved with it now, and the workflow is so fast – what would take weeks to achieve in an old studio can be done in minutes. I also occasionally use Melodyne if I am working on audio files that need tweaking, and Audacity is such an amazing free tool. Often I use that when working with people across the internet, because they are guaranteed to be able to use it.
“I don’t tend to be nostalgic about music. So things I used to like, don’t seem that important now.”
Are you still accepting music commissions? If so, what is the best way someone can contact you?
Certainly I would love to. But there are some ground rules:
1) I don’t take payment.
2) I do it for people that give something back to Eve in some way.
3) It takes time sometimes – Real Life and all that.
4) Try and have a clear idea about what you want.
5) I would rather not do parodies. They can be a bit hit or miss, and the IP issues can be a nightmare – I would prefer to do something original.
Any closing thoughts or shout-outs?
I guess a big shout-out to all the creatives that support Eve and make the community such a rewarding experience. I don’t just mean just the Sindels and Rixxes in the game; anyone who tries to add some creativity to our pixel world gets a big salute from me. Fly safe! o/