Tee Lopes Talks Sonic, Streets Of Rage, And Making Music On A PS1 – Feature

Tee Lopes Lead Image NL VMGFest
Image: Tee Lopes

Fans of certain beloved Sega franchises should be very familiar with this composer’s name by now. Tee Lopes started out on the VGM scene releasing remixed and reimagined versions of some of gaming’s most beloved music, with a special focus on one blue hedgehog in particular, and his compositions and arrangements now sit alongside those of series legends such as Masato Nakamura, Jun Senoue and Yuzo Koshiro in the Sonic canon.

His talent and passion garnered the attention of the right people over the last decade, and in recent years he’s supplied the soundtrack for the brilliant Sonic Mania (a game that’s now four-years-old!) as well as the Mr. X Nightmare DLC for Streets of Rage 4, and his work will also be heard in the upcoming Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge and Metal Slug Tactics. If you’ve got a retro revival in the works and want to capture the spirit of a treasured series while also taking the audio to new and exciting places, it seems Tee Lopes is your go-to composer.

We kick off the Nintendo Life Video Game Music Fest — a season of VGM-focused features and interviews — with an email chat with Tee where we asked him about how he started out, how he goes about crafting new music for retro-inspired titles, and his first experience with the Sonic series…

Nintendo Life: How old were you when you began making music? Can you remember how you started experimenting?

Tee Lopes: I composed my first original song when I was 8 using a small arranger keyboard I owned. I remember the song well — slow and corny, but catchy! In 1999, when I was 12, I came across a very unique title for the PlayStation called Music 2000 [see below], which allowed me to sequence my music using a PS1 controller, and then save the project files on my memory card. I would then hook up the console to a boombox and record my songs onto cassette tapes that I’d give to my friends.

I took lots of inspiration from the games I played during that experimentation period. It’s curious that I started making game-inspired music using a game console, and now I compose for video games.