Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze
Image: Nintendo

Throughout the Nintendo Life Video Game Music Festival we're speaking to a range of composers and musicians for a mixture of in-depth interviews and shorter, sharper (and perhaps a little goofier) Q&As where we ask just ten rapid-fire personal questions; we're calling these shorter features 'Quick Beats'.

Today we're catching up with the legendary composer behind countless VGM classics, including a run of Rareware NES classics too long to list, the Donkey Kong Country series (of course!), and more recent work such as the incredible soundtracks to Tengami and Snake Pass, not to mention Playtonic's Yooka-Laylee pair.

So, let's find out about David Wise's musical tastes, favourite songs, and all-time heroes...

What was the first song or album you remember buying?

X-Ray Spex, Germ Free Adolescents.

What was the last music you listened to?

Queen, Bohemian Rhapsody.

What was the very first video game you wrote music for, and how do you feel listening back now?

Slalom on the NES. Not so bad – the beginning of a very long musical journey.

Which piece of yours are you most proud of?

Aquatic Ambiance – technically, it enabled a much bigger sound pallet on the NES.

Which piece by someone else do you wish you had written?

I never experience this – always happy to hear what other people have come up [with]. I really admire Uptown Funk and Get Lucky – well-crafted songs.

What do you listen to while you’re driving?

The sound of the engine.

Do you have a musical hero?

Many. My most recent heroes are musicians I used to watch at gigs / festivals who were also on the same line-up. Stan'Ley Samuel. He and his brother Chris had the most amazing band called SaQuii – they were a huge influence on my music. Stan is presently playing guitar on the Specials Tour at the moment.

And Su Robinson. Fab Sax player, who happens to be playing on tour with The South.

Which decade had the best music?

This is a hard one. There have been some amazing songs over the last decade. The most influential was probably the '80s. I was really inspired by Trevor Horn.

Ocarina, harp or bongos — which magical instrument do you take on an epic adventure?


If your house were on fire and you only had time to grab one keepsake before you flee to safety with your family, what would you take?

My Saxophone.

Our thanks to David — follow him on Twitter @David_Wise. Be sure to check out our other Quick Beats interviews with the likes of Austin Wintory, Yuzo Koshiro, Darren Korb, Jake Kaufman, Lena Raine, Manami Matsumae and more, and keep an eye out for as the Nintendo Life VGM Fest continues.