Shovel Knight Treasure Trove
Image: Yacht Club Games

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'.

We spoke to Jake Kaufman alongside Mega Man veteran Manami Matsumae and Save Me Mr Tako composer Marc-Antoine Archier in our recent triple-shot interview feature looking specifically at how composers approach chiptune in the 21st century.

Today, though, we're shooting 10 rapid-fire questions at the Shovel Knight composer alone to find out the piece of work he's most proud of, his musical heroes, and the last thing he listened to...

Nintendo Life: What was the first song or album you remember buying?

Jake Kaufman: Prodigy, Fat of the Land. After playing Wipeout XL and hearing Firestarter.

What was the last music you listened to?

Men at Work, "Who Could It Be Now?" (Sax riff: Burrr-da-BREEEEE-der-dah)

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

First ever was Drymouth, an indie GBC puzzle game. First game as a pro was the GBC port of Q*Bert. The former is definitely more of a rare cut, with the vinyl scratching and all.

Which piece of yours are you most proud of?

The "Rad Likes Robots" episode of OK K.O. Let's Be Heroes! is my favorite. So much planning went into every second of it.

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

Stardew Valley's "Summer day bgm", the upbeat one.

What do you listen to while you’re driving?

Short solo drives are mostly silent composition time. Long ones are study time, listening to whatever my passengers are into or exploring lately, or anything I haven't heard yet.

Do you have a musical hero?

Dizzy Gillespie and Leonard Bernstein share the "most awe-inspiring career" title for me.

Which decade had the best music?

I can't do this without what-abouting myself all the way back to the 18th century, then to other cultures. So I'll say, "THIS decade," and hope I turn out to be right.

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

Bongos. Using electromagnets I can turn the drum head into a loudspeaker, and play magic samples of any other instrument! Engineering is not cheating!

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 Arduino Esplora (the discontinued gamepad-shaped one, with onboard sensors, buttons, sliders, etc). Always bring a microcontroller (see magic instrument question).

Our thanks to Jake for speaking with us. Be sure to check out our other Quick Beats interviews with the likes of Austin Wintory, Yuzo Koshiro, and Darren Korb, and keep an eye out for plenty more in the coming days as the Nintendo Life VGM Fest continues.