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Hiveswap Act 1 OST - Commentary

3.2k words across 31 entries.

Album commentary

Cohen Edenfield:

Hey, it’s Cohen. But more interestingly, it’s James and Toby, giving some commentary on the first half of the HIVESWAP: Act 1 soundtrack, available now on Bandcamp or bundled with HIVESWAP: Act 1 on Steam and Humble. We’ve got the first half of the discussion today, with the next half going up next Wednesday. Wait…did I say all this once before already? No. Impossible.

Definitely Safe Forever

James Roach:

This is the track that has been rewritten the most. It’s so much better now than it used to be. This latest version is meant to tie in with the title screen music. It’s based around Joey and Jude’s theme, and has a few nods in there to some others if you’re listening.

Snake Escape

James Roach:

In its current form, I think this is one of the best examples on this soundtrack of what Toby and I’s respective styles sound like mixed together. Toby doesn’t like to use a lot of percussion, so I wrote this based on what was originally a piano piece. It is one of the VERY first things written for the game. WOW. The original version of this sounds a lot more like “SINGULAR PERIL” without any drums and not sampled, so just like, straight 8ths.

Joey Claire, Extraordinaire

James Roach:

When Toby sent me the original piano sketch for Joey’s theme it was real good but I thought since Joey dances, what if I made it sound like a dance recital? I used to take dance classes when I was a kid, and I have very distinct memories of a kindly old woman playing bouncy piano chords in ¾ time. One of the design choices Toby and I settled on really early on was that each character would have a “room” that be the purest form of their theme. Joey feels most at home in her bedroom, which is a sanctuary from the rest of the awful house she lives in.

Toby Fox:

I think my original version of this was like 40 seconds long or something… James did a really good job fleshing it out and making it something that’s listenable for long enough to look at the Bubsy poster 40 times in a row.

Half-Harley Manor

James Roach:

This went through a bunch of revisions, too. It used a lot of harpsichord originally, which we then thought we’d use a little more sparingly. When we first came onto the project Andrew told us “it’s like a haunted house” so we really made it like… spooky but months down the line Andrew was like “ok lads reel it in it’s not actually haunted just lonely” so we switched it to piano and toned it down a bit. Toby ended up doing the final version of this one, though I think a piano version I did exists somewhere too.

Toby Fox:

This is one of the first tracks I did for the game. I’m pretty proud of how it turned out from a musical standpoint, though I guess it’s kind of serious given how goofy the house looks. Whoops…

Relatively Visible Darkness

James Roach:

Overall it felt like the mansion wasn’t dorky enough so I wrote this even MORE toned down version of it for when the lights go out. Stripping down Toby’s song in this way makes it sound kinda like Luigi’s Mansion, which rules so it all worked out. This was originally going to be the theme for just downstairs. In the time since then, though we decided to have music changes based more on “narrative” and less on just “location.” You don’t spend that much time upstairs so it would seem kinda silly to have the “MAIN THEME” of the mansion be heard for the two minutes you’re in the hallway. You will see more of these dynamic music changes in ACT 2.

Toby Fox:

It sounds kind of like Yoshi’s Story to me. This turned out to be a really tuba-heavy soundtrack somehow. Maybe that’s a good thing though.

James Roach:

We just kept telling each other to add Tuba to things. Like some sort of Will They/Won’t They Tuba standoff.

Bedroom for an Annoying Dog

James Roach:

Cohen named this one this because it is the basement and Toby was living in Andrews basement at some point while he was working on Undertale. You may not have heard of it. There is no secret Undertale reference in this room. Checkmate, game theorists. Anyway Toby and I thought it would be really funny if we made the mansion theme sound like the Sephiroth song from Final Fantasy 7 and originally the directors hated it but I cried until I got my way.

Toby Fox:

I literally didn’t understand why it was called this until I read James’s comment on it.

James Roach:

Toby what the hell.

That's How I Beat Snake

James Roach:

Originally all the strife song titles had the word STRIFE in them. This one was called “Why’d it have to be STRIFE” a reference to the classic line in Indiana Jones where Indy, a known pacifist, questions the violent tone of the film. It is an extremely important moment in american cinema AND meta comedy. I’m honestly so surprised you hadn’t heard of it. Anyway this is based off of “SNAKE GENESIS” which I wrote first. Movie Magic!

Toby Fox:

They probably should have also named the song that plays when you play the Snake minigame this. Just two songs with an identical name. That would be have been cool.

Cohen Edenfield:

(Hey Cohen here. several people have asked if the title is a reference to the aaron carter song. obviously it is, yes, that. James’ song titles were good but they were usually a very direct reference to what actually happened in the scene they were playing for. So I renamed them, because I didn’t want people poring over the tracklist to decode the entire plot before actually playing the game. because you would have. I know you.)

Jude Harley, Bizarrely

James Roach:

Hey did you know Jude’s treehouse theme is just a slightly different “Joey Claire, Extraordinaire?” Anyway here is where I first accidentally discovered how fun it is to write a completely unlistenable synth sound that sounds like some hapless dweeb. I have truly realized my ultimate self.

Toby Fox:

Besides tubas, I think James’s weird voicey grubble synths that sound like they’re yelling are maybe the most defining instrument of this soundtrack.

Table for Tooth

James Roach:

I wrote this in 2014 and I THINK the original monster you fought here was the proto version big monster with two mouths, from the Living Room STRIFE. I wanted the synth to sound like the monster singing because I didn’t know how the monsters sounded yet and I thought it’d be funny if they were like stupid idiots.

Final Spice

James Roach:

Toby sent me this as a piano sketch (as he often did) and then I sent him a semi chiptune (ALTERNATE RECIPE) version with drums and stuff and then he sent me back the final version this was actually an incredibly simple process what an absolute joy. This is the most purely Toby track on the whole album and I love it.

Toby Fox:

I thought it would be kind of funny if there was a JRPG battle theme mixed in with all the other ones. I think this is just what I make by default without any specific direction.

James Roach:

It is my favorite song on Vol. 1.

Cohen Edenfield:

(hi it’s Cohen I intentionally made this strife more convoluted and complex as a result of how much I love this song, sorry)

Living Legend

James Roach:

I wanted to write something very Final Fantasy Boss Battle™ and around the time I wrote this an article came out where Nobuo Uematsu says he just wrote phrases a few measures at a time and put them together so that’s what I did. (youtube.com/watch?v=mvyE9AJoUCM)

Toby Fox:

Basically James is saying this is the One Winged Angel of the Hiveswap soundtrack.

Singular Peril

James Roach:

This was written based off the extremely old original snake chase sketch Toby did. I wanted to put that throwback in for myself. Like an easter egg only I know or care about. I also wanted to try like… sampling stuff since I’m not super good at it yet and wanted to grow as a composer.

Cohen Edenfield:

(hey this is named Singular Peril because it plays during the only point in Act 1 when you can die. do you get the joke)

A More Defensible Position

James Roach:

This is a Toby Track 100% he just goes ham with echo. If you ever look at his work files it’s like a thousand tracks and half of them are just echoes. This sounds so good toby is so good. I think this was originally a loop for… in between conversations or something?

Toby Fox:

I think it was just written for the attic in general.

Open The Door

James Roach:

This track has a really rich backstory, in the sense that it has had several complete versions each with their own revision process. You can check out one of those versions in the B-side “how it could have gone” available on bandcamp.

Toby Fox:

My main contribution to this track is the piano riff 10 seconds in… Hell yeah…

Keep Your Head Down

Toby Fox:

I think I was asked to make this sound kind of 80’s back when the game was going to be in 3D. I mean, either that, or I made it sound kind of 80’s for no reason. Anyway, it’s just an arrangement of Xefros’s theme that I made for when tense stuff is happening.

James Roach:

It kinda sounds like blade runner I have always upheld this even though I’ve never seen blade runner.

Toby Fox:

Me neither.

James Roach:

We are frauds.

Oh Whoa, What's This

Toby Fox:

I made this track but I didn’t name it. I had nothing to do with the name here. James named this.

James Roach:

I can’t believe creator of hit webcomic homestuck and best friend of the pope, Toby Fox, would disown me in this way. Thrown under the bus! Left to die! A betrayal of the highest caliber. Owned in my own home. Absolutely destroyed.

Anyway yeah I named it. I feel like after “Oppa Toby Style” he would have learned to stop letting me name his tracks. How many times do I have to teach you this lesson.

Cohen Edenfield:

(hi it’s Cohen. When I renamed the album tracks this was one of only 2 or 3 that James really wanted to keep. He didn’t tell me that it was a furry meme. I don’t know about memes. I’m just a little bappy paws otter I don’t know shit)

Some Kind of Alien

Toby Fox:

Another track I made really early on as one of the themes for the entire game/Alternia in general. It ended up being one of Dammek’s themes. It’s a pretty clear nod to Crustacean from Homestuck. LMAO I almost typed “Crustacean from UNDERTALE,”

James Roach:

Oh wow. Yet Another Betrayal At The Hands Of My Once Brother, Toby Fox.

Toby Fox:

Anyway because a few of my friends really liked that song and it seemed to feel really “Troll” to me, it seemed like a good idea to bring back that feeling for Hiveswap. And get some nostalgia in there as well. And to put more tubas on the soundtrack.

James Roach:

My contribution to this track is that I made Toby go in and add in more tuba. There is a disgusting tuba-less version of this song that will never see the light of day.

Rustblood

Toby Fox:

Basically what I was told about Xefros before composing this track is that he’s kind of sad and pathetic and it makes you feel bad for him. Also him and Dammek are in a shitty rock band. So I tried to compose something that was kind of lumbering and morose-sounding, but also a bit like… a rock band? In the end maybe it’s a bit too heavy-sounding for Xefros, but I like the melody a lot. Also here’s more voluntary tubas from me. That’s all of my tuba contributions I think.

James Roach:

Cohen, I typed “Dobey Fox :)” up there and Toby deleted it. :(

Cohen Edenfield:

(fight your own battles James I can’t be there to protect you from Toby every day of your life)

Filthy Nuclear Bunker

James Roach:

James: This is the most James Roach™ track on the album and it’s extremely good. I wrote this melody when I was 12 and I sneak it into every major project I’m in. I have rewritten and remixed and remastered this song about a thousand times. The melody is named “Nuclear” so I made sure that was somewhere in the title.

Toby Fox:

I actually think this is James’s best arrangement of the song that he wrote when he was 12 that he keeps putting into everything. I’m glad it could be used somewhere the player will be forced to listen to it for a really long time. It’s great.

James Roach:

I made it his hive theme just to force people to listen to it again.

SPORTS! Personally, I Love Them.

James Roach:

This was another title I managed to slip in there. I love to name things in a stupid way. If somethings really bad it’s funny. It’s also funny if something’s really good too. Maybe I just like to laugh. I am a man of much nuance. Anyway here is the ska song you begged me for. I wanted it to be a cheery version of Xefros’s theme because it is the place in his house he probably feels most like himself. Surrounded by Anime and SPORTS! Quite possibly.. the biggest mood imaginable?

Toby Fox:

I couldn’t stop him from putting a ska song on the soundtrack sorry guys

James Roach:

I would love to see you try little man.

Cohen Edenfield:

(I don’t know what anime he’s talking about. I guess the paused Arena Stickball match on the TV is pretty anime-looking. But James also sees anime everywhere, wherever he goes. One time I saw him pick a rotten peach up off the ground, call it a “tsun-momo,” and take a huge bite. He bit right through the pit)

Lofted Gunpile

James Roach:

This was actually my pass at “Some Kind Of Alien” when I was trying to show Toby what I meant by “make it quiet....... THEN REAL LOUD!!!” and it ended up working out cool cause we needed an extra track for Dammek’s hive.

Toby Fox:

Your advice didn’t work on me because I just like things to be really loud all the time.

SERPENT GENESIS

James Roach:

I actually wrote this one first, despite it basically being a chiptune version of “That’s How I Beat Snake” I tricked you guys into thinking THIS was a throwback to the snake strife. keep trying junior

Toby Fox:

This one really should have been called “HOW DO I BEAT SNAKE?” because I never found the clue to solving it and just did it by brute force. Also the drums kind of remind me of ska.

James Roach:

Fuck he got me

Cohen Edenfield:

(I am glad Toby had to brute-force this puzzle. When I played Undertale I got stuck on that stupid piano puzzle because the beta version he let me play didn’t cut you off after 8 notes or whatever. I was one note off, trying to play what I thought was this 32-note song. I also took a break for a week and was still stuck on it when I came back, so Toby thought I’d spent a week just beating my head against the wall on that one puzzle. Toby thinks everyone is a brilliant musician like him and his stupid piano puzzle was too hard the end)

We Shall Go Together

James Roach:

OK I know what you’re thinking, “This gets its own track on the OST, but OLD SECRET isn’t even here??” Hey look I love old secret too but (COHEN: redacted). I only put it in that cutscene for you, the fans. Also it fit really well. Anyway, this track is inspired a lot by Quiet Water by Toby Fox maybe you’ve heard of him. It is just a very slowed down version of Joey’s theme.

Cohen Edenfield:

(if you want to know what the title of this song is from google it with quotes)

Wish You Were Here

James Roach:

When Cohen asked me to write this song he was like “have you ever heard of transistor” and if making a smug face produced a sound we’d all be deaf. Then he asked me about rick and morty which is like.. a show I watch but never ever want to interact with anybody about ever. Anyway its that one scene you know the one.

Toby Fox:

This song is cool

Cohen Edenfield:

(James thought I wouldn’t embed link this video! he underestimates me every single day of my life)

Intermission 1

James Roach:

This has a bunch of different themes but is mostly the Heiress’s theme, which is based off a really old really simple piano sketch toby sent me. It’s got Nuclear in it too. also Joeys theme and Xefros’s theme. I am explicitly not saying the word “leitmotif” out of a sort of… indignant disgust.

Toby Fox:

There was a longer Heiress sketch too where it got really loud. Anyway I guess we’ll talk about that later when (redacted)

James Roach:

I absolutely refuse to wait another second.

Old Steps

James Roach:

Originally the game would have a jingle unique to each room when you did a tapdance/ballet but it ended up being too clunky so it got scrapped. Anyway here’s a few of them!

Toby Fox:

When I was listening to this on bandcamp the next song started playing and I was like “Oh shit when does Joey do THIS dance???”

How it Could Have Gone

James Roach:

I already talked about this one I guess??

Toby Fox:

This was basically James’s arrangement of MY arrangement of the cutscene where, spoilers, Joey gets HIVE-SWAPPED!!!!!! The part where the choirs are soft was going to be the part when her and Dammek look at each other.

Alternate Recipe

James Roach:

Toby sent me this as an mp3 of him playing a piano sketch, and then I sent him back this. we eventually settled on what became “Final Spice”

Toby Fox:

This is like listening to the early unreleased version of Chrono Trigger’s battle theme.

James Roach:

I think I’ve just been like.. Owned by proximity.

Heavy Snaking

James Roach:

When we first envisioned the basement/snake strife it was gonna be really moody like the basement music. I wrote this as a joke but it worked out really well. But later we decided that scene could use a little BEEFING UP in terms of… intensity and energy? Anyway that’s how a completely finished track ended up as a b-side. Could we re-use it later? Not really it’s literally the mansion theme and table for tooth so it cant go anywhere else!

Cohen Edenfield:

(I actually thought we could use this song somewhere else but James was really insistent it be a B-Side, so I guess when the time comes when we could have used it he will have to write a whole new song. haha owned again roach)

Toby Fox:

I don’t even remember if I’ve ever heard this one. It would have worked too I guess if the Snake was more chill.

James Roach:

like just an unbelievably chill snake.

Toby Fox:

Yeah like wearing sunglasses and its attack is to tell you to not do drugs.

SPOOKTUNE

James Roach:

When Toby was working on undertale he’d send me little snippets here and there of music he was working on and when he sent me spooktune I fell in love with it. Instead of telling him I liked it, months later I sent him this like “haha nice song idiot” we are good friends who respect eachother but that doesn’t mean we cant own eachother on occasion or constantly.

Toby Fox:

I have to respect James for being the only fan of Spooktune in the entire world.

Toby Fox:

OK im done

James Roach:

Great job team

Cohen Edenfield:

OK everybody that’s it. We’ll be back next week with something else, which will also be good. Probably something about the art? Yeah. OK bye.

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