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Ged Grimes

Gaelic games (and soundtrack songs)

By • Jun 16th, 2020 • Category: Feature

Once famous for its three Js – jam, jute and journalism – the city by the Tay is now known for a couple of Ds – digital and design.

One of Dundee’s most famous musical sons, Ged Grimes – one third of 80s popsters Danny Wilson – has returned to his hometown, following a spell in the US. And when he’s not touring as bassist with Simple Minds he’s in his studio creating music for computer games. However, this is no new fad.

“I first got into composing for games in 1997,” recalls the bassist, “when Dundee was starting to get a reputation for producing games.” His first work was ‘Earthworm Jim 3D…”a bit of a comedy cult game… think of the music in the Simpsons”.

This led to work on big-name titles such as ‘Enter the Matrix’, ’Amplitude’, and ‘The Fast and the Furious’.

Games music may be have the stereotype of random blips and squawks but Grimes insists: “Games music has come a long way from the early days when composers were restricted by a small memory chip, limiting what sounds they could use and how long tracks could be”.

Indeed, now the filmic quality of some games requires a soundtrack to match.

“Nowadays fully orchestrated soundtracks are commonplace and the development of the quality of the music and audio has coincided with the photorealistic graphic developments and rich storylines,” he explains.

None more than ‘The Bard’s Tale’ – the latest volume featuring some of Scotland’s top Gaelic singers, ranging from 16 year old Peigi Barker (who sang in the film ‘Brave’) to 82 year old Gaelic legend Rona Lightfoot.

“My Gaelic is non-existent,” Grimes confesses, ”but I have worked with Gaelic musicians in the past and I was amazed at how vibrant the scene is with a emerging generation of fantastic talent coming through… who are proud of the culture but also want Gaelic to be heard in new and innovative ways… so a computer game with Gaelic to the fore is a great example of how relevant the language is.”

He explains how he started with the songs – most from last century – and arranged the music around them. “I think this is why the soundtrack has had such an emotional impact even amongst non-Gaelic speakers… all the emotion is right there in the voices.. and the voices are front and centre in the game.”

Indeed with award nominations aplenty the game series was ever recognised by the traditional community with a Celtic Connections show mixing the game footage with actors and musicians on stage.

The stereotype of a recording musician and a gamer meld into a studio-bound computer geek lit only by blinking LEDs, but Grimes’ other job takes him well outside the studio.

“Simple Minds is a great place to be – especially for a bass player… I’m 9 years in, and we have been round the world quite a few times… the fans are as strong as ever, probably even more dedicated than back in the 80s, and with such an extensive catalogue and new ideas kicking off we never really stop.

“We recently completed tours of Mexico, USA, Canada and of course my favourite show of 2018 was playing Slessor Gardens in Dundee, tying in with the opening of the city’s new V&A museum.”

With Grimes. and indeed former bandmates Gary and Kit Clark so busy it’s understandable that Danny Wilson haven’t reformed, apart from performing one song at the opening of the Ryder Cup in 2014. Surely they can’t be short of offers for one last reunion?

“Nostalgia is for oldsters,” he laughs. “Seriously, we never say never, but given they way our individual careers have gone, it’s hard to find time for anything else… The Ryder cup thing was sweet to do but we always set the bar high with Danny Wilson and if we were to do anything again it would take the same level of commitment and time… something which is in short supply at the moment.”

And it seems that the future may lie in looking forwards rather than back.

“When I started in games, many of my contemporaries in bands were like ‘are you crazy? What a step down for you from “real” music…’” he recounts. “I afford myself a wry smile when those same musicians call me up trying to find a route for their music in the games world.”

‘The Bard’s Tale IV’ (soundtrack, and game) is out now. More at gedgrimes.com
This article originally appeared in the Broughty Ferry Guide.

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