Sunday, July 9, 2017

TCG Interviews From Pokemon North American Internationals 2017

Last weekend, I had an opportunity to interview some of the top finishers from the TCG side of the event. First, Regan Retzloff discusses how he used his "Rainbow Road" deck to win in the Juniors division:


Second, Tord Reklev, winner of the Masters Division, discusses the Garbodor/Drampa deck that he used in the tournament:

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Monday, June 26, 2017

Interview: Mark Mueller (Co-Writer, "Somewhere, Someday")

Mark Mueller
The following is an interview with Mark Mueller, co-writer of “Somewhere, Someday”, a song from the Pokémon: The First Movie soundtrack.

Where did you grow up, and how did you get into doing music?

I grew up in Northern California near Palo Alto. When I was five years old, my parents bought a piano for my older brother. He lost interest quickly, but I instantly began sitting down and fooling around on the keys. From the start I could pick out melodies, etc. and “play by ear”. I started taking piano lessons and soon I was writing my first songs. I was only six or seven at the time and the songs were very simple, but I loved writing them-it just came very naturally to me. By the time I was ten I had written a musical version of Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” and it was put on by my fifth grade class. Again, it was pretty basic songwriting, but people seemed to like it and it kept me wanting to write more.

What was the early part of your career like?

I continued to write a lot of songs in college and people would tell me I could do it professionally, but I didn’t know if you could really make a living writing music (and, as it turned out, it is not easy). I decided to try, however, and right after college I made my first demo (demonstration tape) and went down to LA to try and get it heard. I soon learned that getting into the offices of publishers and record companies was tough, but I kept banging on doors. Eventually some publishing execs started to notice and encouraged me to go for it, so I moved to LA full time to pursue my improbable dream of becoming a full-time songwriter. In the meantime, I worked as a bell-hop at the Hyatt Regency. I would save up my tips until I had enough money to do my next demo and then play it for whoever would listen.

In the 80’s, you had an opportunity to write themes for the TV shows "DuckTales" and "Rescue Rangers". How did that come about?

I eventually signed on as a staff writer at MCA Music and then got a film agent too. My film agent sent me to a meeting at Disney because they were starting this new block of animated shows called "The Disney Afternoon." They gave me a shot to write the opening song for this new show called “DuckTales”. I knew that there would be a lot of writers competing and that I likely wouldn’t get it, but I took a shot at it anyway. To my great surprise and continuing happiness...they chose my song for the opening. Woo-oo!!

Later in your career, you wrote the song “Somewhere, Someday”. There are several different arrangements of it-which version was written first, and what was the writing process like?

I believe the versions of "Somewhere, Someday" you're talking about are the one by Jennifer Paige and the one by N'Sync. As far as I remember, Jennifer Paige did the original version of the song for her album (it was not a single, just an album cut). Andy Goldmark (who’s written with and produced for everyone from Carly Simon to Michael Bolton) had the idea for the song (he and I had just written “Crush” for Jennifer). Andy played me the rough outline of this beautiful melody he'd started and asked me if I'd like to help him complete it. What he played me was beautiful and I was thrilled to help him finish the song.

I’m not exactly sure how the song came to the attention of N'Sync, but they recorded it. When I heard it for the first time I was totally knocked out. Unfortunately for me and Andy, they were in the middle of legal battles with their manager and record company and the song (although completely mixed and recorded) just sat in the can unreleased.

How did you find out about the N’Sync version of the song being selected for the Pokémon: The First Movie soundtrack? Did you have any involvement with getting it on there?

They were a huge group at the time and it was awful to have this song finished but not able to be released. However, one day I got a call from my publisher who said that she'd gotten a call from the music supervisor for the Pokémon soundtrack and that they needed one last song to finish out the album. She said there wasn’t much time and that the song would have to be ready to go immediately. She asked if I had anything that would fit those requirements. It took me about one second to tell her I had just the song they were looking for. When the Pokémon people heard that there was an N'Sync song just sitting there they got very, very excited. Somehow they were able to navigate the legal obstacles and (by some miracle) “Somewhere, Someday” ended up on the Pokémon soundtrack. It was so great that it had found its home.

What have you been working on more recently?

Lately I’ve been working on a one-woman musical with Lesley Nicol (who played Ms. Patmore on Downton Abbey.) We just performed it in London and Hong Kong. I'm also enjoying helping with the press side of the launch of the reboot of “DuckTales”.

If readers want more information on your work, what’s your website?

I have a website at markmuellermusic.com

Monday, June 19, 2017

Poke Press Digest Podcast: Episode 9-Veronica Taylor/Movie 19 Ending Theme/Masters VGC

This episode has three segments. The first (0:52-6:37) is an interview with Veronica Taylor, the voice of Ash Ketchum for the first eight seasons of the Pokémon dub. We talk about how she got involved in the series, as well as what she's been doing lately in her career.

For the second segment (6:43-41:30), Anne from Pikapi Podcast helps me discuss the ending themes of the recently released Magerna movie. Find out which side of the ocean we think comes out on top in this matchup.

In our final segment (41:38-45:02), I interview the winner of the Masters VGC competition at this year's Midwest regional. We discuss the player's team, and the strategy behind it.


Links:

Segment 1:
Veronica's Site

Segment 2:
Pikapi Podcast

Indigo League episodes coming to digitial? (In HD?)

A seemingly early Amazon listing is still not fully explained:

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Midwest VGC Regionals 2017-Winner Interview

At this year's Ohana-con, I had an opportunity to talk to Andrew Nowak, winner of the VGC Masters Division. Find out about his team and strategy:

Monday, June 12, 2017

Midwest TCG Regionals 2017-Seniors Winner Interview

Ian Robb
The following is an interview with Ian Robb, winner of the Pokémon TCG Midwest Regionals 2017 in the Seniors Division. Ian used a Drampa GX/Garbodor deck for this event.

Where are you from, and how did you get into the Pokémon TCG?
I am from Rhode Island. I started playing in 2007 when my dad gave me a Pokémon starter kit for Christmas. After that, I played at a local league casually for about three years until I became competitive. I won the US National Championship in 2012 as a Junior and also got second at Worlds the same year.

What's the basic strategy of the deck, and why did you choose it for this tournament?
The goal of my deck is to set up a Drampa GX turn two so I can attack with Berserk for (hopefully) 180 on a GX, then use Garbodor during the late game. I played the deck because it was the one deck I was comfortable with going into this mostly unknown metagame.

What are some other important cards in the deck?
Playing three Tapu Lele GX helped me get whatever supporter I need to react to my opponent, and not playing Shaymin EX in my deck helped me in the mirror so I would not have a Pokémon that they can Lysandre up for an easy two prizes. Finally, playing Delinquent helped me in the mirror because I can run my opponent out of cards in hand, giving me more time to set up.

Shaymin EX has been almost universally played ever since it came out-what was it like not using it?
During certain scenarios at the tournament I wished I played it so I could draw more cards after playing my supporter, but overall it still seemed better not to use it.

How did the finals play out? 
In the finals I played against Joey with his Metagross GX deck that was built specifically to beat Drampa GX/Garbodor.  While that is a disadvantage, we had played in Swiss so we each knew what to expect for the match-up.  The first game I was able to disrupt him and take enough knockouts to be ahead when he finally set up. Game two I was not able to do that and he crushed me.  In game three he dead drew and had no bench, and I was able to knock out his only Pokémon.

Anything you might change if you used this deck again?
I would take out Sudowoodo, since I barely used it all weekend, and add a second Field Blower or a different Pokémon because it is useful to have cards that are not items so you can safely Ultra Ball away them in the mirror.