On January 1, 2022, Carlos Eiene (better known by his internet username “insaneintherainmusic”) posted a video on his YouTube channel titled “I’m done being a content creator.” Known for its jazzy covers of classic video game tracks like “MEGALOVANIA” and “Mii Channel,” one channel currently has 400,000 subscribers and over 100,000,000 views. Despite the success it has brought him, he has decided to put it behind him and move on to a new chapter in his life.
I reached out to him to ask him a few questions about the new path his career is taking. When he takes the video call, he tells me he’s straight from working on a song for one of his upcoming projects. Although he has reduced his public exposure, Eiene has been busy as always, with several new projects on his plate.
“I was dissatisfied with the content creation and lifecycle that this profession requires,” says Eiene. “Since then I’ve been fortunate enough to get a few gigs as a game designer, but also doing production work for other people, most of which hasn’t actually been released yet.”
One of these projects is a game called Tyrion Cuthbert: Advocate of the Arcane. It is still under development, but the developer has released a demo of it about a year ago, which includes some of Eien’s work. While the gameplay is inspired by the Ace Attorney series, Eiene and his co-composer Shady Cicada tried to make the soundtrack stand out from the rest.
“I remember starting this project and hearing a lot Ace Attorney Stuff early and think, ‘Should I try to copy this aesthetic?'” says Eiene. “I was like ‘No.’ It’s not really my style, you know? I’d rather be doing something that’s more in my wheelhouse.” However, he also didn’t want to just make a jazz soundtrack to make jazz, calling it a “disservice to the game”. Instead, the soundtrack to it Tyrion Cuthbert strikes a happy middle ground: there are live instruments that play jazz-inspired arrangements, but they do so within the musical loop structure of the Ace Attorney Series.
Still, his skills seem perfectly suited to this new type of project. As he mentioned some of the compositional tools he used to write new songs, it quickly became clear that these were also techniques he used on his YouTube channel, just in different scenarios. For example, he spoke about writing for a Tyrion Cuthbert Character named Celeste. As their theme appears in different sections of the game, the underlying harmony changes to change the tone of the song. Known as “reharmonizing,” this technique is also the backbone of many jazz covers, which take a familiar melody and alter the underlying harmony to create something entirely new. Eiene may be taking a new step in his career, but it’s more than a leap of faith: it’s a role he’s been preparing for for years.
Now that he’s writing his own music for games, I ask him if his opinion on a “good video game score” has changed. In response, he bursts out laughing and says, “Man… how hot do I want to do that?”
He immediately draws a line between “soundtrack” and “score”. Although the two words are often used interchangeably, they can have different meanings depending on the context. When it comes to film, “score” is the term that describes the music playing in the background of the film. “Soundtrack” can mean the same thing, but can also refer to an album of licensed songs to be used in a film. In the context of a video game, Eiene says the difference between a soundtrack and a score is the “predominance of melody”.
“When I think of the greatest video game music of all time, I approach it with melody,” he says. “That Super Mario brothers theme, right? Dire, Dire Docks Super Mario 64. “Dragon blood” [from Skyrim]…when I write a soundtrack, I want it to be something that people can remember and sing about.”
He says the greatest modern example of this is the music of Toby Fox Undertale. Even as a meme, a track like “MEGALOVANIA” has far-reaching cultural significance. One remembers a time when his neighbors’ kids were playing outside, loudly playing the song on their phone. He thought, “What world am I living in where a battle theme from a video game is being circulated out there?”
Games with “Score” aren’t necessarily worse, but something Eiene doesn’t like to write about. “I’m still getting requests even though I’ve stopped making videos,” he says. “No one ever asked anything of him Elden ring for me, except maybe like the title theme. Does that mean Elden ring is a bad game? no Does that mean it has a bad score? no I just think some identity is missing.”
For Eiene, identity and personality are important components of every text he writes. That was even true when writing covers. Although he wanted to preserve the story of the original piece, he found ways to express himself in the arrangement and performance. Now turning to his own original projects, he says, “I accept the fact that my thoughts and my stories are worth telling.”
Just a few weeks ago A new video has appeared on the insaneintherainmusic YouTube channel. In it, Eiene celebrates the tenth anniversary of his station and announces a brand new project: Crazy in the rain, an album of original music that he calls “new, personal, and authentic.” He’s released original singles before, but this is the first time he’s created an entire project of songs just for himself.
After years of arranging music from other video games, Eiene says he writes these new songs as if they’re from a video game based on his life. For example, “Luminaire,” the second song on the album, is named after a train from the game Chrono trigger. When using Luminaire, the protagonist Crono levitates in the air and emits a beam of light to deal damage.
“To me, that represents the song and what it’s about,” says Eiene. “The song is about people realizing that everyone has that kind of light, everyone has a gift to offer to the world.” It seems that this metaphor for Eiene extends to the album as a whole; He redefines himself based on his own light, not the work of others.
“Writing this original album for me was [about] finding my sound outside of the context of video game covers.” Eiene says his “true compositional style” is somewhere between a traditional JRPG sound (he listed Pokémon, Octopath Traveler, and Xenoblade as examples) and a jazz fusion sound (One’s favorite band is a group called Snarky Puppy). He says an example of a sound like this is “Aurum Island”. Kid Icarus: Uprisingbut real examples are few and far between.
Eiene is uncertain about his long-term future. He says his dream project would be to work on a series from his childhood (something like Pokemon), but he’s not sure when or how that might even happen.
“I’m excited to see where I’ll be in five years,” says Eiene. “Right now I feel like I’m on a long journey. I know my immediate next destination, I have enough gas to get there, but I don’t know where we’re going after tonight.”
One knew he wanted a change from his YouTube life, but it will be a while before he achieves the personal success he seeks. I ask what success means to him and he pauses. When it comes to music and video games, Eiene is quick to respond, but not this time. He pauses to collect his thoughts before answering, which he sincerely does.
“Success is knowing that there will always be good and always bad. There will always be success and no success. Being totally okay with that and just letting it happen… I think that’s a form of success. Well, I’m saying that as a 24-year-old monkey-brained human, who certainly won’t do it to the full extent, but I think it’s useful to remember.”
During this transitional period in his life, Carlos Eiene thrives on rolling the punches and making things right as he walks. After all, he is a jazz musician: improvisation is one of his greatest skills.
If you want to hear mad in the rain, it will be released on October 21st, but it is available for pre-order now. He will also be releasing a single from the album every two weeks, including Luminaire, which is out today.