Zach Fendelman has been writing musical compositions for game applications since his senior year in high school. He is now a junior music composition major at Webster and has recently seen an app he composed music for on iTunes’ “featured apps” for two weeks in a row.
The app, Crashlands, is an interactive role-playing game that allows players to build structures, battle villains and quest through locations.
“My roommate actually saw it first and told me,” Fendelman said, “The Costers [the creators] told me that they would have a featured spot [on iTunes], but the feeling didn’t really sink in until I pulled out my phone, opened the app store and saw it on the front page.”
Crashlands comes from Butterscotch Shenanigans, a game studio operated by three brothers: Seth, Sam and Adam Coster. Fendelman met up with the brothers at a game jam in St. Louis where they worked together to begin the music composition process for the app.
Fendelman, along with his partner, Berklee College of Music Graduate Patrick Crecelius, regularly attend these events to work with any group that needs music for their game. The duo calls themselves Fat Bard.
“The developers are really smart guys,” Crecelius said, “We knew that it was going to be successful, we just weren’t quite sure how much.”
Fendelman and Crecelius met when Fendelman was just 13 and Crecelius had just graduated from college. Fendelman took guitar lessons from Crecelius. Fendelman began mentioning scoring, and this inspired Crecelius to get involved.
“If either of us are successful, we’re both successful,” Crecelius said.
The two have composed music for Blitz Breaker, Iggy’s Egg Adventure, Dungeon Bash and a slew of other games. Fendelman and Crecelius are currently working on the composition for Candy Cross and Adventure Lamp.
Fendelman said that one of his favorite memories was in 2013 when he tried out his composing skills for the first time. He was 18 years old and was making music for complete strangers at a global game jam at Simutronics.
“It was really cool to see programmers, artists, musicians and gamers all working together to reach a common goal,” Fendelman said. “It was a great feeling to hear my music in a game for the first time.”
The duo’s process starts with determining how many songs the developer needs and what direction to take the musical style. Crecelius generally works more on sound effects, while Fendelman works with the music.
The music for an app always has a cohesive theme. This is done by using similar music “patches” and melodic elements.
Fendelman and Crecelius will normally use ProTools to create sounds, but the two have also recorded themselves playing different instruments.
Aside from composing music for game apps, Fendelman is also the guitarist and lead vocalist for the band Lobby Boxer. They play regular gigs in the St. Louis area. The band will also go on a month-long tour around the United States this summer.