The 19th Hole: Nick Z. & The GT Soundtrack Pt 2
Breaking it down, track by track.

       We're gonna go ahead and assume that you've read part one in our series on Nick Zwirlein, Composer & Sound Designer for the Golden Tee arcade releases, and his incredible work on the GT 2022 soundtrack. However, in the event that you somehow missed it, you can check that out HERE to catch up. All good? Okay, onward and upward!

       Nick was kind enough to give us an inside look at his approach to each of the currently released Golden Tee 2022 courses and their respective soundtracks, and that's what we're going to cover in this, part two of the latest entry in our Golden Tee insight series, The 19th Hole.

Hollywood Hills - Bel Air, California

       “This was the first one I researched references for, and I had some discussions with design personnel. There’s a scene in The Godfather where they go to Hollywood, and there’s this kind of gentle, wilting, big band kind of tune as they’re pulling up, and that seemed really appropriate. I’d thought of doing ‘Marvel’ epic orchestral or something, but it just doesn't go with the visuals of when you're just looking at a pastoral like golf course, but the design team liked the reference that I picked out. My dad's a saxophone player, and I asked him what keys should I write in, in case we actually record. He had some good feedback, and it was the first big band tune I did.”

       “When I'm doing something that's not in my wheelhouse, I just listen to a ton of stuff usually. There's a sort of crossover between jazz and blues and I'm fairly familiar with blues, so I did a pretty bluesy, big band tune for that. I had the opportunity to record real saxophone with our other composer, Chuck Larish, who typically handles our mobile stuff, and my wife played drums on it. Those two things being real, just added so much to the tune. When I listened to the mockup, I was pretty happy with it, but when I listen to it now, it sounds like Super Nintendo jazz compared to the one with real instruments.”

Easter Island - Rapa Nui, Chile

       “There was recent Banderas action movie set in Chile that I listened to the most. I also listened to some Santana nylon stuff, and the nylon solo in "Don't Speak" by No Doubt. Some refs were really strong creatively, and others were more for mixing. I borrowed a classical nylon string guitar from the middle school my wife works at, I put new strings on it, and right as I was gonna hit record, I looked down and there was this enormous seam open. You could put a quarter through it, and I was like, ‘I should probably do something about that’. So I masking taped it closed and I had like twice the low end from the guitar, but that tune was a lot of fun and had a lot of real nylon string on it.”

Petra - Wadi Musa, Jordan

       “With Petra I started looking for sample packs, because it’s a little obscure, geographically, and you’d be surprised how quickly you go through everything you have built into your tools. So I gathered a lot of real performances, which I like, with phrase samples of real players. There’s a lot of Oud, Ney Flute, and Duduk, with stringed instruments that are kind of really bright sounding. I  put a demo together for that, and Jim Z thought that the flute sounded like Men at Work, like whatever their hit song is and it wasn't like a criticism, it was just an observation, right? So I just rolled with it. I figured that was so old that, you know, people probably wouldn't know it or they wouldn't be thinking about that. He’s correct. It checks out.”

Nihon Yoru - Tokyo, Japan

       “I was happy with the way Nihon worked out. I thought Tokyo at night, and that kind of seemed edgy. I was happy when I saw the course, cuz I was picturing Blade Runner, with neon lights and signs everywhere, and I was gonna do EDM for that, but it sounded empty. It sounded like it needed something, even though I was working from the references, and I wound up putting eight string guitars on it. That's been a fun thing about the gig is that I don't feel pressure from anyone against keeping things current, and people have really embraced that. It's also got a little bit of nine string on it, and it sounds, again, really current. I was glad to see that it looked the way that I hoped would, because if it had been super tranquil, maybe wouldn't have worked, but at the end of the day I feel like gamers and metal kind of go together like peas and carrots, and I felt like it was something that our players would enjoy.”

Champ 99 - Aspen Lake, Colorado

       “We ended up doing a couple of remasters, and those are lot of fun. There’s some real cello on Champ ’99. I was like, okay, mountains, 1999. What am I gonna do for this? A lot of times you’d just go with a generic orchestral forest thing, but I thought of the band Phish. I’m not a huge Phish fan, but I was like we go, and I got approval for that. It was a lot of fun, because we recorded a lot of real guitars and got a nice solo.”

       Thanks to Nick Z. for taking the time to discuss his process and influences in creating this series of bangers to whisk us all away for some grand fantasy golf! We'll be back with more creative insight on The 19th Hole from Nick with the release of Norddalen and Eagle's Peak! Stay tuned!

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