Harri Dammert’s ‘Whipz’ is the track giving System’s construction project in New Rise District just the right amount of pizzazz. Hailing from Helsinki he’s been making music under the name D Fast for over two decades. We’ve done an interview to find out more.
Tell us a little something about who you are and what you do.
I’m Harri, sound nerd and games enthusiast from Helsinki. I’m currently studying game design and production full-time in a university here in Helsinki, but on the side I work on different audio related things and also design escape room games. Decided a few years ago to pursue a career in the game industry, so that’s the path I’m taking currently.
How did the name D Fast come about?
I vaguely remember the origin, it’s been quite a while! I composed my first songs around the age of 7 on the piano while doodling random lyrics on paper. Naturally this meant that I needed an artist name of some sort. At the time I was super into eurodance artists like 2 Unlimited and DJ BoBo, so in my head the word “Fast” felt somehow suitable. Then the “D” came after thinking of the name DJ Fast, soon figuring out that I wasn’t really an actual DJ but merely a beginner pianist so I just skipped the “J”. Guess I was quite a self-aware musician back then!
You’ve been crafting audio since the 90s! What tools did you start out with and what was the most significant change for your workflow and style since then?
My mom used to play the piano, so our family had an actual piano back in the late ‘80s/early ‘90s. I messed around with it, mostly just playing what I heard in the TV or radio. At some point my parents figured that this kid is into music, so they got me a Yamaha Clavinova digital piano. I think I made almost 50 songs with it, saving them on a floppy disk as midi data. Later on I got into very early E-Jay type of programs on my father’s computer. The big change came in ‘99 when my friend showed me this interesting floppy disk with different shareware programs. One of these was Fast Tracker 2 and kind of started it all for me. I used FT2 for around 6 years, until I found out about Renoise, which is a modern take on oldschool trackers. It just feels super natural for me to sequence vertically, although I do use Reaper every now and then, especially when working with longer audio tracks.
What are your biggest influences when creating music?
There’s no easy answer for this, but usually my music starts from an interesting sound I’ve stumbled upon. This can mean something from my vast sample library, a specific strum of an instrument or something I’ve whipped up in a synthesizer, hardware or software. I’m also very keen on drums and other percussive elements, so this is more than often a starting point when I make music. As in artistic influences, there are way too many to mention. I’m a sucker for ‘70s grooves and also the big-beat era of ‘90s, so anything from the funky Funkadelic/Parliament to Fatboy Slim is what influences me. Also I have to give a major shoutout to the demoscene and artists like Elwood, Skaven, Warder, Norfair… (I could go on and on!) These artists made me learn all sort of tracking tricks and also gave my music the initial push forward, influencing and defining my music in several ways.
‘Whipz’ came from the long unreleased concept album Bring Back the Happy of 2010. What’s the story behind that and how did the track change for Blaze?
I have a few unreleased albums/collections of tunes, that are sort of an experiment ground. BBtH was basically me imitating and giving a homage to some of my favourite artists, namely Fatboy Slim, The Prodigy and Chemical Brothers (take the song Stockmarketin’ Beatz for example, title seems familiar no?) so the whole album was basically just me having fun. I shared the album with some of my friends, but mostly it was just for me. I think it was someone who had heard the album that told me I should release the songs, so I ended up putting the whole collection online.
When I was asked to license Whipz for LLB, I had to look for the raw files and then pretty much remix everything, because the song used some outdated plugins and well, it was an oldie so naturally I wanted it to represent my current touch. Then I did some minor compositional adjustments, like adding a pulsating synth and make the song loopable for the game.
How did the second track ‘Jungaaaa’ make it into the game?
I’ve been lurking and chatting in the Team Reptile discord server and I have a habit of spamming random WIPs (work in progress) and songs in the #create channel. One time I shared a one minute clip called Jungaaaa and one of the Reptilians sent me a message asking if I’d be up to finish the song and license it to the game. I think the instructions were “Make it longer”, so that’s pretty much what I did.
The original clip was all about a rapid slap bass I had sampled from my bass playing and it had quite the hasty feeling to it, so I thought maybe I’ll just think of different sections that share the same feeling, without concentrating too much on the structure. I had to do only a couple of iterations, mainly removing some rock guitars I recorded for it (there are some glimpses of those left in the song) and adjusting the mixdown. I had so much fun making the song!
Can you share what you are up to now?
I’m mostly working on my master’s thesis. On the side I do make new music and I’m planning to release a new album in 2019, mostly to celebrate my 20th year of tracker music but also because it’s been a while since I did any bigger releases, latest being from 2014. If you’re hanging in the Team Reptile’s discord server, you might’ve gotten a glimpse of the new album!
Otherwise I’m just trying to learn more about game development and designing games, hopefully nailing a job in the industry in the near future.
And lastly, what’s your favourite thing about Lethal League Blaze?
I think the team did a great job getting together a diverse group of artists, giving the game a very fresh musical tone, without making the game sound out of place. And I’ve gotta give a shoutout to all the creative people sharing their (fan) art in the Team Reptile discord, so much talent hanging around the game. I’m personally still waiting for the Switch version of the game before I dive into the gameplay.
Thank you and all the best with your master’s thesis!
Check out Harry’s latest release, Spirit: