Hello From The Musical Side: An Interview With Star Wars musician Royish Good Looks.
Roy Thompson aka Royish Good Looks is a musician / singer who’s best known for his Star Wars music, which single out characters and explore their stories (or elements of their stories) through unique and original songs. He doesn’t simply sample existing themes and cues however. The music is unique. The music is original and whilst drawing inspiration from the Star Wars universe and pop music, at its heart, is Folk music.
With hits like Hello from the Dark Side, I Have the High Ground, I Am Your Father and My Baby Grogu, his work covers the expanse of the current live action Star Wars universe (with some nods to the animated series' here and there).
After my friend's 5 year old son tuned me into Roy's work, I simply had to speak with him. What follows is a brief yet insightful interview I managed to conduct with Roy a few weeks ago.
RV: Firstly, I just wanted to say that I love your music and videos. The channel is wonderful, so congratulations. I'm so glad that my friend’s 5 year old - a Star Wars nut - Sameer tuned me in to your work. Where did your fandom for Star Wars begin? RGL: Thank you! I appreciate the kind words! I’ve been a lifelong Star Wars fan. The special editions re-release in 1997 was probably the catalyst. I saw them in the theater and, of course, re-watched them on VHS constantly. The deluge of 90s computer games didn’t hurt either! I've lots of fond memories playing Rebel Assault, Dark Forces, Rebellion, Rogue Squadron, etc. Around that same time, I started piano lessons and learned all the songs from the soundtrack. Lightsabers are cool, but the music is what really transports me to a galaxy far, far away.
RV: My overall understanding of how one comes to create a piece of music is relatively limited, and I’m extremely interested in process. So I wanted to ask you how you come to a finished piece. What’s the first step? RGL: “You’ve taken your first step into a larger world!” If it’s a Star Wars song specifically, then the first step is to pick a cool scene or line of dialogue to branch off of. That’s the easy part! After that it’s usually a long process of trying out melodies and lyrics and arranging the instruments. I get lost in the fun of music-making. You don’t always know what it’s going to turn into, but you experiment. Sometimes songs will come together quickly, but sometimes you have to piece them together like a puzzle.
RV: Your videos, which contain short clips from the films, are incredibly well cut together and perfectly fit the narrative your lyrics create. How dependant are your lyrics on the literal footage? Or do you take a theme from the films and run with that? RGL: Thanks! Just like writing and recording the song, I’m also very methodical with the video edit. I often try to write lyrics with the specific scenes and plot in mind. It makes it easier to produce the video and it also gives the song more weight overall. Of course, cherry picking exact dialogue is super helpful, but I’ll also follow themes and riff off of that — the struggles of the characters, the power of the Force, etc. The videos often turn into “super cuts” of one character or story line; like it’s a mini movie.
RV: How long does it typically take you to write a song? RGL: Could be anywhere from less than a day to a month or more. Ever get stuck finishing a puzzle? Though, the ones that come together quickly are usually the best. Not always, but often. RV: Which musicians, if any, would you say have had an influence on you? RGL: So many! A few favorites (in no particular order): New Found Glory, Less Than Jake, Goldfinger, Third Eye Blind, The Police, James Taylor, Jonathan Coulton, Bill Wurtz… Anything that’s catchy or upbeat usually grabs my ear. Of course, I owe a lot to my music teachers growing up, as well. RV: Fallen Jedi Knights, whilst evoking a sense of melancholy in fans who are familiar with the series, is incredibly powerful and send a fantastic message, particularly to young children. Something that’s widely noted as being a goal of Lucas’s when he created the first film. Is this something that you’re actively aware of and strive towards? [having said the above, I appreciate the humour in the line “find them anywhere” as the footage cuts to the image of the Younglings lying strewn across the floor]. RGL: My main goal is simply to do my thing and have fun. I just like making music and it’s always a little different each time. Sometimes the songs are silly and very Star Wars heavy, but sometimes they’re serious and have more universal themes. Hopefully, there’s a little something for everyone. It’s always interesting to see how people interpret the songs. If anything, I would love to encourage others to be creative and share their own art. It’s a freeing and rewarding experience. No matter how silly or obscure it may be, you’d be surprised how many people would just love to see it! RV: How do you decide what’ll be an original song and what’ll be a parody? RGL: A parody (ideally) has to write itself. Hello from outside — Hello from the DARK side. It’s perfect. Don’t try to Force it. 😉 I’ve focused on originals lately since they allow more freedom and leeway — you don’t have to fit things perfectly into a template. RV: Your Ode to BB-8 is ‘criminally’ short. Will you revisit? I need an extended version! Or rather I think I just need more “Ode’s to” please! RGL: I was hoping the “Ode To” series would be a hit and continue on. The goal was to write short theme songs and post them more regularly. It’s much easier to write 1/3 of a song rather than a full song (surprise). Like you, most people said “make a full version”. So, I went back to writing full songs…a las, they take much longer. It’s the age old quantity vs. quality debate.
RV: With 40+ Star Wars songs in the can, bringing your catalogue up-to-date with season 2 of the Mandalorian with ‘My Baby Grogu’, what does the future hold? RGL: “Difficult to see…always in motion, the future is.” There doesn’t seem to be any shortage of Star Wars material to draw from, that’s for sure! I have an ever growing list of song ideas. Anytime someone says “make a song about XYZ”, I usually jot it down. Of course, everyone wants to know when the next song is coming out or they assume I’ve fallen off the face of the Earth! Rest assured, I don’t plan on stopping, but I do work at my own pace. In the meantime, you can find me on Twitter and Instagram if you’d like to “see what I’m up to”. And on that note, I am starting a Royish Good Looks podcast — which will hopefully serve to help bridge the gap in-between my song releases. We’ll be talking about everything from songwriting and recording to going viral on YouTube to everything behind the scenes of doing what I do. It’s going to be a lot of fun, so keep an eye out for that! RV: And finally, a question from the adorable 5 year old, mega fan of Star Wars and Royish Good Looks, Sameer! SS: What’s your favourite character in Star Wars? RGL: It is REALLY tough to choose just one, Sameer! Today, I would have to say, Chirrut Imwe. He isn’t a Jedi, but he believes in the Force and kicks some serious Stormtrooper butt. Plus, he gave us one of the best lines in all of Star Wars “I am one with the Force and the Force is with me.” I would love to see more of Chirrut pre-Rogue One. Thank you so much Royish Good Looks, for taking the time out to talk with me.
To listen to Royish Good Looks’ music, and learn more about him, please visit: YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/RoyishGoodLooks/videos Spotify: http://spoti.fi/3uyWjF6 Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/RoyishGoodLooks/ Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/RoyishGoodLooks/
And as I publish this, Royish has just launched his brand new podcast, providing insight into his process. It's called The Royish Good Looks Podcast and is available wherever you find podcasts.