Spyro Reignited: The Story of Rockstar Composer Stewart Copeland

Spyro Reignited: The Story of Rockstar Composer Stewart Copeland

In 1976, while on tour in Newcastle in the
north of England, drummer Stewart Copeland met a former schoolteacher by the name of
Gordon Sumner – better known by his stage name of Sting. This was the birth of The Police, a rock band
that would go on to top the charts around the world. Years later, after the band split up, and
Stewart decided to reinvent himself as a composer for films and television. At the birth of the PlayStation era, Stewart
was approached by a company called Insomniac Games. They were working on a game about a cute dragon
who jumped and flew around a beautiful 3D world. Stewart happily took the job – it seemed
like a perfect fit for him at this time in his life. What he wasn’t expecting, was for his work
on Spyro the Dragon to turn him into a household name yet again. This is the story of how composing for a video
game ended up giving Stewart Copeland a chance to reach a whole new generation of fans. By the time that he was working on Spyro the
Dragon, Stewart Copeland’s hard rocking days were long behind him. He’d had fun headlining music festivals
around the world, even if, as the drummer, he was never pushed quite as far into the
spotlight as his fellow band members. But Stewart was a big part of the musical
talent for The Police. He’d composed many of their biggest hits,
and as he’d gone onto creating music for film and TV, he’d proven himself more than
capable of tackling any challenge. This was what Insomniac Games were hoping
for, when they chose Stewart to score their game. Unlike his previous work, this was a small-budget,
simple affair. He didn’t need to include a lot of different
instruments – in fact, due to technological limitations, he literally couldn’t get too
fancy with his compositions. But, while Spyro’s music didn’t need to
be too complicated, it did need a lot of different tracks. Stewart needed to weave together a slew of
different themes and motifs across hours of music, creating the largest volume of music
of any project he’d worked on to date. Luckily, Stewart did his best work while under
pressure. He would compose four tracks per day, and
then would revisit them and rework them the next day. Rather than damaging his output, this fast-paced
production schedule left Stewart incredibly proud of his work. He felt that it was some of the best of his
career. At the beginning of the project, Insomniac
would pick apart each of Stewart’s compositions. They would be pored over by committees, as
everyone worked together to agree on the perfect sound for Spyro. Before long, though, the team simply started
trusting Stewart’s decisions. His work was of such a high quality that they
didn’t have to debate it anymore, and he was free to submit whatever he felt was best. Insomniac would provide Stewart with beta
versions of the game’s levels, to help him get the feel for what his music should sound
like. These levels were buggy and filled with glitches,
but Stewart enjoyed the experience of wandering around in the levels. It was just a shame that Stewart wasn’t
better at actually playing the game. He very quickly realized that he didn’t
have the necessary skill to actually complete the levels, and had to sheepishly ask for
cheat codes to help him see everything in the game. But while Stewart wasn’t a gamer, his family
certainly was. By this point, Stewart was a father, and his
children absolutely loved Spyro. They would play together as a family for hours,
with Stewart’s teenage son Patrick on the controller, as his younger sisters yelled
out instructions to go left, collect that treasure, jump onto that platform. Playing the game together with his children
made Stewart really develop a deep, abiding love for Spyro. He was tremendously pleased with his work
on the game, and happily returned for two more titles. As technology developed, though, Stewart found
himself drifting away from the series. His children grew older and the fun moments
they spent together playing Spyro became a distant memory. The series moved to a different development
team that Stewart wasn’t familiar with. When he was shown a country and western themed
trailer for the then upcoming Enter the Dragonfly game, Stewart felt that it didn’t even really
look like Spyro – it was such a radical departure from the version of the character
and the game world that he had fallen in love with. So, Stewatr decided that it was time to hang
up his hat. He left Spyro music to other composers, and
moved on with his career. Except, Spyro and its influence never really
left the Copeland family. Stewart’s son, Patrick, had been really
inspired by playing Insomniac Games’ early titles. When he grew up, he achieved his lifelong
dream of working at the company, making games for the company that his father had worked
with years before. Stewart wasn’t giving up on Spyro either. He found himself influenced on a daily basis
by the work he’d done on the game series. Having had a successful career as a rockstar
and a composer for TV, film, and video games, Stewart decided he wanted to create less constrained
music. He started working with an orchestra, composing
classical music and operas. For the first time in years, he was composing
music for its own sake, rather than to try and fit with a director’s vision of another
piece of media. Composing for an orchestra felt a lot like
being in a rock band, except that the amps were smaller, the champagne had more fizz,
and the whole experience was a lot easier on his wrists. But as he worked to create this new, fresh,
original music, he kept coming back to ideas he’d had when composing for Spyro. His hurried, fast-paced compositions for the
game were some of his favourite work, and he found ways to incorporate these ideas into
his concertos. Eventually, Stewart’s agent suggested that
he create a kind of greatest hits orchestral tour, playing some of his more popular music
on a far grander scale than he’d ever done before. This would mean creating orchestral arrangements
for songs he’d written for The Police…as well as music from Spyro. Stewart was thrilled at the idea. He began working on an orchestral medley of
his favourite music from Spyro. It turned out that he had a lot of work that
he was proud of. The end result was a densely packed twelve
minutes that weaved together dozens of themes from the games. Then, Activision contacted Stewart. They were working on Spyro Reignited, a remastering
of the original video games that Stewart had composed for. They were really interested to show this to
Stewart, and share what they had. They insisted that the music for the game
was kind of Stewart’s original work, but with an added twist. Stewart was confused. Was this his original music, or not? But nobody would clarify. He had to come in person to listen to what
they’d made. Finally, Stewart made the journey to visit
the team that was building Spyro Reignited, and listened to what they had for him. He was blown away. The game featured all his original compositions,
but now built from music samples that weren’t limited by the PlayStation technology. Everything had been lovingly recreated, note
for note, with new samples that sounded so much richer and more enjoyable. Someone mentioned that they still had a little
space left in the game for some new music. If only Stewart had four minutes of fresh
audio lying around that could be used to plug this gap… Happily, Stewart provided what they were looking
for. He sliced a chunk from his 12-minute Spyro
medley, and eagerly polished it up for inclusion in the game. He was so excited to return to the world of
Spyro, and to make new official music for the series after all these years. And so it was, that in the year that Spyro
Reignited gave the original Spyro games a fresh coat of paint and greater audio fidelity,
Stewart Copeland also went on tour, playing a new version of some of his favourite music
from the games. Nobody enjoyed the nostalgia of Spyro Reignited
quite as much as Stewart. As he played through the levels in the game,
it brought back happy memories of a time when his children were young, and when his professional
career matched up perfectly with his home life. Spyro had changed his life, and the life of
his family, forever. And now, in some small way, these nostalgic
memories were fresh and new again. Stewart was excited to see what the future
hold, and what new, beautiful memories he was going to make next. The moral of the story is that you never know
where life will take you. You may think that your biggest triumphs are
behind you. Or that your big goals will always be left
unachieved. Anyone could be forgiven for thinking that
Stewart Copeland’s career had peaked following the end of The Police. That he’d had his moment in the sun, and
that he’d spend the rest of his life in the shadow of his previous successes. But Stewart moved forward. He found a new direction. He embraced TV, film, and video game composing,
and saw a wonderful new chapter of his life unfold as he was able to share his passion
with his children, and inspire them in the process. Then, when this wonderful time passed, he
reinvented himself again. He drew on his previous experiences and built
a new, enjoyable life that paid tribute to his past successes while similarly bringing
him new things to see, and do, and try. Whatever it is you’re trying to do in life,
wherever you think you might be going, be patient. You never know what’s waiting right around
the corner for you, and what wonderful new experiences you’re about to enjoy. Keep going. The best is yet to come.

Comments (36)

  1. Your videos are always so well made. I hope you guys continue to grow!

  2. I love story time every week!

    I always love learning about sides of the video game industry I didn't know about before.

  3. I never knew he was in the Police. I know one song and I like it. I mean the lyrics are on the uncomfortable side especially with it being Every Breath You Take but it does have a nice beat. Also do you plan on making a Mega Man video soon? I would love to see that.

  4. I can't wait to see my childhood game(s) brought back on ps4. I'm so playing it on my channel.

  5. Noice, keep it up!

  6. Thank you for this. I love the original Spyro trilogy, and the music is my favorite part of it.

  7. I love this story.
    Also, nice pun on the title card.

  8. Copeland's music in the game is so good! I get the feeling of Nostalgia when I listen to them. Can't wait for the game to come out! ^_^

  9. This is one of the best Chanel’s I’m subscribed to I wish you had more support

  10. I just wanna say that I so deeply appreciate every video you guys make. I love the relaxed and positive vibes of each video as well as all the work put in to finding all the specific details of each story. Thank you guys for making such a wonderful thing.

  11. Aww, this one made me feel so happy 💕

  12. This is an amazing video about Stewart. I love this so much! He is one of my favorite composers through all his works and I'm glad someone wrapped all his lifes work into one story. He is such an awesome guy and I appreciate what he has done for us fans. (Btw love your art style, so cute :3)

  13. You guys are awesome!

  14. I was always under the impression that copeland didn't appreciate or like his spyro work, because it's barely shows up in his anthology, and its not on spotify or anything. i thought maybe its a licensing thing? maybe he doesn't like it overshadowing his other work? i'd love to hear that he loves spyro as much as i do.

  15. thank you for evetythink
    you give me the motivation to became a gamedesigner.
    I am sure, that I will be on your channel after few years.

    Would be awesome if your channel lives for a long time.

  16. 2:18 technological limitations? for music? on the PlayStation? please develop, this doesn't sound right

  17. You guys are awesome.

  18. Can you do a video about Resident Evil 7: biohazard, Video Game Story Time?

  19. Copeland is a true artist and this video captures that so well. Excellent work!

  20. awesome video! as always 😀

  21. I would love to see a Castlevania story time!

  22. Banjo Kazooie please.

  23. Dont forget that he also worked with legends like Les Claypool and Trey Anastasio

  24. Made my heart feel spongy, very well written

  25. Do the story of Plants vs Zombies

  26. I'm in love with your channel and it's a big inspiration for me.

    May I suggest a profile? How about a Jade Raymond biography and how she proved she was more than a pretty face?

  27. Where is "Night In The Woods" reviews.., it's one of the best game too in 2017

  28. I love these so much.

  29. I'll be sharing everyone of them

  30. So we're not going to talk about that amazing title for this episode? No?
    Alright, but Imma be sad. Cause it's really great.

  31. The music in the original Spyro games was one of the things that always stood out most about the games for me.

  32. I❤Sting & The Police
    I❤Stewart Copeland

  33. Waheyy Newcastle!

  34. The spyro soundtrack is one of my favorites, and I hope when Activision and toys for bob make another spyro game they get Stewart back to make a new soundtrack nobody can make a spyro soundtrack as iconic as Stewart can

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