- Kokayi (l) and DJ Eurok create a score for a new online video game. (photos courtesy of artists)
Those who keep up with online games are probably aware of the recent release of Jitterbugs. The game, designed by Cynergy Systems, has players attempt to lasso butterflies (via mouse clicks) and each catch is rewarded with music from an all-bird swing band—first a drumline plays, and then, as the player advances, he or she is treated to a sweet song from a bird singing in French. Except it's not a Parisian canary singing, it's Grammy-nominated, D.C.-based musician Kokayi, whose voice was modulated by area producer DJ Eurok until the desired effect was achieved.
- Screen shot of Jitterbugs game (courtesy DJ Eurok, Cynergy Systems)
Kokayi and DJ Eurok were tapped by the D.C.-headquartered Cynergy to create a soundtrack for the game, one of the first video games built entirely in HTML5, the still-in-development revision to web mark-up language, which many computer geeks claim will eliminate the need for many commonly used, cumbersome plug-ins.
The artists first met the Cynergy team at the TedxPennQuarter event in July. At the event, Kokayi and Eurok created a soundtrack for the day-long event on the spot, pulling in various musical elements and snippets from the day's speeches and talks. The Cynergy folks were impressed with the result, and approached them about creating music for the Jitterbugs game, which is available with the developers version of Microsoft's Internet Explorer 9.
“I got a call from Eurok and he was like, 'They want us to try to make a song for this video game,'” Kokayi says. “I was like, ‘OK, cool.' Then he hit me back and said, 'It’s for Microsoft!' I was like, 'Oh shit!'"
Cynergy sent the artists screen shots of the game, along with some basic instructions about the direction the music should take. “They wanted swing music, with a french feel,” says Eurok. “Kokayi sings in french, right? So, we were able to do that. He wrote the song in French, and then I pitched up his voice to make it sound like a female alto vocal, and to make it sound more like a cartoon—they wanted like a Moulin Rouge-sounding bird singing swing music, which was kinda of a stretch, because that's not usually what we do.”
And it's impossible to know that they did do it, just by listening to the music. Kokayi's voice is unrecognizable. “Even my mom was asking, 'Who's that girl singing?'" says Eurok. "I don't even think they guys from Cynergy knew it was him. Kokayi was able to compose the music and I took his recordings and was able to chop 'em up. But not screw them—I did whatever the opposite of screwing vocals is.”
The game is currently available online, for free, but Internet Explorer 9 is required.