Fans like myself love Hotline Miami and Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number in equal parts for their on-screen mayhem and pounding musical accompaniment. The soundtracks curate electronic music that not only suits the subject matter but also drives a well-defined aesthetic.
Joseph Clark of Auto Delta Time is a Kentucky-based producer whose track “Ms. Minnie” from the Inception EP finds itself at home within Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number.
The following interview occurred by email between January and March 2016.
Please describe your musical act and your general experience with music.
Auto Delta Time is a production name that seemed to fit with the music I was making around 2010. It still seems viable as a project even though I have not done any new work apart from remixes under that name in quite awhile. My general experience is as listener, writer, programmer, enthusiast, hobbyist, etc. I wouldn’t say I’m a musician- I dont know scales, for instance- but I am deeply involved with its production, specifically electronic music production and all that entails. I run a record label called Acoustic Division that puts out music that my friends and I think are important to commit to vinyl.
Do you include “Auto” in the name for a specific reason? I ask because the Inception EP sounds like perfect music for rolling around in a car or chilling at a meet-up. Do you have any connections to car culture? I know next to nothing about cars myself, yet I got that imagery from your tracks.
Yes. Definitely car-culture, but also a pun on “auto” as self. Cars in motion and the individual changing through time. Driving to the next destination, etc.
By your own description, you’re an avid consumer of existing music. How has your musical taste shaped your production style? Can you name some influential artists whose music inspires you?
18-year-old me would tell you Carl Craig, Drexciya, Jeff Mills, Basic Channel, D Wynn, Moodymann. 22-year-old me would tell you Tortoise, Drexciya, Jeff Mills, Wolf Eyes, Hair Police. 28-year-old me would say nothing. 32-year-old me now would say Cocteau Twins, and a lot of classical records and some Alice Coltrane, given that’s what I’ve listened to today.
Not sure whether those have shaped a style or more of an inspiration to keep going.
Please describe your history with videogames. What are some of your favourite games?
All my friends had Nintendos growing up- Duck Hunt was the real jam from early life. My first system I had myself was a Gameboy I got when I was 7 and still have somewhere- Operation C was the shit, which was just Contra but I didn’t know that really until actually playing Contra a ton in college some 12 years later with my roommate. I can still beat the NES version without dying. Not so hot on the arcade, however.
The most formidable object of my youth though was Sega Genesis, especially when coupled with Ecco the Dolphin, which I somehow bought at the same time and was one of the better decisions I ever made. It is an impossibly beautiful and mystic game. You are a dolphin whose family gets lost by a great storm, and you swim around talking to old master whales and crystals who eventually reveal to you the secrets of time travel. You go to the past and fuck with dinosaurs and then you make it to the future to fuck with aliens and then the last board is called WELCOME TO THE MACHINE. I still have never beaten the final boss, despite playing it from start to finish every couple years. I’m sure it’s not that hard and the answer is on the internet, but I am stubborn and want to do it myself still.
It also has the best soundtrack ever made, and somewhere there is a cover I did of one of the songs from circa 1998 which was probably just a MIDI file playing through a synth patch on my Ensoniq ESQ-1. The first record on Acoustic Division I did was “Way of the Dolphin,” whose title is pretty much a direct reference to Ecco.
I played a ton of Goldeneye for N64 with a core group of friends in high school. Since then I still have not been beat by anyone outside that friend circle, despite people talking shit and thinking they were once good at the game. I still feel like this might be true though I haven’t really kept up.
Currently my girlfriend and I keep an original XBOX by our bed and play Halo 1 or 2 when the mood strikes. That’s the only system currently active, though we are probably gonna hook up the Sega soon, as this interview has spawned the desire to play it again. Sonic the Hedgehog II was also a very stellar game and looking forward to spending some time with it again. That is another soundtrack I keep on my phone with NoiseES app (“Oil Ocean” and “Hill Top Zone” are personal favorites), alongside Ecco, F-Zero, and the first two Ninja Gaidens.
I needed to look up that Ensoniq ESQ-1, had no idea about it. So you’ve been experimenting with music production for close to 20 years! Did you collect more equipment over time? What was your set-up like when producing the Inception EP?
Not 20 years really- 15 though. I am not as old as the ensoniq heyday I just like older equipment. Inception was classic roland stuff- 808 and 909 drum machines, coupled with ESQ-1, and then some Elektron Monomachine filling in bits here and there. Yamaha TX81z is the weird glissando lead on Ms. Minnie. That is still the core of what I use to write music. Everything sequenced on an Akai MPC.
Were you familiar with Hotline Miami prior to your collaboration on the sequel?
I was not.
How did you become involved with Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number? Did Dennaton Games seek you out? If so, was it a surprise?
They hit me up on soundcloud. It was very much a surprise after I googled “Hotline Miami” and saw the game!
With “Ms. Minnie” uploaded to your soundcloud, Dennaton must have heard the track and known exactly what they wanted. Did they provide much detail concerning their intentions or planned usage?
Nope- just as soundtrack to the sequel of Hotline Miami!
I was mainly interested in making club music- the opportunity to be part of a totally different world was great.
Have you played through Hotline Miami 2? What are your thoughts on the game?
A few weeks ago for the first time, though I had meant to for the last year or so since finding out about the project.
It’s fucking insane.
In your opinion, what does your music contribute to Hotline Miami 2?
No idea! Once it’s left the building things have a life of their own. What I thought was a good bass line for the dance floor someone else saw as a theme to some disturbed 8-bit world. It is a beautiful disconnect.
Your track “Ms. Minnie” gets used at multiple instances, including the separate Digital Comic app. Where do you think it’s applied best?
Again, no idea! Did not know the comic existed until this question : ) I am very interested to see it in action though.
I actually don’t have the soundtrack but was generally blown away by playing the game on a nice large television hooked to a nice large stereo. I felt like my music was definitely in good company.
What’s your opinion on original composition versus licensed soundtracks in multimedia projects such as film and videogames?
I think each has their own merits. In film there are a number of scores I love, but I was first introduced to Peaches and My Bloody Valentine through “Lost in Translation”. In video games you have Ecco, you have Sonic 2, Ninja Gaiden, and countless others that prove the original composition is something to be reckoned with. The director’s or developers’ wishes probably have a lot to say in this regard. I would love to see Sega Genesis music make its way into a movie at some point though without reference to the game itself. Maybe something from Chakan: The Forever Man in a random scene of a romantic comedy.
Have you any desire to collaborate with more videogame developers?
Yes. Being involved with the project proved to be very successful on an artistic and financial level, which these days is fairly rare.
What’s next for your aspirations, musical or otherwise?
Recently been working on a project named TIME COP, which while derivative and related to Auto Delta Time, is something much heavier and for lack of a better word, functional. Less vintage BMW more steam roller.
Acoustic Division, after being on paid vacation for a year now, has a few records all ready to roll out, which brings me great joy.
Thank you for taking the time to answers these questions!
My pleasure. Thank you for taking the time to ask them!