Mikey Parsons is a video game composer from Brighton, UK. He graduated in August 2020, under lockdown conditions during the Covid-19 Pandemic with a first class honours degree in music composition from Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance.
Since graduating Mikey has been participating enthusiastically in game jams; writing music in the classical, rock, electronic, jazz and experimental styles (and more!) as well as taking the opportunity to continue working with live musicians, something that rarely happens on a game jam due to the limited time frame.
Mikey has also been diligently studying the more technical side of music implementation in video games, completing an online course in Wwise audio with the School of Video Game Audio in November 2020. Mikey created and implemented a dynamic score using Wwise and Unity for the first time in January 2021, for the Global Game Jam. Incidentally it was also his first time working on a VR game. He is also studying 2D game development in Unity and pixel art, gradually learning to develop his own original games.
Styles, influences &
Mikey’s compositional foundation is in rhythm. This comes from starting his musical journey as a drum kit player. Mikey believes that rhythm is the most fundamental aspect of music, without which it would be almost impossible to be moved emotionally.
Mikey has many favourite composers/bands: Austin Wintory, Nobuo Uematsu, Yasunori Mitsuda, Frank Zappa, Edgard Varèse, William Grant Still, Igor Stravinsky, Maurice Ravel, Ryuichi Sakamoto, Polysics, Casiopea, Koenjihyakkei, Queens of the
Stone Age, Thumpermonkey (to name a few). But none have had greater impact on Mikey than Tim Smith and his band Cardiacs. Tim was a uniquely gifted musical genius who’s staggering catalogue of work is almost impossible to describe in its kaleidoscopic whirl of beauty and imagery. Mikey has learned and continues to learn many things from Tim’s music, but chief among these are:
A love of dissonance and recognition that the rough and the smooth must
co-exist in music in order to truly capture the beauty, pain and wonder of life.
A recognition that music is more than just the notes on the page and that
careful thought must be given to all aspects of the created work.
A love of the odd, quirky, bizarre and strange. There
is often so much more, beneath the surface.
Mikey also likes to play video games; he feels that this is important for a video game composer! Games that Mikey has played recently include Horizon Zero Dawn, Subnautica, Crash Bandicoot 4, Felix the Reaper, Abzu, The Banner Saga, The Last of Us, Persona 5 Royal and Alien: Isolation. Mikey’s favourite games are those with stories to tell, interesting narratives with emotional character development.
Mikey studied music composition at Trinity Laban from 2016-2020. Taught by Dominic Murcott, Nye Parry, Ed Jessen, Sam Hayden, Stephen Montague and Soosan Lolavar, Trinity gave a wealth of wonderful experiences. Mikey wrote music (and
had it performed!) for solos, duos, chamber groups, choir and orchestra, as well as conceptual sonic art pieces and electronic pieces. He conducted performances of his works in various venues around London and also had a premiere in Kobe Japan, for his piece 'In Search of Connection'.
In 2019 Mikey won the John Halford prize for his piano piece 'Curiosity Killed Your Bubble'.
Mikey also trained and then later worked as a recording engineer in Trinity Laban's professional recording studio. During
this period he recorded many different ensembles ranging from soloists to full orchestra in a variety of different venues.
From 2016-2020, Mikey sang in the Trinity Laban Chamber Choir as a second bass. The choir performed an interesting mixture of very old choral music (ca. 16th century) and contemporary choral music by composers such as Libby Larsen,
Judith Bingham, Judith Weir, Thea Musgrave, Richard Rodney Bennet etc. Singing in the choir enabled Mikey to develop a strong understanding of writing music for the voice and in March 2020 the choir performed his first choral work '#EatMyContent'.
Whilst at Trinity Mikey also started to develop an interest in electronic music. and started to create and perform pieces using the software Max MSP. His piece 'The Sounds of The Rainforest' (2018) is a live generated rainforest soundscape made from his own vocalisations and his piece 'Shanties Ayes' tracks the movement of colours and triggers sounds accordingly using a webcam.
Mikey remained passionate about video games through his studies and worked hard to raise the profile of video game music at Trinity, which is a predominantly classical institution:
In 2018 He created his first live music/video game performance work entitled 'Yuko: Danger Quest'. An homage to the opening sequences of 90s JRPGs, it is a work for 7-piece chamber ensemble and was performed at the Rude Health Festival 2018 using two synchronised screens.
In 2019 Mikey gave a 2 hour lecture on video game music to senior members of the composition department at Trinity in order to start the discussion of introducing a video game music module at Trinity.
Mikey has also developed and produced a game himself. For his final major project in June 2020 Mikey released a text adventure game entitled 'The Last Expedition'. The game is set in a post-apocalyptic ice age world. Mikey wrote the story,
the music and made the game in Unity.
In 2021, Mikey received his first AAA video game credit for Aliens: Fireteam Elite. Mikey was selected as a winner of a competition hosted by composer Austin Wintory. Austin later invited Mikey to collaborate on the soundtrack.
In 2022 up until now Mikey has been focusing on professional development. Learning to work on 2D games in Unity, working with C# scripts, Object Oriented Programming, Pixel Art and also advanced video editing. You can see regular updates on his progress on Instagram.
At school Mikey started playing the drum kit. He joined various bands, played in school orchestras and groups, touring a couple of times in Europe. At 17 he enrolled at the Brighton Institute of Modern Music (BIMM) and took a professional diploma in Drum Kit performance. Whilst studying at BIMM Mikey started teaching himself to play the piano, first learning to play the Final Fantasy piano collections. Playing the piano led to improvisations, which lead to composing and writing music in earnest.
In 2015 Mikey collaborated with a contemporary dance group called 'Swallowsfeet'. He entered a composition from this project into 'The Big Music Project' competition and reached the semi final. Mikey performed 'Swallowsfeet' in the Royal Albert Hall to a panel of judges, one of whom invited him to apply for study at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance.