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Grant Kirkhope Explains How He Got To Compose Banjo-Kazooie Music For Smash Bros. Ultimate

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Banjo-Kazooie

Not long after Banjo-Kazooie was revealed for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate during Nintendo’s E3 2019 Direct presentation, VGC reached out to the composer, Grant Kirkhope, to hear his side of the story and find out what it was like create music for Nintendo’s all-star fighting game.

It all started at the beginning of this year when Ubisoft’s Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle creative director Davide Soliani reached out to the former Rare composer and told him Nintendo wanted his contact information.

“In about January this year I received a message from Davide Soliani, the creative director on Mario Rabbids, who said Nintendo were asking for my contact information…He said, ‘can I pass it on to them?’ and I was like, ‘too f***ing right!’

Not long after this, Kirkhope got an email from Nintendo asking for his help and saying how they loved what he did with the Princess Peach theme in Mario + Rabbids.

Naturally, Grant was confused about what was going on, though he did have an inkling it could be tied to Banjo in Smash. At the time, he thought otherwise as Nintendo always use their own composers to remix tunes:

“So my brain was going mad trying to work out what it could be. I did quickly wonder if it could be Banjo in Smash Bros., but then I thought it couldn’t be that because they always use their own Japanese composers to remix the tunes for that game. They never get the actual composers: even David Wise didn’t get to do his Donkey Kong stuff for K Rool, which I didn’t understand.”

He even thought it might have been for Rabbid Peach as a playable character in Smash, or something along those lines.

After a month’s wait, Kirkhope found out Banjo-Kazooie would be added as a DLC fighter in Smash Ultimate and from then onwards it was a matter working out what songs he would use to represent the character. In the end, the iconic Spiral Mountain track was selected:

“I went through a few different ideas like Mad Monster Mansion, Freezeezy Peak or Treasure Trove Cove, but eventually settled on Spiral Mountain. I thought that would be the most recognisable of all of them.”

Grant was rather happy with his decision when he found out Spiral Mountain would actually be the level included in Smash but was also wondering why Nintendo didn’t tell him this to begin with:

“I didn’t actually know the Banjo stage in the game was Spiral Mountain, so it was pretty handy when I found out I’d accidentally matched the tune with the stage. Maybe they should’ve told me at the start!”

On top of this, Nintendo asked him to include various references to other Banjo-Kazooie levels. Fans will just have to listen closely if they want to work out each melody:

“I put in bits of melody from other [Banjo-Kazooie] tunes. It’s up to the fans to spot them!”

Are you glad to hear the one and only Grant Kirkhope has been able to supply the music for Banjo-Kazooie and the character’s level in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate? Are you excited in general for the return of the bear and bird? Tell us down in the comments.

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