Interview: Wired Productions Team Up With Ivar & The Horde For New Mental Health Charity Single

Indie video-game producers Wired Productions have launched a new record lab, Black Razor Records. As well as also running Safe In Our World, a charity whose mission is to create and foster mental health awareness within the video game industry.

The first release form Black Razor is a new charity single to raise funds and awareness for Safe In Our World from IVAR & THE HORDE, a new band started by ex-The Prodigy live drummer Kieron Pepper and musical partner Stu Brootal. Entitled ‘Arcade Paradise’, the track is the main theme music from the acclaimed video game of the same name.

It’s an interesting project with a lot to unpack, so we caught up with the team behind the release to chat about the ins and outs of the project:

The new project ‘Arcade Paradise’ has a really interesting backstory – Can you please give us a quick summary of how the project came together? 

[KP – (Kieron Pepper)] My involvement started when Leo Zullo (Managing Director, Wired Productions) called me up to see if I’d be interested in making some tracks for his new game set in 1993 – which of course I jumped at – I got cracking with loads of demos and (and one if the first that I finished was the theme song: Arcade Paradise featuring Stu Brootal)  – my mate Ben then got involved to share the load and bring his slick production and mix skills to tracks I’d written, and brought in some stellar instrumentals. 

The theme of Arcade Paradise really struck a chord with Leo who also set up the charity ‘SAFE IN OUR WORLD’ in 2019 – it was a natural decision to use it to shine a light on the charity and do some good for the gaming community 

[SB – (Stu Brootal)]Kieron brought me into the project. He reached out to me with these amazing ideas and I just jumped on board. Was able to bring in a few of my friends to work on other songs for the game also. 

The track and charity fundraising campaign highlights mental health awareness in the video game and music industry – both creative yet contrasting landscapes. How do you think mental health themes overlap across both the music and video game world?

[KP] Creatives and gamers (players and producers) are similar characters – I’ve been a big fan of music charities like Music Support for years – and finding out about Safe In Our World and the much needed conversation to be had about the mental health needs of gamers around the globe, was eye-opening and an added bonus to this project.

We are all so very proud of our involvement and I can’t wait to help further…

Gamers and musicians are often insular, introverted types and many creatives I know sit along every segment of the spectrum, some being open about neurodiversity and others remaining quiet. 

If there’s a conversation that can help someone out, and a place that’s safe to talk then that can only be a good thing

[SB]I’m both a musician and a gamer. Both of those things allowed me to escape when the mental pressures became overwhelming. I always used both and I think thats a common thread for so many other people who indulge in these things. Connecting them with an effort to help people feel like that haven’t been forgotten is awesome. Having a compassionate energy within these subcultures is more than necessary. 

What are some similarities, differences and impacts you might find deep rooted in both the music and gaming industries?

[SB]The obvious is that they are both creative fields. They all tell stories and hold weight emotionally for the creators and those who enjoy what’s created. Telling stories is a massive way we all communicate emotional and philosophical ideas to each other. Though technology has changed, the essence of both remains as ancient as humanity. 

And sometimes it’s all just for good old fun. There is an opportunity to let loose within these experiences.

The EP features some renowned names; Kieron Pepper, Stu Brootal, and Future Funk Squad to name a few! How did these collaborations come to be and are there any other musicians featured across the EP?

[KP]I’ve known Stu for a while and he’s guested on a few tracks for me – I had already introduced him to Glen (Future Funk Squad) during lockdown, so it was only natural that I call upon my friends to get involved with a cool music project, specifically when it opens doors to the gaming world, which I find fascinating 

[SB]We had created a pretty kickass circle of artists during lockdown. I think that manifested as a big team when this job came up and it was a no brainer. I was able to bring a few of my friends from Go For It Records along with me and that was excellent. 

Everyone was already so in sync and ready to vibe. I think having some history together made it much easier to get comfortable and do our thing. 

The release also marks Black Razor Records debut, are there plans for more releases via Black Razor? If so, what are they?

The aim of Black Razor Records is always going to be bridging the gap between the video game and music worlds, while providing music creators a platform to showcase and commercialise their talent. All of the music will originate from video games, whether this is created for the inclusion within or the promotion of the video games.  

Historically, soundtracks from Wired games have released both digitally and physically, with Vinyl collector albums already being sold globally. There has always been a passion for music at Wired, an ear for quality, and a desire to do things our own way. 

The Arcade Paradise EP is just the start as the debut for Black Razor Records. But, as far as future plans are concerned, keep an eye out for our socials… 

The single is raising awareness and funding for Safe In Our World. Can you give us a bit of info on the work that Safe In Our World does? 

Safe In our World is a video games mental health charity. Set up in 2019, the main goal of Safe In Our World is to create and foster worldwide mental health awareness within the video game industry for games and industry people worldwide.  

Safe In Our World is a worldwide hub accessible for anyone in need having provided over 250 community managers with free mental health training, enrolled 140+ level up partners, connecting them with resources and training to better support their teams, and provided support for over 200,000 people via their information-packed website.

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