This month, we are shining our spotlight on the exceptionally talented Stephan Wells, or Step, who contributed to our Harmony of a Hunter and Harmony of Heroes projects and has edited for our podcast. Here, Step shares his creative process and how he became a musician and discusses his role on the Harmony albums.
Hi! I’m Step, and I also go by my real name: Stephan Wells. I’m a musician and software developer with a strong commitment towards his work, a 12-year portfolio of past projects, and the tendency to make introductions he writes sound like a CV. Most of what I’m known for online is my music, so I’ll talk a bit about how that came to be!
If I had to start from the beginning, we should rewind to 2008 or so when I was 13 years old. At the time, my interests actually lied in a different form of artistic expression – writing. Hours of my day would be spent writing short stories, poems, and books. As I was an avid reader myself, the idea of creating the content that I so eagerly absorbed during my evenings, school lunch breaks, and trips with family was thrilling for me. Beyond acing my school essays, however, not much came out of my short-lived writing career.
I shifted gears to making music when I decided it would be neat to be able to write theme songs for the books and characters that I wrote. Around this stage in my life, I was also browsing Newgrounds, a website that housed a ton of creative content and collaboration. Listening to music on Newgrounds opened my eyes to the fact that you don’t actually need to be in a band or in the industry to be able to make your own music. The music that I enjoyed from there was done by people just like me: teenagers that had school to go to and homework to do and played video games whenever they could. Just like that, writing was phased out of my free time budget as I dedicated more and more time to figuring out how this making music thing worked.
In hindsight, what drives me is my passion to create. If I had to be honest, does it really matter to me if I’m creating music or creating stories? Not really. Music is one path out of many that I could’ve taken, and I’ve been walking that direction ever since. In 2011-2012, I made my way onto Harmony of a Hunter: 101% Run. While I had dabbled in video game arrangements before that, Harmony of a Hunter was my first serious shot at the concept. The first track I was asked to arrange, “Secrets of the Chozo” from Metroid II, was an extremely memorable “where do I even start with this” experience. I remember being told that I was not the first person who tried to arrange this track and that others before me all gave up. Not the most encouraging thing to hear when taking on a new project! Somehow, things worked out, and I found myself as an assistant director for Harmony of Heroes and its sequel, Final Smash.
Working on the Harmony albums really sparked my interest in writing video game arrangements. The process of marrying video games and music production, two massive hobbies of mine, is immensely addicting. Indeed, some of the songs I’ve worked on that I’m most proud of are video game arrangements, one of which – To the Stars, a Super Mario Galaxy medley – was featured on OCRemix. Both within and outside of the Harmony albums, I’ve worked on arrangements of soundtracks from Metroid, Zelda, Mario, Metal Gear, Donkey Kong, Guild Wars 2, Okami, and Monster Hunter. Through the Harmony albums as well, I was also given the chance to work with several insanely talented people whom I hold a deep level of respect for, an opportunity I’m incredibly thankful to the Shinesparkers team for.
Nowadays, I work as a full-time software developer with an ever avid interest in keeping my thirst for making music sated. I have helped edit podcasts and proofread features here on Shinesparkers and am generally just happy that I am a small part of the team and community that has played such a huge part in shaping the musician I am today.
Step is exceptionally talented at what he does, and his contributions to Harmony of a Hunter: 101% Run and Harmony of Heroes were essential to those albums. He has a deep love for the Metroid franchise as we all do, and it shows in his all of his work, whether for the albums or as a personal project. My favorite track of his is Alluring Darkness, the Secrets of the Chozo remix he mentions here, from 101% Run. In addition to his music, he is a great asset to Shinesparkers itself, ensuring our features and podcast episodes are edited efficiently and made the best they can be. I’m excited to see what Step creates next!