To celebrate the upcoming release of Sonic Colors Ultimate in September we sit down with Musician and Composer Gyom Amphoux whose song “Gotta Go” was used for the video game’s official trailer. It may not have been written directly for Sonic but it has uplifted the hearts of many.
Can you tell me about yourself and how you got into music?
Gyom Amphoux: Sure! I grew up in France and went to music school there and then a couple of years later left and went to England where I thought I’d form a band which I did but we didn’t go very far, and then I met my wife who was American and decided eventually to move to the States over 20 years ago. When I got here I formed a band. A rock band. I was always into rock music— rock and pop I have to say. And we started playing out and eventually we got signed by a smaller label which allowed us to put out an album and we started to play out more often. So yeah! That’s how I got into the whole music rock thing! I was always inclined to try to find other genres and avenues that were so adventurous. Eventually, the band fell apart because of label issues, and like most bands, you become successful, tour, and then you break up and I think that’s what happened to us. We are all still very close friends which is great.
A friend of mine was in another band who we used to play with got a gig at Geico which is a big insurance company in the States and they had to put out some music for an end-of-the-year event and he reached out to me thinking ‘hey maybe you can do it. We need like an ’80s sounding rock ballad.’ I’m like ‘oh yeah! This should be fun! Let’s do it.’ So I write the music and then halfway through it he told me ‘well Warren Buffet is involved and he’s going to be in the video.’ I was like okay so this is getting serious! [laughs] So we did the song and they really liked it and decided to put it out. That song just went viral with Warren Buffet singing the chorus. It was on many late-night shows and on the radio they talked about it. That song catapulted my career at that point where I was able to write for other publishers and I think that’s where it took off literally.
I interviewed someone a few months ago and he said that people are playing video games a lot more and it’s helped people preserve their sanity during the pandemic. So I wanted to ask you how has the pandemic affected your music in general?
Gyom Amphoux: Well, that’s a really good question. On one hand, I’m always in the studio which is in my house so that side of things hasn’t changed. But what really changed is the mental state. When you don’t know what your future will become in a year and six months there’s no end in sight so the creative process really takes a hit. I heard people saying like: ‘This is great for me I get to stay home and write more.’ I don’t think that was the case. It was a little harder to be optimistic to write hooky things, to write emotionally charged positive things. I remember for a good four or five months I started to write things that were more— I don’t want to say negative as that’s not the right word but a little bit more emotional and less carefree or positive and uplifting. So yeah it definitely affected me plus in this industry the whole touring thing stopped, and there was no movie being released, TV shows stopped filming, commercials switched altogether to cater to the present situation. In my line of work that’s a big deal. You don’t know when you’ll land your next gig and so with no end in sight yeah I started worrying.
I’ll jump right into it! I got to know you through hearing your song “Gotta Go” in the Sonic Colors Ultimate trailer for the Nintendo Switch, so unfortunately I didn’t know of you before then! Sonic games are a part of many childhoods so were you familiar with the games before your song was featured in the trailer? As a side note, I think it’s cool that Sega supports smaller musicians!
Gyom Amphoux: I was familiar with it of course! I grew up playing Sonic— I’m showing my age now. [laughs] I have to say it’s been a few YEARS since I last heard or played Sonic because I thought it was an older type of game so when it came out with a new version I was really excited to hear my music on it. I don’t know how it all works, to be honest, but I knew my publishers were in talks with some video games, trailers, and movies so they just told me the news when it happened. It’s funny because I wrote “Gotta Go” about six or seven years ago I had a really good feeling about it but nothing major happened after that. I wanted to write some catchy lyrics something that was a little bit you know on the fun side but still had a punkish garage rock vibe and I was really excited because that was a perfect fit when [the trailer] came out. And yes I do appreciate the support from Sega for sure!
Right! That surprised many of us because when you read the comments on YouTube a lot of people were saying that while “Gotta Go” wasn’t written for Sonic directly it fits so well with the trailer and the title character! I was like this is so much fun to listen to!
Gyom Amphoux: Aww, thank you! That means a lot to hear that. When you pour your heart and soul into something and then nothing happens and then you get rewarded six or seven years later you’re like ‘oh! Maybe I was on to something. People didn’t hear it at the time. I don’t know. [laughs]
You probably wrote “Gotta Go” just for fun but I wanted to ask if you did have a story behind the song or like you said earlier just wanted to write some cool catchy lyrics.
Gyom Amphoux: I think that’s what it was. It boiled down to having fun, writing something catchy that I thought had some catchy words that get stuck in your head so yeah!
I saw the trailer for Sonic Colors Ultimate and I heard “Gotta Go” and thought you know? I have got to pre-order this game because of your song and I knew I couldn’t miss out on getting a copy!
Gyom Amphoux: That means a lot to hear!
I am more emotional about Sonic now than I ever have been. I joke around and say that I am a sentimental fool at times and I believe you can relate to this. Well on my second date with my boyfriend we went to go see the Sonic movie that came out in theaters back in February of last year before the pandemic hit, and that meant more to me than any childhood memory that I had of Sonic. Your song and that second date drove me to pre-order this game.
Gyom Amphoux: You are so right! And that’s the power of music and I’m so glad to hear that something like that actually moved someone from across another country that’s amazing to hear! And maybe people can ask Sega to put “Gotta Go” in the game! [laughs]
How did you feel when you heard “Gotta Go” in the Sonic Colors Ultimate trailer? I mean here you are as a professional musician and you played the Sonic games as a kid! It came full circle!
Gyom Amphoux: It felt a little surreal first because I think I found out maybe four or five days after the trailer came out and then I’m browsing YouTube and then I see something and go: ‘Oh Sonic!’ And I hear my song! I’m like oh my god are you kidding me? And I see pages and pages, millions of views and reposts, and some people had literally rapped on it which was hilarious and exhilarating at the same time; I thought ‘wow that’s crazy!’ And everyone’s saying ‘I really like this song who wrote it?’ I’m like oh my god. I had no idea it would have such an impact. I wrote that some time ago and all of a sudden the emotion is alive again. It’s like a time capsule of emotional content that we reopen years later and the raw power is still there which is great! It made me feel validated in some way. In a good way! [laughs]
At the time I never would’ve guessed that I would be featured in one of my favorite childhood games let alone a commercial trailer— all those things are surreal when it happens that’s for sure!
Did you share the exciting news with your children?
Gyom Amphoux: Oh yeah yeah, my son was so proud of me all of a sudden. [laughs] You know I’m in the studio all the time and I score movies and do things that are uninteresting for a 12-year-old and so when your dad lands the Sonic trailer all of a sudden I’m the talk of the school. It’s funny! [laughs]
I think you noticed this with the YouTube comments and how positive they all were, and everyone wants to support you more and I am sure that means a lot to you because you made one special song years ago and it’s touched all of us from all over the world.
Gyom Amphoux: Well, thank you very very much for that. You have no idea how much that means to me. I think as artists in general not just as musicians we all write in a vacuum all alone even if it’s with a band you don’t feel like you get to share much of the emotional content of your creation so when it happens randomly like it just did and the whole world is telling you ‘I like this song it’s so catchy!” I have no words. It’s just fabulous.
“Gotta Go” was catchy because I listened to it more than once and I’m thinking what is it that I can do that is incredibly special? So I did a bit of digging and that’s how I found you thanks to your Facebook page! I found your email and I thought well the worst that could happen is that you wouldn’t be able to participate in this interview but at least I tried! [laughs] I thought with the release of the video game in a couple of weeks I wanted to celebrate that. And I think this game will be fun for your kids too!
Gyom Amphoux: Oh absolutely! Especially if you pre-ordered the game too. In hindsight, I wish I wrote more of a verse, more lyrics it’s one of those things where you’re like: ‘Oh okay I’ve got three days to write a song, I’ve got a good feel for it, I got a little catchy hook, let’s go for it!’ In hindsight, I wish there could’ve been more because see? Eventually, when people listen to it they’re like I want to hear more! [laughs]
If you had a favorite Sonic character who would it be?
Gyom Amphoux: That’s a good one! [takes a deep breath] Now I got to think about it. What’s the name of the red one? [laughs]
The red one I think is Knuckles I believe!
Gyom Amphoux: Yes! [laughs] That would be the one. I forgot the name! How embarrassing.
And what is your favorite childhood memory of Sonic?
Gyom Amphoux: I can actually vividly remember that! In high school at recess, we had a little game room. It literally was an arcade room and one of them was Sonic and I used to play that every day.
Check out Gyom at the following places!