Senior spotlight: Eric Han explores music through a digital lense with Rayark

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Senior Eric Han had never been exposed to the world of digital music creation when he discovered the music in the Taiwan-based video game company Rayark. He began playing the flute in third grade and was a performer much earlier, but his musical interest shifted when he started composing his own digital music. 

Eric’s interest in digital music production skyrocketed when he was introduced to “the [digital music artists] xi and Sakuzyo in Cytus in middle school.” Cytus, a popular story-driven rhythm-based mobile game by Rayark, became his main inspiration for writing music and introduced him to the digital composition community. 

“After stumbling into the producer community in late June of 2020, I began to really take the idea of production seriously, which is when I also began using a proper DAW [digital audio workstation] before transitioning to FL Studio in late August,” Eric said. He primarily focuses on producing artcore/artstep, which blends orchestral instrumentation and piano with sound designs such as bass and breakbeat. Eric realized that digital music creation offered more room for flexibility than what was offered by traditional sheet music. “He incorporates electronic music with orchestral arrangements in a way that is unmistakably him,” said his friend junior Jamie Klein. His friend sophomore Justin Huang shared a similar sentiment and said,  “[H]e’s really good at pulling in aspects of all of his music education into a blend of different styles that sounds really fresh.”  

In early December, Eric was approached with the opportunity to work on an unofficial community “fanbook,” a completely fan-produced anthology of artistic pieces for a game or T.V. show, for Cytus 2. Eventually, Rayark was contacted about the fanbook and gave permission to create and sell it to the general public. The fanbook, called “Memory Unit C2,” will be released between late March and early April, and will publicly feature Eric as a contributor. Eric said, “This is mainly a tribute to the amazing game and community that Cytus 2 has created, and I’m honored to be a part of it.” 

After gaining recognition from Rayark, Eric said, “In a way, I feel this sort of legitimizes me as a musician. I hadn’t really done anything serious before being asked to pick up this fanbook project, but now, my name will be on something that’s being released and sold to the general public.” Although this placed more pressure on Eric, the producer community served as a support system for him through the process. Even though his music from the fanbook project wouldn’t directly be used in Rayark’s games, it still put him in their sight. 

Eric continues to take strides in his music creation, garnering other major achievements this year like “[getting] accepted into a music circle and being accepted for a collective album release by Cynphetic collective,” which was his first time releasing music under an alias. Currently, he is focusing on entering PABAT 2021, “which is an international competition for composers, digital effects artists, video creators, and rhythm game charters.”

Eric’s main goal is to make a career out of his music creation and become a “lead composer/musical director at a rhythm game company, such as Laur and Team Grimoire for Archaea or the former musical director at Rayark, Ice.” He also wants to “create a circle for artists to publish their music…which can provide a platform for artists to promote their music while working on collaborative group albums and projects.” Eric’s friend junior Tiffany Lin said, “He has inspired me to go out there and write and produce music rather than to just play music. Although I don’t have any (official) original compositions yet, I have started transcribing pieces that I like.” Justin also said, “I’m not usually into the types of music that Eric listens to and makes, but after listening to some of his songs, I wrote some music more in his style.”

Giving advice to aspiring digital musicians, Eric said, “Your best friend is digging around on the internet and finding discord servers to ask questions on – most music servers have production channels where you can ask for feedback and criticism on your music. I’ve made more than a few friends in my journey in music production, and these friends serve both as mentors as well as connections.” “Don’t be afraid to dislike what you make,” Eric said. “There’s a lot of stuff out there that says you should love what you make, but being self-critical is okay as long as you’re enjoying the process.”