French guitar enthusiast Husky by the Geek arranges and performs rock covers of songs from various video games, especially those from the Final Fantasy franchise. Husky dons his signature husky hat, records all the different tracks, and edits them together to produce amazing and entertaining videos. His videos have received over 5 million views on YouTube, and have even attracted the notice of beloved FFXIV composer and sound designer Masayoshi Soken. Husky was kind enough to indulge our curiosity and tell us all about his work, his inspiration, and his band, Winter Guardians.
Who are you and what do you do?
Hey! I’m Husky by the Geek and I do video game rock guitar covers on YouTube, mainly songs from the Final Fantasy franchise.
How long have you been a musician, and which instrument is your favourite to play?
I started playing bass guitar eleven years ago and it’s my favorite instrument! I love jumping on stage and throwing out those bass frequencies when I play! I’ve also been playing the electric guitar for eight years now, as well.
Where did the name Husky by the Geek come from?
Simply because I’m a geek playing video game music with a husky hat.
Your YouTube channel started a few weeks after the release of A Realm Reborn and your first videos were songs from FFXIV. Is that just a coincidence, or did something about the game motivate you to start making your amazing videos?
It was quite impulsive; I was doing original music videos on my personal FB page when I was a teenager, and when I started FFXIV, I immediately fell in love with its songs. The Dungeon Boss Theme hit me like “Hey, I’d love to rearrange it on my own rock version,” so I started my YouTube channel. The community shared it extensively and it was amazing! I continued, and soon enough Masayoshi Soken (the music composer of FFXIV) started to retweet me every time I did a FFXIV cover. It’s a huge honor to me 😀
And what’s the deal with that hat? Where did you get it from, and how did it become such an integral part of your online identity?
I’ve ordered it online 7 years ago, I don’t remember where, though. I just googled “animal hat” and found it so funny. I used to play guitar on the beach during my summer evenings for years with this hat, and most people only recognize me when I put the hat on, so I thought it was a good idea to make it part of my identity on YouTube.
How do you pick which songs or games you want to cover?
It’s mainly songs that I love from games I play. I have a lot of requests, but I accept only those which inspire me.
Can you tell us about the process involved in producing a single video? From selecting the song, to recording all the different tracks to editing/publishing the finished video?
First, I download the song on YouTube and put it on a track on Ableton Live. Then I start to jam on it to find my first ideas, and I record the rhythm guitar. After that, I write the drums part, then I record the bass guitar, lead guitar, and finish with other guitar arrangements. For the next steps, I do the audio mix and finally I film, edit, and publish the video.
From sitting down and putting on the hat to uploading the finished video to YouTube, how long does the whole process take?
It can take anywhere from 5 to 30 hours, depending on the song, how inspired I am to make it sound exactly the way I want to hear it, if it’s easy to play or if I have to work on a part for days to be able to play it and make it sound good (like the intro of my FFX Seymour Theme or the intro of Gilgamesh).
What are some tricks you’ve learned to help with recording, editing, and getting all the different parts of a track together?
The feeling does 80% of my job, but I’m constantly learning new audio editing tips to help make things sound better. I don’t really have any “tricks”, it’s a lot of practice and learning to master the software and its tools. I’ve been doing that for nearly 8 years.
What is your favorite video game series to play songs from?
I’ve got two. The Megaman series is so fun to cover! These high tempo songs are a blast, and it reminds me of when I started learning bass guitar playing punk rock music. FFXIV is also awesome. I’m really inspired by most of the boss themes and it’s usually easy for me to rearrange these songs because they appeal to me so much. I love Soken’s work!
Do you have a favorite theme from FFXIV?
Thordan and Shiva are my favourite themes, by far!
You must have a backlog of covers you’d like to do. Are there any recent songs that have caught your attention?
I had been waiting for the release of Sonic Mania so I could cover Studiopolis, which caught my attention a few months ago. I’m also looking forward to the next FFXIV songs to be released.
Are there any songs you’d like to cover but haven’t been able to, due to difficulty or complexity (or any other reason)?
Last year I struggled a bit with the FF6 battle theme cover. I didn’t have the same audio gear that I have now, and it just couldn’t get it to sound very good. Now, with my preamp Axe FX2, I finally have the sounds I wanted, and it’s become one of my favorite covers. I’ve also tried to do the battle theme from Golden Sun, but there are already so many good rock covers of it, and I wasn’t satisfied with my attempt.
How much have your favourite video game soundtracks influenced the original music that you’ve written?
Not that much, because I’ve always been recording original music. It’s pretty much the opposite, actually: I often compose original parts to include in my covers.
Do you have any goals or plans for the channel that you’re willing to share with us?
I simply want to continue to have fun doing covers. I’m pretty busy with my band (1 rehearsal + 1-2 concerts a week) and my day job (I’m a web developer), so I don’t really have time for big YouTube plans at the moment.
Where can we hear more of your work?
I’ve released an instrumental album of original music a few years ago:
I also play bass & guitar in my band! We mainly play in pubs, and perform a lot of covers (not from video games, though) as well as original songs. We’ve been playing as a trio (lead vocals, acoustic guitar & vocals, 8 string guitar) and we’ve released an EP of original music:
(Note: we are also on iTunes, Spotify, Google Play & Deezer)
We recently found a drummer, so I’ve dropped the 8 string guitar in favor of my bass, and my buddy dropped his acoustic guitar for an electric. We’ve started to record instrumental parts, no vocals recorded yet, and we plan to release an album next year. Here’s a quick demo clip, but please note that it’s still a demo, not mixed, etc.
Is there anything else you’d like to add before we wrap up?
I’d like to thank everyone who follows me, from the very firsts to the most recents. A big thank you to Masayoshi Soken for inspiring me and liking my work.
Thank you to the FFXIV community, you’re the best <3
A huge thank to my patrons who support me every time I release a cover (https://www.patreon.com/huskybythegeek).
And thank you to The Moogle Post!