In its long history, Zelda Reorchestrated made a major impact on the lives of many Zelda fans and music lovers across the world. Launched in September 2021, ZREO: Second Quest has continued to build upon the legacy of Zelda Reorchestrated with several significant releases, including their new album Fair Winds & Following Seas feat. ATLYS. This album is exclusively focused on The Wind Waker, and it features live musical performances from a remote orchestra, along with the talented string quartet ATLYSFair Winds & Following Seas will include 12 tracks for a total of 52 minutes of music.

In advance of the release of ZREO: Second Quest’s Fair Winds and Following Seas feat. ATLYS, key members of the team behind the album answered a set of questions from Zelda Dungeon about the origins of the album and much more.

The following ZREO: Second Quest team members participated in this interview:

Co-Founder/Audio Engineer – Samuel Ferrara (Sam)

Co-Founder/Lead Composer – Ari Fisher (Ari)

Project Manager – Molly Hudson (Molly)

Zelda Dungeon: The music of The Wind Waker is held in high regard by many Zelda fans, why do you think this collection of music has had such a lasting impact on the Zelda community?

Sam: I have nothing to back this up besides my own feelings about it, but it was such a departure from all of the music of the past games. While it may not be technically true, it always felt like a “smaller” scope of music than later installments or previous ones. I always envisioned a small Celtic folk band playing the Title theme, for example. I was influenced heavily by The Wind Waker tracks from the Mario & Zelda Big Band album which was mostly a small Celtic folk group playing on traditional instruments like guitars, mandolins, fiddle, bouzouki, and upright bass.

Ari: I believe this has to do with The Wind Waker’s focus on familiarity. It is a balance of old and new music. The retelling of the legend of the Hero of Time features the famous theme of the entire series. In other tracks, like “Windfall Island,” the music is a reimagining of “Kakariko Village.” Hyrule Castle’s music is featured in two separate tracks, too. “Puppet Ganon” has hidden motifs from the battle with Ganondorf in Ocarina of Time. The list goes on and on. 

Molly: Wind Waker wasn’t just a departure from the musical style of the previous games, but also in its art direction and mechanics. It really struck a chord with the fandom; I still remember the uproar over the graphics and how a large number of people felt it wasn’t “Zelda enough.” Ultimately, I think that wound up being part of the game’s iconic status; the music was just so complimentary to the visual experience that it’s difficult to separate the two. The music helped to define the environment with the soundscape engineering and use of themes in such a masterful way that even twenty years later, you can hear just a couple of seconds of music from the game and it instantly takes you back. There are only a few other games off the top of my head whose music can do that. 


The Wind Waker has one of the most musically diverse soundtracks in the Zelda series, how did you narrow down the list of songs that would be included on this album?

Sam: There were two specific ways we did this; one was the general feeling that we wanted to capture with this album, and the other was what was legally available to us to license. When I envisioned this album, it was always supposed to be the lighter side of the Wind Waker album, hence the title – Fair Winds and Following Seas. There are so many lovely themes! Outset Island introduces “Aryll’s Theme” and mixes it with the theme from Kokiri Forest from Ocarina of Time in such a happy-go-lucky way. In my opinion, it’s one of the best feel-good opening area themes in a Zelda game. 

On the other hand, we’ve been extremely limited by the music that is legally available. Though we had planned on doing some of the battle music, boss music, and dungeon music, unfortunately, most of those tracks were not legally licensable. So while we would have loved to do arrangements of “Molgera’s Theme” or any of the big boss battles, we simply couldn’t. We had a couple of tracks on the list on the album, fully complete, and only found out later that they weren’t licensable, so they were sadly removed. Because of that, we actually had to get creative and figure out other tracks to add – and while we wanted to stay with the light-hearted themes, one of the tracks we could license was the “Ganondorf Boss Battle.” It gave us an opportunity to explore yet another musical genre, symphonic metal.

Ari: Yes, ATLYS is featured on this track as an electric string quartet!

Molly: The addition of “Ganondorf” turned out to be serendipitous; it truly gives Fair Winds & Following Seas a “complete” feeling. We were able to really capture that feeling of progression through the whole game by being able to add the final fight. I cannot wait for fans to enjoy the dramatic drum beats. I fought really hard for those taiko drums, haha. 


How did your collaboration with ATYLS come about? How did the inclusion of a string quartet shape or impact Fair Winds & Following Seas

Sam: I had never worked with ATLYS before this project began. The original plan was to simply hire as many musicians as we could afford, focus on the musicianship of the players, and go from there. Early on, however, the team’s lead composer told me about ATLYS.

Ari: Our projects should have some kind of angle or focus.  When we were brainstorming, I asked Sam if he’d be interested in working with my friends in ATLYS: Jinty, Sabrina, Rita, and Genevieve. I know them both as phenomenal musicians and amazing friends, and was absolutely sure they’d be on board for this adventure! Composing for ATLYS means I can write as virtuosically as I want and not feel inhibited by a player’s skill level. They are that good! Being a violinist myself, I knew that focusing on string writing would be the best way to add something special. ATLYS is one of the finest string quartets in the world right now and I am honored to call them my musical family.

Molly: The team and ATLYS had already been working on the album for a year or so by the time I came aboard, but I can say the girls were absolutely instrumental to the feel of the album. Puns aside, Ari was very deliberate in making sure the arrangements worked for a small chamber orchestra with ATLYS at the lead. There are great swells and crescendos throughout the entire album, and the quartet stays front and center in the music. I think “Farewell Hyrule King” showcases this the best. Originally it was a solo piano performance that was a beast in its own right, but Ari and ATLYS brought it to a whole other level. I think it’s radio worthy, honestly. I can’t wait for everyone to hear it in March. 


Why did you choose “Great Sea” as your first single? What mood/tone are you trying to establish or convey with this your single?

Sam: We debated over this internally with the team for a while – we knew we wanted to do a single, but we couldn’t choose. I had to be really honest with myself and realize that since so many fans love the ocean theme, and might even skip parts of the album to go listen to it first, it was the obvious choice. The problem was when we decided that “The Great Sea” would be the one, it wasn’t finished yet. I’m not even sure the arrangement had been completely finished. It was one of the most complicated tracks on the whole album featuring a full brass and woodwind section with most of it being live recordings. It took a while to not only craft the arrangement, but record all of the players, edit them together and craft the performances of the rest of the orchestra. I had to get really serious about finishing it so we could release it in time. 

Ari: When composing the introduction to this track, I wanted to convey the imagery of a sunrise over the ocean. I had the morning themes from Ocarina of Time, Majora’s Mask, and of course Wind Waker in mind, but I wanted to try something original. I used the B-theme of “The Great Sea” and a hint of Ocarina of Time’s “Hyrule Field” to keep that sense of familiarity while alluding to a sense of longing for adventure. The track grows in orchestration as it continues to suggest the growing excitement of adventure. The flowing melodies of Erich Wolfgang Korngold and the whimsical woodwinds of John Williams are certainly an inspiration for my approach to this track. Its important for music to breathe in all senses, this includes how large an orchestra is. Just because we have all of these instruments does not mean that they should all be used the entire time. There are many more interesting musical ideas to hear this way like the intricate writing and counterpoint of the B-theme with ATLYS. The music’s phrases are all imitating one another, like a round. It makes me wonder what our hero might be experiencing or what he may be thinking about. Now that we have these intimate moments, the louder ones are much more special and spectacular. As the voyage comes to a close, the “morning” music feels much more relaxed like the end of a long day of adventuring across the sea with a sense of satisfaction. Tomorrow is a new day full of exploration.

Molly: Personally, I thought leading with “Departure” and “Pirates” was our best option. But that was before Sam sat me down and made me listen to “The Great Sea” from start to finish. Ari also made a really convincing argument that “The Great Sea” was a better showcase pick. Both are great tracks that feel like the start of a grand journey, but “The Great Sea” is simply the more iconic theme to carry the announcement with. Plus, it’s a really strong hook to get people hyped for Fair Winds & Following Seas without giving out the best track of the album. 


The press release states that the project was developed in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, what challenges and inspirations were born from this unique working environment?

Sam: We started this whole idea in September 2020, right about the time of the second lockdown. By this point, musicians everywhere understood that there would be a growing need to be able to record themselves from home. It’s more affordable and accessible today than ever before to own a quality recording setup and work remotely. With that in mind, we found musicians from all over pop up onto the online gig scene hungry for a project. We just didn’t expect to be able to find so many top-tier players. So while the situation itself was a major stressor, it opened up the door to expand our lineup for the album with musicians across the globe. 

Molly: Oh, man. Time zones have been the biggest hurdle, I think. The team was truly global; I think we had a dozen time zones involved. Scheduling deadlines for recordings, revisions, and arrangements, making sure everyone was on the same page, and finding times when we could host video meetings was…interesting. The end result is fantastic though; there’s no replacement for the quality having such a diverse team brings. 


How does the number of musicians and instruments who perform on Fair Winds & Following Seas compare to the previous ZREO: Second Quest releases or projects?

Sam: You know, I just went back and looked at it to see for myself the other day – Twilight Symphony had 29 performers, and oddly enough, we ended up at exactly 29 again this time. Last time the majority of the performers came from the choir we hired with the proceeds from that epic Kickstarter we did, and this time it was all self-funded with the support of our patrons. Sadly, this time we didn’t have a need for a choir, but we certainly had a need for everyone else!


Is there any overlap between ZREO Legacy projects and new projects like Fair Winds & Following Seas? For example, did ZREO: Second Quest’s previous work on Twilight Symphony Selections and Ocarina of Time Selections influence the development or release of this Wind Waker-themed project? 

Molly: I’d heard the past projects were great mentors for the “what not to do’s” and helped avoid some major roadblocks for this project. 

Sam: Absolutely. Something we learned the super hard way with Twilight Symphony is that as a group of artists working together, you have to narrow your scope. For instance, Twilight Symphony started off similar to what this album finished at – a 12-track, single-disc album. We fell in love with the soundtrack and started saying to each other, “well, if we include this track, we have to include that track”, and so on, to try to keep the narrative of the game together. That quickly spiraled and we ended up making nearly the whole game’s soundtrack. (We also had no concept of the legality or the licensing process at the time.) All of those additional tracks, while brilliant, ended up causing the album to take five years to make instead of one to three.

I’d say the same thing happened across the board with ZREO v1 (Legacy) – we simply set out to make all the things. You can’t reasonably do that, nor can you do that legally. Limiting the song choice helps you hone in on a theme or purpose of the album. That process starts to help you define what this album actually is, and what it’s trying to say beyond being a collection of songs that share a game or game series.

Twilight Symphony was also the time when we all started to realize that we wanted to do more with the music than simply slapping soundfonts over a MIDI transcription and calling it a day (major over-simplification). We realized that we could tell a compelling story that enhances all of our love of the games through the arrangements we make. It’s truly a labor of love for the franchise, the games within it, and the music most of all.

Molly: In that sense, the overlap between the projects is like a parent/child succession. Fair Winds was possible to make at the level we did because of Twilight Symphony and the lessons learned. 


Fair Winds & Following Seas is planned to be your first licensed CD and vinyl release for ZREO: Second Quest? Do you have any plans to release your other existing albums on CD or vinyl? (See The Links At The Bottom of Article for CD Preorders)


Sam: If we can reach beyond what current social media platforms allow our fans to see, and if this album does well, there is certainly a possibility of it from our end. We’ve done the work, we’ve done the research, we have our own lawyer, and there’s nothing legally stopping us from doing it – it’s just a financial game.

Molly: That all depends on how CD and vinyl sales go in March [April], haha! It would be great to have physical releases for all of our music, but manufacturing and licensing are expensive; especially for Twilight Symphony Selections.

Sam: Exactly right. One of the reasons we’ve limited our Legacy releases to streaming services only, and not platforms like Bandcamp is that there’s so much material to release that it often becomes cost-prohibitive to license all of the tracks for someplace like Bandcamp where you have to license all of the music beforehand, and manually. Ocarina of Time Selections, for example, is over 75 tracks – that’d make the digital download of the album cost somewhere close to $40 to fans.

Streaming services allow us to distribute at a much lower cost based on actual listens. If no one wants to listen to “Horse Race Goal,” for example, no one is paying for that license to have it. We find that there’s a very specific batch of music that fans want to enjoy repeatedly. It just makes more sense to do it this way for everyone involved. But still, there is a definite willingness to do it on our part. We’ve already made the cover designs for Hyrule Highlands II in case we ever did one.

If you are interested in Fair Winds & Following Seas feat. ATLYS, the album is available digitally on Bandcamp. The album is also available to preorder with two different CDs packages. The standard edition of Fair Winds & Following Seas includes 1 CD (52:00 minute run time) and 16-page booklet featuring information about the project. The deluxe edition of the album includes 2 CDS (including a bonus CD titled ATYLS Sails Alone), a 40-page booklet including detailed liner notes, and a complimentary digital code of the album. Preorders for both CDs ends May 8, 2023.

What do you think of Fair Winds & Following Seas feat. ATLYS? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

Source: ZREO: Second Quest

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