Carlos Eiene, also known as insaneintherainmusic, is a popular musician on YouTube that covers memorable video game compositions in a jazzy style. With his deep knowledge of around 50 different instruments, he brings a cavalcade of charm and personality into the tracks he knows and loves. He isn’t playing by the book either as each song oozes his bombastic style into the original track, making each performance his own rather than a simple playthrough.
His YouTube Channel
Eiene began as a musician at 7 years old when an upright piano arrived at his childhood home. He gradually learned how to play by teaching himself how to read sheet music and then playing the clarinet in his 5th grade band. He began his YouTube career in September 2012 at the age of 14, amassing around 356,000 subscribers and over 82.5 million views on his videos since then (at the time of writing).
“The channel was started as a fun hobby project for me,” Eiene said to RetroWare. “I was also studying music at the time, so making YouTube videos was a fun way to keep practicing and provided me with an avenue to perform the songs I loved – video game soundtracks!” The channel began to truly blossom when Undertale released. In 2016, he published an officially approved jazz arrangement of the now iconic soundtrack from Toby Fox called “Live at Grillby’s.”
There’s a reason why it was successful with the album receiving over 2.2 million viewers and counting. The album takes the essence of what makes the music of Undertale so charismatic and ups the ante with many delightful jazzy spins on the music. For example with the track “Dapperblook,” insaneintherain implements a tasty piano solo alongside the brilliant double bass line while paying attention to the original whacky melody of the video game tune. One of the top comments on the video is from Xefox Music, who said it was “One of the best fan tribute albums of any game on all of YouTube.” I couldn’t agree more.
Bringing back beloved video game music classics
“I find that the songs that I enjoy making the most are the ones where I have a good arrangement idea,” Eiene said, “I try not to present my arrangements as 1:1 copies of the original,” He adds, “I try to add a spin to the song that is uniquely me!” His style is bombastic, exciting, and when the time calls for it, emotional. The best thing about jazz is that it can carry many characteristics; the brass instruments, alongside the piano, can deliver a somber tone with their deep tones, but at a moment’s notice can bring a flare of energy that can’t be utilized with any other instrument (except perhaps the drums).
On his YouTube channel, he also helps brings back the chiptune and retro soundtracks from the NES, SNES, and Game Boy era for a new generation of video game music lovers with a new jazzy skin. For example, his recent cover of Donkey Kong Country‘s “Gangplank Galleon” takes the wonderful melody from David Wise and adds layers to the limited 16-bit track with the trumpet, drums, and even an accordion!
Eiene elaborated on his musical approach to these classic tunes. “Songs written for sound chips with polyphony limitations (only being able to have, say, 4 different notes playing at once) often have very strong melodies, and a simple harmonic outline,” he said, “For my purposes, this is great!” He keeps the strong melody and elaborates on the harmonic background that helps “inflate” the source material. “I don’t think this arranging is necessarily always the best way to present a song, but rather, it’s what I enjoy doing the most,” Eiene said.
Carlos’ love of Pokemon
Some of insaneintherain’s favorite tracks to cover are from the Pokemon series. He has a deep nostalgia for the classic games, especially on the Game Boy Advance and Nintendo DS with titles like Pokemon Emerald and Pokemon Platinum. “Nostalgia is certainly a huge factor for my favoritism towards these soundtracks, but I think all these games have very melodic music, which as I mentioned before, I’m a huge fan of!” One memorable cover he’s performed is “National Park” from Pokemon Gold & Silver. He gave the melancholy and familiar song an uplift with a fun percussion backing and a more playful and triumphant diversion from the classic with the piano. However, in the middle, the excitement simmers down with a lovely piano solo and then ramps up again for the climax.
His favorite track, however, is “Eterna Forest” from Pokemon Diamond and Pearl. He’s arranged the piece multiple times and in 2020, he performed it with other live musicians; you can watch the video below to find out how they did. “This soundtrack was a childhood favorite of mine, and there’s something so magical about that piece of music that just gels exceptionally well with my style,” insaneintherain said. Another beloved song from his channel is his arrangement of “Pollyanna” from the Mother series that he performed with fellow VGM YouTubers FamilyJules, Adrisaurus and Sab Irene. He also performed it live with a group of musicians at the Berklee Performance Center.
he made most of his best friends through YouTube
Collaborations in the video game music cover scene are vital on YouTube. They give exposure to your channel while helping others grow at the same time. I often find insaneintherainmusic’s collaborations sprinkled throughout the scene, no matter how big or small his collaborators are.
Eiene finds it as a “great way to keep learning new things.” He said, “I think it’s very important to collaborate with others to stay learning, make great music, and most importantly, make great friends.” In fact, most of his best friends actually come from making video game music covers. “I’m forever grateful for their presence in my life.”
the difference between youtube videos and performing live
YouTube hasn’t been the only venture in his life. He holds a degree in Contemporary Writing & Production from the Berklee College of Music (2020), where he studied as a tenor saxophone principal and has performed live at multiple events, including PAX East 2020 with the Sinnoh Fusion Ensemble.
When asked if making YouTube videos or performing live add more pressure, he said that both have their own trials and tribulations. “With YouTube videos, which I’m more familiar with, people can watch them at their own discretion as many times as they like, so there’s sometimes pressure to make things as perfect as possible,” Eiene said, “With live performance, it’s quite normal to be nervous of how your performance will go, and worry about what might happen in the uncontrolled environment!”
As a musician on YouTube, there’s pressure to please your listens, but he says that he’s learned to focus on making the video itself rather than the reception of the product. To help with live shows, he makes sure he practices and rehearses before jumping on to the stage rather than worrying about how the performance will be received. “I think this is a healthier and more sustainable approach!” said Eiene.
As he continues his YouTube channel, he’s improving his skills as a composer by writing more original music. In fact, Eiene had a few composing opportunities spring up in his career recently.
“Pursue something you’re passionate about, not what someone else thinks you should do or tells you should do; no two people’s paths to “success” are the same, and getting good at anything generally takes a long time,” Eiene when asked to give advice to budding musicians said. “I find that working on something I really believe in and am passionate about helps provide the sheer amount of energy necessary to push through the repetition and tough times you’ll inevitably encounter!”