Expressions of anime and video game fandom are ever growing and diverging. Cosplay is of course one of the most popular (so much so that we even have our own cosplayer). So, too, are musical expressions, such as remixing or remaking themes from video games—and from The Legend Of Zelda synthwave album Fire Emblem: Three Houses done on piano, no musical style is off limits.
Well, what happens when you find someone who not only enjoys cosplaying, but is also a video game remix artist? You get Purpleschala! If you’ve never heard of her, definitely check out her music and other content at the end of the article. She is a talented pianist, bringing joy to the gaming community with her music.
I had the opportunity to chat with her about how she got started on this journey, her favorite games, and music tips for other artists. I hope you enjoy our interview! Be sure to leave any comments or questions you have for her at the end of the article!
Samuru: So let’s start off by getting to know you. Could you tell us about yourself? Where are you from? Where did you learn to play the piano, or were you self-taught?
Purpleschala: Hi, Samuru!! First of all, I would like thank you so much for the kind words and for following my music projects for as long as you have.
To answer your first question, I grew up in Virginia and have been playing and taking private lessons since I was seven. I have both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in Piano Performance from the University of Virginia and the University of Michigan, respectively.
Samuru: I am a HUGE RPG fan, so the fact that most of your music are renditions of their soundtracks makes my heart and ears happy. What has been your history with that particular genre of games? (Even going back to the classics like Chrono Trigger, Xenosaga, etc.)
Purpleschala: Yay, a fellow RPG fan!! The very first RPG I ever played was the original Final Fantasy for the NES in 1987. The sheer scope of the story, gameplay mechanics, and character customization blew my mind, besides being one of the few NES titles where you could actually save your game. I fell in love immediately and became a Square fan for life. After that it was a no brainer to jump on Final Fantasy IV, Secret of Mana, Chrono Trigger, Lufia, and FFVI for the SNES. I also played Final Fantasy II, III, and V on the PC before they saw stateside releases.
As much as the Square SNES titles were masterpieces of the genre, I really feel the golden age of JRPGs was the PS1. Final Fantasy VII‘s popularity was instrumental in making those types of games mainstream and we were subsequently blessed with a huge variety of them for just that one console. Suikoden, Legend of Dragoon, Wild Arms, Star Ocean, Xenogears, Chrono Cross, Vagrant Story, Parasite Eve, Grandia, Lunar, Dragon Quest and SaGa Frontier. It’s mind boggling how many seminal titles came out just for the PS1. The only major RPG series I have yet to get into despite owning nearly every installment is the Tales Of series! I swear I will get around to it!
Samuru: Are you planning on playing music from other genres or outside of gaming in general? Or is your passion strictly with RPGs?
Purpleschala: My Youtube channel has always been a gaming diary of sorts for me, a reflection of the games that I’ve played and love deeply so therefore I create and perform arrangements on them. Usually, if whatever I’m playing strikes me as something I’d like to cover, I’ll do it. Besides RPGs, I also love Metroidvanias, so there’s a fair bit of Castlevania arrangements on there. I love visual novels as well, so Steins;Gate has been on my back burner of things to cover for a while. I’m currently playing Actraiser Renaissance and loving Yuzo Koshiro’s work so maybe something from that will manifest in piano form! For now, I’m trying to finish up my Final Fantasy Tactics project, and with all these remakes of my favorites becoming relevant again I’m feeling very strongly about revisiting Legend of Mana and Chrono Cross again. So I’ll probably just do RPG covers until the end of time hahaha, which is fine with me!
Samuru: How has the experience of performing before audiences been, whether in a con or elsewhere?
Purpleschala: Performance has always been an integral part of being a professional musician, so it is what it is— somehow nerve-wracking, thrilling, exciting, terrifying, exhausting and wonderful all at once. Performing for cons has been a learning experience I am grateful for, but probably not something I will pursue further. It’s usually a logistical nightmare to get a piano all set up to perform in a chaotic environment like a con, despite having the best and most enthusiastic audience already there.
Con staff are already overworked and have a zillion events and people to manage already without having to deal with setting up an acoustically optimized concert environment in Panel Room A or whatever, poor things. One of the few times where I envy instrumentalists, especially brass players, who can just set up in a noisy corner and project very well over a crowd!
Samuru: For those artists out there who want to do make video game music as well, what are some tips for doing collaborations?
Purpleschala: Oh gosh this is a good question! I think the two most important things is to find someone at your level skill-wise, and someone with similar/compatible energy. I guess those are things that could apply to non-music collaborations as well.
Samuru: On your Instagram, you have lots of pics in cosplay! Can you tell us more about how you got into the fandom, which have been some of your favorite outfits, and any tips you have for other cosplayers who are just getting into it?
Purpleschala: Hahaha as of this writing, I have not cosplayed in over a year because of the pandemic shutting down cons!! But yes, I got into the hobby in 2012. My first cosplay was Rikku from Final Fantasy X-2, who I cosplayed with my friend who was Yuna. Our wigs were a wreck and everything was hot glued but we had a blast, especially meeting other fans who stopped us for pictures and there’s something very addicting about actually bringing your favorite video game characters to life and being like “Hey, I made that!” It’s similar to writing piano arrangements of video game music actually!
From then on, it was a very rewarding journey of developing my skills in sewing and fabrication. Some of my favorite cosplays are Queen Mikoto from Fire Emblem: Fates, Agnes from Bravely Default, Patroka from Xenoblade Chronicles 2, and the Tonberry from Final Fantasy.
Tips for anyone getting into cosplay: Just do it however you want as long as you’re having fun and nobody’s getting hurt, including yourself. Either make your costume or buy it, whatever makes you happy, only share hotel rooms with people you trust, support your friends, and please, for the love of God, don’t blackface.
Samuru: How has it been being a parent and exposing them to what you do (gaming/cosplay, etc)? Do your kids like gaming, VGM, anime, etc.?
Purpleschala: Oh man, it’s been so great even though they tend to like things I’m not a fan of haha! My kids have cosplayed with me when they were younger, but they didn’t particularly enjoy it so I don’t force it on them. They’re not really into anime—maybe mildly into Naruto and Yu-Gi-Oh—but we played the crap out of all the Kingdom Hearts games and they loved them. Even though I didn’t really like them, I was happy to play with them.
I introduced my son to Chrono Trigger when he was 8 and he became a diehard fan, maxing the DS version out, all characters at 99, all extra dungeons, bosses and weapons/gear. He played Undertale on his own and loved it. Even though I’m not a big Undertale fan, I was really proud of him for completing the Neutral and Pacifist Runs by himself! We recently finished Chrono Cross and that was just such a joy seeing him experience that wonderful game for the first time. I’m so happy he loved it.
My daughter’s favorite game is Fez; she loved the visuals and the puzzles as it’s really such a unique, wonderful game. She also loves Journey, Animal Crossing, Stardew Valley, and quirky stuff like Untitled Goose Game, Gato Roboto, Good Job, and Part Time UFO. We tried playing Hollow Knight, but it was too hard for us! She got upset seeing all the cute baby grubs we rescued get eaten by the old grandfather grub, so that was the end of that haha. She also tried a couple of runs on Hades after watching me play.
Samuru: Do you have any tips for parents that are raising kids and want to share their geeky passions safely with them? I imagine some parents want their kids to get into what they enjoy, but not forcefully to the point that they reject it. I’m a new parent myself, so I am curious how you handle that!
Purpleschala: Oh my goodness, a very belated congratulations and as of MY very delayed writing this here—I imagine he’s almost 13 months! I think my best advice is nobody knows your child better than you, so as he gets older and can communicate better, you can get a good idea as to what he might like or might be into! Also, as in my previous answer—they’ll end up watching you play certain things and get interested that way!
Samuru: Here at Beneath The Tangles, we are an anime blog and we write from a Christian’s perspective into the fandom. Do you practice any faith, and if so, which one? How has your faith shaped what you do as a gamer, musician and cosplayer?
Purpleschala: Thank you for your sensitivity with this question! I was raised Southern Baptist and throughout my life have attended Presbyterian and Lutheran churches depending on where I was living and whether the community was a good fit at the time, and am currently attending an Evangelical Covenant church. Like many anime/gaming fans, I tend not to let it affect my choice in what media I choose to partake in, or else that would limit A LOT of things.
But I believe the stories in anime and games, especially RPGs, pose intriguing scenarios and ask hard questions that humanity have been asking since the beginning of time. Even the classic JRPG trope of killing gods in order to set mankind free to determine their own future is the age-old question of free will vs. predeterminism, and can start excellent deeper conversations between friends and family who have played the same games. I think your blog is a wonderful ministry in framing this media in a deeper context beyond simply dismissing it for having characters that use magic or promoting witchcraft or other antiquated notions.
Samuru: What future plans do you have for your career? Are you looking to transition to other spaces in the otaku/gaming/geek culture?
Purpleschala: I am busy enough trying to raise a family, as you can relate to! Just to know people like to listen to my stuff on YouTube and/or buying my random noodling on the piano on iTunes, or streaming on Spotify is already incredibly humbling, and more than enough for me!
Samuru: Thank you so much for your time, we truly appreciate it! It’s been a blessing, and I’m excited to have had the opportunity to ask you some questions. It’s so cool to be able to reach out to an artist that I enjoy listening to and was able to get to know a little more about them and why they enjoy doing what they do. God bless!
Thank you so much Samuru, and many blessings to you and your family as well! Thank you so much for this opportunity and once again, I apologize for almost letting this get away from me!
You can reach out to PurpleSchala below, and also links to her music as well.
Let me know what you thought of the interview and what RPG music you enjoy listening to!