© 2024 WSHU
NPR News & Classical Music
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Jesse Harlin: A Little Bit Of Everything In 'Yoku's Island Express'


Villa Gorilla, the small studio that created Yoku's Island Express, describes it as a combination of pinball and a 'Metroid-vania" tribute. The game follows a tiny postman, Yoku, as he tries to free a tropical island's god from a curse, and he gets through the world as if it's a giant pinball machine. 

That gave composer Jesse Harlin lots of leeway to create asoundtrack that's filled with homages to Pink Floyd, silent film pianos and bebop!

Find out in our conversation why Jesse told me this was his favorite score to write:

The developers at Villa Gorilla told Jesse they'd be happy with whatever he wrote, which was a totally new experience for him, and it took him a while to come up with a plan, which eventually became a core sample of all the music that inspired him to become a composer.


Jesse describes his soundtrack as "everything but the kitchen sink," and instruments include trombones, classic electric guitars, saxophones, sampled Tuvan throat singing – even Jesse reciting the DNA of yeast!

Episode tracklist

All tracks by Jesse Harlin

Yoku's Island Express: Yoku Taidua and the Village

Caveland: Toku Tuka Tomba

Yoku's Island Express: Letting Off Steam; the Slug Gardener; Welcome to Mokumana Beach; Out Down in the Underdark; Flight of the Space Monks; Monk Stumpin' What Lies Beneath

Follow Jesse on Twitter

Follow Kate on Twitter

Subscribe to Music Respawn in Apple Podcasts!

Thanks to Adrianna Perez,  White Bear PR and

Greg O'Connor-Read, Top Dollar PR

Born in Madison, Wisconsin, Kate Remington joined WSHU in December of 2000, and she's been WSHU's Music Director since 2002.
Related Content