Jesper Kid: "I began to make music more epic"

    The famous game composer Jesper Kid, whose music pleased us at Borderlands, Assassin's Creed, Unreal Tournament 3, Hitman, Gears of War, told us about his favorite games, musical instruments and work on the latest album Five worlds of Plarium.

    You started your career with a more hardcore industrial sound. How long have you been going to your present, more classic sound?

    Actually, I started with music on the C64. If you give a name to this style, then I would say that it is “thematic”. In the heyday of dance music in the late 80s – early 90s, I went to raves and listened to a lot of dance music. It was a completely new musical style, like music on the C64, which I had not heard before, and discovering new musical styles is very exciting. The games I was working on at that time required more intense soundtracks - for example, Adventures of Batman and Robin. I know for sure that their developers were also fond of rave, so they asked me to write the music that turned out in the end.

    Over the years, I began to make music more epic, and if this means that it has become not so “hardcore”, then I do not mind. It seems to me that along with the epic sound, my compositions have become deeper, and this is the main goal of my music: to create something that can reach the deepest strings. So I would say that my music has evolved into a deeper, more epic sound compared to the early sound, where the main emphasis was on energy and rhythm.

    What do you prefer - working with live instruments or electronic music?

    I like to work with one and the other equally. I like working with live instruments more, but I have enough equipment to make electronic music sound almost live, especially when it comes to using modular synthesizers and old synthesizers without MIDI. I really enjoy recording live instruments, and if I don’t use them, it’s usually for budget reasons. Or, for example, in the case of The Pre-Sequel, the decision to make the music completely electronic was conscious.

    Who are your favorite musicians? Who inspired you at different stages of your career?

    My interest in music in video games began with the first composers of games on Commodore 64, such as Tim Follin, Ben Daglish, David Whittaker, Martin Galway, Rob Hubbrad Hubbard) and others. This is great music even today. The complexity and creativity of this music is in some ways even more inventive than what we do today. Of course, not all games on the C64 could boast of excellent music, but where it was, one could feel the complete freedom of creativity that the composers had. That is why this music is so special, it did not have filtering and bureaucracy, only pure creativity. These composers inspired me to search for my own musical style.

    You watched the evolution of games in the 90s: before our eyes, they evolved from technically primitive entertainment to what we have today. Working with mobile and social games, can you say that their current heyday is a kind of reboot of the game industry, similar to the one we saw in the 90s?

    While working on games in the 90s, we always dealt with the latest technologies, so I would not call our work of the past years primitive - we put a maximum of technology into it. Of course, since then, progress has stepped far forward, and what we are doing now is completely different from what we did then. But on the other hand, we wouldn’t have it all now, if not for the evolution of video games. I guess I look at it from a different angle, because then I saw with my own eyes how people tried their best to create something progressive.

    Does anything other than the games themselves affect your music?

    I have my own style, which has been formed over the past years, and there’s no getting away from it. My musical style is the basis of what I do, and I can develop it in any direction.

    Where do you get inspiration for making music?

    Inspiration comes straight from the game world. I study the setting and try to go beyond what I see on the screen to emphasize the features of the world in which the game takes place.

    Do you have any favorite settings that you like to write music for? Is there a gaming atmosphere that is difficult to work with?

    I love difficulties. For example, I never wrote music in the spirit of the Renaissance until I started work on the soundtrack for Assassin's Creed II. Creating music in an unfamiliar style does not scare me, because I can tailor my style to almost any musical genre.

    I really like to combine live instruments and symphonic music with electronics, modular and analog synthesizers - this has enormous unknown potential. In the soundtracks for Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel and Claptastic Voyage, I revealed only a small fraction of this musical style.

    Are you a gamer yourself? If so, what are your favorite games?

    Yes, I’m definitely a gamer since I got a computer, as a child. I love console and computer games, but now I don’t have much time for this, so I play more mobile games and on the tablet. Now one of my favorites is Compass Point: West.

    If you could choose one filmmaker for collaboration, who would you choose?

    I think it is better to establish a long-term cooperation with one director, so I like working with the one I know best. I am always interested in working with directors who are open to creative experiments and do not mind going beyond the usual.

    The last Plarium game to which you wrote the soundtrack - "Nords: Heroes of the North" - was launched recently. There are a lot of comedic elements in this game, and the overall tone of the game is lighter than in other Plarium games. Was it difficult for you to readjust? What was the most difficult for you to work on the project?

    There are funny tones in this game, but the soundtrack is a bit different. I would not say that there were any difficulties, the main question was to find what best suits the game in terms of music. I wanted to make it sublime, not stamped or heavy. We succeeded with atmospheric themes with the participation of acoustic instruments: guitars, flutes, solo violins and other folk instruments.

    Tell us about the process of making music for games. Before you start, do you manage to feel the rhythm of the game?

    I start by discussing the general direction with Nicholas Day, creative director of Plarium, and play the games themselves. Since there are many approaches to creating music, we jointly decide which one to choose and which music is best for the game.

    What inspired you to create the album Five worlds of Plarium ?

    The concept of the album was suggested by the guys from Plarium, but I thought about it myself. We realized that we have a lot of music, which I am very pleased with and which we want to share with the audience, so this was a perfectly logical decision.

    How is the music from the album different from what you usually hear in games? Did you use any “unusual” instruments when recording?

    The music from the album is practically no different from what you can hear in games. I added something: for example, winds in three compositions, slightly changed the processing and in some places shamanized to make the music sound better in the album format.

    Do you have a favorite track from the album?

    I was extremely interested in writing music for the "Rules of War" (Total Domination). Science fiction is one of the genres I love working with the most. In fact, the basic principles of how music should sound for NF do not exist, and I felt that I really could give free rein to the imagination in working on this project.

    What inspires you to create music for them in video games?

    Creative approach. It gives creative freedom, and this is just what I need while working on projects.

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