Interview with Klaus Badelt and Ian Honeyman - creation of MotorStorm: Apocalypse soundtrack
We have special guests at Game-OST today. Hollywood movie composers Klaus Badelt and Ian Honeyman were able to discuss with us their approach to Motorstorm: Apocalypse soundtrack.
Klaus Badelt most known by soundtrack for the Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of The Black Pearl. Actually, there are about 60 soundtracks which he wrote and many of them you are surely heard. For example, Equilibrium, Constantine, Ultraviolet and Time Machine. Ian Honeyman helps Klaus and writes additional music for these projects. Further, he has work solo on such feature films as Redline, Operation Endgame and Disney's film Lilly the Witch: the Dragon and the Magic Book.
So, let’s move to the interview!
Greetings Klaus and Ian. When we started Game-OST we never thought movie composers will be on these pages, but everything is changing. First it was Harry Gregson-Williams with Metal Gear Solid series, then Hans Zimmer with Modern Warfare and Paul Haslinger with NFS: Undercover and now time comes for both of you. Tell us how you get into MotorStorm: Apocalypse?
The Motorstorm: Apocalypse producers were really interested in blending several different styles of music for this score, particularly serious electronic production with a huge orchestral sound. This is what we do all the time (although this score went in some interesting new directions), and they had heard several of our scores that blended genres like this, so they approached us to do the music.
MotorStorm tries to be best apocalypse racing game ever made. Wrecked cities, falling skyscrapers, marauders with machine guns and aggressive army helicopters in the sky. This is truly inspiring setting. What will await us in musical plane?
The idea is that the game does not take place after a nuclear apocalypse, it takes place during a nuclear apocalypse. It also takes place in San Francisco, and the producers wanted a really fun, funky, bluesy edge to it. So it is "San Fran Cool" meets "Nuclear Annihilation" - a combination we've never done before! So there are hardcore electronics and beats, walls of guitars and percussion, and massive orchestra which twist into funk and blues riffs and back again! End of the world musical mayhem!
There is one racing game of such type which is called Split/Second Velocity. It’s not so apocalyptic but it also has destructible environment, aggressive racers and explosions… Big explosions! There was interactive soundtrack which is mix of symphonic and electronic music. Here goes the question: what references were you given?
Let's see, the references were actually things like Bullitt and Dirty Harry… "San Francisco Cool" music but they didn't have much to do with nuclear apocalypse!.. That was part of the fun, there weren't really any references that matched these ideas the way we wanted to do it, so we had to make it up for ourselves.
We know top DJ’s and remixers submit electronic and rock music for the game too. Also, previous MotorStorm titles never had custom made music, only licensed songs, so in what parts of game your soundtrack will play? Will it be certain key moments on tracks or not?
Actually we haven't seen the finished product - the idea was that the DJs would take the music we wrote and remix it... chop it all up, filter it, take all the material and make it their own. The music in the game will be a combination of our tracks and theirs, but I don't know exactly which piece of music will go where.
In what way did you interact with audio director of MotorStorm? What materials did you receive while working on the soundtrack?
They sent over a Playstation with a working copy of the game.. Not the whole game but a few of the levels so we could know what the world was like. They also sent a lot of artwork and some movie-trailer like video clips, all to see what their vision was. We also worked really closely with the producers on the smallest details of the music.. Since every element of the score will get cut up and remixed it was important that everyone was really happy with it down to the details. We sent demos back and forth, trying out different sounds, and really polishing it.
Apocalypse will be very loud game from the looks of it. You think music for such type of racing game must be aggressive (simple for player to hear it) or just carry on a support role?
In films when you have a loud action scene, you usually have loud music and loud sound effects. Even if the music is played quietly under the sound effects, it still needs to be powerful, to fill in and take over whenever there are any gaps. I think a game is similar… The music should be really powerful so that even when there is a very loud car engine, crash, something exploding or whatever else, the music is still under there somewhere giving it a lot of support.
Main question! Your first musical instrument association with the word ENGINE? (It's important for crazy racing fans)
Tough question… I'd say electric guitar!
Let’s move to the most interesting part – recording sessions. Please, tell us where soundtrack was recorded and how much size was the orchestra?
We recorded it at Abbey Road studios in London. We had a huge orchestra, the biggest we could fit, with separate sessions for strings and brass.
Orchestrator and conductor are the main guys after composers, bring us some light on their names!
The orchestrator was Bob Elhai and the conductor Andy Brown. We've worked with both of them on many, many projects... They are both top professionals and a fantastic addition to the team.
Composers often change size of the orchestra for certain needs. For example, Jason Graves expanded low section of brass and woodwinds instruments for Dead Space 2 soundtrack. For God of War III composers augmented brass section twice to obtain in-your-face epic sound. Maybe you did such type things for the Motorstorm? If yes, please tell us more about this.
We got the biggest orchestra we could fit in the room! We did make sure to have a nice big brass section, with extra french horns and trombones, because this was such an aggressive, brassy score. We also brought in an electric cello player, Caroline Dale, to play some of the more evil solo parts. We put the electric cello through some distortion pedals and a guitar amp… A really cool sound.
Michael Giacchino was using the plane parts for the Lost’ Main Theme percussion. Any weirdo experiments with smashed car parts here, or just pure orchestra without any ambient?
No car parts but we did record a lot of various metal objects being hit, as well as stacks of guitars through various effects, tons of percussion and distorted synths… Definitely not pure orchestra!
Another question from our amateur composers. Could bring some light on your methods of work? How are you developing composition from scratch?
I like to start playing around with sounds, find a few that inspire me, and then find some kind of musical hook or just one first idea, and use that idea to lead to other ideas, and just build and build. When it goes well, everything builds organically (Here and further answering Klaus Badelt).
Many game composers say the games give them more freedom, allow them to make experiments and even write more interesting stuff (games don't bound by time so strictly than films). You think this is true?
I don't know… I always like to experiment with every project, but I can say I had a great time on this one and wrote some music I can't imagine having written for anything else!
And, for the last, guys, we hope you're got the driving license's, right? :)
Thanks for your time! We hope to hear your music soon!
Have something to say? Do it!