Dimitriy Dyachenko Interview - Giving a Voice to the Emptiness (June 2008)
Interview Subject: Dimitriy Dyachenko
Interviewer: Michael Naumenko
Editor: Michael Naumenko, Simon Elchlepp
Coordination: Michael Naumenko
Michael: When did you start to write music and have you had a classical music education? Has being a composer always been your dream job?
Dimitriy Dyachenko: When I was in first grade, I studied at a special music school, then I studied at a state music conservatory. I began to write music when I was 16. I have been dreaming of being a pilot since my childhood, and this dream have partially come true - I have to fly a lot, but as a passenger, not as the pilot yet.
Michael: Which artists have influenced you the most?
Dimitriy Dyachenko: First of all the Russian composers - Tchaikovski, Shostakovich, Prokofiev - and lots of French composers, including modern ones. A lot of things connect me with France. I love French and, actually, it`s a really musical and singing country. I have no doubts that this country has influenced me. Then there are also artists such as Pink Floyd, Toto, Сhicago, A-Ha, Nine Inch Nails, Def Leppard, Angel’s Tears, Deep Forest, Sting, Karunesh. I`m really delighted with the music by Alexey Rybnikov, Alan Silvestri, Hans Zimmer, and lots of others.
Michael: What`s your first musical memory?
Dimitriy Dyachenko: Again, it`s a French movie from 1967 - Adventurers. When I first saw it, I liked it so much that I played all the music from that movie.
Michael: What instruments do you play? What equipment and programs do you use for composing music?
Dimitriy Dyachenko: I can play keyboard instruments professionally and the guitar a little, as well as wind and percussion instruments.
Michael: There are various non-musical sounds in some compositions on You Are Empty. Were they samples from music libraries or did you record them outside the music studio?
Dimitriy Dyachenko: Well, it was different this time. I normally record the sounds myself. You can see me with a microphone and/or with a recording device everywhere, all the time. That`s my job and my hobby at the same time. Let me tell you a bit about the sounds used in You Are Empty. In the first composition, there`s the sound of a monster - it's the voice of Victor «Lukash» Marchevsky, the most talented concept artist, who died suddenly. You Are Empty is dedicated to him. Victor also helped to vocalize the Fireman character. It was fantastic! He took a gas mask, put it on and shouted some words. We recorded several takes. Excellent work!
The voices of the vocalists on "Theatre of Spirit" were recorded and manipulated to create the sensation of flight, the presence of music in the forgotten theatre. The archival recording of one of the «public figures» at a party convention runs through the whole of "Gorsovet (Council of City)". This recording creates the tense atmosphere of Soviet totalitarianism. At the end of this track, you can hear the main theme of the album, a little modified. In some compositions, including "Heart of Communism", there's a guitar playing, performed by Eugene «Frodo» Karpenko, level designer of You Are Empty. When we were recording this track, he was playing the guitar, I was playing the electronic instruments - we completely forgot about time. The game doesn`t include all his wonderful levels and compositions.
Michael: Whose idea was it to write a waltz for the game?
Dimitriy Dyachenko: I don`t remember exactly whose idea it was. I wrote the waltz as a dare one night for a promo version of You Are Empty. Originally, another waltz by one of the modern classical composers was used as the accompaniment. I substituted that waltz with mine and it has remained in the game ever since. You can hear the waltz in the very first level "Hospital", where the piece is heard in one of the wards of the madhouse, as a curing therapy. It's also heard in one cut scene and in You Are Empty's credit roll.
But let me tell you about the soundtrack itself. The Soviet age, the inculcation of ideology and the collapse of the experiment to create a superman are reflected in the music. Numerous sound effects, ambient designs and music compositions created by me totally involve you in the mood of the game. Their aim is to create a certain atmosphere for different levels: "Railway Station", "Theatre of Spirit", "Reactor-Zone1", "Underground Ambient", "Wandering on Roofs" and others. The main track of the album is "Heart of Communism". Some tracks function as independent compositions, such as "Waltz", "Totalitarianism events", "Around the Time".
Michael: Did the game's producers and their ideas influence your work on You Are Empty or did you have total creative freedom? Was the music's ambient, electronic nature planned from the start or was that a decision that was made later?
Dimitriy Dyachenko: The music's style was determined by the idea of the game and there was absolutely no pressure. A good team was put together - each of us tried to understand each other because we all liked the project and we all worked on the same ideas, almost as one. I worked on the creation of the sound effects and the soundtrack, as well as on the voices heard in the game. I`d like to thank the whole project team for the atmosphere of cooperation and understanding!
Michael: Could you tell us about the equipment that you use in your studio?
Dimitriy Dyachenko: Sure. There are several computers and two screens, a laptop, sound card (TC Electroinc Konnekt 24), studio monitors (Dynaudio Acoustic & AKG K240), synthesizer (Korg Triton Extreme), midi keyboard (M-Audio), a couple of microphones and several recording devices. I also have some program sequencers (Sonar & Samplitude), a sound editor (Sound Forge), plug-ins (Waves, TC-Electronic, Korg Legaсy) and other VST/DX-instruments.
Michael: Have you listened to music by other game composers and if so, could you point out you some of your favourites?
Dimitriy Dyachenko: I can point out Dr Stephen Baysted, Perttu Kivilaakso, and also Jesper Kyd, Mark Morgan, and Tommy Tallarico.
Michael: What are your plans for the future? Have you thought about recording a solo album?
Dimitriy Dyachenko: I have some unannounced projects which I`m doing with my partners. The solo album is in the making - it will be piano music.
Michael: Thank you for this interview!
Dimitriy Dyachenko: You are welcome! Good luck!
You can listen to samples of You Are Empty and purchase it at KeepMoving Records.