Hi Daniel, thanks for taking the time to do this interview. First of all, tell us about yourself. How did you get started in the video game music business?
I have always loved video games ever since the days of Atari, intellivision, the 8 bit Nintendo, TG-16 up to the XBOX 360, and will continue to play and love games into the future……… The other passion that I have always had is music……..I wrote my first song on an old Yamaha keyboard when I was 6 years old………..Since then I have been to music school, played in bands, and have always liked to be creative. So just looking back at what I was into, became the obvious transition into composing video game music, and music in general. I also remember always being into the technology side of music, as far as all the samplers and synthesizers……I had an old EPS16, one of the first samplers back in the days. I loved that thing, and wrote all this orchestra stuff on it, and took it to my junior high school band for this music show in tell kind of thing …….I played this awful orchestra piece. that was all off time but experimental, nevertheless. Its funny thinking about that. Well, to make a long story short, I eventually ended up getting contacted by Valusoft / THQ who had me do their Hunting Unlimited games(part 4 is still coming out by the way) I then went on to score different games ranging from PC to cell games. Recently I just finished the score to Roboblitz, the XBOX360 game. I was asked to submit a demo clip, and was going up against quite a few composers. I had a lot of fun doing the clip and went kind of crazy………Well, Naked Sky loved it, and they called me up….. and said, “We want you to do it!”
One of your latest projects is the action game Roboblitz for the Xbox360. How would you describe the score and what aspect of it are you most proud of?
The Roboblitz score is a mix of techno, technology sounds, retro music, and some experimental stuff, synths, and beats. Naked Sky was really cool in that they sort of let me do my thing and occasionally, I would go to wild, and they would pull me back to the vibe of the game, and sometimes, not wild enough, and they would push me to make the music more crazy…………They sort of wanted a retro kind of robotic score, but then at the same time they didn’t want it to be to old school……..I thought of all those old Genesis games like Thunder Force, and those kind of games, that had such cool scores……….so I kind of pulled inspiration from that era. I also thought of sci fi in general, and what things or sounds did I think of when I thought of sci fi. Roboblitz is a robot action game, but it is also has a sci fi type of feeling to it. After Naked Sky had sent me the level descriptions, I soon realized that there were some parts in the game that would require a more ambient, sci fi sound……. Naked Sky really created a rich description of the game and it’s levels. I’m a big fan of sci fi in general so I was able to pull from all kinds of inspiration……… The parts of the score that I am most proud of, is that it has a very unique synthy(is that a word) sound to it, but is still very melodic and musical, and that the entire score is coherent and gells together well…….
How would you rate the sound capabilities of the new Xbox360 console?
They are awesome, advanced, it has more memory. Sound guys can pretty much do what they wan’t with video games now without any restriction………….
You’ve also scored written music for film and television. How would you compare movie and game scoring?
Wow. I could write a book on this topic. I know that every composer feels a little different on this subject. From my experience, they are two very different mediums. They both take a lot of hard work, thought, planning, energy, and passion, and skill. Skill that only comes from practice, and studying………I believe that most skilled composers that want to be successful with both mediuums, can be, but like anything else, you have to learn the differences… Personally, I fall into the chameleon composer category. I absolutely love to do different projects ranging from a drama film and then switch it around and do a puzzle cell game, and than do a futuristic robotic game. That’s the beauty of creativity and composing, and art in general is that you really do get to play many roles, and have a fun time getting into those roles on a submersive, creative level………..I think I would have probably been an actor, if not a musician, because I have this creative need to play different roles, or in my case compose for different mediums and genres. I love doing film and video games, and they both are very rewarding, and they both have there different challenges as well……..
Are you pleased that your scores are being discussed / compared with film scores? For many years the direction for "crossing over" has been from game scores to movie scores (e.g., Giacchino), but more recently movie composers have gone the other way (e.g., Schifrin, Elfman & Shore). Any thoughts as to why this latter flow is happening?
I think it comes down to one word, “budget”. Back in the days, no one took games serious because compared to film budgets, it was a joke. Now video game budgets and music budgets have grown. While still not as big as most films, video game budgets are attracting composers. Also, as Hollywood invests more into video games on every level, than of course everyone wants to do what’s hot, exciting, and profitable. Personally, while getting paid is important (top ramen can get old after a while) I love doing video games for the reason of creative expression, and they are just plain fun to do………I think it’s also important to know that video games give an opportunity for up and coming composers that are possibly trying to break into film, or just get recognized, a way to get solid work, solid credits, and experience within the entertainment industry. If composer “A” approaches a film director and has no credits, or maybe a few short independent film credits vs. composer B who has done a giant video game title, that has gotten press, than I’m willing to bet that the director will take composer B very seriously………….Video games are considered to be quality “composer credits” today……………We are living in the Video Game/Internet, Hi Tech age, right?
Where do you see game music in five to ten years from now?
I think it will continue to progress as it has. More powerful systems will allow more unique approaches to how music can be written, used, played and implemented into games.
What are your three favourite game scores and why?
Wow, only three…….Ok, I would have to say Actraiser (the old SNES game, for its time was amazing) Y’s books 1 and 2, on the TG16 CD-ROM had an amazing score, and it was one of the first CD games to use voice acting, and just had an amazing synthesized score….. I liked the Call of Duty 2, Graeme Revell. I like what he’s doing...........
What is, in your opinion, the most difficult / challenging / enjoyable task when composing for a video game?
This depends on what kind of game, what kind of time constraints, and a bunch of other factors……You kind of have to deal with stuff as it happens in each situation…… As far as most enjoyable task. It’s just great fun to be creative, and make some cool tunes!
What other composers / musical styles have had the greatest influences on you? What is in your CD-player right now?
I have so many influences from Mozart to Hip Hop to Harry Gregson-Williams, to Soul music, to so many composers and styles of music..........I’ve been listenting to a lot of Gregson-Williams, James Newton Howard, and Klaus Badelt.........
What is, so far, your favourite project you’ve worked on?
I really have loved every project in it’s own unique way. I really had a great time doing Roboblitz for the XBOX 360……….
What would be your dream project?
My dream project would be to do a thiller-esque video game, where it has an excellent story, characters and requires a unique sounding score………On the flipside of that I would love to score a real emotional dramatic video game.........
What are you currently working on?
Many different projects, stay tuned for more news on my website (this is a quick plug) www.danielsadowski.net
Do you play PC or console games yourself?
Oh yeah, when I can find the time, they are great fun, and a great escape…….. I love messing with a bunch of the old school games as well……
Is there anything you’d like to say that I didn’t cover?
I would like to thank GSoundtracks for offering me an interview and giving me a chance to talk about game music. I also am very excited about video game music, where it is headed, and the great opportunities that it is giving many composers.
Thanks again and good luck on your future endeavours.