With the recent release of Sloclap and Devolver Digital’s Absolver, the attention to its musical score also took people by surprise. We can thank Austin Wintory – composer of game scores such as Journey, Abzu, Monaco, Assassin’s Creed Syndicate, The Banner Saga and more – for that.
With Absolver finally hitting everyone’s eyes and ears, we thought we’d sit down and draw some behind the scenes info from Wintory’s brilliant mind:
What sounds and genres of music do you tap into when you are composing for a new series? Is it a creative experience digging into new settings and scenarios?
I always try to let the project guide my instincts, including things like genre, sounds, etc. Of course, every composer has his/her own intrinsic style (some more flexible and malleable than others) but I’m a big fan of just letting myself be led. I like blind alleys and unexpected turns; they take me in exciting directions I couldn’t imagine going on my own.
A lot of our readers are going to definitely remember your music from Journey, but what series really stuck out to you as being the most complex to work on?
Each project brings their own interesting challenges. It’s really hard to rank them or even compare. Assassin’s Creed Syndicate came to mind because of the sheer amount of music, and the many game modes (combat, various mission styles, plus a complex narrative). It was a huge amount of work in a relatively short amount of time (3 hours of music written in about 9 months). On the other hand, a game like The Banner Saga is comparatively simple and yet figuring out how best to score it was a massive challenge. It took 2 years before I felt like I really had a grasp on it!
Monaco‘s soundtrack was very reminiscent of silent-films, did you do some research to really grab that feel?
That silent-era rambunctious piano was something I was already familiar with, so I just went for it. No research required. Especially because the goal wasn’t to do some authentic recreation of that era, but to do my own spin. So I just took what I’d already internalized and played with it. The results were definitely strange but it was a massive joy to do!
From film and theater, not just games, what soundtracks absolutely blow your mind?
I think probably the most impactful bit of my music I’ve heard lately (and I know this is hardly a controversial opinion) is Hamilton. I saw the show in NYC on Broadway last summer and have listened to the album many times since. It’s storytelling perfection. Incredible writing and incredible performances. I can’t get enough. In games, last year’s Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture, by Jessica Curry, was transcendent. I think it elevated the entire medium of game scoring to the next level.
Thanks to Austin Wintory for hanging out and having a little chat with us about his music! Make sure you check out Absolver and listen to Wintory’s brilliant score alongside a track with RZA. Collaborations like that are what keep gaming soundtracks fresh and inventive and we can’t see what happens with Wintory’s upcoming score for The Banner Saga 3!