Interview: Jason Graves on Composing Music for Friday the 13th: The Game - Dread Central
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Interview: Jason Graves on Composing Music for Friday the 13th: The Game

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If you’re a video game aficionado, especially when it comes to horror games in the last decade, then there is probably no way you’ve missed hearing the music of composer Jason Graves. He’s the man who brought us the terrifying music in the sci-fi/horror masterpiece series Dead Space, who sent shivers up and down our spines in F.E.A.R. 3, who sent us on incredibly adventures in Tomb Raider, and who took gamers through the butterfly effect of Until Dawn. His music has terrified, thrilled, and inspired us, making for some of the most memorable sequences in recent video game history.

But while much hoopla was rightfully made around the fact that franchise composer Harry Manfredini returned for Friday the 13th: The Game, what some people may not know is that Graves also worked on the project, providing additional music! So, we got the chance to speak with him about his work on the game, what is was like working with Manfredini, seeing his music and Jason Voorhees on the screen together, and more!

You can read our interview with Graves below. Also, give him a cheeky little follow on Twitter, would ya?

Dread Central: Talk to me a bit about your relationship with Friday the 13th and not just the game! What’s your relationship like with the movies?
Jason Graves: Oh, you mean besides the first name association and having “GRAVES” as a last name to boot? Those two factors alone seemed to put put me on some sort of inevitable crash course with the Friday the 13th franchise. I’m constantly surprised by how many people assume my last name is a stage name or something I made up! I think mostly because of my past association with horror titles.

I grew up as a child of the 70’s and 80’s so naturally the Friday the 13th series was a big part of scaring me to death! The first three or four really stayed with me while the later movies kind of all blended together. And, of course, having the same first name as Jason has always stuck with me ever since I was a kid.

DC: How’d you come aboard the project?
JG: I’ve worked with the guys at Gun Media several times before. We have a small circle of folks in games here in North Carolina and I’ve been involved in different projects with everyone for the last four years or so. Wes Keltner started texting and emailing me early in the project to see if we were all ever in LA at the same time. He’s in Tennesee and I’m in North Carolina, which are close enough. But Harry lives in LA so it made the most sense for us to meet there.

Unfortunately my schedule never synced up with theirs so I eventually just spoke with Harry on the phone. Harry was more than capable of composing the music they needed – I was brought in to make the music as dynamic as possible by tweaking existing tracks and composing originals. The game is a nice combination of classic linear, film-style moments and more modern interactive, modular scenes. I assisted as need on the former and composed for the latter.

DC: What was it like working with Harry Manfredini?
JG: Harry is such a gentleman and an amazing composer as well. I’ve been privileged to work with successful composers in the past and the one thing I take away from all of them is they are just normal guys that love music. More often than not they have the same ups and down as the rest of us PLUS they are just as geeky and obsessive about gear, instruments, sound, mixing and technology as any other composer. Just really really nice, down to earth guys who are so appreciative and thankful to be able to do what they do for a living.

Harry was, unsurprisingly, exactly the same way. We spoke a lot about how he worked on the films and how he’s working on the game.

DC: The majority of games you’ve composed for are lengthy with constantly changing locations, new environments, additional themes and characters, and more. Friday the 13th: The Game is more of a game where people load it up, play a round or two, and they’ll have gotten the full experience that they’re seeking. How did that change of gameplay affect your approach to composing?
JG: For me, it always comes down to scoring the scene and the player’s emotional state as it exists in that moment. So whether there’s a long term goal or a shorter, more instantaneous payoff doesn’t make as much of a difference as, say, the character’s story arc or the environment you are currently in.

DC: I have to know, what was it like hearing and seeing the combination of your music and Jason Voorhees on the screen?
JG: An amazing rush! I’ve lived with that franchise since I was a little kid, so being officially involved was a real treat.

DC: What’s next for you? Any exciting projects that you can tell us about?
JG: I just wrapped up the score for an exciting sci-fi VR title called Lone Echo last month. The official soundtrack is available in all the usual places.

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