Exclusive Interview: Composer Kevin Riepl Discusses Aliens Colonial Marines and Resistance: Burning Skies - Dread Central
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Exclusive Interview: Composer Kevin Riepl Discusses Aliens Colonial Marines and Resistance: Burning Skies

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Exclusive Interview: Composer Kevin Riepl Discusses Aliens Colonial Marines and Resistance Burning SkiesResistance: Burning Skies is coming on May 29th for the PlayStation Vita, and with the highly anticipated release of Aliens: Colonial Marines later this year, we decided to bring you a special treat: the inside scoop from the composer of both releases, Kevin Riepl.

Kevin Riepl is an award-winning film composer and recording artist (aka Damage Vault) writing for multiple entertainment genres. His engaging and atmospheric scores have enhanced numerous indie films such as ABCs of Death, Clemency, The Aggression Scale and Henri. In video games Riepl is best known for composing the rousing signature score for Gears of War.

Dread Central: Every famous composer has a unique story to tell about how they eventually arrived in the music industry. How were you able to turn your passion for musical composition into a highly successful career?

Kevin Riepl: Not sure how unique mine is, but I guess everyone’s story is a bit different since there is no ‘one definitive’ path to getting where you’d like to be in your life. Prior to actually working in the industry—whether it be video games or film—I was always making connections with other creatives. Before Facebook and Twitter, it was contacting them by phone or through their websites. These connections led to friendships where we both enjoyed each other’s craft, music, art, design, writing, etc. Most weren’t even in the industry yet…we were all on the same level, just talking and inspiring each other. One artist who was then hired by Epic Games ended up placing my CD in the right place at the right time. This led to them bringing me on to Unreal Tournament 2003.

During this time, I was also searching and found an already successful composer in video games and film to work for, doing some assistant work which led to co-writing on a lot of television projects and video games. So I was building up a resume with a two-pronged approach, working my own leads/connections and working for this established composer. Prior to both of these I had just moved to LA from NJ. Once in LA while working in the video game industry, I was pursuing film leads; once again, not trying to shoot to the top or solicit existing studio projects, but making connections with film guys that were at the same level as I in the industry. Whether it be directors, producers, concept artists, creature designers…anyone. I just loved the creative interaction between everyone. This led to some indie shorts, some good, some really bad ones that I’ll never speak of again. But the good ones were with directors I got along with great and those connections are still solid today and I still do work with them on whatever they create. With both video games and the films…the more and more I worked, it led to more relationships.

Ever since the beginning I realized the goal here is not to succeed, but to be happy and surround yourself with other creatives with as much passion that you have for the craft. In my experience, it’s that which leads to success. Having Facebook, Twitter and other social networks now make keeping these relationships fresh.

Dread Central: One of your newest projects is an anthology film called ABCs of Death, and you have teased your work with director Kaare Andrews in the movie for your website. Could you give us a little preview of what ABCs of Death is, how you became involved with the film and what is was like working with the director?

Kevin Riepl: ABC’s of Death is a feature comprised of 26 chapters, each helmed by a different director assigned a letter of the alphabet. Kaare Andrews was one of the 26 directors chosen for this film. I connected with Kaare while he was in production of his first feature ‘Altitude’. He is a super passionate, creative guy. We stayed in contact and when I saw the ABC thing come up with his name on it, I thought this may be a great opportunity to see if we’d work well together. We chatted briefly about what he was doing for his ‘letter’ and the direction he was looking to go with the music, and we hit it off. I think what he accomplished with the small amount of budget that was provided came out insanely awesome.

Dread Central: In addition to your numerous musical credits in the film and television industries, you’ve enjoyed a lot of success in creating original compositions for video games. How does creating music for video games differ from composing for movies and television, and which is your favorite industry in which you have worked?

Kevin Riepl: When composing for films or television, a composer is scoring to support visuals and story in a linear fashion, from start, middle to the end supporting the emotional content. With video games, you still write to support visuals and story, but you have to think vertically when writing. Forgive me if I get too specific on this topic. When I say vertical, I don’t mean vertically as in voicing or orchestration, I mean how certain layers in the piece of music will work alone and in addition to layers stacked on top of or faded in and out of other layers of music. Before writing, you have to think how every piece you write will interact with every piece you write. As video games become more advanced with storytelling and technology a lot of developers want the music to become as interactive as possible, meaning the music needs to contour the path of the player, making it seem that it is scored like a film. In my opinion not any composer can do this. It is a GREAT asset to developers and publishers if the composer scoring their game is adept and experienced in approaching composing like this.

Exclusive Interview: Composer Kevin Riepl Discusses Aliens Colonial Marines and Resistance Burning Skies

Dread Central: One of your newest projects is Alien: Colonial Marines which will act as a sequel to the highly popular film series. How did you approach your compositions within this game; did you draw on any certain inspirations, and did you feel any added pressure to please the loyal Aliens fans?

Kevin Riepl: Well, I’d like to call it my newest & oldest. The musical approach to this game was simple in my opinion. The story is canonical so why not have the music reflect this. The inspirations were definitely Jerry Goldsmith’s work in Alien and James Horner’s work in Aliens. Depending on where the story leads in the game is how I approach the music for that area. If it’s reminiscent of something from Alien, the music has more Goldsmith influence; if it’s a story point from Aliens, the music is influenced by Horner. New areas or story aspects are pieces I created using all the influences in the Aliens universe. I don’t feel any pressure. Being a HUGE fan of the franchise, I think I’m giving myself the most pressure. I know I won’t please everyone, but if I stay true to what Aliens is, fans will be happy…I think.

Exclusive Interview: Composer Kevin Riepl Discusses Aliens Colonial Marines and Resistance Burning Skies

Dread Central: You also created 40 minutes worth of music for the upcoming PlayStation Vita game Resistance: Burning Skies. How did you come to be involved in this project, and what do you hope your lasting contribution to the game will be perceived as?

Kevin Riepl: I was working on another Vita title for Sony at the same time Resistance: Burning Skies was looking for composers. I was thrown in the mix because the team on Resistance: Burning Skies was checking out and liking my material for this other game. While I was creating a demo pitch, this other vita title was put on temporary hold. That freed me up to work on Resistance: Burning Skies at the time, and hoping they’d like my pitch. They did and due to the extreme turnaround time (30 days) they wanted to use 2 composers. It was me and fellow composer and friend, Jason Graves, an awesome composer. We had a blast working on the same title and our styles complemented each other well. I always want my lasting impression on any project to be perceived as a quality score that did its job working with the story and enhancing the experience of the viewer/gamer. With Resistance: Burning Skies it is no different. Jason and I were able to create a traditional orchestral score for this episode in the franchise, pulling influences from as far back as action films from the ‘50s. I think people will enjoy the music and find it to be an integral character in the game.

For more information you can visit Kevin Riepl Music Online.

Exclusive Interview: Composer Kevin Riepl Discusses Aliens Colonial Marines and Resistance Burning Skies

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SOMA Sailing to Xbox One on December 1

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SOMA (review) will be heading to Xbox One on December 1st with the addition of a new safe mode, and we have all the details you need right here!

SOMA Coming to Xbox One with New “Safe Mode”
There’s no need to be concerned. You are always safe…

Isolated, submerged in the ocean’s darkness, chaos has overtaken the halls of PATHOS-II, and the boundaries of humanity strained beyond repair. From Frictional Games, creators of the critically acclaimed Amnesia series, SOMA is coming to Xbox One on December 1st with the addition of Safe Mode.

Safe Mode introduces an optional new way to play SOMA in the Xbox One and PC releases. Protected from the hostile creatures below, let yourself sink into the mystery and atmosphere of PATHOS-II as you uncover the truth and determine the fate of the station.

SOMA is coming to Xbox One on December 1st and is available to pre-order now. Safe Mode will launch simultaneously as a free update for PC and will be available for PS4 at a later date.

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Thelma Is Fantastic and Now You Can Watch the Opening Scene

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One of this year’s most beautiful and subdued horror films is Joachim Trier’s Thelma (review), which opens in Los Angeles tonight. To give you a bit of what the film is like, The Orchard have released the opening scene, which shows a man and his daughter hunting in the bleak Norwegian winter. When they come across a young deer, the true intentions of this trip become apparent…

Having seen Thelma, I can tell you that it’s truly something special. It’s a slow burn, to be certain, but it plays out gorgeously, resulting in a film that has yet to leave my mind.

Related Story: Exclusive Interview with Thelma’s Joachim Trier

Locations and tickets for Thelma can be found here.

Synopsis:
Thelma, a shy young student, has just left her religious family in a small town on the west coast of Norway to study at a university in Oslo. While at the library one day, she experiences a violent, unexpected seizure. Soon after, she finds herself intensely drawn toward Anja, a beautiful young student who reciprocates Thelma’s powerful attraction. As the semester continues, Thelma becomes increasingly overwhelmed by her intense feelings for Anja – feelings she doesn’t dare acknowledge, even to herself – while at the same time experiencing even more extreme seizures. As it becomes clearer that the seizures are a symptom of inexplicable, often dangerous, supernatural abilities, Thelma is confronted with tragic secrets of her past, and the terrifying implications of her powers.

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Award-Winning The Child Remains Playing Tomorrow at the Blood in the Snow Festival

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The award-winning supernatural thriller The Child Remains, which has been on the festival circuit, is returning to Canada to play tomorrow night at the Blood in the Snow Film Festival in Toronto. Tickets for the screening, which is at 9:30pm, can be found at the festival’s website.

The film has won awards in festivals across Canada as well as Best Foreign Feature at the Unrestricted View Horror Film Festival in London, UK.

Described as The Shining meets Rosemary’s Baby meets The Orphanage, the film stars Suzanne Clément, Allan Hawco, Shelley Thompson, and Geza Kovacs. Directed and written by Michael Melski, who co-produced the film alongside Craig Cameron and David Miller, The Child Remains is aiming for a Canadian theatrical release in Spring 2018 and a US theatrical release in October 2018.

Synopsis:
An expectant couple’s intimate weekend turns to terror when they discover their secluded country inn is a haunted maternity home where unwanted infants and young mothers were murdered. Inspired by the true story of the infamous ‘Butterbox Babies’ and their macabre chapter in Canadian history, The Child Remains is a twisting supernatural thriller that emphasizes story and suspense over shock and gore.

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