Exclusive Interview: Composer Jason Graves Discusses Dead Space, F.E.A.R. 3 and Resistance: Burning Skies
This year will see many great releases from huge gaming franchises such as the highly anticipated addition to the Resistance series entitled Burning Skies. We caught up with composer Jason Graves and discussed his road to success in the music industry. Read on for more details!
Jason Graves is a British Academy award-winning composer who has brought his passion for music to numerous video game franchises including the innovative, original soundtracks for Dead Space and Dead Space 2. Graves' music has become synonymous with unique, symphonic textures combined with modern aesthetics and he is renowned worldwide for his cinematic, immersive scoring.
Dread Central: A composer with your amazing skills would have to refine their craft over a long period of time. When did you first decide you would attempt a career in the music industry, and how did you ultimately go about pursuing that goal?
Jason Graves: I'm not sure I would call myself “amazing,” but it's true that I have been working in the music industry for quite a while now. It's been 15 years since I first got out of graduate school and 10 years since I scored my first game. I always knew I wanted to do something with music but wasn't sure if I would be able to make a living with it. I figured I could always fall back and do it as a hobby in the evenings if things got tough.
Fortunately, I seem to have stayed busy! However, I think it is important to point out that I have not been composing music full-time for the last 15 years. I did engineering, recorded voiceovers for radio spots, recorded and mixed bands for records, and wrote lots and lots of music for corporate videos. The one thing all of those have in common is they have something to do with music, even if it's not music composition.
And while I was doing other things during the day, I was studying and composing music in the evenings. So when that “first shot” came along, I was ready to go and hit the ground running.
Dread Central: You've received numerous accolades for your work in the video game industry including a British Academy Award for Best Original Score for the game Dead Space. What feelings come over you as you receive such a high honor after all of the hard work you put into creating the Dead Space soundtrack?
Jason Graves: Some sort of a mixture of awe and disbelief. So much work goes into building the audio for all of these games and there are so many great sounding games out there! There is also an extreme amount of pride mixed in as well, but not necessarily for my work on its own. Game audio is such an incredible team effort – it's really about this small group of people that work together for 2 or 3 years trying to make the best sounding game they can. And implementation is everything, especially for music and games!
Dread Central: Including the original Dead Space, you have composed music for numerous other horror themed titles including Jaws Unleashed, Aliens and F.E.A.R. 3. What makes composing scores for the horror genre unique from any other genre, and do you have a particular favorite genre in which you have worked?
Jason Graves: My favorite aspect about horror music is you can literally write anything you want. You are limited only by your imagination! In fact, many times the more unique and completely original your music is, the better it works in the game and the more the developer loves it. I think the combination of sci-fi and horror is the ultimate musical “one two punch." I've always loved the harmonies and themes that evoke those epic science-fiction landscapes in my head. I suppose that means my favorite genre is epic sci-fi with elements of horror.
Dread Central: Resistance: Burning Skies will be the fifth title in the Resistance series, and I'd bet it's the one with the best soundtrack. How does creating music for an existing franchise differ from composing scores for a new series such as Dead Space, and do you take anything at all away from the previous entries in the series when creating compositions for a new game?
Jason Graves: Thanks, that's kind of you to say. For this specific game, there was no direction from the developer to reference any of the previous scores. In fact, the game is a prequel and really has its own identity in the Resistance universe. The only real directive from Sony was to compose a melodic, emotionally exciting score. They really let me take the ball and run with it! It was a lot of fun to work on.
Dread Central: For Resistance: Burning Skies, you have created 40 minutes worth of original works. What types of music can fans of the game expect from you on the game's soundtrack when the game is released?
Jason Graves: Funny you ask, because the music is actually firmly within the sci-fi genre with elements of horror. Sound familiar? It really was a type of “dream gig” for me. I was able to compose lots of fun thematic material and develop it in the underscore of the combat music and in the cinematics. It was so much fun to write that kind of music and hear it performed by a live orchestra. I hope you enjoy it!
To learn more visit the official Jason Graves website.
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