Interview: Composer Olivier Deriviere Talks Us Through VAMPYR's Soundtrack - Dread Central
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Interview: Composer Olivier Deriviere Talks Us Through VAMPYR’s Soundtrack

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Vampyr is shaping up to be one of the best horror games of 2018. With the release date approaching, we decided to talk to the game’s composer Olivier Deriviere about the unique soundtrack you’ll be listening to as you prowl the streets of London.

London, 1918. You are newly-turned Vampyr Dr. Jonathan Reid. As a doctor, you must find a cure to save the city’s flu-ravaged citizens. As a Vampyr, you are cursed to feed on those you vowed to heal. Will you embrace the monster within? Survive and fight against Vampyr hunters, undead skals, and other supernatural creatures. Use your unholy powers to manipulate and delve into the lives of those around you, to decide who will be your next victim. Struggle to live with your decisions… your actions will save or doom London.

Developed by Dontnod Entertainment, Vampyr will be published by Focus Home Interactive on PC and consoles on June 5, and you can order your copy over on its official website. If you missed it earlier, you can also listen to our exclusive preview of Deriviere’s soundtrack here.

Dread Central: Because the game takes place shortly after the First World War, I understand that you wanted the music to have an industrial feel to it?

Olivier Deriviere: Yes. The creative director Philippe Moreau wanted to avoid any reference to Victorian London. He made it very clear that the game was dark, gritty, atmospheric and since it was the beginning of the industrial era he wanted something more “industrial” for the music. I spent a lot of time creating some unique textures for the game, to create a signature sound and what helped me was the fact that your journey takes place in the streets of London. You are always surrounded by buildings so I felt the music should echo like the sound echoes in any street. That’s why you can hear the electronic sound echoing from left to right (or the opposite) and I think this is what makes the signature of the electronic sounds.

DC: Are there any other major themes or influences at play?



OD: The use of a cimbalom was quite an obvious choice but one cannot create originality by ignoring the stereotype. This instrument really defines London and this period of time.

The choir evokes the inner conflict of Jonathan Reid; ‘The Thirst’ is the call for blood and ‘The Cross’ represents the vampire’s fear of religious symbols, and the redemption.

DC: How will the music echo Jonathan Reid’s struggle between becoming a monster and holding on to his humanity?

OD: Great question! What happened during the game’s development was that once I was done with the atmospheric textures of the game we all felt we were missing something. It brought this gritty tone to the dark nights of a plagued London but there was still another dimension to explore….the condition of the main character, Jonathan Reid who is both a doctor and new born vampire. I thought about this duality and I didn’t want to separate the monster from the doctor. I wanted the two of them to be one but to fight against each other; this is when the idea of a cello solo came up. By doing so we now have represented in the music what is in the game, a lonely human being in despair and starving for blood.

DC: Why did you opt for fierce cello sounds, and how did you find working with Eric-Maria Couturier from Ensemble Intercontemporain de Paris?

OD: I must say my collaboration with Eric-Maria went beyond my expectations. As I mentioned I needed the cello to express both the humanity and the monstrosity, and the music I write is quite difficult to perform so I needed an excellent cellist. Hiring the best cellist in the classical world will give you an incredible sound and performance but there is little chance you will get a visceral performance. What I mean by that is the relationship between a musician and the music is generally as it is written. But with Eric we explored together and he introduced me to so many different sounds that sometimes I felt he was from another dimension. He really brought the emotion and they are as complex as they sound.

DC: Rather than just being in the background, would you say that Vampyr’s music is a major part of the interactive experience?

OD: My first concern when writing music for games is the player’s experience. The music of Vampyr is highly interactive but with subtleties for most players. Obviously the music reacts to the main situations of the player. If you are exploring, you have the “exploration cue” relative to your location. If you are fighting you have the “fight cue” relative to whom you are fighting against. Now, what people may not initially get is that, in exploration, the music dimension varies depending if you are conversing with another character or not. When you’re not in conversation the music is quite pronounced but as soon as you enter a discussion then the music starts to be more intimate, in a seamless transition. It makes, unconsciously, the conversation a more intimate moment for the player, and because the cello becomes softer, it adds an extra layer of emotion. Additionally since the game reacts to the number of citizens you kill to feed your darkest side, the music will follow your decisions by getting darker and darker.

DC: How did you find the experience of once again working with Dontnod?

OD: It was a real delight to be back with the team behind Remember Me. I am amazed by what they have achieved on Vampyr. The “open world” they created is not too big so you can really appreciate the game in its whole, the art style is very beautiful, the fighting system is fun and the whole concept of having to choose between the vampire and the doctor works amazingly well. This may not be a AAA budget title but is nevertheless a passionate project where everybody who worked on the project made a difference. I couldn’t be prouder to work on this game and I hope the players will enjoy what makes Vampyr a unique game experience.

DC: How would you describe the process of composing for a game compared to composing for a film or TV series?

OD: This question requires a lot of words so in short I would say that video games scoring has no rules, no boundaries, no limits, no language. Video games are a young medium, so is the art of composing music for games. However, I believe that for years music for games has neglected what makes games unique and I am quite confident to say that in the next decade music for games will come into its own and surprise you…and hopefully me as well!

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