Hi Fabian, thanks for taking the time to do this interview. Tell us about yourself. How did you get started and what projects have you worked on in the past?
The beginning was quite remarkable; as far as I remember, it was sometime around 1995, I borrowed "Super Turrican" for my Super Nintendo console from one of our local video libraries and played it through within one or two days. While watching the credits roll of the game, I noticed the text line "If you want to contact Factor 5, write to" along with the address of the developer. And I thought, "Man, that's it... I don't want to wait any longer, I love Turrican, I love Chris Hülsbeck's music, I just have to send them my music!". No sooner said than done. So I prepared a demo tape (yes, an old style audio cassette, not a CD - CDs were still quite expensive to burn yourself back then). The demo tape contained a couple of my tracks which I've done with my synthesizers. I took it to the next postal office and sent it together with a written application. A couple of weeks later I cought Factor 5 on the phone and they told me that they liked my work so much that they had directly forwarded my work to the Chris Hülsbeck Media Production [now Synsoniq Records].
Again, a couple of weeks later, Chris wrote me a letter, he liked my work as well and invited me into his studio. At that time I didn't know that Chris was also living and working near my home town, which is Frankfurt am Main, Germany. So I paid him a visit in his studios in Langen near Frankfurt and right after the employment interview it was straightaway clear that I would get my first commissions to write music for computer and video games.
My first work, in the same year, was "Menateus", the official computer game for the EXPO2000 World Exhibition that took place in Hannover, Germany in 2000. I had only been a mere 16 years of age back then! But my big break through was just a year later with "Extreme Assault", a first person shooter / simulation / helicopter action game by Bluebyte [now part of Ubisoft], which was one of the most well-known and best action shooters of the year. I've co-written the soundtrack, which was by far the biggest part of the score. The soundtrack was awarded best score of the year by several mags and in the same year, the soundtrack had also been released on CD which of course made me very proud. In the meanwhile, my music studio grew constantly bigger and bigger because the money needed was there now.
This was a perfect start in the game business, and my first references brought me more and more commissions. For example "Cultures 2 - The Gates of Asgard" by JoWooD / Funatics, also "Cultures 3 - Northland" and its successors, "Inspector Gadget" for the Playstation by Ubisoft, "Cold Zero" by JoWooD / Drago, "Hotel Giant" or "Chicago 1930" by Spellbound, to name but a few. Principally, the rest is history.
I can't list every single title up here, but so far I've worked on nearly 80 different projects. Please visit my official page for more information! [www.delpriore.de]
One of your latest projects is Cultures 2. Could you tell us something about that score?
Honestly, it's one of the most interesting game projects I've ever worked on, and one of the most profitable as well, not only because it brought me 20 (!) follow-up game projects just because of one game. But to answer your question, the score is so interesting because of it's interactive component. I've written the complete score using only Microsoft's DirectMusic Producer... DirectMusic is a part of the DirectX inferface with which you can create interactive music - other than simply playing back the same music over and over, DirectMusic provides a complete environment for implementing a dynamic soundtrack that uses more hardware resources and CPU power on one hand, but offers interactivity for the music on the other. To give you an example: While you're bulding up your colony in the game, a peaceful music is playing. But as soon as your village is under attack or danger is approaching, the mood of the music is shifting imperceptibly and softly into a more aggressive and threatening kind of music. When your village was badly affected during the attack, it shifts into a sad melancholic type of music. And so on.
Cultures 1 for example still used static CD audio tracks that have no other interactive capabilities than turning the music either "on" or "off". Repeated CD tracks are gradually getting on your nerves, no matter if you composed 80, 120 or more minutes of more or less standard music, and sooner or later you're in search of the "music off" button .With DirectMusic, you can change the mood of the music seamlessly and even vary the different instrument tracks in the same piece of music individually and dynamically. The possibilities are endless. If I had to figure out the length of the whole Cultures 2 soundtrack, it would result in 480 minutes of non-repeated music altogether.
What is, in your opinion, the most difficult / challenging / enjoyable task when composing for a strategy game?
As for "Cultures 2", the most difficult part was learning how to use "DirectMusic Producer" correctly. I cannot really say I like DMP more than Cubase, although some parts of the programs resemble each other, like the arranging window, yet DMP is really hard to make music with and it's a very complex program with a deep hirarchy of commands and options. The learning curve is quite high, but as soon as you know how to handle the most important commands you eventually get used to it. However, a definite recommendation cannot be given. I sincerely prefer using Cubase.
The most enjoyable and at the same time challenging part was the interactive constituent. At last I had all the musicial freedom I ever wanted. I've been given the ability to write as many variations as I wanted and needed for each track of each song. I could write transitions that played inbetween the songs. Not just write fixed, inflexible songs that would be repeated over and over. Of course it meant more expenditure and the investment of extra time and work, but the effort has been more than worthwhile - period!
What other composers / musical styles have had the greatest influences on you? What is in your CD-player right now?
Well, there are quite a few... Chris Hülsbeck always had the biggest impact on me when it comes to C64 and especially Amiga music. I grew up with his music. And I'm glad to call him a friend and collegue nowadays - it was a dream coming true! In the 80s, electronic music styles like break dance, italo disco or electric boogie / electric funk came up and always exerted a great fascination upon me. Paul Hardcastle can be named as my favourite artist here. Many of you may remember Hardcastle's "Nineteen", a major No.1 Chart hit in 1985 around the globe. Of course I'm greatly influenced by film music as well. John Williams, Jerry Goldsmith, Hans Zimmer, James Newton Howard, Don Davis, Mark Isham, Randy Edelman, Elliot Goldenthal, there are many to be named. I'm listening to many movie soundtracks as an inspiration to write game music..
My CD-Player is running "Leftfield - Leftism" now. Leftfield, a british music formation are dance music pioneers and the "inventors" of progressive house, with a fascinating mixture of electronica, ambient, trance and even hip-hop elements. Everyone should listen to the third track of the album, "Melt" which is my all-time favourite holiday song. :)
Your website states that you also worked on a project called “Merregnon”. Could you tell us something about that?
Glad you asked. :) Merregnon is a huge Soundtrack Trilogy CD project based on a fantasy universe of the same name. Renowned composers from the computer games, film music and demo scene have written orchestral music to accompany a fantasy story that you can read in the sophisticatedly designed booklet. The adventures of the characters are not only told through the booklet text but also or mainly through the music. Composers like Chris Hülsbeck, Yuzo Koshiro, Allister Brimble, Andy Brick, Olof Gustafsson and my humble self as main composer among many other excellent artists contributed music for the CD project. The music was created mainly using synthesizers and computers. Volume 1 appeared at the end of September 2000 and the second one was released in May 2004. This time, the Prague FILMharmonic Orchestra and the New Yorker Philharmonic had been hired for Merregnon 2 to record real and fully symphonic orchestra music, instead of solely relying on synthesizers like in the first volume, which now resulted in a rich and grand symphonic orchestral sound. Volume three is coming and all I can tell you at the moment is that Vol.3 is in the very first stages of development - A few ideas are already existing, nothing more or less. Just wait and observe the official Merregnon Page for more information in the future. :) [www.merregnon.com]
By chance or fate, I met producer Thomas Böcker in late 1999, we quickly got to know to each other very well, and I consider it a priviledge to call Thomas my friend. Soon the work on the Merregnon project already had begun. Thomas would be the executive producer and I would be the main composer of the project. In late 2000 the first volume had been released and became a huge success. It had a crucial shaping influence on the game music world in general. And when Merregnon 2 was under development it realized the initiation of the first Symphonic Game Music Concert in the world (outside of Japan) in the Gewandhaus, Leipzig, Germany, as part of the opening ceremony of the GC Games Convention in August 2003, with Thomas being the producer and organizer of the event. It caused such a stir that a second concert had been performed in August 2004 with vast success - it was an experience of a lifetime!
I was musically involved in the GC2003 Concert with a Merregnon 2 Suite, complete with a live performance of Mr. James Walker, the "voice" of Merregnon who has already worked together with Steven Spielberg on "Empire of the Sun". The second song I contributed for the concert was a new and special arrangement of the "Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker" track "The Great Sea". For the GC2004 Concert I was responsible for the arrangements of "The Secret of Monkey Island", "Metal Gear Solid" and a special "Turrican" Medley. This all makes my breast swell with pride! After the second concert, the orchstra, the composers and arrangers who came on stage (myself included) were honored with a 15 minute standing ovation by the audience consisting of 2000+ people. A grand experience that I will never forget!
Because of the great success of the second concert, a third one has already been announced for the GC Games Convention in August 2005! Have a look at the official page. [www.vgmconcerts.com]
What is, so far, your favourite project you’ve worked on?
Hard to tell or to narrow it down to one single project. I feel myself urged to mention three titles... The "Merregnon" Trilogy (together with the historic Game Music Concerts), "Cultures 2" and "Extreme Assault".
What would be your dream project?
To compose music for one of the Zelda games. Currently, the upcoming "The Legend of Zelda" (working title) for the Gamecube. I really would've loved to have written the score for it. But I'm nevertheless proud to have written the "Zelda: Wind Waker" song for the first Game Music Concert.
What are you currently working on?
Many different projects, lets see...
Currently I'm working my the second track for the upcoming Atari ST nostalgia remix album "Revival ST" (working title). I've completed the work on my first remix for the CD, "Quick & Silva" these days. I'm uploading a preview snippet soon on [www.rapturemusic.de] ! Don't miss it!
Then, still working on Immortal 3, the third volume of the popular Amiga remix CD album produced by Jan Zottmann, which should be released sometime in early 2005. This is also true for "Revival ST".
Project Majestic Mix, a well-known remix project, quite common in the US and best known for their CDs "Square Dance" and "A Tribute to Nobuo Uematsu", are planning a remix CD in ambient music style. I've been hired to remix two tracks exculsively for "Project majestic Mix: Ambience" coming sometime in 2005.
Furthermore, as far as game music work is concerned, the port of Funatics / GMX Media's RTS hit "8th Wonder of the World", the newest part in the Cultures series for Apple Macintosh platforms has been successfully finished. Linux and MorphOS ports of this game are also planned, there's much work to be done.
"Chigaco 1930" for the Mac should be coming out the next months as well!
"Cultures 3 - Northland" for Linux and MorphOS platforms are still under development and are scheduled for a release in 2005.
Additionally, as already said, Merregnon Vol. 3 is coming in the not-too-distant future. Not to be missed by any circumstances!
And there's the third Symphonic Game Music Concert at the Games Convention in August 2005 where I'm musically involved again. Details forthcoming!
Finally, there are a couple of big secret projects where I'm not allowed to give away any details yet - Sorry confidential.
So, as you can see, there's always much work to do. :)
Do you play PC or console games, yourself? If so, what’s your favourite one and why?
Sadly, I have not much time anymore to play games these days. But mostly, I'm playing console games, I'm not a real PC gamer... but I'm playing nostalgic emulated games on PC, tons of games for home computers like C64 or amiga, consoles (which I all possessed along with the games) like Sega Master System, Megadrive, Super Nintendo, Game Boy, GBA, N64 or arcade games using Mame. Too many to mention them one by one.
On GameCube, I played and love "Zelda: Wind Waker" and "Star Fox Adventures". Still need to get "Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem" and waiting for "The Legend of Zelda".
On Playstation 2: "Gran Turismo 3: A Spec", "Tekken Tag", "Drakan 2: The Ancients Gates". Waiting for / need to get: "Tekken 4 & 5", and the highly anticipated "Gran Turismo 4". Additionally I use the PS2 to play my old Playstation games, a few of my favourites: "Dino Crisis 1+2", and "Gran Turismo 1" the one that started it all.
Is there anything you’d like to say that I didn’t cover?
Thanks to all the people who have faith in my work and who are still listening to my music after all these years - Without people like you I would be nothing. Keep up the faith! Other than that I think I've said everything. But thanks for the offer! ;)
Thanks again and good luck on your coming endeavours.
Thanks to you too and good luck with your website!