Hi Andreas, thank you for taking the time to do this interview. First of all, tell us about yourself. How did you get into the video game music business?
Hi there. I’m a music composer living in southwestern Sweden. I do mostly videogame music but the occasional film as well.
I started out doing filmmusic but my love for games steered me into trying to get a foot inside the videogame business as well. I got in touch with a Swedish game company called Paradox Interactive who had heard some of my previous music. They gave me a short amount of time to make the soundtrack for a strategy game called Hearts of Iron 2. It worked out well so I’ve been working with them alot since then. Recently I scored Crusader Kings 2 for them, which seems to get great reviews.
Let’s start out by talking about your score to Majesty 2. When and how did you get involved in the project?
This was back in 2008 I think. I got contacted by a producer at Ino-Co who told me they were gonna make a new Majesty game. Well, I said yes immidiately... I loved the first one. :)
How did you approach the game musically and how much creative freedom were you given by the developers to find a unique and creative soundscape for the game?
Well I approached the game as I usually do, with alot of enthusiasm and my first initial step is to try to get as much information from the developers as I can. This is so I can give the right mood the game needs. With that said, the developers gave me quite alot of creative freedom with the themes and usually let me do my thing so to say.
Majesty 2 has seen two additional addon packs since its release, for both of which you’ve composed new music. What would you say are the particular challenges and rewards for writing music to a sequel?
I would say that I usually don’t have to spend as much time when I do sequels. That is because the musical language is already set, and the themes already exist to build upon. But that can also be a challenge: how do you make this theme interesting yet again? I don’t always reuse the themes though, it depends on what the project needs.
Kevin Manthei has written the score to the original Majesty. Were you influenced by his music?
I definetely was influenced by the main theme and tried to sneak it in at some places. But that was it, I didn’t try to use complete themes of his but only snippets here and there.
Are there any cues/musical passages in the score that you’re especially proud of?
I would say that the main theme, which was the first theme I wrote when I got involved.
You’ve also written music for Crusader Kings 2. What were you particular goals with the score and are you happy with the end result?
I was delighted to get this gig, because doing religious medieval music is so inspiring.
I told the developers I wanted to score it like the old great movies, with alot of epic orchestra and choir. And I would say – imho - that the end result worked out very well.
Are you pleased that your scores are being discussed / compared with film scores? For many years the direction for "crossing over" has been from game scores to movie scores (e.g., Giacchino), but more recently movie composers have gone the other way (e.g., Schifrin, Elfman & Shore). Any thoughts as to why this latter flow is happening?
Some games nowadays are just so high budget that why wouldn’t these big name screen composers want to work with games? When I started out it was unheard of using live orchestras to do a game score. Nowadays developers have caught on that the audio is really important to the finished product. It needs to be as engaging as the graphics and gameplay. I mean, your website about game music is a testament that there is alot of people who are interested in game music.
Where do you see game music in five to ten years from now?
I’m hoping that it continues to play an even bigger role, so that implementation of the music has even higher priority. Dynamic music that changes to what happens on the screen is where the biggest innovations needs to come, in terms of music. It’s gotten better, but there is still alot of work to be done in that field.
What is, in your opinion, the most difficult / challenging / enjoyable task when composing for a video game?
The most difficult and challenging when writing for video games is without a doubt composing music that will not get boring the 211th time. Im sure that will get easier though when dynamic music implementation gets more mature.
The most enjoyable is early on in the writing process when your laying the musical foundation for the game. I am very aware at this point that the music will be very important for the mood and setting for the players of the game.
What other composers / musical styles have had the greatest influences on you? What is in your CD-player / on your mp3 player right now?
Without a doubt my biggest musical influence has been John Williams, in my honest opinion one of the greatest modern composers... he’s always in my playlist, for enjoyment and for study. I’d like to someday make music as memorable as Star Wars, Superman and Schindler’s List.
Wagner and Igor Stravinsky are also very important to me. In my youth I listened to alot of jazz, rock and progressive rock. Like Chick Corea, Dream Theater, Metallica and Iron Maiden.
I try to keep an open mind about music whatever musical style it is.
What is, so far, your favourite project you’ve worked on?
They all mean alot to me, because writing a soundtrack is like being on an adventure. You never know what will happen and how it will happen and I learn alot while doing it. It’s really exciting! But if I had to pick one it would be Crusader Kings 2, for the simple reason that I am still writing for it even though it has been out for more then half a year. Paradox Interactive (developer of the game) keeps asking for more music for expansions and DLC packages.
What would be your dream project?
Having my music played by the London Symphony Orchestra. Or maybe doing the music for an mmorpg, where you would have the power to shape the setting for an epic world.
What are you currently working on?
I’m working on additional music for Crusader Kings 2. I’m also working on 3 unannounced games I can’t reveal as of yet.
Do you play PC or console games yourself?
I play whenever I get some time from work and family. I play both PC and Console games, but mostly MMO and RPG games like Guild Wars 2, Mass Effect series, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim or anything by Valve and Rockstar Games! I’m really casual when playing MMOs though.
Thanks again and good luck on your future endeavours.