Mike attribue son succès à l'instruction de ses mentors, son amour pour la musique, sa soif d'apprendre, et sa passion pour les d'instruments, les textures et les genres musicaux.
2007 Nominee: British Academy of Film & Television Awards (BAFTA): Best Original Score
2007 Nominee: Spike TV VGA Awards: Best Original Score
2007 Winner: Tele Awards: Best use of music in Television
2006 Winner: Aurora Awards: Outstanding Individual Creative Achievement
2006 Winner: Game Audio Network Guild Awards (G.A.N.G.): Soundtrack of the Year
2006 Winner: Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences Awards: Outstanding Achievement in Music Composition.
Alors Mike, continuez encore longtemps, de nous amuser, nous divertir et nous faire réver!
Please, Mister Reagan, may you tell us how you came to work on video game music?
Mike REAGAN - I got started doing sound fx in video games – Pitfall: the Mayan Adventure for Super Nintendo was my first game ever. Several games later, I got the opportunity to score the music for Xena: Warrior Princess for Playstation 1. It was then that I had to learn how to use the PS1 as a synthesizer and create the sound set I wanted to use for each level. It was a great exercise in critical listening, planning, and sampling / Editing. Then the trick was to write MIDI tracks and make it sound believable.
What are your sources of inspiration when you compose film music: styles of music, composers… Do you have any mentor?
It depends on the project, really. The style and feel of the film inspires me to go looking for all kinds of inspiration. I guess my favorite composers would be David Gilmour, Dave Grohl, John Lennon, Chris Martin, Chris Robinson, Alan Silvestri, John Williams, Elmer Bernstein, Bernard Hermann, Henry Mancini, Ennio Morricone and Basil Poledouris.
How did you come on the God of War 1 & 2 projects?
For the first God of War, I was asked to submit tracks for the project, but wasn’t able to see any pictures or game play. The project was so locked down… so protected, that the only input I was given was that it had elements of Greek Mythology, and they wanted it to sound like a film score with ethnic elements. I was chosen as the co-lead composer for God of War I, then was asked back to score God of War II.
How did you come on the Conan project?
I got a call from Victor Rodriguez at THQ to demo for the game. I had heard that there were about 17 of the top game and film composers being considered for the job, so I gathered my best tracks from God of War and other projects, then wrote some themes specifically for the demo, which ended up being the main theme for the game.
How did you come on the Spider Man project?
I got a call from Activision to compose some in-game music, as well as the opening cinematic for the PC version of the game.
Did you use some score from the Spiderman’s films?
No, but I was definitely inspired by Danny Elfman’s score from the first movie.
Did your way of working change along the years or according to each score?
How would you describe or characterize your own musical style?
The way I work has changed over the years. Because the challenge early on was to somehow match quality of film music within the confines of 300k of memory in the PS1, there was much more emphasis on production quality. This sort of frugal use of realistic samples limited a composer’s use of convincingly realistic melodies. Sure, there were ways around it with an enormous amount of tweaking, but I remember programming drums and grooves first, with low brass riffs. Then, trying to fit a melody in there somewhere so it sounded like music. I guess because I learned that way, I carried that method through on a lot of projects after that. Since then, I’ve really enjoyed finding melodies first, then producing the track to support melodic and harmonic movement. The drums are always going to be there – so there’s no need to go off the deep end right away. Music comes first. I’m still refining working this way, and try to find new ways to make this approach work. Lately, I’ve been singing into a portable digital recorder either a cappella, or with a guitar or piano. I seem to have good results coming up with stronger melodies when I’m not surrounded by gear.
How do you collaborate with scriptwriters and game designer when you’re conceiving your music?
It really starts with artwork – everything from sketches to final prints, then there’s the game play itself. It’s also a good idea to ask what music they like – what they’ve been listening to. Then it’s all about combining inspiration from everyone and mixing it with your own creative vision. It’s truly collaborative.
What is your average working day? How is it? What is your schedule?
I get started around 9am, and take care of emails and organizing my tasks for the day. Then I put the email computer to sleep and get started writing around 10:30. Stop just before lunch to check email again and return calls, then grab lunch and come back to work about 1pm. Then it’s more writing until 5 or so. Hang with the kids for a bit, grab dinner with them then spend the evenings organizing the tasks for the next morning. Depending on the project schedules, I can stop by 9pm or so… but sometimes there’s late nights until midnight. All nighter’s are a thing of the past for me. I simply can’t put my body through that torture anymore. It’s not healthy.
What technology and what software do you use?
I use a combination of Logic Pro for sequencing, Pro Tools HD for recording, mixing and editing. Multiple PC’s for Gigastudio and VST racks. The studio is wired almost entirely digitally, so there’s no noise and a lot of punch.
What instruments do you have and what are your favorite instruments? The guitar is a very specific instrument to write for, especially acoustic guitar. And, in the demo you emailed me, you seem very comfortable with that. Can you tell me about your personal relation to this instrument?
It’s one of the instruments closest to my heart, and it can perform in so many wonderful ways. I have a selection of Taylor, and Takamine acoustic guitars, as well as different electric guitars, a churrango, ukelele, quatro, harmonicas, basses, acoustic drums and various percussion instruments.
From now, my questions are rather about Conan, but feel free to take examples from some other projects of yours :
How much time did you dispose to compose ?
I worked on Conan for about 8 months. The budget unfortunately did not allow for any live musicians, but I felt is necessary to hire live trumpet players (Asdru Sierra and Ron Blake), as well as legendary percussionists Emil Richards, Denny Seiwell, and Michael Duffy. Everything else in the score was synth, which I find extremely limiting and time consuming – but sometimes budgets don’t allow for live recording. In God of War I, we were able to use a live choir here in Los Angeles, and for God of War II we recorded live Brass in London – just terrific… then recorded strings and choir in Prauge.
How did you work, and with what request from the crew ? Victor Rodriquez gathered some material for me that was really speaking to him – Basil Poledouris, Tchaikovsky, for instance. The Squid Battle and Sand Dragon battle in Conan really looks fantastic. It reminded me of Jason and the Argonauts or Sinbad, so naturally I referred to some Bernard Hermann for inspiration as well.
What did you want to express or to convey through your music for the game CONAN?
Honestly? Brutality, beauty, and unbridled energy.
To you, what should be the aim of music in video games? What are your own personal aims when you compose for that medium, musically, artistically and personally?
It’s a tough thing to remember sometimes… especially when you’re writing music that you’re attached to. But the thing is this – the music should be attached to the visual medium, whether it be for a game, film, or tv. It should support the picture without overpowering it. I’m still learning from every project not only what choices to make, but what choices I shouldn’t make. Where scenes work best with no music.
How do you approach the music of video game inspired by movies ? A different way from original VG? What do you want to bring gamer who are already familiar to the film?
Great question. Nostalgia is a powerful emotion. Pulling people to remember a particular feeling – a place in time that’s familiar to them is very important. So if a video game is made from a film, and the soundtrack was a powerful aid in that film, you can’t help but pay homage to it. Then, once you have convinced yourself and the audience that we’re in the same world that existed on the silver screen, you can take them to new places without disconnecting from that beautiful, nostalgic experience.
How do you deal with a videogame where gamer can interact, in comparison with a movie where all is already set and can’t be changed?
You have to do all the things you would do for a film – write memorable music that supports the game, but then you have to also think like a mixer and music editor and choose how the music will technically achieve the same result. That’s a whole other world you have to embrace when composing for a video game – it’s essential.
I enjoy playing different games to learn what works and what doesn’t – then there are the games I play just for fun – Halo, God of War, Conan, Mario. I’m not a big MMO player yet, but I’d like to get more into those games… I think I’m afraid of how much more time I’ll spend playing games and lose sight of my responsibilities. I enjoy playing games with my kids – my son is an especially talented gamer. He’s beaten Guitar Hero I and II on expert, and he’s 11 years old. His Daddy can rarely help him anymore on games… he’s surpassed his old man J
Is it longer to compose for a game or for a film?
Production schedules vary. I’m working on a film right now that I have only 8 weeks to complete, but sometimes it’s longer – same goes for games. It really all depends.
Can you tell me about the writing process for a VG (relation to pictures, loops, etc)
You have to write and deliver music in a way that sounds scored to picture. That’s the real art of composing music for video games. Yes, there are loops – but there are also cinematic sequences that are treated with the same approach as we would for a film. It’s all in the execution of an idea.
Is it frustrating to have to compose for short loops and not be able to develop themes?
I really don’t work on games that require short loops. The pieces I create for games are each 3 to 6 minutes long and are stretched with variation and delivered as mulitrack stems – up to 32 stereo tracks that can be manipulated by the audio engine to create a realistic linear, yet interactive experience.
What do you prefer to compose for: Series, VG or film?
It really doesn’t matter what venue I’m working with. If the concept and execution of the story is great, it’s going to make for an incredible project. Period J
What are the differencies and similarities between the three mediums?
Television is usually pretty insane – tight, back to back schedules for multiple episodes.
Film is great with sometimes nutty schedules as well, but usually the schedule and the budgets can be a lot healthier and allow for stretching your wings as a composer – recording more live elements.
Games have come such a long way, and are so much less confining than they were 15 years ago. We’re recording with live bands and orchestras and everything in between – working with the best musicians in the world. The lines are getting blurred between what composers like to work on – you see more and more film composers writing music for games, and game composers crossing over into feature film.
Have you any anecdotes about the process to tell us, funny or interesting things?
Do you have specific message to add for our readers?
Do what you love – follow your dream and you can accomplish anything. When doors close in front of you, others fly open. It’s the law of averages – the pendulem swings back and forth, and eventually you will get to where you want to go… or better yet, be surprised by where your journey takes you. In either case, it’s important to enjoy the journey.
Are you working on another project? If yes, may you tell me about it? Do you have any other projects to come?
I’m afraid I can’t speak about the projects I’m working on now, but I should be able to in the next couple of months.
For a new project, if you could choose you a genre, a kind of story and a filmmaker, what would they be?
I would love to work with Quentin Tarantino on a film or video game project and really fuse different elements of music together – not via editing, but via composing. Mixing surf guitar with Tuvan Throat singers and Harmonica. Something totally different that sounds amazing.
If there were a theatrical adaptation of the video game God of War, would you be interested to be part of it? What do you think you could bring to it? Do you know if this project envisioned?
I would love to be a part of it – it would be amazing to see Kratos on the big screen and support his character with music. I think I heard something about that somewhere – about a film, I mean… it would be great if this actually became a reality.