Game Music

Interview with Moon Composer Gareth Vilday, A Man With Great Taste And A Cool Name

January 8, 2009 | | 6 Comments Share thison Facebook Interview with Moon Composer Gareth Vilday, A Man With Great Taste And A Cool Nameon Twitter

You likely haven’t heard of Gareth Vilday, but hopefully that will change with the release of Moon on the DS. We’ve posted about the music featured in the title’s trailers, and the blend of ambient and 80s synth pop really impressed me. Even more? Vilday is a Jean Michel-Jarre fan, so he’s automatically cool in my book.

With Moon due out this month, and approximatley 45 minutes of music to be heard, we’ll know soon if the rest of the score lives up to what we heard in the trailers. Until then, check out our interview with Gareth Vilday about his inspirations and newfound career in game music. Sounds like he’s found himself in a pretty sweet situation if you ask me!

Hit the jump for our interview from the moon.

OSV: Hello. Thanks for taking the time to speak with us today about the music in Moon. As a game that appears to be full of atmosphere, what can you tell us about the role of music in the game? Will there be wall-to-wall music, or will we be hearing a lot of silence?
Vilday: Hi, it is good to speak with you. The role of the music in Moon is very important. [Creative Director Jools Watsham] and I discussed the music for the game a lot. We wanted a very simple, dark feel to the score. To create a feeling of desolation and a sense of dread for what the player is about to face once the hatch is opened. We felt that a similar ambient and atmospheric score to Dementium: The Ward would be most suitable. Music is constant throughout the game, but has a very minimal feel to it. I went for a lot of pads and simple lead sounds to create an eerie and desolate feel.

OSV: The introductory trailer gave us a dark look into the world of Moon with thick pads and a distant piano melody while the most recent trailer sported an almost dancey, 80s synth-rock piece. I was impressed by both styles, so can you tell us what we can expect to hear in the game?
Vilday: The thick pads, piano and synths are used heavily, whilst the player explores the many levels of Moon. I went for a more up tempo sound for the end of level sections, something that I didn’t do for Dementium: The Ward.

OSV: I’m wondering what specific considerations have gone into the game’s audio given that it is being made for the Nintendo DS. Given that the music will likely be atmospheric, have the small speakers on the DS been an issue? Will you recommend playing the game with headphones?
Vilday: As with Dementium: The Ward, I think Moon will definitely be best when played with headphones. When creating the samples there was a lot of compression and EQing to get them to sound just right. I created a number of banks for each level to give them a distinct sound, whilst keeping the overall feel of the game. I created each sample as a wav audio file and compressed it and resampled it to create low resolution samples that retained the same qualities of the original samples.

OSV: What kinds of tools are being used to create the music in the game? Are there specific pieces of hardware or software that have made the music creation process easier?
Vilday: I use Sonar 7 a lot for all my music production. I find it a great DAW package to use. A lot of the instruments came from pads and synths from the NI Komplete synths, which has some great sounds in it. I then added some heavy multi- tap delays and reverbs on the instruments. I don’t use a lot of hardware to create music; a lot of it is done in the box and tweaked to get the sound that I want.

OSV: How many minutes of music are being created for Moon? Will you be trying to get a soundtrack release for the game?
Vilday: In total I created 10 banks of instruments for the game and composed 2 to 3 tracks per level making in total at least 45 minutes of music for the game. I am not sure what the plans are for releasing the music as a soundtrack. It would be nice though. I am sure we will let OSV know as soon as we decide.

OSV: Are you involved with the music’s implementation into the game? Are you handling any other audio elements aside from the music?
Vilday: I haven’t been involved in getting the music implemented into the game. I send the music files as midi and audio samples to Jools, who gives them to the programmer and puts them into the game. At the moment I am just handling the music composition side of the game. I hope to handle some of the audio for future games. It is something that I am really looking forward to getting my teeth into.

OSV: You also scored Dementium: The Ward with Renegade Kid. Tell us about your relationship with the studio, and how this title compares to Dementium: The Ward in terms of approach. Did you learn anything from working on that title that has helped you this time around?
Vilday: I have known Jools for many years, since we were at school, I won’t tell you how long ago that was! We had always talked about working together in videogames. I took a different career path at the time and Jools went on to do as he said he would, and now is the owner and creative director of Renegade Kid. I have always been interested in making music and listening to it as well. I have been very lucky that Jools has given me the opportunity to work on these two games with him and the rest of the great team at Renegade Kid.

The whole process of working on both games has been a steep learning curve for me. I am continually learning and trying new things. The soundtrack for Dementium: The Ward was fairly straight forward for me. Jools created the initial four or so tunes, including the title track, along with the piano and choir instruments. I simply created a collection of new tunes using those instruments. We went for a bigger sound to the game with Moon, which required creating a lot of sound banks and samples for the levels. A lot of work went in to getting the right sounds to make it feel as creepy and as desolate as we could.

OSV: I actually had some trouble finding information about you and your past works. Would you like to take this opportunity to tell our readers a little bit about yourself, your musical background, and some of your other credits?
Vilday: I really only have two credits to my name: Dementium: The Ward and Moon. I don’t have a musical background as such. I have been creating music on and off as a hobby for many years. I love listening to most types of music and always pay particular attention to film scores. I am a big fan of Howard Shore, John Williams, and I listened to a lot of the Aliens soundtrack by James Horner. I am also a big fan of techno and trance, which I think is reflected in a lot of the tunes that I create; I particularly love The Prodigy, Faithless, and Chemical Brothers. It is through knowing Jools that I have been able to fulfil my ambition of creating original scores for games, and I am very grateful for that opportunity.

I am currently working on my website, www.garethvidlay.com, which isn’t quite finished yet, but will be soon. I will post new music there and news on projects that I may be working on, as well as the opportunity for people to contact me.

OSV: If you were on the moon right now, what kind of music would you like to be listening to?
Vilday: I am the world’s biggest Jean Michel Jarre fan! So I would definitely be listening to Oxygene on the moon – I think that would be amazing! I do love all types of music, but if has a lush pad and a bit of an 808 drum beat, with some screamin’ synth leads then I love it even more.

OSV: Can you tell us what you’ll be working on next at this point?
Vilday: At the moment I have nothing else planned. I hope to continue working with Jools and the Renegade Kid team on any upcoming projects. I am available at the moment and can be contacted at [email protected].

Can I just say a big thank you to OSV, and wish all their readers a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

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