Game Music

Shatter Composer Interview: Module (aka Jeramiah Ross)

August 4, 2009 | | 5 Comments Share thison Facebook Shatter Composer Interview: Module (aka Jeramiah Ross)on Twitter

Last week, we posted a glowing review for the soundtrack to Shatter. The PSN title and its soundtrack both hit the market on July 23, and it didn’t take long for the buzz on this title to get out. And every review of the game we’ve found on this vast Internet has made positive comments about the soundtrack.

So we thought it was time to learn more about the man behind the music. Jeramiah Ross, who goes by the name “Module,” worked closely with Sidhe on this project for a full year. And now that the work has paid off, he has been getting bombarded with questions about who he is and where people can find more of his music. We ask these questions, and more, in the following interview: which you will find after the jump.

OSV: Thanks for taking time to our answer questions.

Module: No problem, you got me at a good time, Coffee break!

OSV: Now, “Module” primarily acts as an artist name for you, Jeramiah Ross, correct? But doesn’t it also refer to a group of visual artists and stage managers for live performances as well? Can you clarify what all the name “Module” entails for the readers?

Module: Module is kind of a concept-based project and a bit of a live character persona, but yeah it does refer to my crew, or whoever else I want to bring into the mix. But pretty much a Module is one part of something that makes up a whole. The word lends itself across the spectrum of what I do musically, e.g. Performance/Crowd, Melody/Structure, Solo Musician/Collaboration, Producer/Listener, Earth/Space, those kinds of things.

OSV: Before we get to Shatter, we’d like to ask about your history with Sidhe. Now, you wrote some music for the game GripShift, right? Can you tell us about this experience? Was it your first time working on game music, and/or your first time working with Sidhe?

Module: Yes, It was the first time I’d written anything for a game. I had done some high-profile TV and radio stuff prior to that, so I had a rough idea on how to work with a company and give them what they needed. I was really happy that the music I wrote for GripShift seemed to really work well with the visuals, and they (Sidhe) seemed to really like it. I did go into it a bit blind in terms of never creating music for a game before. But I approached it by trying to capture musically the vibe of what was going on in the gameplay and visual cues, e.g. Making engine type bass lines with my Analog Synths and giving everything a race adventure type feel and having a bit of fun with it along the way. Sidhe were great; they’re a bunch of great guys whom I could tell were up to some awesome things by the size of the office.

OSV: The soundtrack for Shatter, I have to say, is one of the best things we at OSV have heard for such a small game project in a long time. The short write-up at says that you’ve been working on this soundtrack for over a year. The final product is 80 minutes of music, spread out across 13 tracks. I have to ask: is there any unused music that came out of this project? And if so, where can we hear it?

Module: Thanks for the praise! In regards to unused music… Haha, yes, well… What is in the final release is really version 2.0 of the Shatter soundtrack. In the early stages of the game’s development, the whole entire soundtrack was to be driven by midi-controlled [and cued] by the game’s events. So I wrote 10 tracks, and through some advanced math, and crazy sample editing, I managed to get each song’s file size down to 200kb so it could fit in the sound budget limit. This, of course, totally changed when Jos Ruffell from Sidhe (Shatter‘s Music Producer) and I started talking more about the vibe and the game started developing more and more. So from version 1.0 there are 10 tracks and we must have piled up a lot of demos and scribbles, really fleshing out the vibe of the tracks in version 2.0 of the soundtrack. I’m thinking that [the 1.0 soundtrack] could be a good resource for something at some stage. But to be honest, I’m too scared to go near that folder on my hard drive. In fact I think I might have even hidden it.

OSV: Many musicians with a small following, I’ve found, tend to be a tad offended when their work is compared to that of a more mainstream music group. With that said, I cannot help myself! I have to ask you: do you draw inspiration from Daft Punk and other groups like them? Because, when I first heard this soundtrack, I thought “wow, this sounds like Daft Punk!” So, are they an inspiration for you, and do you take this statement as offensive or as a compliment?

Module: Yeah I love Daft Punk and they are a huge influence to the fun, free energy I like to create musically. We live in the age of musical regurgitation so I don’t really get worried… Daft Punk sounds like people they have sampled, I sound like Daft Punk, maybe there is someone out there that sounds like Module? (fingers crossed! *laughs*). I think it’s awesome, if it sounds like that, but it’s not that, but could be that, then that means to a listener it’s got the production values that I aim for, but I still have a long way to go to be anything close to Daft Punk. So yes, it’s definitely a compliment.

OSV: One of the catchiest tracks on the score for Shatter is for the sixth stage, “Amethyst Caverns.” On this track, you effectively use a sampled voice to create a very catchy melody. Inquiring minds want to know: where did this voice sample come from? And is the person singing in Japanese, because it sounds Japanese at times…?

Module: If the soundtrack was a pop release then Amethyst Caverns would seem to be the single. It really brings in all the musical elements right in the middle of the soundtrack. In regards to the vocal, I have been hoping someone would ask me that because it’s so nerdy and cool. It’s a freeware VSTi synth from Japan that makes phonemes (which are like vowels but not really) when you type whatever into it. It makes these types of vocal sounds “ka sa ta na ha ma ya ra wa n ga za da ba pa.” So I took those one-hit phoneme sounds and re-tuned them to fit the synth melody and played electric guitar over the top. you can see how it works here and even download the plugin and play with it yourself if you have music software that supports VSTi.

OSV: What’s your personal favorite track from Shatter at this point? We’re guessing that your answer to this question might change from day to day; but right now, in this moment, what track are you most proud of, and why?

Module: At the moment it’s track 5, “Freon World,” mainly because of the massive guitar solo in the middle. I would joke with Sidhe that I was going for the “world’s most epic breakdown/lead guitar solo in a videogame soundtrack” award. I sent it through as an in-house joke to get a laugh, because I was just playing around, came up with it, and sent it to them thinking it was way too over the top and wouldn’t make it into the game, but at least would make some people smile. But turns out it really worked and became the defining sound for me to develop the other guitar pieces in the soundtrack. Funny how that happens.

OSV: If Sidhe decides to add expansion content to the game, can we count on you to write new stage music, or is that too much speculation for us to ask at this point?

Module: Well, personally, speaking for myself, if Sidhe asks me to do anything for the Shatter universe, I would have no problems “pressing continue.”

OSV: A lot of OSV’s readers come from North America and Europe. And when we think of New Zealand, the only thing that comes to our mind is the landscape footage from the Lord of the Rings film trilogy. So tell us, what’s it like living in New Zealand? And how’s the music scene out there right now? We’d appreciate any thoughts, or stories, you’d be willing to share with us!

Module: Well funny enough, it really is Lord of the Rings. I live across the road from where they filmed parts of Helms Deep. Weta, Peter Jackson and Crew are just across the Bay, and I played a gig once out at a crew party while Gandalf was eating baked beans and orcs and hobbits danced around to the band I was in at the time. It was a very strange day in the best of ways… And New Zealand really does look like that! I’m not kidding. I went down south recently for a gig near Twizel (where a lot of Return of the King was filmed, and once again the sound of the Lord of the Rings theme (sung really badly of course) echoes through Middle Ea…Ahem…New Zealand.

The music scene here is great. Lots of people are doing really well. I think because it’s small and it’s easy to function, you can build your own empire in your backyard here in NZ.

There is lots of support for the arts and creative industries. Most people around these parts are hardworking, down-to-earth types that just get the job done.

OSV: You all have to be feeling really good about the critical acclaim you’ve already received for Shatter (both the game and the soundtrack). What’s on the horizon for Module, though? Many new fans are going to be left asking, “what else can I expect from this musician now that I’m hooked on the Shatter soundtrack?” Can you give us an answer to this question?

Module: Oh yeah, we’re over the moon about the response!!! What’s even more awesome is that this the result of a lot of hard work from everyone involved, and I personally had no idea it would be such a big phenomenon. I’m feeling really happy that lots of people around the globe with a PlayStation are enjoying Shatter and listening to the music.

Well, I’m super busy at the moment, I have been working on an album off and on called “Imagineering.” Basically, I want to take the listener on a journey through the Imagination with sound. I’m working with a really amazing artist on some great imagery to go along with that. I just want to make that kind of record you put on and get taken somewhere magical with it. I’m also planning to release lots of digital singles of fun futuristic synth electronic music through my Bandcamp page shortly. I just finished an album that nobody knows is from me. That comes out soon, hopefully worldwide. And working on various secret projects with Sidhe which we will announce soon. In other words, I am having a grand old time.

OSV: Thanks again for chatting with OSV. We hope to hear more from you, particularly through your music, in the near future!

Module: Awesome, Thanks a mil!

As mentioned in the interview, you can check out Module’s work at his Bandcamp page, and you can also freely stream and/or purchase the soundtrack to Shatter at Sidhe’s Bandcamp page. Feel free to leave your comments below. If you have any follow-up questions, maybe Mr. Ross will pop in to answer them!

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