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AICN Games: Monki interviews Jesper Kyd, composer for Kane & Lynch: Dead Men!!

Greetings humans, Monki here with an interview I did with Jesper Kyd, the composer for Eidos' upcoming Kane & Lynch: Dead Men title.

As more and more video games become more cinematic, the score accompanying the mayhem within the game is going to be increasingly important. If you've played some bigger titles lately, you've probably heard some of Kyd's stuff. He's worked with the Hitman franchise and is putting out some really badass stuff. Enjoy.

Monki: How do you approach a title such as Kane & Lynch? Do you work with developers in the early stages of development or do you come in closer towards the end and score based on a more finished product?

Jesper Kyd: I became involved with the project early on, but didn't start writing music until the game was almost complete. Since Kane and Lynch was such a cinematic inspired game, it was important for me to see how the game was going to look and try it out before writing the score. The challenge became how to enhance the drama and create real emotions when the whole experience and gameplay is so action-based. The intense, gritty style of the score was enhanced with some slow, deep music arrangements for Kane. "Kane's Family Portrait" is the recurring theme in the game and it was written about his feelings of regret in life and how his actions have affected his wife and daughter.

Monki: What drew you towards the video game medium? Were you a gamer in your younger days?

Jesper Kyd: Yes, and I still like checking out the latest titles. Now I am more critical of what I'm going to spend time with, since I have less time these days and games take a while to play through. I've always been attracted to writing music for picture, whether it be films or video games. When writing for video games, music is used to drive the action and enhance the mood as in movies. However, in video games you can really experiment and the music can break free from the more restrained approach of scoring a film. Regardless of the platform I really enjoy creating deep, emotional, moving music. Using music to move people is something I find fascinating.

Monki: Your music has been lauded across the board by various media outlets; you've been nominated for various "best of" awards for your work. Obviously you are at the top of your game in the video game field, but does that ever work against you? Does it bother you that you work in a medium that a majority of people will never truly "get"?

Jesper Kyd: The music I've written for video games has attracted interest from film producers and directors as well as music publishers and record labels (I'm writing my first album between scoring assignments) so I personally don't feel that I'm being limited. Also, I think the perception is changing now that well-known film composers such as Danny Elfman, Howard Shore, and Harry Gregson-Williams have scored video games.

It is true that there are still too many generic scores for games being written today, soundtracks that sound like imitations of Hollywood movie scores. This is an ongoing problem and I can understand if someone from outside the games industry might lose some respect for the craft of scoring music for games. However, I have always been critical of generic scores and try to be original when creating a sound and music style. In general, I think this could be solved if composers in games worked hard on creating their own unique sound, like the A-list film composers often do.

Monki: What kind of differences exist when producing music for a video game as opposed to a film or a television show? Do you have to create multiple takes for a single scenario based on how the player would be doing?

Jesper Kyd: Apart from the cinematics everything else in games is non-linear so the mood can change at any given time. Games take anywhere from 10 - 50 hours to complete and if you want to enhance the experience with music playing most of the time, it takes a lot of planning to fit a 2-3 hour score into a 25 hour experience. The key is to write music that can be heard many times without getting on the player's nerves, unless the score is used sparingly and only for key moments. In this case the music plays a smaller role in the game's atmosphere and more traditional film scoring techniques can be employed.

Monki: Do you listen to other video game soundtracks to get an idea of how the industry is going? Do you have any favorites? (Game or composer.)

Jesper Kyd: I do check out what is happening in the game industry but I get more inspiration from the film industry. There is some daring new music coming out of Hollywood and this is what I find most engaging.

Monki: What are your thoughts on the Video Games Live! series of concerts and promoting classic music to a larger audience? What else do you think could be done to spread this incredible music for a mass consumption?

Jesper Kyd: I attended the Hollywood Bowl concerts and I think they are definitely heading in the right direction. Also, my music from Hitman 2 was performed by the Prague Symphony Orchestra at the Gewandhaus concert hall in Leipzig, Germany, during the "GC" (Europe's answer to E3) Symphonic Game Music concert. This was the first event of its kind outside of Japan. I see these types of concerts becoming more popular as gaming culture continues to influence mainstream entertainment.

Monki: What's next for you? Are you going to remain in the games field or are you planning on spreading out into other mediums?

Jesper Kyd: I have 5 scores coming out in the next couple of months, including Assassin's Creed and the next title from the Gears of War team. I am also involved with some exciting new film projects and I hope to share more about these soon.

For a taste of some of Jesper's work on Kane and Lynch, check out this mp3 off of Jesper's website. While you are at it, visit his website or his Myspace page.

I've got some more cool stuff coming up this week as well as the winners to the King of Kong contest, so keep your eyes posted for that! Until next time, back up the tree I go!


Readers Talkback
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  • Oct. 8, 2007, 7:19 p.m. CST

    testing 1 2 3

    by xega


  • Oct. 8, 2007, 7:19 p.m. CST

    testing 1 2 3

    by xega


  • Oct. 8, 2007, 9:46 p.m. CST

    have you tried the new Mountain Dew?

    by Lando Griffin

    we call it Game Fuel

  • Oct. 9, 2007, 3:24 a.m. CST


    by meatygoodness

    Come on, you've got proper gaming sites to compete with when you post this crap. This game isn't 360 only, please feel free to not display it as such.