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Play! A Video Game Symphony Interview with Jeremy Soule

Jeremy Soule is the award winning composer of several of the most well known games over the past ten years. He recently became involved with the Play! Symphony which is the celebration of some of the biggest hit soundtracks in gaming history using a full orchestra and is currently touring the entire planet. He was kind enough to answer a few questions for us about his work both with Play! and in the video games industry as well as some questions about the business. We thank him and we hope that you support both the arts as well as the Play! concert series.

DreamStation.cc: First of all, for the record could you state your name and maybe a brief history of your video game compositions for those who may know your work, but not know your name?

Jeremy Soule: My name is Jeremy Soule (pronounced “soul”) and I’ve composed music over the years for such games as Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic and the Harry Potter franchise. I’m also known for my work on the Elder Scrolls series of games, which includes Morrowind and Oblivion.

DreamStation.cc: How did you become involved with Play! and how do you feel about their work on stage?

Jeremy Soule: Play is a great show because it presents the music with a full concert sized orchestra. The sound that Play achieves is not watered down as no expense was spared in the hiring of musicians. In some cases, the orchestra itself is more fully staffed than the original recording orchestras that were used in some of the featured game productions.

DreamStation.cc: Thousands of people attend the Play! concert on a regular basis, what’s the feeling like for a video game composer to know that your work isn’t just background music, and is beloved by millions of people worldwide?

Jeremy Soule: It’s still hard for me to comprehend just how many people listen to my music each day. Nearly 10 million people bought a game last year that contained my music. I can’t exactly make a direct comparison but the top album in terms of sales on the Billboard charts was Carrie Underwood at 3.5 million sales. I take my craft very seriously but I appreciate my fans even more so. It’s a privilege for me to be able to musically reach so many people through games.

DreamStation.cc: Your work from the Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion will be featured at the Play! concert, it may currently be your most well known work, but in your own opinion is it your best? If not, then which of your game music do you feel is your best?

Jeremy Soule: I don’t really have a favorite score and music in general is so subjective. I’m certainly proud of my work with Oblivion. It was a long detailed process to create the score and I’m glad so many people responded well to it.

DreamStation.cc: Can you take us through the composition process, at what point do the developers get you involved and what sort of research do you put into the process?

Jeremy Soule: My involvement really varies between developers and publishers. For the most part, I’m generally brought in very early on a project. For Oblivion, I was composing at least a year in advance of the ship date. In other cases though, for instance my involvement with Prey, I was brought in during the last three months to replace a score that the game makers felt wasn’t measuring up to their standards. In other words, I was sort of a relief pitcher in that situation.

DreamStation.cc: Several well-known composers from the film industry have recently made their way into video games, what’s your take on that? Also, I know you’ve been involved in a couple of films, but is composing for feature films another goal of yours?

Jeremy Soule: I feel that my first focus is really just to try and write the best music that I’m capable of regardless of the medium. There really isn’t a big difference in symphonic music between a film and a game. We use the same musicians, studios, and scoring techniques. Games just tend to be more involved from a planning stage.

DreamStation.cc: When did you know that you wanted to be a part of the video game industry and what was your big break?

Jeremy Soule: My first game I ever scored was the fourth highest selling RPG in the history of the Super Nintendo (Secret of Evermore). When the reviews came in, music was one of the strongest rated aspects of the game. It was then that I gained a new confidence that I could work professionally as a composer.

DreamStation.cc: What’s your advice to anyone who wants to get into the video game business?

Jeremy Soule: Work as a tester! Testing was one of the first jobs I had when I started at Squaresoft although I was hired as a sound engineer and composer. I went through a myriad of responsibilities that really helped me to learn what is most important in making great games.

DreamStation.cc: What’s the best part of composing video game music, aside from the paycheck of course?

Jeremy Soule: I love interacting with so many people that have such amazing talents and insights. Brilliant programmers, artists, designers and producers never cease to impress me. I’m very lucky to work with some of the brightest and dedicated professionals in the business. They keep me sharp and responsive to challenges.

DreamStation.cc: What do you think about rhythm games that involve musical instruments like Guitar Hero, Donkey Konga, or Samba de Amigo? Do you think in any way that they inspire gamers who may have thought music classes were only for nerds (former band geek here) to take a second look and maybe take a course or two?

Jeremy Soule: I think musical games are great! I’d love to work on one someday (*hint* to publishers). We need as many people on planet earth to learn how to play music because last time I checked, the New York Philharmonic has never invaded, bombed or harassed the Chicago Symphony. If we want world peace, let’s give everyone a chance to work out his or her frustrations on Guitar Hero, DK or Samba. After all, Clinton played saxophone. Did we have a war during his two terms?

DreamStation.cc: What’s next for Jeremy Soule?

Jeremy Soule: I’m not 100% sure just as of yet but I’ll let you know “when it is done”.

:: Bonus questions ::

DreamStation.cc: Who makes for a better musician, pirates or ninjas?

Jeremy Soule: Ninjas are too quiet. Pirates have the cool blow-the-man-down song.

DreamStation.cc: What’s the one game that you’d love to score so much, you’d do it for free?

Jeremy Soule: Well, anything by Miyamoto-san. But, Kondo-san has that handled very well.

DreamStation.cc: Once again, we would like to thank Jeremy Soule for taking time out of his busy schedule to answer a few questions for us. We appreciate it ever so much. We look forward to listening to his work at the Play! Symphonic concert and look forward to listening to any future work in the next smash hit video game. Thank you!!!

For more information on Play! A Video Game Symphony visit www.play-symphony.com.

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Play! A Video Game Symphony Interview with Jeremy Soule

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