Over the past few years, composer Cris Velasco has put together some of the best video game music out there, including selections from Resident Evil 7: Biohazard, Injustice: Gods Among Us, Tales From the Borderlands, Overwatch and so much more.
But after several years following his work on the original game, Cris has made a return to Darksiders territory with the third chapter, in which his score follows Fury on her quest to capture the Seven Deadly Sins.
We caught up with Cris to talk with him about music composition, challenges with finding the proper tone with Darksiders and more!
First off, you previously worked with the Darksiders: Director’s Cut soundtrack. How’s it feel “coming back” to the series, so to speak?
On the original Darksiders, I was part of a small group that was asked to rewrite a lot of the score. We had to do it quite quickly too. For Darksiders III, I’ve been involved from the beginning and had plenty of time to really dig in and write the score I wanted to. It’s been a very rewarding experience and I feel like it’s one of my favorite scores to date.
You’re no stranger to epic soundtracks. What motivates you to put together such great scores for these games? The characters, the scenarios? What goes into making a soundtrack such as this?
I’m very visually-driven in my music. I like to have as much concept, screenshots and videos before I start writing. All my scores would sound very different if I didn’t have the visuals to inspire me. I’ve also turned my studio into something of an art gallery as well. In the rare occasion I’m not able to get art from the game, I can just look at my walls and draw inspiration that way.
How many folks did you work with to put the Darksiders III soundtrack together? Was there a particular orchestra? We were notified about a particular artist, Laura Intravia, that helped you out.
Laura sang all the vocals on the music for Lust. I also had Nicole Garcia on violin, Loga Torkian on guitarviol and a number of other ethnic stringed instruments, and Azam Ali doing all other vocals. Azam was basically the voice of Fury. I also traveled to the Czech Republic to record the Capellen Orchestra and Choir with my score supervisor, Jose Varon. While all the music was written by me, it definitely takes a village to breath life into the music. Recording and collaborating with the different musicians is the best part of composing.
What’s the most challenging part when it comes to putting a score like this together for a game?
A game like this has so many character themes and melodies. It becomes a balancing act of using the themes enough so that they stay memorable, but not overusing them in fear of things sounding cluttered, confusing, or just outright annoying. There was also a lot of combat music. It can be easy to fall into the trap of getting complacent on this type of material. I really tried to make sure I kept the music interesting and varied for each encounter. In particular, it was very important to give each of the Sins their own identity.
Do you have a particular favorite soundtrack when it comes to the work you’ve done over the years? Or are they all something that you feel an attachment with in some way?
I feel an attachment to most of my past scores in some way or another. It’s usually the latest project I’m working on that I like the most, but I guess I do have a few favorites from over the years. The Invisible Hours, Clive Barker’s Jericho, Bloodborne, and Company of Heroes 2 are ones that come to mind right now, all for different reasons.
Do you have any other favorite composers that work on soundtracks out there?
There’s no pedestal high enough for John Williams in my opinion. Besides him though, I’m really into John Powell, Marco Beltrami, and James Newton Howard at the moment.
Are there any franchises you haven’t worked on yet that you’d like to?
The one big one that I always mention when someone asks is Star Wars. That is top of my list for franchises I’d like to work on. I’d really love to work on a Harry Potter project too. Finally, the number one person I’m passionate to work with is Guillermo Del Toro. We have some friends in common, and we’re both areinto collecting a lot of the same art. I feel like it’s just a matter of time until that happens. So pass the word along to GDT next time you see him please! ?
If Darksiders sees a fourth chapter, would you like to return for another go-around?
Absolutely! I think it’d be a fun challenge for sure to figure out what the score for Strife would sound like. Plus, I just really loved working with everyone at Gunfire Games. I’d work with them on just about anything.
Finally, any clue on what you’re working on next? Or are you taking it easy for the holidays?0comments
I just wrapped up some more music for The Long Dark. I’m also just getting started on the music for the first Darksiders III DLC. I’ve got the usual “can’t talk about it” stuff too. I’m definitely looking forward to some time off for the holidays though!
Darksiders III is available now for Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC. Be sure to check out our review!