AMANDA DYAR: You're clearly one of the best composers in any industry, and we were lucky enough to talk with you about the amazing work you did on Darksiders II earlier this year. With the numerous games you've worked on over the years, do you find that you can take anything from one experience to the next, and also more specifically, will we hear any of your songs returning from the original Borderlands for Borderlands 2?
JESPER KYD: Yes, I think it’s natural that you take a lot from one experience to the next. I’m always interested in finding new ways of creating music. And when you explore a certain style for one project, you often learn something new that you bring with you for the next project, even if it’s a completely different music style. As a composer you are always learning and challenging yourself.
The “Fyrestone” theme makes a return with a new arrangement to reflect the more industrial-developed feel. However, there are so many new areas in Borderlands 2, compared to the first game, that the vast majority of the music is brand new.
AMANDA DYAR: Borderlands is a series known as much for its unique art style that produces cel-shaded graphics, bright colors and plenty of bizarre characters as its fantastic gameplay. How much does the artistic style of a game affect how you create a game's score and the tones you want to set with your music?
JESPER: The underlying anarchistic vibe is something I brought out in much of my music for Borderlands 2. There’s a certain attitude and dangerous tone to the setting and the storyline that I incorporated in my music for the game.
AMANDA: You recently attend PAX Prime 2012 as part of the Behind the Music of Blockbuster Video Games panel. How was the event and the panel in particular? Will you be attending any other upcoming events where the fans can come out to meet you and hear about your work?
JESPER: Yes, I will be attending other upcoming events soon to be announced. The panel at PAX was a blast and I think it was a really informative discussion we had. It’s always great to connect with fans and see the support for the games and the music.
AMANDA: For Borderlands 2 and a number of other recent projects, you two (Cris Velasco & Sascha Dikiciyans) worked together as a composing team to create many of the songs we will hear in the game when it releases later this month. Are collaborations of like these something you guys enjoy doing in your line of work, and what advantages or disadvantages come from working on a musical composition together?
CRIS VELASCO: We’ve been working together on roughly 30 games over the last 7 years. Besides the Borderland series, we’ve done games like Mass Effect 3, Prototype, Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine, Mortal Kombat, Tron Evolution, etc. So yeah, we’ve been enjoying our collaborations! What’s nice about our partnership on these games is that we’re each bringing different skill sets to the table. We can each focus on what we do best. It’s also nice to have someone to constantly bounce ideas off of. Composing is generally a very private process. We’re sort of just working within the confines of our own head for most of the day. It can sometimes become difficult to be objective about your own creations this way. Having a writing partner forces you to examine your music from different angles. At the end of the day, it generally makes for a stronger piece of music.
SASCHA DIKICIYANS: I think it’s hard to be good at everything. Writing for orchestra, electronics, music sound design, mixing etc. So back then I thought why not collaborate with someone who’s really good at their craft. Little did I know that after 7 years, we would get to work on all of these amazing titles! There are of course times when we disagree. It’s not always easy. But we both know after all these years what makes a better piece so ultimately it will result in better music. Overall, it’s been an amazing ride so far and we’re excited about what we will work on next!
AMANDA: Borderlands 2 is a game that features a very diverse cast of characters and locations that are sure to inspire all types of inspiring ideas when you begin composing for the game, so how do you guys decide what will ultimately work for one scene or one character's theme when the next song will represent something completely different?
CRIS & SASCHA: It’s really a testament to Mark Petty and Raison Varner (audio directors) that they were able to keep all those balls in the air. There are so many new environments and creatures in this game. The music needed to feel like it could live in the Borderlands universe, but also be varied enough for all these different encounters. Those guys really knew what they wanted and what would work best throughout the game. That being said, the game itself does definitely suggest different types of music all on it’s own. An icy region with swarms of terrifying fanged beasts inspires different music compared to an industrial setting with massive robots shooting lasers. To our eyes and ears at least!
AMANDA: A quick look at Borderlands 2's official soundtrack will give away a few spoilers including that you guys created many of the themes for bosses in the games. While we're sure you can't speak too much on the subject, can you tell us which of the bosses were your favorite to see in the game or any particular song you created that seemed to fit a character exceptionally well? Also aside from your great music, what do you two believe is the best thing fans can look forward to in Borderlands 2 that may or may not have been present in the first game?
CRIS & SASCHA: The Warrior Boss fight is a truly epic set piece in Borderlands 2! We don’t want to say too much, but we think that players are going to enjoy it. It was a lot of fun to try to capture this combat musically too. It marks the only time (that we’re aware of) in the game that choir is used. We just needed that extra ingredient to set it apart from the other encounters. We enjoyed writing for the Lynchwood Sheriff too. There’s a bit of a spaghetti-western/Morricone vibe to it that really fits with the environment, as long as you keep in mind that the environment also has mutant baby-headed bandits that are trying to eat your face!
To learn more about Borderlands 2 visit the official website: http://www.borderlands2.com