Dead Pixels Exclusive: Dead Space Extraction Interview With Games Composer Jason Graves

We here at Dead Pixels got a chance to interview Dead Space Extraction’s composer, Jason Graves. He also did the score for the original Dead Space, on top of many many other games, so expect nothing but the best.

Keep a look out for Dead Space Extraction on the Nintendo Wii only, Sepetember 29th. Read on for the interview!

Did you play the original Dead Space? If so, did you love it like I did?

Absolutely! It’s at the top of my list of all-time favorite horror games. I’m still amazed at the immersive quality of the original Dead Space. I get immediately sucked into the atmosphere as soon as I start playing, and believe me, I’ve played it a LOT, starting about two years before it was released.

What sets apart the music you did for the original Dead Space, as compared to Extraction?

The original had a lot more options in terms of exploring the ship and the music supported the “open world” idea of Dead Space. It was very dynamic and changed at a moment’s notice. Since Extraction is more of a guided exploration of the ship the music is more deliberate – it has a sharper focus to its intent. I think the same thing can be said about the overall gameplay in Extraction.

This is a prequel to Dead Space, so the score is slightly more grounded in reality, tonally speaking. It’s not the totally dissonant soundscape you hear in the original, but almost! It’s just a few steps shy of opening that door to total chaos.

EA didn’t want to change the overall sound of the score too much, especially given the attention all the audio for the original Dead Space received. It’s fair to say that the music for Extraction starts off a little more calmly. However, by the end of the game we’ve made the total transformation into the score that becomes the original Dead Space.

Were there certain composers/scores/movies that inspired you?

The overall sound of both scores was firmly based in the classical world of 20th century music. I studied as many scores as I could find and used those techniques as the basis of the score. Christopher Young’s horror/suspense music was also a general direction from the beginning. I studied with Chris when I lived in Los Angeles, so I was very familiar with his style.

What is it like doing a score for a wii game as opposed to a next gen game?

As far as composition goes, I didn’t treat the music any different than if it were for the Xbox or PS3. Both scores for Dead Space and Dead Space: Extraction had very similar production techniques. In fact, we were able to use the same interactive music system that we had in Dead Space. This allowed for a lot more control over the music.

What is your favorite piece from the score and why?

I had a lot of fun with the exploring music. It’s all very ambient and creepy and completely blurs the lines between music and sound design. Most times the player probably doesn’t even realize there’s music playing. I conducted a live orchestra for the score, but the techniques and textures the orchestra performed give the music a very unnatural, spooky vibe.

What was the overall tone you were trying to get in the score and how
did you accomplish that?

Simply put, to create an atmosphere of fear and dread for the player. I recorded the orchestra performing all kinds of creepy textures and effects, creating a “toolbox” of sounds. These sounds were the foundation of the entire score. Most of them are pretty scary and definitely unique sounding.

You’ve done a ton of video game scores. What are your favorite types of
games to score?

One of the best parts about scoring games is the diversity of music styles I’m asked to do. It’s a lot of fun doing the big, over-the-top sci-fi, action scores. But I also like working on titles for younger kids. Those scores are refreshingly melodic and “happy.” Each title has its own unique challenges – that’s what make them so much fun to work on.

 
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