ICO-Radio Special: Jonah Senzel im Interview

Mit unserem ersten Beitrag im Jahr 2017 melden wir uns gleich mit einem kleinen Special zurück! Wir haben Jonah Senzel im Interview. Der Komponist von Pony Island hat uns einige Fragen beantwortet. Das Interview haben wir nicht extra übersetzt, damit nichts verloren geht. Vielen Dank auch nochmal an Black Screen Records, die das Interview möglich gemacht haben!

Leider kommen wir momentan auch an die Grenzen unserer Serverkapazitäten. Von daher müssen wir schauen, ob wir in dem Umfang weitermachen  können. Deshalb wollen wir auch nochmal auf Patreon aufmerksam machen. Wer uns also unterstützen will kann das unter diesem Link!

ICO-Radio: Hi Jonah, thanks for your time. So lets start.

Q: Why did you decide to make music for Video games? What was the motivation?
Jonah Senzel: I’ve been a gamer for as long as I can remember (even before I was a musician) so when I
started getting interested in playing music and music production the next logical step for me was to write music for games. A lot of my interest in game music also stemmed from just wanting to be part of the game development community and the game making process. I’ve always looked up to independant game developers, and contributing music is a way to make my mark on indie games.

Jonah Senzel

Jonah Senzel

Q: You say that you work differently than other composers. How does this show up in your work?
Jonah Senzel: For the Pony Island Soundtrack specifically I wrote a lot of the tracks in a very short
concentrated amount of time. There are a bunch of tracks on there that I wrote entirely in a 24
hour period which isn’t how most people do it. I think writing that way makes the music feel more
spontaneous. On the other hand Lately I’ve been writing across longer periods of time which I’ve
found makes music that feels more coherent and thought out, so there seem to be pros and cons
of both methods.

Q: The Pony Island Soundtrack is really cool. How would you describe the Pony Island soundtrack?
Jonah Senzel: It’s really a soundtrack in two parts: the cheerful outer layer of retro chiptunes, and the darker glitch inspired sound lurking under the surface. The tone and structure of the soundtrack is really meant to match that of the world of Pony Island that Daniel Mullins has created.

Q: What was the biggest challenge with this soundtrack?
Jonah Senzel: I would say the very beginning and very of the whole process were the hardest parts. At the
beginning finding the right overall sound for the project was difficult. I was sort of fumbling around trying to figure out the identity of the soundtrack and what sound would really fit the game which involved a fair amount of experimentation. The very end was also a little stressful because of all the technical aspects of getting everything organized and tying up the loose ends that you don’t think about until the very end like naming each track, file conversions, finding the right version of a save file etc. The very end of the development cycle is also where you start to feel that real time pressure to get everything out at the same time as the developer.

Q: Are you listening privately to video games music and is there a favorite one?
Jonah Senzel: I don’t generally listen to game soundtracks outside of playing games, but I do greatly appreciate the work of fellow game composers. I would say my favorites are the soundtracks to Bastion And Transistor by Darren Korb. He’s really a master of creating genres. Chris Christodoulou is also one of my favorite game composers. He’s famous for the risk of rain soundtrack which is amazing (also being released by Black Screen Records on Vinyl alongside the Pony Island OST), but I also absolutely love his Soundtrack for Deadbolt . Chris also has a knack for making genre crossovers in really interesting ways. To me these two composers perfectly exemplify the modern Indie game composer, and how Indie games allow composers to create music for media in a truly unique fashion.

Q: What characterizes a good composer for you?
Jonah Senzel: What makes a good composer really varies depending on the style, but overall the most
important thing in my eyes is being unique. If you take a look at composer demo reels, a lot of them will have music that’s trying to copy some mainstream commercial music trends like having huge Hans Zimmer style brass and percussion, john williams style themes, or for game composers music that tries to emulate old chiptunes or final fantasy soundtracks. This kind of promotion really goes against what it is to be a composer. The best soundtracks, whether for film, tv, or games, will always be those that are doing something new and unique. When you put yourself in the box of recreating someone else’s style you limit yourself in terms of adaptability to whatever you’re writing for. Being unique is important not just because you want to stand out as a composer, but also because you want your music to be as customized as possible to the project you’re working on. Darren Korb demonstrates this beautifully as he starts by essentially creating a genre of music for the world that the game is set in, and then sprinkles bits of music in that style all around the game. He even takes it a step further and includes songs with lyrics that emulate what people in that world would listen to. That dedication to crafting a custom made genre is what makes a great soundtrack. The music should be a living part of the game world that’s unique enough to be immediately recognizable and associated with that fictional place.

Q: Do you have a favorite musician (a Band for example) you would love to work with? And who is it?
Jonah Senzel: I would absolutely love to work with Darren or Chris at some point since they’re both big
inspirations. In terms of bands I think radiohead or tame impala would be really cool to work with, just to see what their creative process is like.

Q: What are your next projects – could you tell us something about that?
Jonah Senzel: Right now I’m working on another project with Daniel Mullins, the creator of Pony Island, it’s
called the Hex. The trailer here  explains the basic premise. I’m super excited to be working with Daniel again! This project will include a lot of different musical styles since there are a variety of characters to write for, each with their own unique personalities. And as far as the game itself goes, everything I’ve played has been amazing and I’m looking forward to playing the finished product as much as anyone!

Thank you for the interview!

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