What musical education did you receive?
At 16 I went to work in a studio in Valencia and began studying as a sound engineer. Musically I was self-taught until today. I was always working so could not study, I was busy working on projects that I was getting paid for so sometimes would be working and studying at the same time. Then in 1998 I began doing work in TV mainly for commercials for major brands such as Coca Cola, Audi, Telephonica or Repsol. Then after that, I got tired of advertising and started making films and video game music which I enjoyed much more.
At what age were you attracted by music and what was the first instrument you played?
Well, coincidentally I was born the same day as Star Wars premiered, since then I saw American films and I loved hearing the Soundtracks. In Spain there was not this level of musical quality in films and the Spanish movies themselves were also very low budget. So whenever an American film came to theatres it was a major social event. I went to the movies with my friends eating popcorn and just waiting for Sundays so I could hear the music from the movies and see the wonders of special effects. My parents bought me a Casio synthesizer at the age of 10. That started it all for me.
Your music for the Castlevania series is certainly epic and grandiose, what size orchestra did you utilize for the score on the latest in that series?
In LORDS OF SHADOW 1, I used a formation of 80 musicians and a choir of 30 and 5 percussionists. In LORDS OF SHADOW 2. I had the use of three symphony orchestras, which consisted of 237 musicians; this total is waiting for approval of the certificate of the Guinness Records as using the most musicians for a video game soundtrack.
How long were given to complete the soundtrack for Castlevania Lords of Shadow 2?
Well, to make the soundtrack takes me a little less than it takes to make a game, that is, if a game takes 4 years to do I’m about 3 years composing music and a month to do the soundtrack, because I have to work in parallel with them just as maps, combat, and cinematics. In the development process I do not usually sometimes if doing some tunes characters, etc… But I go to compose the music, when they begin the game has produced. I think for a game that is best for you compose knowing the game from the start even from the arts Concepts and thus your head always thinks of the project and the characters.
Is the process of scoring a game more or less the same as scoring a film or are there clear differences?
There are many things in common, but there are clear differences also. In a film the viewer is sitting in the armchair and becomes a passive spectator. However, in the game the viewer feels and becomes active and interacts with the game. That means that the way you play the game is clearly active with endless possibilities and not doing the same as another player. So the experience of playing a video game is unique, where as in a movie the experience is the same for all who sit in the seats of the cinema. That makes composing also a little different. In film, you compose music for a few minutes to underline scenes etc, in games you compose to sync the game to create those infinite variations. So the technique is somewhat different. In composing video game variables atmospheres, different fights with different orchestral arrangements APRA departing on other occasions and have differences, you do cinematics which is the same technique as in the movies, etc… The result must be the same, to meet the needs of the user and ensure the music fits perfectly with the game.
How do you work out your musical ideas and turn them into actual music, keyboard, piano, or maybe you use a process that is more high tech?
In the sound studio working with Logic Audio and I have licensed almost all software sounds and libraries of symphonic music, as EastWeast, Sampler Jam, Vienna Oquerstra, reFX, Spectrasonics, etc … with this team I have a virtual symphony orchestra, but also have other elements and musical styles to deliver the models to customers to give them a better idea of how the song will sound before going to record with a real Symphony Orchestra.
They pass me the game in development for the atmospheres of maps, Boses, fighting, etc … and kinematics for synchronized videos. Whether a PC or console Desaroyo. This allows me to every game update do I send it and I’m always with the same version as the study of development.
When you started working on LORDS OF SHADOW did you have set ideas about how the music would sound or what style you would use, and did these ideas alter as the project progressed?
I started right at the development phase, I was told by Konami what style should be used to make the soundtrack, I got some general indications from them and started to work on it straight away. I do not have a set method of working really, I can start a day for combat, as an atmosphere or kinematics, as you have to do ground work for all the inspiration you have that day. In one day I can be writing 3 to 5 songs at a time. I am one that starts a topic and I do not stop until I am finished. Every day is special to me, so every song has to have a minimum of love for me.
Do you conduct your scores for games or do you prefer to monitor things from the recording booth?
I always have a conductor which is much better for Why? Very simple, I try and surround myself with very professional people and always look for people who are higher level than me, this way everyone makes a contribution which makes the finished thing better and that makes everything sound much better than if I did it all. I am a sound engineer, so you could mix the songs but I prefer another engineer that will give me a different sound and they maybe will use some techniques, devices that are different from my experience. The conductor was Gavin Greenway, he has a lot of experience and has worked on the scores for Batman, Inception, Transformers, Pirates of the Caribbean, etc … Working with senior people allows you to sound like everything in Hollywood but for a video game.
Do you have a preference as in studio when it comes to recording a score or perhaps even a specific musical engineer?
I always work with Kruxtzaga Mikel he is a very creative person, and has won a Grammy for best engineer and we both think in the same way. The Abbey Road studios in London for me are the best place. But if I have to record with an American orchestra, I would have to say Warner Studios which are very good and have a lot of experience in audiovisual recordings. The whole saga for LORDS OF SHADOW for example has been recorded with 5 different orchestras. LOS 1-Bratislava Symphony Orchestra LOS 2 -In London Abbey Road Studios – Bratislava Symphony Orchestra – Slovakia Symphony Orchestra – MSO Symphony Orchestra, And everything was mixed in studios of Musik Art in Spain and was mastered at Bernie Grundman studios in Los Angeles. The whole saga for LORDS OF SHADOW for example has been recorded with 5 different orchestras.
The score for Lords of Shadow 2 is a fusion of both symphonic and electronic, what percentage of the score was performed by the synthetic instrumentation and what is your opinion on the increased use of electronics in film music? …
LORDS OF SHADOW 2 takes place in a city for much of the game and also in the future, so they thought it best to have electronic elements mixed with the symphonic orchestra. Still, the Symphony Orchestra is more prominent throughout the score with synthetic sounds and electronic beats accompanying the orchestra. I also wanted to give a somewhat different musical personality in the first half of the game. But even utilizing electronics, does not lose the essence of the musical direction.
Do you produce your own CD releases, and do you select the music to be included on a compact disc release of a soundtrack you have written?
Konami asks me which are the better cues to make a CD and so I prepare the tracks which will but included on the compact disc release, in the case of the Lords of Shadow sage all three soundtracks were released on http://www.sunthing.com
Do you come from a family background that is in some musical way?
No, nobody in my family is connected to music or indeed film, I’m the only one. My mother works in medicine and my father in construction.
Which artists would you say have inspired composers or influenced?
My favourite composer is John Newton Howard, I think he does everything very well from an epic battle scene to a melodic soul searching piece; well he gets to my soul at least. Another composer that I love is Alan Silvestri. Then there are others like Basil Poledouris for his Conan the Barbarian, Howard Shore for his scores to The Lord of the Rings trilogy and of course John Williams for Star Wars, etc …
When you start working on a score, do you think it is important to establish a central theme or focus and then use this as a base for the rest of the score?
Yes, it is important to have a tune that marks the game thread, but in a game as opposed to a film’s major enemies. And also you have to look to make music for them if they have a story or an interesting background for the game and the player. And if there are good characters also they have to have their own music. Think that life is a game in several films, and in that time there are many good and many bad, so everyone has to have their music. But with one major theme that ties everything together.
When asked to score a video game, at what stage of the production of the game you get involved?
Usually in the beginning of the production as I said before. It is important to get in from the beginning to understand the spirit and ideas of the project and also to know what the director and screenwriter want the music to do.
In your opinion, how does the music of today compare with music from the films of the Golden Age of cinema?
Well, everything has its time; each time a composer tests something new which in the future ends up being a classic. Like John Williams and Hans Zimmer, etc… If the music is good, I like it whether it is contemporary or classic as long as it works?
There is more than an hour of music on the compact disc release of LORDS OF SHADOW, how much music did you write for the project?
Throughout the entire saga of LORDS OF SHADOWS I composed about 8 hours of music, but a lot of the music you hear in the game is not on the CD releases. Also I wrote a lot of music that did not make it onto the games; I did not submit certain cues to Konami because I was not convinced that they were right for the project.
EL CID THE LEGEND was an animated film that you score, I think you worked with another composer on this project was this a collaboration a proper writing partnership or did you both contribute your own cues to the score?
In EL CID I worked on the whole score, and on this I worked with a couple of orchestrators, I also had a music producer for this assignment, and he decided that he would let one of the orchestrators write for one scene, From that moment, I have never wanted to work with any music producer. So since then I have been my own music producer. No one knows better than yourself what you want and since I have taken on this role as well as composer I think my works are much better and I’m happier with the result, as are my clients. But I do not regret what happened as I learned a lot from that experience. Also this was my first film and there is a Spanish saying: Of all the bad, you learn.
The director of EL CID THE LEGEND was Jose Pozo, did you have specific ideas about what style of music he wanted for the movie?
Yes, I knew what he wanted in the movie and he let me work on my ideas also, we enjoyed a very comfortable collaboration and I think that we worked well together. Jose is a nice guy and I also hope he has the success he deserves in the future.
Do you orchestrate all his own music for film, or do you sometimes have orchestrator?
I always work with orchestrators. By having an orchestrator it gives me the time to concentrate fully on the writing of the music, it is also good for the score as well because I am able to work more freely thus by having an orchestrator the score is of better quality because I am able to focus more, the same can be said of engineers, the orchestra, drummers or individual musicians each is like a grain of sand that come together to improve what I do, so the more professionals involved the better the end product.
Was writing film music something that had always appealed to him?
Yes, since I saw Star Wars, I wanted to be a filmmaker or devote myself to music. So at the moment I am still doing this which is a good thing.
I’m directing an animated film “LEO” which has a story that tells us that humanity is extinct and now only insects and small mammals are living, so it is a family adventure film. I am also hoping to start two other high profile projects but at this time I cannot discuss them because it is confidential. Also I am finishing a personal project of electronic music for an LP with a very careful style and something different. I hope people like it. I did it with love and 8 years working on the project.