Favourite Track : A Wicked Visitor
Will was kind enough to answer a few questions I had about their music and the burgeoning tabletop scene.
Q1: Many of the releases in your catalog are part of your "Music d20" series and are meant to help people score their custom tabletop RPGs. Where did the idea for the series come from?
A1: I had already been scoring indie video games for a couple years when I first got into GMing tabletop RPGs. I still love video games, but tabletop gaming quickly became a massive creative passion of mine. Simultaneously, I had just started chatting with RPG cartographer Cze Lee on twitter. He had just recently started a Patreon for his RPG content and suggested that I do the same for tabletop music. I thought it was a sort of goofy choice at the time. After all, it's exceedingly difficult to get anyone to pay for music, especially when lots of folks playing D&D will just throw on Skyrim music or Lord of the Rings or whatever. I was proven wrong though, and I was really able to find an audience in that space. Just 2 years ago, the market for peripheral D&D content was much smaller than it is today, and there were really only a couple other musicians making music specifically geared toward TTRPGs. As luck would have it, it was a perfect time to tap into the growing tabletop craze.
Q2: With the rise in popularity of tabletop RPGs in the last decade do you believe there may be more opportunities on the horizon for composers making official scores for these games?
A2: Oh, absolutely! I mean, I don't want to whip out charts and statistics and whatnot, but the space is exploding, and a lot of my wonderful peers are seeing awesome growth. I think a lot of gamers are realizing that tabletop RPGS a) are a great way to experience communal storytelling and tactical gameplay, b) provide a convenient space and time to hang out with friends especially during a global pandemic, and c) can be greatly augmented with the use of third party peripheral content (e.g. maps, music, virtual tabletop software, etc). Assuming Wizards of the Coast don't blow it with D&D 5.5, I see no reason for the tabletop boom to suddenly disappear.
Q3: Do you find you draw more influence from film or video game scores?
A3: Video game scores by a wide margin. Some folks have described my music as "cinematic," but I think that has more to do with a sort of surface-level production polish. Whether I'm making music for video games or for tabletop, I need to make sure that the soundscapes create a specific mood and intensity but are also flexible enough to account for player freedom. For example: if I'm making combat music for fantasy roleplaying games, I can't have a really quiet part followed by an epic climax, because I have no way of knowing whether that pacing is going to match up with the rhythm of the actual gameplay. This is something video game music figured out ages ago. You can't exactly copy Hans Zimmer or Howard Shore if you want to create a score for unpredictable action.
Q4: What have you been listening to recreationally?
A4: I make an effort to listen to as wide a mix of music as possible, and I do try to always stay "current" in terms of my listening. Béla fleck's new album is great, as is Tyler, the Creator's. I'm always listening to a lot of jazz: Nate Smith, Terence Blanchard, BADBADNOTGOOD, Taylor Eigsti, and Flying Lotus have all released great music this year too. My favorite release of 2021 has been Izuna Drop's Million Sunday, a manic, cross-genre, acid trip that you need to check out.