FFO: Haiku, the Robot, Rayman Forever, Child of Light and Napple Tale: Arsia in Daydream
Favourite Track: Quetzalcoatl
Filippo Beck Peccoz took the time to answer a few questions we had about his work. Here's what he had to say!
Q1: Your latest game ITORAH released last month and seems to draw inspiration from several action / puzzle platformers of the past. Are there any past titles from the genre that you personally drew inspiration from?
A1: Growing up, I always loved “narrative action platformers”, so to speak, where the game leaves so time for a special music moment to happen. If I go way, way back, I think about moments like the downhill slope in the arcade classic “Strider”, which contains a special music segment just for those few, exciting seconds, or more recently INSIDE’s masterful way of building tension (especially that last part of the game.. just wonderful!).
But the main driving force behind the music has been the graphics of the game itself - I always felt a jolt of excitement after opening up the Unity project and seeing the new additions in the levels!
I’m also very glad that my singing teacher agreed to perform on a very special segment in the game, which highlights her unique voice.
Q2: You describe this soundtrack as a "marriage of two musical identities that I've always loved" in reference to its combination of driving electronic sounds and plucky string instruments. Was this a difficult balance to achieve?
A2: The developer Grimbart Tales and myself were set on this goal from the start, and this helped immensely. I’m always keen on playing guitar or related instruments in my soundtracks, but also regularly fall into deep synth-rabbit holes. These two passions co-existed but never completely merged in the last years, not in the way they did for this project.
With ITORAH, I matured a sound that I’ve been keeping inside for a long time, which is not only about electronic-acoustic contrasts, but also about how a delicate sound can flow over a very driving, low-endish structure. Like these two parts know that are very different from each other and at the same time they are delighted by these differences, you know?
There’s a conscious effort to separate, but still keep a thread between these worlds, a cable connecting two entities, one deep down in the ground, the other dancing around in the wind.
I enjoyed the process during production and the particular palette of instruments I chose for this, as it created new challenges for me. How do I mix these pretty intense kick drums and synth bass with a dream-like mandolin, without having the whole structure fall apart?
Thinking back, a lot of the work to reach this marriage had been done before I even started writing for ITORAH...
Q3: Last year saw the release of Shadow Tactics: Aiko's Choice, a stand alone DLC expansion to 2016's widely adored RTS title Shadow Tactics: Blades of the Shogun. What was it like returning to work on a game after almost half a decade?
A3: Half a decade! That sounds ominously long.. and it is :D It was a nice surprise to be able to add these songs to the Shadow Tactics repertoire, and especially working with some musicians again, reconnecting after a couple of years. It felt like diving back into familiar, friendly waters, and I’m thankful for how the players embraced these new tunes.
Q4: For Aiko's Choice you got to re-record a handful of songs with a live orchestra. Can you talk about how that came to be and what it was like to hear your compositions executed with live instrumentation?
A4: The opportunity arose as I was talking about working with a live orchestra with some colleagues, who recommended FourFor Music in Bulgaria. Their availability, the scope of the project and several other factors fell into place, and we were able to pull it off for Aiko’s Choice. Everything had to happen quickly, but it all worked out and I’m very glad we did it!
As a composer, hearing your music played by one, or more human beings is always humbling and fascinating. It’s also a real “learning-accelerator”, you come to realize a lot about how you write, what you want to convey and how easy it is for other musicians to grasp that intention and propel it in the same direction.
Q5: What have you been gaming lately?
A5: I bought Elden Ring, played it for 3 hours, but have been too busy to get back to it!!! But to be completely honest, I’ve also reduced my backlog in the meantime, having completed “The Eternal Castle” on the Nintendo Switch.
For a fan of those cinematic platformers it's a real joy and I loved the audio design.
Q6: Do you have any upcoming projects you are allowed to discuss?
A6: I’m working on a very fun Arcade style Action game with my friends from Bonus Level Entertainment. The ’stained-glass” artystle and the medieval setting means I can unleash the hurdy gurdys once again, and that is always a welcome event here in the studio!
As for other projects.. some secrets still need to be kept… but hopefully not for a long time anymore (stay tuned :D )