Interview with Olivier Deriviere – Alone in the Dark soundtrack composer
Interview with Olivier Deriviere – Alone in the Dark soundtrack composer
Game-OST just made connection with Olivier Deriviere. Well-known for his Obscure 1 & 2 works, this guy with the help of Grammy award-winning choir “The Mystery of Bulgarian voices” created soundtrack for fresh new Alone in the Dark game. How it was? Read below!
I’m 29, I’m just done with Alone In The Dark as composer, music supervisor and game mixer. I started writing music for video games at age of 23 for Hydravision on Obscure. I got the job since I was connected with friends, demomakers from the old Amiga and Atari period, who entered the videogames industry. It was a real dream come true and I was very excited and nervous!
What instruments did you master during your music life? What hardware and software are you using in your creative process?
What may sound weird is that despite the fact I got a diploma for classical percussions I’ve never wanted to be a player in an orchestra; you know, this guy who is waiting 2 hours before he gives the final splash with cymbals? I’ve studied piano, harmony, counterpoint, instrumentation and orchestration…but I still need to work on everything. Music has so much to offer, I surely need more than one life to understand it as well as I want.
Concerning software and hardware it depends. If I have to use sampled sounds I will use Cubase with some libraries like the great Vienna Symphony Library or if it’s for electronic sounds I may use a lot of plug-ins like Atmosphere and Reason. If it has to be preformed I'm used to composing on a software called Finale before going to recording studios. After all, nothing counts but the final result, whatever software or hardware you use. By the way; for hardware, I stick with RME, great gears!
We know that you have worked on some movies, tell us about difference between creating music for movies and videogames.
Actually I haven’t worked on feature movies…yet! But my shorts and some assistant job I had for great composers taught me a lot. I would say that working on a movie is much more artistic than on a video game. People in the video game industry are very few to use music with its real dimension. Most of the time it illustrates or adds some background sound to the game. However, music for videogames doesn’t have rules yet unlike movies. You’re much free to explore and try something different.
How did you manage to get into works on “Alone in the Dark”? Old friends from Hydravision catch you? :)
What’s funny is that it’s exactly the opposite. I wouldn’t say they made the PS2 and Wii versions thanks to me but I helped as much as I could to get them the job! I’ve met Atari during last ECTS in 2004. They were quite impressed by Obscure music and that’s how I’ve met David Nadal, Eden Games’ director.
On what stage did you join the project?
Quite early. As I mentioned earlier, people in the video game industry are not this aware of the possibilities music can give to their games. It’s part of my job try to communicate very early in the process and talk to them about music and how it can help the player to get immersed and to help him understand what’s happening on screen because music can be very helpful for gameplay.
Did you play any previous Alone In The Dark game? What kind of inspiration did you have while creating this soundtrack?
I’ve played all of them. David and I decided to avoid taking inspiration from the previous games. Firstly because he wanted to redefine the franchise and so the music but also because this new Alone In The Dark is not a survival horror game as people think it might be. It’s an action survival game with lots of very dramatic and impressive situations as those you may have seen in blockbusters Hollywood movies. The main inspiration was the game itself with David’s directions. We wanted to create a score that would follow the story, the sceneries, the gameplay with a very unique music.
This soundtrack has multiple goals but the main purpose is to serve the game. I think players will be very pleased to hear how the music reacts to everything that’s happening on screen. Then, each cue has a reason for being played. Each time you’re going to hear a music cue, listen carefully because it will give you a lot of information for narration but also situations, monsters, drama…Every time I added a cue I was wondering : Where? Why? What? How? Then you have the Bulgarian choir who sings the lyrics Irina Zhekova wrote especially for this game. The Milan Records CD edition includes lyrics with English translation and it gives you another dimension to the music and therefore to the game.
We know that you used Grammy award-winning choir “The Mystery of Bulgarian voices”. Describe your experience working with such famous performers.
It was a thrill! I knew this choir from my childhood and when I proposed them to sing my music it was quite embarrassing as I wasn’t a great composer worldwide renowned as they are. But after the director Dora Hristova read the music she accepted to perform. It was an incredible week when I got there in Sofia to record them. They were just as great as they are….and very generous by giving all their talent to me.
Did you have creative freedom or there was hard pressing from the producers?
I think as a composer you have to listen very carefully to what the producer and the director will say to make sure you’re able to deliver what they wish. I do need to discuss a lot with them to understand their intentions, their sensitivity and if we can actually work together since it’s a real collaboration. For AITD the tough part was to convince them to include a Bulgarian choir but after a few discussions they were very enthusiasts.
How much time did it take you to write this soundtrack? What part of written music survived to final release?
I would say about a full year to write all cues but it was spread through 2 years and an half. I’ve had to leave out some music since the game changed quite few times but out of the 5 hours included in the final game I would say an hour of music was left out.
Were there any difficult moments in creating this soundtrack? Is there dynamic music in game and if yes, was it you first experience to create such multilayered tracks?
The most difficult part is the choice you have when you start talking with the Director: “Do we need music? If yes, what? How…etc.” Since AITD features a lot of music I wanted to be sure that every cue was great. David and I often had long discussions. Multilayered music is very interesting and we could have used it since Eden’s music tool is quite impressive but I chose not to. I didn't have to create multiple layers for AITD that would give the music a very dynamic range because AITD is very linear and I could follow it with only one cue to another. The game is very linear as long as you’re in a sequence with no free roaming so I was able to stick very closely to everything that happens. The use of layers for music is very useful when you're free to do whatever you want. For most of AITD it's not this way but during the free roaming it would have been possible to do so but time was short and David and I decided not to use dynamic music for this part of the game. It can be a paradox since the music evolves so much during scripted sceneries but trust me; sometimes it’s good to have just a whisper for music!
What can you advise to up and coming composers?
I’ve asked one day this question to a great composer; he gave me 2 pieces of advice: “First, be very patient. Second, don’t get married.”!!!
Imagine that you have a special one microphone. Everything you say magically appears in ears of Russian men. Feel free to say anything from “Hello, guys!” to “Bring me some Russian vodka!” :)
As I’m French I know that Russia and France have a special relationship and I’ve experienced it myself. When I was studying in Boston I was renting a room to a great Russian lady. She helped me A LOT and she loved French people (so lucky I was). She introduced me to a lot of Russians and I felt much more in Russia than in the USA for a year! It ended with Obscure 2 soundtrack featuring Tamara Smirnova the Associate Concertmaster of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Unfortunatly I can’t say a word in Russian (kak dela? Kak tibia zavout?...) but Russian people count a lot to me and I owe them a lot!
And, thanks for letting us interrogate you. We looking forward to hear your music in future!
Spasiba!! Thank you a lot for your interview! I hope the game will please you!!! :)
Don't forget to download Olivier Deriviere's Obscure 2 for free on his official site. Also, there you can find samples of Alone in the Dark soundtrack.
Official Olivier Deriviere site: www.olivierderiviere.com
Alone in the Dark soundtrack publisher site: Milan Records.
Alone in the Dark soundtrack on Myspace: www.myspace.com/aloneinthedarksoundtrack
Official game site: www.centraldark.com
Special thanks goes to Greg O'Connor-Read at Top Dollar PR (www.topdollarpr.com) for help in interview arrange.
Soundtrack can be purchased at