What kind of music inspires you, or is there a particular sound-style that you resonate with?
Since several years I started to perceive music not just as sound, but as a work of a perceiving composer that has his/her inspiration based on his/her local environment and personal story.
Not going too broad here, but during the lockdown I spend a lot of time in the library and studying human perception, and there I stumbled over the fact that almost everything we perceive as a pattern, is based on a series of similar situations where we kind of learned to identify similarities.
So in terms of music this opened my view to see that there's different layers of complexity in perception for any music piece ever composed, which is reduced down to the most relevant elements for an individual listener.
Meaning, what really inspires me these days is any kind of sound or music that’s composed in a brilliant way, that it opens up a multi-dimensional work to be experienced and appreciated by unconscious listeners (background music), beginner listeners and even up to very well trained listeners.
To give an example: I can appreciate a well performed late night rave with its elements perfectly adjusted to the local environment it's being performed in, as likewise a beautifully performed orchestra concerto in the Zurich Tonhalle or well executed film-and game scores.
It inspires me to see how these works of sound integrate into their environment of performance and still be multi-accessible to a diverse variety of people.
But to also give a more conventional answer: At the moment I'm really into music that combines elements of electronical music and the world of contemporary and film music. We actually live in an interesting time for music production, there’s lots of good stuff coming!
The Tikal VR experience is a truly unique, forward-thinking immersive experience that left our knees shaking in the Mayan exploration. What did you enjoy most about composing for this futuristic entertainment platform?
Thanks! What I mostly enjoyed about composing for this futuristic entertainment platform was to literally have control over every aspect of the sound environment in the virtual world, since I was lucky to design all the other sounds of the game as well.
Apart from having the opportunity to work with 110 musicians from the Budapest Art Orchestra and Choir of course.
It really taught me a lot about how to integrate sounds into a complex entertainment medium, that relies on the player to do his/her selective perception in the virtual world, likewise as in the real world.
Also from a technical aspect, it's fun when you can place sound sources nearly anywhere in the 3D space and move it around :)
How is the creative thought process different between scoring for VR versus video games?
For this particular experience it's a mostly linear storytelling approach.
Meaning, there's elements of gameplay and time independent interactivity, but apart from these moments it's almost like you're fully immersed into a short film.
So the music can be much more linear, less loop-based and it's less music minutes per experience in general, compared to a game with many possible gameplay hours.
As video games and VR experiences evolve, where do you see the potential innovations?
Innovations that are necessary: So far these VR games are arcade exclusive, you can't experience this kind of medium at home.
Also, the costs of installing a VR arena with several hundred infrared sensors, wind machines, odor-dispensers and much more are quite high, especially for not even having as close as a big audience like in cinemas.
Oculus and Meta are the future in this scenario though; I've already seen the beginning of real time VR rendering based on your real-world environment… Kind of advanced AR if you will.
The other thing that's more than due to happen is the technological advancement in terms of interaction and controllers.
We do use keyboards, mouse and controllers for almost 40 years now. Even in most VR experiences developers still rely on oculus controllers.
Just to give a perspective: Games like minesweeper, mahjong and solitaire were designed to teach the general public how to use mouse and keyboard in the first place. We're not born with this skill.
So what we really need to make VR and Metaverse games a broad and mainstream success is something like this, but not teaching them yet another controller:
I think we will get rid of controllers in general sooner or later. I already think typing on a keyboard, using shortcuts or clicking on displays is slowly outdated.
I'm very excited for human brain interface control through innovations like Neuralink, or even Headphones with advanced brain activity detection.
Hand tracking devices and everything that makes it possible for our brain to directly connect with a virtual environment like it's sending action potentials to our muscles to move fingers, that just then start typing on a keyboard and then get send into a computer etc...
And the crazy thing is, this isn't science fiction anymore! I'm so excited that we might have this technology in the next 10-15 years. If humanity doesn't start yet another war or pandemic, that is…
In addition to music scoring and conducting, your music tool box consists of synths, sound design and a prowess with guitar. What’s some music endeavors that are currently on your wish list?
I'm currently trying to focus on three major endeavors in music and sound:
Music for games and film where I resonate with the production and team, and to make that financially possible I'm doing sound design and audio engineering for installations, musicians and film.
And the third endeavor is to boost my creativity and fulfill perfectionism, which is live projects that are about music. Where people come to a concert for the music.
Because: Film and games etc. are not about music :)
But in general: I'm a very, very lucky person that I'm actually working in this field and living in Switzerland at the moment.
Seeing all these crazy things happening, especially after travelling to some places around the world I had to make a major conclusion to not go insane.
Me and everyone else who's that privileged and lucky enough to actually be working on what they dreamed about and worked for, does owe the absolutely best performance and quality in what they're doing to all the people that aren't as privileged and lucky.
For me that’s a very important catalyst to not get depressed and worn down by all this negative news every next day, but to instead get even more motivation to actually do something with my potential.
Thanks so much Jakob!