What has been the most enjoyable aspect of composing Remedy’s wildly successful Control?
The most enjoyable aspect… hmm, I could say the co-operation with the team, since, because of that, it was easily a walk in the park project if anything, but artistically, I’d strongly emphasise the feedback from the gamers. It just felt so incredibly good to receive all that love. I’m sure each of us in the team are empowered for years after all those nominations and awards themselves. The successful and well-managed development time glued the team together, but the feedback… damn! Musically, most enjoyable thing was the music and sound concept of Control, the freedom I was given. I really, really just let go to my heart’s content and smiled all the way. Although I have classical training and love orchestral instruments, the tuning-free mayhem felt oddly familiar to me, and I enjoyed the odd meter / out-of-tuning scales material a lot. Making it was fun, a form of therapy. I’ve been all smiles after the project.
As an artist/composer, who or what have been known to inspire you musically?
To me, I tend to get inspired by a strange combination of aesthetics and technology, and in my own private ideal world, those two are indistinguishable and unseparable, glued together, entwined. I get very easily bored when I hear something I’m able to dissect into an insert tree inside a DAW. Say, “oh, he used first a short delay, then a slow phaser, and a diffused chorus effect”… what brings the child in me to the surface is the moment of wonder, “oh, how beautiful!” Either from aestethic and emotional reasons - or due to the innovation used in the track. Lately, I’ve been tracking down all kinds of underground electronic artists, and the technological level of some things I’ve come across just makes me smile. I always get amazed by the phenomenon, where, say, Battlestar Galactica no longer is sci-fi, and becomes a drama instead; you forget the technology, when the essence and the emotion are strong enough. I love being an observer, it’s my natural state, I want to understand people’s motivations and reactions, and I’ve become a rather good “face reader” throughout the years. It helps to have that, if one’s willing to build storyline arches in music.
What are some of the most interesting source materials that you’ve created for your sound palette?
Definitely the washing machine and espresso machine (and about a dozen touchpanels from Remedy, with a device converting electromagnetic signals into a sound) for Control (as well as, once again, burning and mutilating a piano), and I certainly loved recording some rusty gates during Quantum Break. During an ancient project, I even recorded stuff onto CDs, then scratched them, put the CDs into an old player (that was being modded while they played the disc back) to get a “glitchy” sound, which I sampled… I love to go to extremes in a good way. Oh! Almost forgot! using contact mics glued into a plank and letting the plank break slowly, recording the outcome, and removing the tonal components totally - and using the result as a convolution. What a lovely convolution delay I got from that!
What do you do to avoid writer’s block?
I try doing something quite different, exercise heavily or just… try alluring my brain into a false completion moment. This works as a good hocus pocus stuff, and even just vacuuming your car interior can cause that as a result. It’s important to have distance and a brief moment of disclosure to avoid the first waves of frustration. Distance is always good. One good trick for detaching myself is gaming: I love 1st person open world games (or, okay, so called pseudo-open tube runs, too), and I’d love to consider myself as a some kind of an expert on that field.
What’s some of your favorite gear?
At this moment, it has to be Moog One. A good number two is my Roland Jupiter-Xm, which I got as a joke for a present just before the holiday season. I’ve owned all of the gear it’s modeling, and I still recognize the sweet spots of certain controls on appropriate machines. And then, well, I must mention my Arp 2600 clone, TTSH. It was only recently modified quite heavily, and in addition to “basic” 2600 sounds, it’s now one warped bastard for a machine.
Check out some of Petri’s select tracks from Control here: