You seem to be the busiest artist in entertainment, as contracting audio director for Petroglyph Games, a current EDM album, doing live gigs and most recently scoring a VR game. How did it all begin for you?
Well, I've been a live professional drummer since I was 11. Started writing my own music in high school. Began my journey in video game career as a tester, then dove into full-time music and audio ever since. I love every aspect of all that I do, whether it's sound design, field recording, composition, voice over, directing, implementing, I find it rewarding to see how a project all comes together. The past year has been very exciting as a freelance contractor. I got to work on Petroglyph's "8-bit Trilogy" of games, blending everything from contemporary electronica, rock, chiptune, orchestral, and sci-fi synth styles. Put out my 8th solo album "Digital Frontiers" which was an EDM style, put out Face The Funk's 2nd album called "Somebody's gotta do it" and also my progressive rock project The Bitters 4th album, "Yes is IV". I could not have had a more diverse year of music styles.
Digital Frontiers /Waiting for a Train
8-bit Invaders/ Protect the Planet
Grey Goo/The Humans
Tell us about the new VR game, Cursed Sanctum and your thoughts about this emerging platform.
Cursed Sanctum is a new VR "experience" released in March. Not to be confused with a full-on game - it has light gameplay elements and combat, but its a fantasy-based experience with more of a "choose your own adventure" style. It's looks amazing for the Gear VR, and so I was tasked with providing the majority of audio, music, and voice over for it. VR has some differences primarily in the sense of implementation. Things have to be placed in 3D space as much as possible so that the player can feel more immersion. There are technological obstacles to consider though, like on the Gear VR, what is going to overheat the phone? Too many things competing for processing power tend to do that. So it’s a constant challenge to figure out what you back off of - is it polygon count? Too much tracking code? Audio real-time impulse effects? All of the above? Adjustments will be made as the product gets refined so that it runs smoothly. Right now the platform is still new, and it may be niche until it has a chance for more people to dig into it. Ultimately I think it will likely take some key games / experiences / films to really pull people in. So content development will still be very important to really allow devs to take advantage of what it can really do.
New track from Cursed Sanctum:
Is there a particular medium you prefer to write for, maybe performing live is your preference?
I enjoy all media and bounce between them all. Performing live is rewarding in the sense that you are part of making something happen on the spot in front of an audience. Living in the moment and allowing your feeling to merge with your skill is pretty cool. But I love creation in controlled environments as well, I love seeing the process of video game making along the way, I love the process of piecing an album together, deciding on arrangements and sounds. I love bringing picture to life with sound design, I enjoy bringing characters to life either by performing or directing voice over. It's like flipping a switch in your brain and letting it be in that mode for a while, then flipping another switch and changing to another mode. I've been doing it so long I'm just used to it.
What are one of your most memorable project campaigns?
So many - Star Wars Empire at War, Command & Conquer series, Lion King, Blade Runner, the list goes on. I have different fond memories of each one. Because I'm such a Star Wars fan, I have to say that one is usually top of the list. I'd be right at home working on one the new films should they continue to branch out as they did with Rogue One.
Star Wars Empire at War/ Battle in the Swamps
Your artistic repertoire is wide-ranging. Any particular music influences to share and what inspires you as an artist/composer?
I have a ton of different influences among different genres. But I'd say what inspires me more these days is just anything that comes across as creative by being a bit different from the norm. That is entirely subjective, but what I mean is I have a tendency to appreciate music by artists that go out of their way to do something their own way instead of directly copying something else. Its a tough target to hit because just about everything has been done. So then it largely becomes about interpretation. But that’s the fun of it. Hearing something that captures your attention because you recognize that something about it that's a bit different different.
The producer’s job is integral in establishing the definitive sound for a project. What do you most enjoy in this creative role?
The experimentation in finding the key sound that works best. But it goes beyond that - there is an advantage to knowledge of gear and all the results you've heard from it prior, to quickly narrow down what you may or may not use right away. Then there’s the exploration side of it where you search and audition the next sounds that complement what you're after. You have to have an ear and an understanding for it. Sometimes it comes around quickly, and other times it takes up until late in the project. But either way, you get there! Whether it’s microphones, preamps, plug-ins, instruments, or mixing techniques, it all contributes to the final result.
Hear more music at http://frankklepacki.com