Interview: Darren Korb ('Bastion' OST)

Less than a week ago I decided to get in touch with Darren Korb, composer of the VGA-winning soundtrack Bastion, to try and get an interview.  Thankfully, Darren responded immediately and I was able to speak with him for almost 40 minutes a few days later (Sunday) regarding, among other things, some specific questions I had regarding his work after having reviewed it in December.

Below I have posted the audio file and even further down I have posted a few highlights that I found interesting in case you are strapped for time.  However, the listener will be heavily rewarded, as Darren does most of the talking and doesn’t skirt around specifics.  Plus, he shows a lot of personality, which makes the interview both fun and quick-moving.

Thanks again for the billionth time, Darren!  And, I must say, from one lover of the burns to another: nice chops!

Tracks referred to in the interview:

Mine, Windbag Mine
Zia’s Song (Build That Wall)
Setting Sail, Coming Home (End Theme)
Pale Watchers
Spike in a Rail
Slinger’s Song
Brusher Patrol

The “Cliff’s Notes” Version (still useless on a test!)

  • Korb worked on Bastion for a total of about 20 months.  An old friend of his, Amir Rao, is a co-founder of Supergiant Games and invited him to be in charge of the audio from the early goings of the company.
  • While he was hired to be in charge of sound design as well as the music, he had never worked on sound design before, so he quickly had to learn the tools of the trade.  His experience as an audio engineer and in working on film projects aided his foray into the new world.
  • Bastion was written “in sequence”; there was an outline, but things were written as they went along, which isn’t typically done in the game world.
  • Korb didn’t want the music to be like anything of which he had heard before in games and didn’t necessarily want motifs to connect the tunes.  To serve these goals he “set up a genre for [him]self” and called it “acoustic frontier trip-hop.”
  • Due to the constant narration in Bastion, Korb didn’t want to make his compositions based around a hooky melody for fear that the two elements would butt heads.
  • “Sailing Sail, Coming Home (End Theme)” is one of Korb’s favorite tracks.  He wrote the two songs that are in it (“Zia’s Song” and “Zulf’s Theme”) with the intention of combining them.  Korb’s voice is the voice of Zulf in the song.  He also favors the tracks that occur towards the end of the game, enjoying their “weird[ness]”.
  • Led Zeppelin’s III was a big influence for the Bastion tracks.
  • Korb still busts out Rock Band, one of his favorite games, on a more-than-weekly basis.  He attributes his current drum skills, at least partially, to the game.
  • Lately, Korb has been getting into soul music.  He appreciates the subtle mastery that lurks in what’s being played.
  • Sometimes Korb enjoys cooking.