Interview: Greg Edmonson ('Uncharted' OST)

Greg Edmonson

Greg Edmonson

Back in mid-November, after finishing part 2 of my review of the various versions of "Nate's Theme," I decided to send an e-mail to its composer, Greg Edmonson, because I really wanted to talk to him about his works.  I hadn't heard from him and followed up, but still found no response in my inbox. A month after my first inquiry, having given up on the interview, I found myself randomly wondering whether or not spam message get forwarded to one's main e-mail account from his or her secondary ones (I have many e-mail addresses that route to a singular one).  So, I logged into one of those accounts and looked in the spam box.  Sure enough, spam messages don't get forwarded.  Sure enough, there was an e-mail from Greg the day after I sent him my first inquiry that read: "Hi Greg, I would be honored to do this... Let me know... I will put it in my book!!"

Yes, he even used two exclamation points.  Talk about facepalm.

I frantically typed up an apology letter and added him to my safe-senders list.  Not too long after that, I got another e-mail from him and we both agreed to get back in touch after the start of the new year, yadda yadda, then I interviewed him on Valentine's Day.  Now that I'm finally done doing a basic clean-up of the audio of the interview, I present it to you, dear readers!  But first, a post-preface preface:

Firefly OST pic

I knew that Greg would be great to interview because I had already heard an interview of him a couple of years back.  From the get-go, Greg was just as I had expected him to be: someone who is very amicable, passionate about his work, and someone who has a lot to say and naturally goes into a lot of detail while speaking.  You'll notice in the interview that I really don't ask too many questions, and some of the questions I do ask are just me reacting to his narrative.

He is also someone who is very gracious, thankful for what being a composer has afforded him.  He gives credit where credit is due, and when he talks about having opportunities that seem to come with the territory of being in the position that he is as a film and game composer, you can tell that he has not lost the sense of wonderment that one might have when they first get to do the things that he has been able to do and accomplish.

Because of Greg's great personality, I think that you'll enjoy listening to the interview as much as I enjoyed giving it.  It's certainly a long one, but Greg makes it sail by easily.  Sorry ahead of time for the random noises of my chair creaking, my loud laughter, and the technical malfunctions that you might hear.  Also, we jump around a bit during the interview, but I tried my best to break it down below:

Part I: 

0:00 - Introductions/"Ice breaker"
1:21 - Career History
5:05 - Personal music education and education's relation to the industry
10:58 - Being a composer
14:54 - Influences and importance of variance in listening
17:43 - Diversity of film music
20:20 - The film and game industry / getting your break
21:27 - Transition into talking about Firefly
 
23:53 - Firefly and composing for the show
33:39 - Compare and Contrast: writing for Firefly and Uncharted
 
34:13 - Uncharted and composing for games

Part II: Here's where I admit to the greatest technical failure of all: Over the course of the interview, I constantly checked my recorder to make sure that the battery wasn't running out.  What I failed to do, though, was make sure that I didn't run out of space [insert faceplam #2 here].  I realized this when I lost connection with Greg, so I was able to get the rest of the interview, but I did lose a good 15 minutes, including the part in which I talked to him about "Nate's Theme" [#3 here].  Here's what I remember of what was discussed in that timespan:

  • Greg was directed to write ambient music for the first Uncharted, but in the second, he was free to write more melodious pieces.
  • The variance of sound between the versions of "Nate's Theme" is caused by the difference in recording studios and in the orchestras that performed each version.  The first was recorded at Skywalker Sound, but by the time the third came around, Greg was recording at Abbey Road.  I mentioned the timbre of the brass growing in brightness/brassiness version to version, and he noted that version 3.0 was that way especially due to the fact that England has a longstanding tradition and history of brass bands.
  • When asked about the specific differences in the parts, Greg didn't linger on the topic.  That is to say, there was no urgency to "fix" anything in the themes; rather, the additions and changes were done casually, which is cool.
  • I asked if anyone from the bands gives him suggestions as to what he might alter in a part.  He responded that, no, people don't really do that unless they're a soloist, and if that's the case, they may have some very specific suggestions.  We shorted out in the middle of that conversation, so you'll still get to hear about it in...

Part III:

0:00 - Orchestra members' influence on compositions during recording sessions
3:05 - His latest project
5:16 - What was listened to prior to composing the music to Uncharted

... and that's it!

My most heartfelt thanks goes out to Greg Edmonson, who was very patient in dealing with my technological blunders in the beginning and then was such an awesome interviewee, even amidst even more tech issues.  It was a pleasure that I hope to have again in the future when he continues to make great games into unforgettable ones by way of his music.