Last week, Bastion creator Supergiant Games revealed their upcoming title, Transistor, and over the weekend at PAX East they gave gamers a chance to get their first licks in with it. Having interviewed Darren Korb before regarding his work on Bastion, I wasted no time getting in touch with him to ask him a few questions over e-mail about what his fans can expect from the musical side of the game.
Before we get to the Q&A, though, if you haven't seen the reveal trailer, you may want to check it out:
[Score.]: What have you worked on musically and/or listened to between Bastion and Transistor and how have you seen those things affect your work on the title so far?
Darren Korb: I've been listening to a ton of Imogen Heap, Radiohead, and Bjork to get myself in the headspace of the kind of stuff I'm trying to write at the moment, but in addition to that I've been listening to a bunch of unrelated stuff: The Darkness, Tenacious D, The Belle Brigade, Nada Surf, Ozma, The Beatles, etc.
That's quite the unrelated group (that's being said admirably as a fan of a number of those bands, by the way, haha). Would I be going too far to hope that maybe The D will power you to win more VGM awards for your songwriting prowess?
HAH... The D does possess great power...
What's the musical direction that you're taking for Transistor and how has it been evolving during the development process? Any bleed over from Bastion?
For Transistor I'm shooting for something a bit more electronic, but also combining elements of old-world European music and post-rock. Some of the urban beats and such will probably carry over from Bastion. One of my personal goals is to make this soundtrack equally as eclectic, but using very different elements. It's evolved quite a bit over the last year we've been working on it. Since I had something pretty specific in mind this time around, it took a lot of experimentation to get to.
When you say "elements old-world European music," can you give me more of a sense of what you mean? Are you referring to things like, say, classical music form and harmonic devices? The sound of the folk music? Does the answer lie within consulting the marriage of classical elements and electronic music found in Bjork and Radiohead, perhaps?
I've been playing with some more traditional European instruments: harp, accordion, etc. and trying to incorporate those into my pieces.
What did you learn from your experience with Bastion that you've felt directly affect your approach to working on Transistor (musically, technically, or otherwise)? Now that you have a title under your belt it would seem that things might be smoother, but is it? Or is this experience just new and different?
I think this time around it's a bit more of a challenge actually, since I have more specific goals this time for what I want to achieve with the music. For Bastion, I just sort of made whatever I could and we used it, which ended up working out well, but this time I have a smaller target, I guess you could say.
Interesting, and I completely understand. Has it been that you've felt completely empowered and motivated by the goal or do you ever feel yearn for that freedom that you were able to give yourself in Bastion?
I definitely feel motivated. I just needed to find a new approach to the music that was unique to this project, and I couldn't just use the same methods I used when composing for Bastion, so it took me a while to arrive at that.
Thanks so much for taking the time out to answer my questions--I'm really looking forward to hearing what you've come up with!
... and that's a wrap! Sounds like we'll be hearing some pretty cool stuff in the game, especially if The D has indeed loaned its almighty powers to Darren. I'm certainly interested in hearing his marriage of those elements he talked about, and if Bastion is any indication of the levels of originality that we'll hear in Transistor, the gaming world is once again in for something that will be raved about for a long while.
Also, turns out the first 16 minutes of the game is up on YouTube as of two days ago. I know what I'll be doing during breakfast in the morning!