Game soundtracks are the ultimate concept album with many artists lending their talents to assist in creating the atmosphere we experience while exploring other worlds. We caught up with Andrew Hulshult who, on the music side of things, has written scores for the remake of Rise of the Triad, the upcoming retro FPS Dusk and who updated the original Doom soundtrack to sound more brutal than finding Daisys’ head on a pike at the end of the original game to give us a bit of insight into working within the medium.
Tell us a bit about yourself and how you got into making music for video games.
Pure luck. I was making music for a guy in Denmark named Frederik Schreiber to use on a modern take on Duke3D in UE3 [Unreal Engine 3.] It was a fan project called Duke Nukem 3D Reloaded. I remade a few tracks for him along side now legendary composer Marcin Przybyłowic (The Witcher games) and on hearing Marcin’s work it drove me to improve (I am sure those collab tracks are hanging out around somewhere on youtube.) After Gearbox shut down our Duke remake, Apogee called Fred [who in ’14 became Vice President of 3D Realms, the parent company of Apogee – Ed] and they hired me to do the Rise of the Triad reboot. The rest is history. It was a “who do you know” kind of thing I guess. Right time, right place.
Were there any game soundtracks you heard that made you go ‘Yes! I want to make this type of music?’
Quake II, Deus Ex, Command and Conquer, Unreal Tournament, the Hitman soundtracks, and of course Doom way back in the day.
When Quake came out with CD Audio you could nail gun enemies to a soundtrack of your choosing what albums did you (would you) spin while chasing demons?
Actually I would let the game do the talking. I remember being pretty uncomfortable playing to Quake’s soundtrack [composed by Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails] especially Hall Of Souls. The creep factor in a bunch of people whispering in my ear while a Swarmatron (I believe) pulses up and down in the background made me really uncomfortable, but I loved it the older I got.
What can you tell me about Dusk and about the approach you took to making a soundtrack fit for a classic styled FPS?
Dusk is a type of project I have wanted to work on for a long time so I fight with myself over the soundtrack a lot. Ideally I want it to feel like an homage to the 90’s-00’s era of industrial music that was very in your face at the time but I also want to capture the very unsettling atmosphere of Quake with it because that was just so damn iconic. There is a balancing act for when we introduce the industrial stuff because while writing down on paper: “lets just do an industrial metal ost all the way through for this 90’s style shooter” looks cool it could get old pretty quick and so setting a tone with ambient dark tracks was something I got to have fun with on this game. Building an action track around that ambience was a challenge but seeing them work together was pretty special.
Are you working on any undisclosed projects at the moment?
I am indeed. One that I can mention is with a brand new studio called Indefatigable. Hopefully you will hear about it later this year. It is going to be fucking awesome!
As you were also behind the 2013 Rise Of The Triad soundtrack and considering the extensive arsenal available in that game what’s your favourite way to mail some gibs?
The Drunk Missile! Alt-firing with that thing will get you out of some bad situations in both Single Player and Multi-Player. Who doesn’t want a mini-gun style rocket launcher!
Talking of weapons of choice can you tell us about your studio setup?
The core of my setup is my RME Fireface UFX. The DAW [Desktop Audio Workstation] I use is Presonus Studio One 3 Pro, my Monitors of choice are Presonus R80’s and my main Midi controller is a Komplete Kontrol s49; All my guitars and basses are made by Schecter, I use a custom made re-amp rack full of guitar pedals, and a Korg Minilogue for analog goodness; I also have a huge list of VST’s and Virtual Instruments from 8Dio, NI, Spectrasonics, Izotope and the list keeps going.
You did a remake of the original Doom soundtrack last year but what source port would you recommend to play it through and why?
ZDoom [R.I.P. – Ed] or GZDoom are the one’s I have always used. Each one has its perks but those two have covered what I am looking for in a source port.
Are there any other games from the good ole’ days that you’d like to work on?
Sin, Heretic, Hexen, Wolf, Duke3D, Blood; I’d gladly accept a phone call for a modern take on any of those. The list goes on but that is all I can think of for the moment.
In a similar vein is there anyone you’d like to collaborate with connected to music the games industry?
I actually really enjoy working by myself, I am kind of a hermit. It would be cool to cook up something with Mick Gordon. I have loved his work since I heard it on Killer Instinct and Wolf:TNO
You can check out the trailer for Dusk here: