Interview with Michael Bross

Interview conducted in October 2013

Career, influences and preferences

Marvin3099: What composers matter the most to you and are among your main references?

I'm influenced by a lot of music and not just film or classical composers. Just recently I've been listening to Rammstein, for example. I also am a big fan of electronic music and don't know even where to start with listing artists in that genre. I can name a few favorite film composers, though--Cliff Martinez, Hans Zimmer, and Harry Gregson-Williams. Classical composers--Stravinsky, Chopin and Sibelius.

superclank: What are your thoughts on the videogames music nowadays?

I was just telling a fellow composer this morning how amazing it is to work on music for games. Because there are such a wide range of games (from indie to big budget), it allows for us to hear an array of music. I've been attracted to what is going on in the indie scene because that is where I hear some interesting things going on musically.

Samuelbor2: Would you have some advice for people who would like to become videogames composers? What course did you follow to get there?

I studied music in college, but I know composers who haven't and are very talented. I do have advice and I get asked this question enough where I have come up with a page dedicated to it on my blog.

Asthoria/HeatherGrace: Is there a videogame in particular, dear to your heart, and for which you would love composing?

I've worked on Oddworld games in the past and would love to work on a new, fresh Oddworld game. Also, I'd love to work on a project like Superbrothers: Sword and Sworcery or Limbo.

Force-Ratchetblue: You compose for personal albums and for videogames. What are, according to you, the main differences between those two areas?

There's some overlap for sure, but for my last number of personal releases, I've focused on music that is more electronic or ambient. Lately, I've been working on a project with another musician that combines heavier rock and electronic music. The video game music I tend to work on sometimes combines orchestral, electronic and along with rock, ambient or eclectic tribal or ethnic elements.

MrArendas/crashb648: What is the composition you are the most proud of?

That is difficult to say. There are some compositions I've written on both the R&C series as well as Firefall and Oddworld that I am proud of.

nefarious jr: How did the idea to compose for videogames come to your mind?

I hadn't thought much about it until the opportunity came up to work on a game.

From there, I saw there was whole creative world to explore in games.

Ratchet & Clank series

The Ratchet Galaxy Team: Before debuting your work on the R&C series, did you take some time to listen to previous composers' (David Bergeaud, Boris Salchow) work, or did you prefer to keep your ear "fresh" in order to bring your own style?

I did take time to listen to previous music from the series. Over the years, a certain sound has developed so I wanted to take that into consideration when composing new music. The aim was to pay respect to that sound while also evolving it into something new.

ZAXEL26: Have you already been in contact with David Bergeaud and Boris Salchow?

No, I have not. Boris still does work on Insomniac projects and I was hoping at some point to say hello to him and have a chat.

Lana la Lombax: What instruments do you generally use when you are working on R&C music?

The palette is usually some combination of orchestral and electronic elements.

Monkey D Luffy: Do you get the impression that you have been improving your work on the series, game after game?

Like most composers, I'm happiest with any of the latest music I've written over older music. I think music for Into The Nexus is the best so far. With regard to the first two R&C games I worked on, the approaches were different and the stylistic requests from Insomniac required a unique approach for each. I can't say whether one was better than the other, but just different.

arnaud49/The Ruptineer: What is your main source of inspiration when you are composing for R&C?

At the beginning of each project, there is a lot of discussion about music approach and with that comes a lot of reference music that my team and also the Insomniac team pull together. This is usually a collection of film music, music from past R&C games, electronic tracks and other various music. This collection of music is a basis for inspiration for the soundtrack.

nicob2000: What is your usual approach when you start composing a new track?

It's most important to understand the context of where the music will play in the game and what role it needs to fulfill in those given moments. At the beginning of each project, I've also sketched out some core motifs that I have the option to refer to.

gilles-roxas: Have you already considered re-editing or even re-creating tracks which belong to previous games, in a more symphonic and instrumental way?

Oh, sure. I've never really actually used recordings from past games to re-create something but I have re-used thematic ideas. One of my favorites is Qwark's theme.

cooper13: Do you have some interesting anecdotes about some of the compositions you created for the series?

Yes. We just finished up a recording session with an orchestra for this latest game. The main theme I wrote had some particularly challenging elements for the musicians to play. So, I was a little nervous as to whether they would successfully pull it off and didn't know how it would go until I was at the session. Recording sessions can be stressful because there's so much to record in a limited amount of time. But the musicians pulled it off. They were fantastic to work with.

Le Vengeur: Do you work with an orchestra? If yes, what would be your main motivation for doing so?

I didn't work with an orchestra on the first two R&C games but did record with one on this current project. Using a real orchestra brings the music to life in a way that doing it with samples can't.

ratchet_et_sonic/gerbensteyaert: What would be your favorite music in the whole series, that you did not compose?

I like the music from A Crack In Time.

Cat O Cat: How did you come to work on the latest R&C games?

I was contacted by the lead sound designer, Jamie McMenamy, about the project. Jamie had worked with me on the Oddworld series and that's how we knew each other. For All 4 One, they didn't know who they wanted to use as a composer, so he asked me if I wanted to submit a demo. This I was very happy to do, because I've long been impressed with Insomniac's work on the R&C series.

aurelombax: Had you already played an R&C game before working on the series? If yes, what were your first impressions?

Yes, I had played a few--A Crack In Time, Quest For Booty, Tools of Destruction and some of Up Your Arsenal. These games were enjoyable for sure.

ratJTEchet: Would you accept composing the animated R&C movie's soundtrack, which is to be released in 2015?

Absolutely. I'd love to work on the film.

Ratchet & Clank: Into The Nexus

Ratchet_110: What specific ambitions do you have for Into The Nexus?

As always, to create the best music that I can for the series.

Xx-Energetik-Ratchet-xX: Can we expect some epic music for the game, especially the final boss?

Yes, for sure. The music for this boss is divided into 3 different pieces of music. I hope you will find the music satisfying.

Benji64: With the return of the Thugs-4-Less and other emblematic characters of the series, can we expect some "musical winks" at previous games?

A bit of winking can be expected here and there ;)

bbevan: Regarding Into The Nexus, are you to keep the same musical style than All 4 One and Q-Force or are you going somewhere darker, more creepy?

The Insomniac team and I definitely wanted this music to have a wide range of emotion and power behind it. Yes, there are definitely some darker and creepier elements that will appear in the score. I hope you enjoy it.

The whole RG team thank you a lot for accepting this interview and wishes you all the best to come!