Music Composer

Bill Brown

An exclusive interview with Bill Brown himself, the great music composer who created the amazing Trespasser soundtrack. Bill Brown is also famous for his work on Rainbow Six, CSI and various other big hits. For full list please visit Bill Browns personal website. This was made by the forum member LtSten, with questions from the Trespasser Community.

What, (if any) inspiration did you use for composing your music? (specific songs, imagery, etc)

I received a lot of concept art, game captures / images and cut scenes (cinematic movies) from the development team as I composed the music.. Playing the alpha versions of the game also helped. William’s influence can’t be denied.. The game was developed some time after the initial film, so we all had those beautiful orchestral sounds in our consciousness.

How do you feel when it comes to the statement that the music might be the best thing in the game?

I hope those who played the game were able to appreciate all of the effort that went into it at the time. I’m happy to know it was appreciated.

When you were composing, how much contact did you have with the Trespasser team? (Such as Spielberg, or just the project lead)

I worked closely with the developers (at DreamWorks Interactive) on Trespasser for months, from the demos all the way to completing the project, and we all became good friends in the process.. As a matter of fact, we just kept working – starting “Clive Barker’s Undying” after completing Trespasser. (check out the photo from one of the Undying sessions with Brady Bell, John Galvin and Clive Barker) And at one point during the process, in regard to the score for Trespasser, Spielberg was nice enough to comment on “how impressive this relatively unknown composer puts music together”.. which was great to hear. I sent he and his family a bunch of CDs of the score when we finished the project. It was an honor just to be working on the franchise in any form really.

What was the process used to put together the music?

I wrote and recorded all of it in my studio (which at that time was located at Soundelux, Hollywood) using a big rack of hardware samplers and synths…

Were you pleased with the final production of your score?

At the time it was a lot of fun for me.. That year at GDC they had a big bake-off session with hundreds of us in attendance and when they played the music from Trespasser, the crowd went wild.. Some of the those big T-Rex action cues were my favorite at the time.. But the lovely thematic stuff is still fun to listen to, even if it’s mostly terribly ‘synthy’ for my ears now.

What influence do you think Trespasser had on your other music compositions, and did any previous projetcs influence your composition of the Trespasser one?

There are moments in Trespasser where I think you can hear my ‘voice’ (not literally) – where if you listened to my music now I think you could hear a connection between the two. There are some wonderful melodic moments, and also some orchestration gestures that are just part of the way I’m wired musically… My favorite material is usually stuff that just comes to me away from the studio when I’m inspired in some way. And I find that material is usually very easy to execute and is the most compelling for me.

What led you to write the music for Trespasser?

I had just starting working at Soundelux and Trespasser was the first game music demo I composed..

Do you remember the name of the music libraries you used to draw on for some of the cues from Trespasser? Is it possible to hear that today, and were there any other tracks (Race to the Summit) which were composed using themes from a library?

I’m not remembering the exact name of that library.. a few of them came out around that time in the 90’s. I was doing everything I could to make my mock-ups sound as big and convincing as possible.. which I’ve been told was inspiring for a lot of young composers who hadn’t heard game music up to that point. Unfortunately, the mock-ups sounded so good that the developers didn’t feel the need to record the themes with live orchestra.. I should have used a Casio! Race to the Summit (and most of the music in Trespasser) was composed without pre-recorded live orchestra phrases.

Is the soundtrack purely your work, or were you assissted by other composers?

I created the score without any additional help.

How did you go about composing the music? Software, real orchestra? (What tools?)

It was all samples and synths – you can see the samplers I was using at the time in the photos included with this interview actually.. I think I was actually using Studio Vision when I composed Trespasser.. and I miss the midi editing tools in SV! Nothing has been as easy to use since..

The music you composed for Trespasser has been used in the game to play at certain moments – a lack of any ambient track to play during a battle or similar – how aware of this were you while composing, and what do you think of this setup for the game?

I was aware of exactly each piece would be used.. The developers decided early on that the score would serve to either support specific action in the game, or create an atmosphere introducing you to the environment at certain points in the game.. Or for in-game cinematics.

The soundtrack you made for Timeline is as good or better than Trespasser’s – some would say good enough that many people would listen to it today if the game itself were more remembered. Do you remember what inspiration was used for composing it, what are your thoughts about it after all this time?

The music I wrote for Timeline was inspired by Michael Crichton’s novel first.. I think that was the biggest inspiration for me, along with the being a part of the development team for the game of course. The game was finished far before the Timeline film was released so I had no idea at the time they would be choosing Jerry Goldsmith to score it, and that Brian Tyler would take over and write a new score for the film eventually.. None of that was even on my radar when I wrote the music for the game. I was just having fun writing what I felt was organic to that story. I still enjoy listening to that score as well every once in a great while.. It was a lot of fun to work on.

I would like to thank Bill Brown for taking his time to answer these questions, and as a great composer, we all hope people will countinue to listen and support his work.

Images are copyrigted © Bill Brown 2011