005 IVGM – Chris Kukla, Where Are My Keys?: Claustrophobia: The Downward Struggle

InsideVGM-150In this episode, I talk with Chris Kukla, a game composer who wrote the soundtrack for Claustrophobia: The Downward Struggle. We talk about his song “Where Are My Keys?”

Chris also wrote the soundtracks for The Memory of Eldurim and Citybound.

In my interview with Chris Kukla, we cover the following:

  • His musical background, playing piano as a kid, then learning guitar and going to college for music, and how he got his first game music gig
  • For the most part, he learned synthesis by trial and error and Google searchesChris Kukla
  • Lately he’s been using a lot of kalimba, marimba, xylophone, harp, glockenspiel, celesta
  • Chris likes Kontact’s Cinematic Strings, Berlin Woodwinds, Sample Modeling‘s horns, Orchestral Brass Classic, and VOXOS: Epic Choirs. He also mentioned Emmitt Cooke’s blog entry 19 Smaller Kontakt Developers You’ve Probably Never Heard Of (and need to check out!)
  • Claustrophobia: The Downward Struggle is a roguelike turn-based RPG with permanent death, similar to Dungeons of Dredmor
  • Daniel Millward, the developer has a great sense of humor and has put funny material into the game
  • Where Are My Keys has a non-standard meter, a repeating pattern of three measures of 5/8 and one measure of 7/8. In Ableton, he uses one measure of 11/4.
  • We talk about the form and instrumentation of the song. The repeating 8th note pattern is a marimba sound. and then the bass part is a string bass. The instruments are pretty much stock sounds that come with Reason.
  • The main melody is a guitar sample that is processed in a guitar rig with EQ, distortion and a lot of ValhallaRoom reverb. After a few measures, a glockenspiel doubles the melody with the same processing.
  • There are two additional marimba parts that play harmony with the first part. The main melody is reprised near the end.
  • The song is five minutes altogether and does not loop during gameplay. This game may last six or seven hours, so the soundtrack has a number of longer pieces to keep the music from being repetitive.
  • I then played “Where Are My Keys?”
  • Chris also wrote the soundtracks for a couple of short films, iDig and Raw and Primal Yearnings where he got to write in a variety of styles
  • Chris likes the podcast All Songs Considered
  • Some of Chris’s favorite games of all time are Super Mario 64, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time and the Civilization series. He also really likes the music in The Binding of Isaac (Danny Baranoswky) and Gunpoint (Ryan Ike, Francisco Cerda, and John Robert Matz)

You can find Chris Kukla on Twitter @ChrisKukla and his website is ChrisKukla.com. You can find Claustrophobia: The Downward Struggle on Steam.

Is there a game composer you’d like to hear from? Let me know and I will reach out to them for an interview. Email tom@insidevgm.com or tweet at me on Twitter @TomSnively.

You can hear my music at TomSnively.com on the Music page or the Credits page. You can try Match Em and Molecular Music Box by finding the links on tomsnively.com/credits.

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