interview

MOM Interview: Michael Bross

Michael Bross, a veteran composer in the video game industry, is best known amongst Oddworld fans for being the musical mastermind behind Munch’s Oddysee and Stranger’s Wrath. More recently, he did the soundtrack for New ‘n’ Tasty and was involved at the beginning of Soulstorm‘s development. We want to thank him for taking time out to answer our questions.

bross

Magog on the March: You were the musical mastermind behind Munch’s Oddysee and Stranger’s Wrath, and you also returned to compose the New ‘n’ Tasty soundtrack. Did you contribute to the Oddworld franchise in any other way, such as helping to develop characters, locations, ideas or concepts? I ask because you’ve stated previously that you write short stories.

Michael Bross: I also contributed to sound design along with vocalizations of the some of the characters. The vocalizations really helped shape the characters themselves and who they are, so this was really a fun part of development. We had a lot of laughs.

When recording voices, I sometimes would wrote some of the scripts for the game characters at some of the locations in Stranger’s Wrath, though the design team handled most of that work. Really, most of my contributions are on the music and sound side of those games.

Magog on the March: You have said that Oddworld Inhabitants picked you out of 150 applicants. What were Oddworld Inhabitants looking for in a composer? What made you the right candidate?

Michael Bross: Actually, I was picked out of approximately 500 applicants. They were looking for someone who could conjure the right emotions through the music while also creating something unique. For me, luckily, I had a lot of experience working on games already, so that made it easier for me to hit the ground running there.

Magog on the March: Apparently, you weren’t familiar with the first two Oddworld games during the production of Munch’s Oddysee. What was Lorne Lanning’s expectations for the Munch’s Oddysee soundtrack?

Michael Bross: I did have some familiarity with the earlier games but I didn’t necessarily always follow the musical formula that was chiseled out before. Munch and Stranger, both being in 3D worlds, allowed me to think about how to approach music differently for those games. I did get some inspiration from the earlier soundtracks but Lorne also encouraged me to do something that was my own.

Magog on the March: Were you ever in contact with Ellen Meijers or Josh Gabriel? Did they influence your direction with the Oddworld soundtracks at all?

Michael Bross: I met Josh when I initially interviewed at Oddworld. With Ellen, I did talk to her a few months later but we didn’t have any discussions related to the projects. Josh and I still keep in touch here and there. Really, both Ellen and Josh contributed so much to Oddworld in the early days.

Magog on the March: You have described Lorne Lanning as a “friend” and “brother”. What is it like to work with him?

Michael Bross: He is inspiring to work with, and I have also found he challenges how I think about the work I do. There’s so much I’ve learned from working with him. He can also be tough and demanding, but I am grateful for the time I’ve gotten to work with him.

Magog on the March: What is your favourite game in the Oddworld franchise?

Michael Bross: For me, it would be Stranger’s Wrath. Not sure I can really be objective here, though. In working on the games, I form a different relationship to them as compared to fans of the games.

Magog on the March: Who is your favourite Oddworld character? Why?

Michael Bross: Probably Stranger. I like how he transforms from being a loner to a hero. Also, I really enjoy the Clakkerz. There’s so much humor around them.

Magog on the March: What was your approach to re-creating the soundtrack for the Abe’s Oddysee remake?

Michael Bross: There was a balancing act between respecting the original material while also doing the new. Really, creating the new elements was partially driven by the fact that the original source assets didn’t exist anymore for parts of the game, so instead of trying to re-create, we decided to do something fresh.

Magog on the March: Providing it doesn’t go against your NDA, could you tell us anything about your involvement in the upcoming Soulstorm? How does your work compare to your previous Oddworld compositions?

Michael Bross: I worked on the first phase of the project and created what I hope will be some exciting material for Oddworld’s fans. From that point, though, I left the project to pursue some other endeavors I was interested in.

Magog on the March: What is next for Michael Bross?

Michael Bross: I’m doing a lot of work on VR experiences these days, all revolving around Oculus. Also, I recently produced some work on Tencent’s Honor of Kings, which from what I understand is the biggest game in China with over 200 million players per month. And there is some new work of my own I’ve been in the studio and working on. Not ready to talk about that yet but soon.

interview

MOM Interview: Elodie Adams

Today we were able to ask a few questions to Elodie Adams, Australian neo-gothic rock artist, best known amongst Oddworld fans for having her song—entitled “Born To Love You”—featured in the credits of New ‘n’ Tasty. We want to thank her for taking time out to answer our questions.

Elodie-Adams

Magog on the March: We’ll start off with an easy one: What is your favourite game in the Oddworld franchise?

Elodie Adams: My fondest memories are of playing Oddysee. The environments were incredible back then and of course still are today even though we’re talking 90s graphics. I’m a very terrible gamer buy I absolutely love immersive fantasy environments and the gameplay was/is so fresh and original.

Magog on the March: You once said in an interview that your were introduced to Lorne Lanning via a friend on Facebook. Could you please tell us more about your relationship with Lanning and the conversations that led to your involvement with “New ’n’ Tasty”, perhaps for the benefit of those who would like to work with Oddworld Inhabitants one day?

Elodie Adams: Ah. It was a very once in a lifetime sort of thing. Chance. Unfortunately the music industry is a cruel beast and I was just fortunate Lorne heard my voice. A friend told me Lorne had a Facebook account so I sent him a link to my YouTube demo and he actually listened to it. That never happens! He replied and told me he felt the lyrics were about Abe’s journey and his relationship with the Mudokons, which I felt was such an honor. It’s interesting as a songwriter, when you compose music with one intention and those listening hear something entirely else.

Magog on the March: What’s the story behind the song “Born to Love You”? Could you also give us your interpretation on how it relates to Abe, Oddworld and “New ‘n’ Tasty” itself?

Elodie Adams: Well I wrote the song about my relationship with the music industry. How it is sort of evil and tears you apart from the inside out without a care in the world but you keep going out of love for the music. I am sure Lorne can answer this question much better than I can. Actually he never discussed with me what his interpretation of the lyrics were… just that he had one.

Magog on the March: Some hardcore fans of the Oddworld franchise have voiced criticism at the inclusion of “Born to Love You” in “New ’n’ Tasty”, believing the atmospheric ode of that tied off the original game suited the atmosphere of the world better. What is your response to this?

Elodie Adams: Lorne created Oddworld and he loved the song that I wrote so his opinion is the only one I really pay any attention to. I have an incredible respect for Lorne. What the fans don’t know is that we also went through… maybe 10-15 or so revisions of the song so the final product is the one that Lorne himself responded very positively to.

Magog on the March: Did you get a chance to play “New ’n’ Tasty”? If so, what did you think of the final product?

Elodie Adams: Yes of course I did. I had to hear my song in the credits. I felt the developers did a wonderful job!

Magog on the March: What is it like to work with Lorne Lanning?

Elodie Adams: It was a life changing experience that I felt I was a bit too young for at the time. He really taught me what it’s like to work on a large scale professional project and the importance of creating a sound that is appropriate for the overall vision. Before that I was making music on my laptop on my bedroom so I definitely wasn’t prepared for anything of that scale! I definitely put my everything in to working as hard as I could and creating the best sound that I could. I grew up from being involved in New ‘n’ Tasty.

Magog on the March: Feel free to answer: Were you once an Oddworld “Fan of the Month”?

Elodie Adams: Yup that’s me as a kid! How embarrassing!

Magog on the March: Will you be playing “Oddworld: Soulstorm”?

Elodie Adams: Absolutely. How could anyone resist giving it a spin!

Magog on the March: What are you working on next in your professional life?

Elodie Adams: I’ve been dealing with some pretty serious health issues since then. I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia, which doesn’t have a cure and means I’m constantly in chronic pain and… well you know, life sometimes throws challenges at you that break you before making you stronger and I feel that I’m just coming out the other side. I wouldn’t recommend getting an incurable illness.

Regardless of that, music will always be a part of my life whether I like it or not since it sort of follows me around like a stalker. I can’t stop melodies and lyrics from talking to me. It’s always been that way.

Honestly… I have no definitive plans for my life right now so we’ll see what happens. Life is funny like that.