Sony’s latest hit, Days Gone, has been one of 2019’s best-selling games so far and I love it on the official PlayStation Magazine. It was a beautiful soundtrack by composer Nathan Whitehead who accompanied us on a long trail in Oregon when we fought Freaks. The official PlayStation Magazine # 163 comes with a free sample CD, but you can also get the full soundtrack (featuring Lewis Capaldi) here.
In this interview with Nathan Whitehead, OPM told the composer about his passion for music, from making lo-fi cassette mixes in his childhood bedroom to how music evolved into a complete career. talked. Since then, he has written, arranged and produced music for movies and video games, including The Purge: Election Year. But as you’ll soon see, Days Gone has become a truly passionate project for composers.
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Some kind of music building block was needed to capture the interaction in Days Gone.
“I knew that Freakers themes needed unique sounds and textures …”
“The environment in the Pacific Northwest is absolutely beautiful, and this was definitely the score needed to connect to it.”
For me, the idea that defines the score is the determination of the value of the human spirit and relationships. Early in the process, Sony Bend Studio’s creative director John Garvin said that something in line with the game isn’t just about surviving, it’s about finding out why you want to survive. When I heard that, I was immediately excited everywhere the music could go. I found it really interesting to go back and forth between the survival aspect and this introspective aspect.
“I wanted to write so many different styles of music while playing in a band that created an identity crisis.”
Credit: SIE Bend Studio
Are there any themes or choruses that you’re particularly proud of on the Days Gone soundtrack? What is the reason?
White head: I am very happy with the main theme of Days Gone. It’s easy, but for me it has something to do with Deacon and the soul quest I was talking about. I think it belongs to this beautiful environment. It can be a little depressing, but it’s not hopeless. I think it sets the tone of this dangerous and emotional journey.
What are the frequently asked questions about your job that you would like to stop asking interviewers, and why?
White head: Ha! I’m not good at listing what I like, so I don’t like being asked about my favorite game or composer. I feel like I have a lot of favorites. You cannot have just one name. Moreover, they vary from day to day. I don’t want to listen to the same music all the time. Sometimes I want to watch a horror movie, and sometimes I want to watch a drama. It’s part of me as a composer. When playing in a band, I wanted to write so many different styles of music that it would cause an identity crisis. I finally realized that the composer was exploring all these different genres, and that was what I had to do.
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Days Gone contains “anywhere from two to six film scores” worth of music, says the game’s composer
Sony’s latest hit, Days Gone, is one of the best-selling games of 2019 so far and we also loved it here at Official PlayStation Magazine. Keeping us company on those long Oregon trails, as we battled the Freaks, was a beautiful original soundtrack by composer Nathan Whitehead. Official PlayStation Magazine #163 came with a free sampler CD, but you can also grab the full soundtrack here (featuring Lewis Capaldi).
In this Nathan Whitehead interview, OPM spoke to the composer about his passion for music, from creating lo-fi cassette mixes in his bedroom as a child, to how it has evolved into a full blown career. He’s since written, arranged, and produced scores for films and video games, including The Purge: Election Year. But, as you’re about to discover, Days Gone has been a real passion project for the composer.
Save up to 51% on Official PlayStation Magazine subscriptions
“To score the interactivity in Days Gone, we needed sort of musical building blocks.”
“I knew the Freakers theme would need some unique sounds and textures…”
“The Pacific Northwest setting is absolutely beautiful and it really felt like the score needed to connect to this environment as well.”
To me, the ideas that define the score are the tenacity of the human spirit and the value of relationships. Early in the process John Garvin, creative director at Sony Bend Studio, said something along the lines of the game isn’t simply about surviving, it also examines why we want to survive. When I heard that, I was instantly excited about all the places the music could go. I found it really interesting to be navigating the survival aspect and also this introspective aspect at the same time.
“When I was playing in bands, I wanted to write so many different styles of music that it created this identity crisis.”
(Image credit: SIE Bend Studio)
Is there a theme or refrain on the Days Gone soundtrack that you’re particularly proud of and why?
Whitehead: I’m quite happy with the Days Gone main theme. It’s simple but, to me, it connects to Deacon and some of that introspection I was mentioning. I think it feels like it belongs in this beautiful setting. It has a little bit of melancholy but it’s not hopeless and I think it sets the tone well for this dangerous and emotional journey.
When it comes to your work, which frequently asked question do you wish interviewers would stop asking and why?
Whitehead: Ha! You know, I’m not very good with listing my favourite anything so I usually don’t enjoy the questions asking about my favourite game or favourite composer. I feel like I have too many favourites, I can’t name just one. Plus, they are different from day-to-day. I don’t always feel like listening to the same music. Some days I want to see a horror movie, other days I want a drama. This is actually part of why I became a composer. When I was playing in bands, I wanted to write so many different styles of music that it created this identity crisis. I eventually realised that composers get to explore all these different genres and I knew that’s what I had to do.
This article first appeared in OPM. For more excellent features like the one you’ve just read, don’t forget to subscribe to the print or digital edition at MyFavouriteMagazines.
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