The soundtrack to the legendary hit game, Goldeneye 64 has been orchestrated and released online by long time Bond fan music contributor, Rich Douglas.
The album, to be released by Joypad Records, has received praise from the original composer, Grant Kirkhope. It features 15 tracks that include music from levels such as Facility, Surface and Caverns – and not excluding the excellent cues from the Watch/Pause screen, the Logos and Briefing screens, and a supurb James Bond theme.
We sat down with Douglas so we could discuss the album, his thoughts on the game, and what he has planned for the future.
Can you tell us how this project came to life?
It all started at the end of July this year. I was in between projects and have been really wanting to do some new Bond music for quite some time. I was playing Goldeneye on my trusty N64 for the millionth time and started to hear Grant Kirkhope’s & Graeme Norgate’s amazing score completely orchestrated in my head, there is some really epic and cinematic stuff in that score that was just aching to be orchestrated.
That night, I put together my orchestration for the Watch tune and thus the project was born. I couldn’t stop there—and since I had dealt with Joypad Records in the past—I knew they could get the album licensed if I could get enough music put together for a complete listening experience. I only had one week in between gigs so I worked tirelessly to get all 15 tracks recorded and mastered before my next project started!
Why Goldeneye 64? and not one of the other Bond games?
Like many people, Goldeneye 64 has a very nostalgic and special place in my heart (especially the music heard within it). It was really some of the first (and still the best) “couch deathmatch” I have ever played, and in all honesty, the reason I missed so many classes in college after the game had come out! I always have really enjoyed the game’s score and quite frankly, like tons of others I’m sure, was sad not to hear any of these killer cues re-orchestrated in the recent Goldeneye remake for the Wii.
There are so many memorable motifs, and so many awesome iterations of the James Bond Theme heard within making it the perfect combo and a score that was really just begging for a cinematic re-orchestration. Sure, projects like Goldeneye Source have remixed the score cues (and quite well I might add), but strangely no one has really done a thorough re-orchestration of this score which is what makes my Goldeneye album a bit different. Make no mistake, this is an orchestrated cover album and not a remix album. While I did utilize subtle electronic percussion, synth arps, basses, and pads, they are used sparingly and only to back my orchestra.
What impact do you think the original score had on the success of the game?
Wow, a huge impact. A good score can make a game a winner, while a bad score can really drag things down astronomically! What Kirkhope and Norgate achieved with limited cart space was quite impressive for its time. With a very limited sample pool, they effectively captured the vibe of Serras Goldeneye film score while upping the intensity level making the music a perfect fit for the game.
Can you imagine those awesome deathmatch sessions sans tunes like Archives or The Dam? Neither can I. They are engraved in our mind and that really says something about the game’s score, it’s extremely memorable and really took the gameplay to the next level.
How does your score differ and what did you want to achieve with it?
My score is, for the most part, a note for note recreation of the Goldeneye 64 score with quite a bit more orchestral embellishment/accompaniment. I did add a few of my own touches here and there, the brass fanfare in Statue for example, to help add to the cinematic experience and embellish a bit.
That said, I wanted to create a very cinematic listening experience and transform the game tunes into something that would be right at home a Bond film all the while keeping it authentic and true to the game score. In fact, there are lots of nods to both David Arnold and Eric Serra. Fans of both Serras score and the Goldeneye 64 score will surely recognize the reverbant metal hit heard throughout my iteration of the score. This is the sample used by Serra in the Goldeneye score (“infinite one” from the Proteus 2 Sampler / Rompler). I even worked in the same “Goldeneye Overture” timpani drum sample into Bunker. Authenticity was key, otherwise it would ultimately turn fans off, which is definitely not what I wanted to happen.
I also wanted to approach this like I would any other game or film score, so I set up an initial sample set and “sound” that I would stick with for the entire score to make the entire listening experience cohesive. So you’ll hear a lot of the same orchestration style, the same synth patches and vibes used throughout. When you hear Kamen’s License to Kill score for example, it just has that “Kamen sound” running throughout. When you check out Arnold’s Die Another Day score, it oozes Arnold for the entire listen. While some of my orchestrations are definite nods to David Arnold, I wanted the listener to hear bits of the “Rich Douglas sound” throughout this release and wanted every track to have the same sort of sound and vibe. This is where Goldeneye Source went wrong in my opinion, while the remixes are very cool, they had tons of different/unique artists working on the mod’s score making it sort of a mish mash of styles and sounds. Of course that’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it is certainly not what I set out to accomplish here.
The cues on the album needed to be instantly recognizable while at the same time completely updated and feel like part of the same album from the same composer. It wasn’t an easy task, but I really think I accomplished what I set out to do and am extremely happy with this release!
The score is officially licensed – is there any information you can give on that? Who did you have to contact to get the green light?
Unlike all of the other Bond music I’ve done over the last 12 years (wow, it has been that long), about midway through I felt like this was really shaping up to be some of my best 007 music to date, so I wanted to see about getting it released officially without having to worry about legal action coming from MGM, Nintendo, etc etc.
The fan base is definitely out there, so a formal release seemed like a good idea. Two things needed to happen for this to work. one, I wanted to get Grant Kirkhope’s blessing so I shared a couple of my re-orchestrations with him via twitter, he liked them. Phase one complete. Two, I would have to find a way to license the game music which is where Joypad Records comes in. I have worked with these guys in the past on several other smaller game re-orchestration projects and have even released my score for the official Shadowgate remake through them as well, so I know that they were very capable of getting the music licensed quickly and in a very professional manner. This essentially means Joypad clears the music rights for me allowing the album to be sold legally without any unwanted ramifications from studios, publishers, etc.
It was also important for me to make sure everyone who deserves to get a piece of the pie gets a piece! So anyone who purchases this album needs to know that not only myself, but the original composers (as well as a few other game design peeps) are getting supported! So support cool game music and freelance composers by purchasing the album!
How did you make contact with Grant Kirkhope – did he give you any history to the original score for the game?
I got in touch with Grant via Twitter, and actually no, he did not give me any history on the original score for the game. But in retrospect, had there been more time, I would have been very interested to really chat with him about some of the cues and where his inspiration came from.
Some of the levels are missing from the score – any reason why you didn’t do all of them?
That’s true, a few tunes like Silo, Bunker 2, and Frigate are missing. This is because by the time I got to them I felt like they were a tad redundant. Many of the cues utilize copious amounts of the James Bond Theme throughout and those levels listed above are really just the Bond theme with a cool bassline or a few embellishments so I felt like it was ground I had already covered. I have early versions of them sitting in my DAW right now.. but they didn’t make it into the final album cut.
What was the highlight for you in making this album?
Honestly, it was my version of The James Bond theme which bookends the album. I’ve been making Bond music for a very long time and, strangely, have never done a complete version of the theme. Sure I had done bits and pieces but have never done a fully orchestrated version with live guitar (which I had the pleasure of playing) complete with all of the orchestral motifs.
I really studied many versions of the theme and wanted to make this a more traditional version, much like what is heard at the end of the recent Craig era films but with my own touches here and there to sort of own it and make it relatively cohesive with the rest of the album. It just seemed really appropriate to end the album with a classy and jazzy iteration of the James Bond Theme.
Something else which was a highlight for me was tracking down the actual samples that Serra utilized in the film’s score. That is something that I’ve been trying to do for years and eventually tracked them down for the purpose of this project, which was extremely gratifying and makes for an extremely authentic listening experience.
What was your favourite track from the original score?
It’s a tie between Watch and Archives. Watch is totally a reversion of what is heard at the start of the Goldeneye teaser music, but gameified, which is extremely cool. That’s some killer pause music! It’s just such a cool version of the Bond theme with such swagger and I’ve always really dug it. Then there’s Archives which is something I mostly remember from my Goldeneye multiplayer days. It’s burned into my brain and just has a cool sense of urgency, let alone that really cool descending motif heard at the beginning and throughout.
What is your favourite level from the game?
Frankly, I’ve always been partial to the first level, Dam. It’s really well balanced (to me anyway) and I love how it tells the story leading up to Bonds bungee jump in the films pre credit sequence. I also like the added objectives for that level when you up the difficulty, and the fact you can totally make completing them impossible by blowing up the computer where you’re supposed to place the modem.
Game’s aren’t nearly that punishing anymore, save for the recently released Rise of the Triad remake, which is awesome. In fact, if Goldeneye was developed more like a Call of Duty game they would remind you every second of your objective(s), have a huge yellow arrow above the computer monitor where you’re supposed to place the modem (with a hologram of the modem on the monitor depicting the precise placement), and ultimately make your gun point down when you approached the computer making it impossible to blow it up. Lame. Always loved devious and devilishly hard games.
When will the album be released, where can we get it, and how much will it cost?
The album is out now via the Joypad Records store and can be purchased via the following link for $9.99. It’s 40 minutes in length and contains many of the tunes heard in the game, even the likes of Aztec and Egyptian! Grab the album here from loudr.fm.
What’s next for you? Any future Bond related plans?
At the moment I’ve started all of the sound and music work on a sci-fi game recently kickstarted called Harvest. I’m also about to wrap up all of the sound design for the official Shadowgate remake. This project is really cool as the original designers of the Nintendo version of the game, which came out in 1987, are doing the remake. It’s very true to the original, and my score features many of the memorable chiptunes (which he had the rights to) in orchestrated form. More about Shadowgate can be read via Zojois site. My 70 minute Shadowgate score can be purchased via iTunes, or in lossless formats via loudr and/or bandcamp.
Another game I recently completed scoring is Takedown: Red Sabre. A hardcore tactical shooter from Serellan that is headed to PC and the Xbox 360 this fall. If you’re a fan of the hardcore nature of the older Rainbow Six titles (and Bill Browns music for them), you’ll dig this game and my score! More info can be found on the website.
As for Bond plans, when time permits I’m sure I’ll tackle something here in the nearish future, but there is nothing currently set in stone, certainly not another album of this size. I’d like to see how this release goes, and if it does well, I’d really like to tackle doing something similar for The World Is Not Enough N64.
Of course, I’m secretly hoping that maybe, just maybe, a developer or producer who is working on the next Bond video game will hear this Goldeneye release and (finally) give me a shot at scoring a bond game! I’ve been scoring video games professionally now since 2005, so this would be the next logical step in my career. Honestly, that would be one of my dream gigs, providing the complete score for a future Bond game. Bonus if it’s like the Goldeneye remake and I’d be working with David Arnold!
My James Bond music WILL return…
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