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Six Strings with...Jason Graves [Interview]

Another great interview with Jason Graves, he is known for is astounding work in film/tv/ and video games and he stopped over for a chat... Thank you!
-Jeremy [Retro-Z]

-Please tell us your involvement on "Tomb Raider." Did you get to step outside the box and bring a new face to the game or staying in the traditional.

The developer was definitely interested in stepping outside of the box and trying something new. This is, after all, a complete reboot from the previous eight official Tomb Raider titles. It made sense that the music also get a reboot. It was a wonderful chance to start fresh and really brand the game with a specific sound and new main theme for Lara.

-With a mix of scores under your credits do you prefer game or film/television work?

Creatively speaking, I fall firmly into the video game category. But that doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy film or television. Film is especially fun to work on because it’s literally the opposite of an interactive game score. It’s very linear and provides that kind of “instant gratification” that comes with watching a scene before and after you’ve scored it. Games are a more “wait and see” kind of feedback - you have to allow time for the developer to implement the music before you can play the game and hear how the music reacts.

Both have their benefits. I’m currently working on two film scores alongside multiple game titles. For me, it simply comes down to what projects allow me to be creative and learn new things.

-How much creative control do you have working on any of your projects and where do you find inspiration?

It obviously varies from project to project, but in general I seem to have more and more input on the general music direction before the score begins. Many times the developer relies on me to create a fresh approach for a score - Tomb Raider is a perfect example. I wouldn’t go so far to call it “creative control” - the developer still retains that. But there is definitely a lot more creative dialog involved than there was five or six years ago. I think that’s a natural part of a composer’s journey. I know I wasn’t given that kind of freedom when I was starting out!

-I asked composers all the time, is it weird to have a fan base and know that some of them know your scores better than you sometimes. Is it a nice feeling to have score groupies?

I would never say it’s weird - unusual may be a more appropriate word. I’m just a music fan at heart. I grew up on a steady diet of John Williams, Jerry Goldsmith and the usual smattering of classical composers, obsessing over favorite cues and listening to film scores while mowing lawns for money to buy more albums. So thinking about someone else paying the least bit of attention to MY music in the same seems strange but amazing at the same time. Giving anyone a fraction of the enjoyment I experience listening to music would be the ultimate goal for any composer.

-Where does a typical day begin and end for you, are there typical days?

I cut my teeth in the world of television music, where deadlines were looming daily and changes had to be made in a matter of minutes. A few years of that, plus the occasional film or commercial work, taught me to listen very carefully to the client and deliver music very quickly. As a result, I tend to be very schedule oriented in my game work as well, which is quite the opposite in terms of deadlines and lightening-fast turnarounds...until the inevitable end crunch, of course.

So my days are fairly congruous, day to day. My studio is a separate building in my backyard, so I normally walk back around 9am, take a short lunch break around noon and wrap up the day by 5:30 or 6pm. No nights or weekends unless absolutely necessary. I finish a minimum of two minutes of music each day, sometimes upwards of five or six if I’m scoring cinematics or slower, more simple music. I prefer to focus on a specific project each day, so if there are multiple projects going on simultaneously, which is usually the case, I can concentrate for a full day on a single style of music. By the end of the day there is new, original music that didn’t exist previously that morning. That kind of creation and discovery is what keeps me motivated and looking forward to the next day’s adventure.

Here is an extreme interview with Host Zachary Levi with Jason Graves:

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