Interview with Jason Graves
Composer of Video Games like Alpha Protocol, City of Heroes, Silent Hunter 5, Dead Space, Section 8,
Command & Conquer 4: Tiberian Twilight, Wheelman, Silent Hunter 4, and more

August 13, 2010

Jason Graves is a British Academy Award-winning composer who has brought his passion for music to video game franchises such as DEAD SPACE (EA), STAR TREK (Bethesda), SILENT HUNTER (Ubisoft) and COMMAND AND CONQUER (EA). His Hollywood expertise allows him to move effortlessly between film, television and games, and he is renowned worldwide for his cinematic, immersive and award-winning music.

Jason's diverse musical background as a classically-trained composer, jazz drummer, keyboardist, guitarist and world percussionist allow him to expertly compose in many different genres of music. As a result, his game credits alone include more than eighty titles, ranging from electronic and rock to full symphonic scores. He performs world percussion and guitar on many of his own tracks and has conducted and recorded his live orchestral scores at Air Studios London, Capitol Records, Paramount Pictures, Skywalker Sound, and with the Seattle and Salt Lake City Philharmonic orchestras.

Jason's music has also been honored with three Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences Award (AIAS) nominations, winning "Outstanding Achievement in Audio" for DEAD SPACE. He has received seventeen G.A.N.G. nominations and four wins, including "Audio of the Year" for DEAD SPACE, "Best Original Theme" nominations for STAR TREK: LEGACY and BLAZING ANGELS 2 and "Music of the Year" nominations for DEAD SPACE and KING ARTHUR. Jason Graves is represented by the Gorfaine/Schwartz Agency.

For more information visit

British Academy Award-Winning Composer Jason Graves scores
City of Heroes Going Rogue™

Photo by Dan Goldwasser

Dear Jason Graves, may you tell us something about the videogame «City of Heroes Going Rogue». What kind of genre is it and why did you compose the score for it?

Going Rogue falls squarely into the "superhero" category. It’s an MMO (Massively Multiplayer Online) title, so there are many character creation options and gameplay strategies that players can experiment with.

I’ve always wanted to write a superhero score and my friend Adam Kay is the Audio Director at Paragon Studios, where City of Heroes is made. I pick my titles carefully, but this specific game was an obvious one for me. I was able to compose superhero music and work with a good friend again, so it was really a win-win situation.

What kind of instruments do you used and how would you describe this score and his music style? Did you use choir and orchestra?

The score itself is a mix of orchestra, choir and electronic elements. Paragon was interested in updating the sound of previous City of Heroes releases, musically speaking, bringing it into a more cinematic world. The score has a fairly dark tone, as do most modern day comic book movies. It was written as a mostly location-based score, so there are specific pieces for different points on the map in the game.

How did you create themes for the game? For example, is there a Main Theme, one for Villains, one for Heroes…?

There is a main theme that speaks to the moral ambiguity the player now faces with Going Rogue. Players are now free to pick good or evil and switch between them, which is the hook for the gameplay concept behind Going Rogue. I tried to musically personify this by taking the main theme of the game and putting it through a lot of good/evil settings. So I guess you could say the Hero Theme is the main theme in a more major key, “good” musical landscape and vice versa for the Villains.

What kind of information, requirements or advice did you receive before you started writing for «City of Heroes Going Rogue»?

Lots of background to the game! There’s a huge story and history to the City of Heroes franchise. Getting into a new project is always a fun time for me because I get to immerse myself in the world of the game without having to think about anything musical yet. I visited Paragon Studios twice and spent the day with team, playing through existing levels and looking at rough versions of new stuff for Going Rogue.

May we hope for the soundtrack release of your score?

Definitely! Paragon just released an official soundtrack, available worldwide through iTunes, Amazon and many other retailers. It’s about 40 minutes long and has a good portion of the music I composed for the game.

What were the difficulties in this score and where did you find your inspiration and ideas for writing and composing?

The biggest challenge was to get a superhero vibe in the music without being too cliché or over the top. We listened to a lot of classical music, film scores and previous game scores I had composed before I started working on the score for Going Rogue. We were really listening more for what we didn’t want the score to sound like. We decided to go for a darker, more dramatic sense of what a superhero is, which follows the same idea of moral ambiguity in the game.

What do you do in your free time? What kind of music do you listen to, if it isn't a soundtrack or score?
I’ve got two kids, so there’s a lot of gaming going on in our house! I also love to cook, which seems like a natural extension of composing to me. I love listening to jazz, especially West Coast jazz from the 50’s and early 60’s and all the big band stuff.

What is going to come after City of Heroes Going Rogue? What are you composing right now?

There are a lot of things going on right now, but so far everything is still top secret. What I can say is I’ve got a few big horror/suspense titles coming out in the near future, along with some other franchise sequels scheduled for a 2011 release.

Thank you very much for your time and all the best from Switzerland and France.

Thanks so much! It was great talking with you.

Tracklist of the Score to City of Heroes Going Rogue - scored by Jason Graves:

Track 1: Welcome To Nova Praetoria
Track 2: Just Another Day in Utopia
Track 3: Run Resistance, Run
Track 4: Chasing the Dream
Track 5: Beyond The Horizon
Track 6: Shadow Of Doubt
Track 7: Building A Better Tomorrow
Track 8: Very Dark Places
Track 9: The Dark Side Of A Perfect World
Track 10: The Tempest
Track 11: Stepping into the Void
Track 12: Ghost in the Machine
Track 13: The Hamidon Wars

Fabrice Steurer in collaboration with Christine Blanc

Special Thanks to Greg O'Connor

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