Composer Jesper Kyd on Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood and Curing Insomnia (Interview)

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The Assassin’s Creed franchise is a very unique property with many different stories throughout history, but yet the story is very cohesive as a whole. The main character, Desmond Miles, is living in the distant future, reliving his ancestors’ past from The Crusade era to the Renaissance era. When coming up with the score for this game, it can be a challenge to combine different themes from the past and future, from classical orchestra to electronic sounds to give us a cool medley. I present to you, Jesper Kyd, composer extraordinaire for the recently released Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood. He has worked on the Assassin’s Creed franchise, the Hitman franchise, and Syfy’s The Resistance Series.

Nerd Reactor: Now that this is your third time working on Assassin’s Creed, do you feel you can still bring a lot to the table in terms of innovation?

Jesper Kyd: The Assassin’s Creed games have gone through a tremendous transformation. Even Assassin’s Creed II and Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood are very different games when examining the storyline. That’s what I pay a lot of attention to when scoring a game. The Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood storyline is very dark and Ezio has become a master Assassin. This changes the overall mood of the music a lot (from previous games).

Since the story still follows Ezio, do you try to keep the same themes from ACII to Brotherhood in order to keep the continuity, or do you try to bring something new to keep things fresh?

There is a lot of new music in Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood. Combat, Escape, Exploration, Mission music – all these elements have new music and there are also a lot of cues for the Borgia Family and the storyline.

I do bring some themes back when it makes sense and then add new arrangements around those themes. Some cues from Assassin’s Creed II only got used once during the game. Music such as the two Venice Flight cues, “Ezio’s Family,” “Earth” and “Florence Tarantella.” We wanted to bring these themes back. There are also a few other reappearing cues.

Bringing back some Assassin’s Creed II inspired music tracks reinforce Ezio’s experience and the Italian experience and helps connect Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood with Assassin’s Creed II. Brotherhood is a continuation of Assassin’s Creed II – the story literally picks up right where Assassin’s Creed II left off.

Was the process still the same for you in terms of waiting for Brotherhood to be fully completed before starting work on the music?

The process was different since the game had a shorter development time. I had to get started early on and I did not have time to wait until the game was almost completed. The mission music and music for the cinematics were the last elements of the score I wrote. To complete these two elements of the score I needed the game to be far along enough to make sure the music would fit. The gameplay music is very dependent on the visuals and gameplay feel.

When Assassin’s Creed came out, I was addicted to the “City of Jerusalem” score. It helped me many times to cure my insomnia. Do you have a favorite score/song that you’re really addicted to now?

That’s great to hear that my music could somehow help you =) I know exactly how you feel regarding the insomnia and using music to cure it.

Regarding a favorite song right now, I have been listening to a lot of Royksopp lately. One song I’ve been hearing a lot is Royksopp’s “Electric Counterpoint III. Fast – RYXP_’s Milde Salve.” Someone put together a great video of cliff jumping/parachuting to this track and I don’t know what it is, but it’s just an amazing visual to watch.

It must be awesome to listen to your own music at a concert, like Video Games Live. How exciting is that?

It’s always an honor when an orchestra/concert series would like to play my music.

Since you’re a fan of movie scores, do you have a favorite composer?

That would be Hans Zimmer.

I’m the type of guy that listens to movie/game scores in the car. Sometimes, drivers in the other cars would give me a weird look since I’m not listening to the typical pop stuff. Do you listen to your own music or movie/game scores while driving?

I don’t listen to my own music outside the studio. When listening to my music in the studio it’s more of a research project where I analyze and listen to specific elements to make sure I am pushing myself forward.

I listen mostly to film music in the studio and when outside I find myself listening more to bands. I love driving to music that has a driving feel – some of my favorite driving music is Underworld.

Now that you have your own album coming out called Deftronic, can you tell us a little bit about it, and what fans should look forward to?

My album is coming along great, thanks for asking =) I don’t really want to give too much away until it’s finished but I can say it will have a very organic, spiritual feel. It feels like a natural path to take. The Assassin’s Creed scores are also full of spirituality and mysticism. I think it’s safe to say that if people enjoy my Assassin’s Creed scores I think they will like the album.

Since you’re so busy now with making music, what current games do you make time for?

Red Dead Redemption and Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood are the games I am playing right now.

That’s it for our interview with Jesper Kyd. Don’t forget to support him and check out the Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood Soundtrack on Amazon.

John “Spartan” Nguyen

John “Spartan” Nguyen is the editor-in-chief at Nerd Reactor and is based in Orange County, CA. He is a graphic designer and illustrator.

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