Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Music: Interview with US Composer Chris Porter

It's time for music again and we love to find out new sounds. Today we're excited to introduce an awesome composer. Read on to find out more about his music and career!

Please tell us a little about your background and where you are from. 
I’m originally from the state of Michigan in the U.S., but I currently live in Okayama, Japan. I spent a year studying abroad at Kyushu University in the city of Fukuoka in 2009/2010. After returning home to graduate from university, I decided to move back to Japan. I’ve been living here since 2011.

How cool that you've adapted so well! Do you play any instruments? Which ones?
I’m most proficient at guitar, but I also play a little piano. I must say that my performance skills have taken quite a hit since I’ve become so focused on composing. Back in high school and the following few years, I was constantly in bands and was performing shows several times a month. I had lots of reason and opportunities to practice guitar because of that. Now the bulk of my music work is composing and arranging, so I don’t have the time I once did to dedicate to playing. I'm also married and have a son now. However, I still look up guitar tabs just about every week and jam out to some old favorites when my wife and son aren’t home (sometimes even when they are...).

I'm sure they enjoy hearing you jamming the guitar! Who was your greatest influence to follow in the music career? Why?
My biggest influence is definitely the Japanese video game music composer Yasunori Mitsuda. Hearing his score for the Playstation RPG Xenogears was a revelation and it’s where my love affair with game music began. I had enjoyed game music in the context of the games themselves since I was a little kid, but Xenogears was the first soundtrack that I actively sought out and purchased. In fact, I didn't even know they made physical soundtracks to video games until then. After several years of listening to game music, I started to experiment with digital audio production and began composing my own music in the style of video games.

That's great that videogame opened a window to your other musical talents. So besides Mitsuda's influence, what drove you to start composing scores?
After many years of casually writing music in the style of the video game soundtracks that I loved so much, I decided one day that I really needed to try to compose for an actual game. The way I found my first composing gig was actually quite interesting. I posted a status update on Facebook asking if anyone was making a game, or knew someone who was making a game, and needed a composer for it. A friend of mine who I studied abroad with replied that he had a classmate who was getting their degree in game design and was working on a game. He put us in touch and his friend brought me on to write the soundtrack to his game “Why is the Princess in a Magic Forest?!”

Wow, how exciting! What's your favorite movie/game score? Has it helped shape your work in any way?
As I mentioned above, my favorite game soundtrack is Xenogears. Choosing my favorite movie score is a bit difficult. I’m going to break the rules and choose four. I’d have to say it’s a tie between Jurassic Park (John Williams), The Last Samurai (Hans Zimmer), The Lord of the Rings Trilogy (Howard Shore), and Swallowtail Butterfly (Takeshi Kobayashi). I’ve probably listened to those four movie soundtracks more than any others and all are very special to me in their own way. I can’t say that I’m influenced as much by film music as I am by game music, but I enjoy listening to it immensely.  

I'm a huge fan of John Williams and Hans Zimmer too! How do you draw inspiration to compose?
When I’m composing for a game, I get the most inspiration from the game itself; either from scripts, sketches, screenshots, conversations with the developers, gameplay footage, or actually playing the game myself. I feel like nothing can inform the direction the music should take more than your own intuition as a composer while interacting with the game itself.

That's very interesting! And do you prefer to compose at night or during the day? When are you most creative?
I used to prefer composing at night, but my schedule changed a couple of years ago and now I get most of my work done in the morning. However, during particularly busy periods, I’ll find myself utilizing both ends of the day equally.

The muse is always present, then! What's the favorite music you've created? What inspired it?
My absolute favorite type of music to write is RPG-inspired World/Folk/Orchestral, but you wouldn’t know it by looking at my discography! I have seven published albums, including six video game soundtracks, but none of them are for RPGs. Don’t get me wrong, each and every one of those was a joy to create, but I’ve always dreamed of composing for an RPG. A few years ago, I wrote over thirty tracks for an indie RPG, but due to unforeseen circumstances, development has been on hiatus for a long time and I’m not sure if it will ever get finished. Fortunately, you can hear all of that music as I was able to post it on my SoundCloud account. You can find it in the playlist called "Turn Back Time Soundtrack". I wrote approximately thirty tracks for another RPG called “A Story of the End – Revere” that is on track to being released, but it’s still in the post-production stage.

However, just because my published albums don’t reflect my composing preferences doesn’t mean I haven’t been keeping myself busy composing music in that style. My favorite collection of my music is for an album that’s releasing on June 5th called “Leaving Home: An RPG-Inspired Journey”. It’s an album filled with RPG-style town, city, and exploration themes that I compiled into a kind of grand journey. My good friend, the amazing artist Jonathan Griffith, created the cover art and absolutely nailed it. He really did an amazing job with it! As you listen to the album, you can more or less look at the album art and follow the adventurers on their journey from place to place. I’m so excited for the release and can't wait for everyone to hear it.  
I can't wait to listen to it. Sounds fantastic! Besides your new album release on June 6th, what are you working on now and what are your plans for the future?
I’m currently working on an arrangement for an upcoming video game tribute album being put out by Materia Collective. After that I have another huge project that I’ll be co-producing (but that’s top secret for now so I can’t divulge any more details). There are also a few soundtracks that I'm working on for games that are still in development. 

Is there anything else you'd like to share with our readers?
Thank you for giving me the opportunity to share some of my story and music with you and your readers!

Thank you so much for your time and we wish you much success in your career!

To connect with Chris Porter:
Follow him on twitter: 

Make sure to listen to some of his albums by clicking on the links below. They're great!


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