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Old 1st December 2016

Question: Mixing in the box or outside? Even with hardware synths.

Well, I like mixing with both. Certain things are way easier to do with plugins and there is a total control aspect that can be applied inside the box which is cool. It's also important to be able to recall everything easily, which is very easy to do with software. I love hardware though and I feel hardware sounds better for many things. Especially reverb. I have a big spring reverb tower called BX20, which is all over my Assassin's Creed scores. I have a lot of different reverbs. I also really like using the Lexicon 224 as well the Roland Space Echos. String machines is another area where nothing beats the real thing and I love using those as well. Vocoders I also use, especially when jamming a performance into a track. My Darksiders 2 score has some vocoder parts which were all jammed live into the score.

Darksiders 2 - Crystal Spire:

Question: Favourite sound design tool which affects your imagination best? It might be hardware synth, vst.

Well, that would be my grand piano, the CS80 and the Eurorack Modular. Omnisphere can also be a nice tool to get ideas going quickly.

Question: Do you have drum/guitar/keys playing skills?

I did take about 5 years of classical guitar lessons as a kid. I didn’t really enjoy it, not sure why I kept going. After that I basically forced myself to forget everything about guitar playing. I wasn’t going to let that experience ruin music for me

I don't play a drum set but whenever I record live percussion or percussive instruments I like to join in on the action. I prefer to play the synths or piano when writing music.

Question: Do you master your own music? By yourself or using online mastering studios?

I don't use online mastering studios. Sometimes we master the music at the final mix, other times I have different mastering engineers I like to use.

Question: Can you please talk a bit about how you approached producing the drums and percussive elements in the first Hitman game (Codename 47)? The drum selection and programming is really phenomenal and I'd love to hear more about the types of drums you used and how you used reverb and delay on them. Also, did you use a sampler/workstation to program drums or was it with a DAW?

The drums were created from samples I recorded and then filtered and edited on the Akai S2800 where they were time-stretched and played back at extreme pitches. Back then I used the Akai 2800 for most of my drums. Programmed on S2800 and played back in Cubase.

Question: Love Kyd's choral work, especially on Freedom Fighters, would love to know more about the process on how he does them... i.e. Written on a computer first with samples? And if he prefers a certain mic technique to capture the recording.

Sometimes I write with piano for all parts and other times use Kontakt Instruments that emulate certain moods and feels of the instrument I am looking to record. Sometimes I let the performance of an instrument dictate if it fits in the arrangement, which can lead to some unusual arrangements compared to a more traditional Hollywood approach.

Question: Want to know if he has a go to reverb for his more ambient work?

I love reverb so I use a lot of hardware reverbs such as the Lexicon 224X, Lexicon model 200, AKG BX20 spring reverb tower, Eventide etc.

Question: The photo on his website shows an Elektron A4 and Octatrack in his studio ("About" page). Would like to know how he uses the Octatrack in his work?

The A4 and Analog Keys were uzed on the Claptastic Voyage score. I use the Octatrack more as effects by sampling sounds and running them through the unit.

Question: Percussion — so much of your work is so heavy on ethnic drumming (particularly Borderlands and Assassin’s Creed, but throughout your catalogue). I would love to know what you’re using, how you’re recording, and how you’re processing to make the drums so immense. Of course, it’s song specific, but I’d just like to know a bit about how you approach your percussion. Do you have a room stacked with drums or are you heading to another studio? Also, are you pre-programming patterns for percussionists to work with? How are you coaching such incredible performances? Are you performing some of this yourself?

Most of the drums and percussion I perform myself on a midi keyboard. I have a huge collection of drum libraries and also many of my own sounds. Drums have always been a big part of my sound as I grew up in the dance music scene, and I loved going to underground raves and have a huge dance music collection. I went through many different dance genres when starting out with music. I wrote a lot in different genres such as trance music, techno, breakbeat, 2-step etc. and this does reflect in my early scores for projects such as Scorcher and Batman and Robin. So for me, percussion and drums are something that I bring with me and I need to decide on each project how much I want to bring that out. Even if it's a more acoustic or ambient score I always pay a lot of attention to my rhythms. These days, that can be a challenge since I mostly prefer to work inodd meters such as 7/8, 11/4 etc. That makes the percussion a challenge, which in turn makes it more fun to work on.

Question: Drum machines — I know you’ve mentioned that you use Machinedrum a lot, but what else are you using and can you point to specific examples where you’ve used Machinedrum or other drum machines? Do you mess about in piano rolls or are you mainly programming machines and/or using live drummers?

It's a bit of everything. I like using live percussion ensembles which is pretty evident on scores such as Assassin's Creed, Assassin's Creed 2 and Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood. Drums on scores such as Robotech Invasion were written with Machine Drum where I made a lot of my own drum sounds. On the SyFy channel show Metal Hurlant Chronicles I used the Oberheim DX which I really love. It's got such a great feel and swing to it. The 808 is probably one of my favorite drum machines. I also used to use the TB-303 which can clearly be heard on the MDK2 soundtrack.

Trivia time: the official photo on the Sequential Circuits Prophet 10 page is actually Jesper Kyd's Prophet 10.