Video games, like movies, rely on many parts to make up the whole. These parts can be categorized by what you see and what you hear. As a good flim director knows, the music/sound effects can make or break a scene or even an entire movie. Unlike movies though, video game music is often called to be dynamic and evolving, based on the location and current situation of the player character. Whereas movies are entirely scripted, a video games pacing is determined largely by the player.
Because of this dynamism, video games require a music composer who is adept at setting the stage and can marry sound with an intended visual.
Christian M. Krogsvold, AKA Waterflame, is a composer from Norway, has been involved in several indie game projects, had his music featured in the very popular Castle Crashers, and been the recipient of Newgrounds’ “Musician of the Year” award. He also provided the music for Zen Studio’s upcoming game CastleStorm.
Waterflame has released over 200 songs, many of which can be downloaded for free. His music spans many genres and moods. Some songs evoke a dreamy feeling of relaxation, or perhaps flying through space, exploring distant planets. Others feel like a fight for survival against a seemingly unbeatable foe. From ambient textures to exciting adventurous romps through an enchanted forest, Waterflame has the ability to capture the scene and the setting in audio form.
As an avid gamer and musician, it’s an honor to be able to interview a master of his craft who works simultaneously in two exciting industries, Games and Music.
Fizmarble: How did you get started in music and what is your training?
Waterflame: I was inspired by videogame music ever since I got my first console when i was 6 years old, a Sega mega drive. I would spend more time in the sound test screen than in the games themself, I completely fell in love with the music.
I started making music when I was around 13 years old, on a music program for the PlayStation called “Music 2000”. The program had a feature where you could compose your own songs, and you had a library of sounds and effects to choose from. This came to be my biggest hobby in my spare time at home. I later moved on to FruityLoops studio on PC a few years later.
I have no training in music, I have never taken music theory or received any lessons. I just learned by practice, experimentation and dedication! It has always been one of the best ways to pass time, and let out emotions, so I have always seen it as a fun hobby rather than something i wanted to get professional at.
Fiz: How did you get started in the games industry?
Waterflame: My first uploads were on Newgrounds.com, from there a Mexican game company called “Nibbo studios” found me, and hired me to do music and sound effects for a Mexican kids game. I did not know much at the time, but I accepted gladly, and did my best! From there my popularity on the page slowly started to grow, along with job offers! I always accepted the job, no matter how little i got paid. I was just thrilled to get my music out there.
Fiz: What other music or musicians inspire you?
Waterflame:I believe every genre has something awesome to offer! I have listened to countless of musicians over the years, but the ones that stuck with me and inspired me since I was a kid was Hybrid, The Chemical Brothers, The Crystal Method, and Infected Mushroom. Apart from that, various videogame music has always been on my mp3, and is still my main source of inspiration.
As far as composers go, David wise, Tommy Tallarico and Hideki Naganuma have always been huge inspirations, to name a few.
Fiz: How much direction do you receive when writing music for a game?
Waterflame: This totally depends on the company or person I am working for. Sometimes I get detailed in-depth descriptions. Other times i have a lot of free range, as long as its within the mood and genre they want.
Fiz: Do you ever have songs vetoed by a game director? How does that feel? What do you do with that material?
Waterflame: It happens, luckily not often, but if it does I just try again straight away! It does not bother me that much really, it just means more work, which can be stressful sometimes. When it gets scrapped, I either finish it up later and submit it online for free, or lock it in my huge folder of unfinished tracks, which I think is 3 times the size of my release list by now, haha.
Fiz: Many jobs can be done regardless of one’s mood. Creating music is more emotional and personal. How do you get “in the mood” to compose your music?
Waterflame: It’s more the other way around really, the mood controls my music, at least when I am doing a track in my spare time. If I have to do it for work related things, Most of the time, I just start making the song and try to make myself feel what I am supposed to through the notes or sounds I play. This works most of the time, surprisingly enough! When I make a happy track, I can go from dull and uninspired to jumping in my chair, if things go my way. If not, I might skip that one day I really don’t feel in the right mood. As long as the deadline allows it. I’ve had many sleepless work-nights. Other times I just do something that puts me in the mood I need to be in. For instance, listen to some tracks that has the same mood I am trying to bring out. Play a game, go for a walk. Anything to clear my head!
Fiz: Let’s talk gear. What is your software of choice (host, plugins)? Hardware synths, controllers or both?
Waterflame: I am currently using FruityLoops Producer edition XXL. FruityLoops is my DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) of choice. It is the most user-friendly and compatible DAW I’ve come across so far! For VST plugins, I have too many to count here, but my favorites must be: Massive, FM8, Bleep, sawer and Blue!
When it comes to hardware, I am currently using: Edirol PCR300, M-audio Triggerfinger, Steinberg CI 1 Soundcard, and a horrible old computer, that is being replaced in a few weeks. This computer is actually holding me back in my production due to the low CPU capacity.
Fiz: Much of your catalog is video game music. Do you play games? Do you play the games your music is featured in?
Waterflame: Oh yes! I am a total game nerd. I’ll play anything really, but my favorite type of games is Arcade games. Right now I am playing Borderlands 2, Starcraft 2, Hotline Miami, Maplestory, and diddy’s kong conquest.
I do play some of the games I am featured in, Castlecrashers is great for instance! And I always try out the games I make music for in any case. Its fun to see where my stuff ends up!
Fiz: What was your last meal?
Waterflame: Haha, you caught me on a bad day there. A frozen pizza, sadly.
Fiz: No shame there. Convenient, and delicious.
Video games in general and video game music in particular are rapidly gaining respect. What are your thoughts on this trend?
Waterflame: I think this is awesome! To me, games is the ultimate form of media. It combines music, interactivity, graphics, animation and storytelling. All in one experience. I think it’s about time games became a more respected media, although I am not a huge fan of the “Hollywood” games, as I like to call them. Where everything Is cinematic, brown, and in it for the money. But these things are bound to happen when a medium becomes popular, so I don’t mind too much.
Fiz: For those interested in pursuing video game music as a career, what are some tips for getting started?
Waterflame: I have gotten this question so many times from fans, and I still don’t have a good answer. But my advice would be to make music to make yourself happy. Have fun with it! experiment, explore, break the rules! Then share it with the world! It is a tough line of work, and you will have to work long and hard for it, so stay optimistic and make your own goals. And remember to always share what you make, everywhere. If you make music worth listening to, people will remember your name.
I am terrible at “selling” myself online. In fact, I’ll have to admit, I have never applied for a music job. The requests just came to me, somehow. That’s something for me to work on for 2013 I guess, hehe.
Fiz: What else are you planning for 2013? Any other Game Soundtracks that you can tell us about?
Waterflame: CastleStorm is coming out this year! On PSP Vita (and probably other platforms as well). I did the entire soundtrack for that game. And it will most likely be available for download when the game is out.
I just finished a Full OST to another game as well, and I will release the entire soundtrack online for free when that game comes out. But I can not reveal the title or platform yet. 😉
I also have two contract jobs in progress at the moment, as well as my 3rd album coming out soon called “Showdown”.
2013 Is looking good so far!
We wish the best of luck to you, Waterflame. Thanks for taking the time to share some words with us!
If you would like to hear more from Waterflame, He has a newly launched website located at:
Also check out his youtube channel and like him on facebook here: