Cameron chats one-on-one with Revin Goff, the man behind the ECHOPLEX soundtrack.
Written by Cameron Moonsamy
Revin Goff is a producer and composer from Galway, Ireland. His style has been compared to genres such as hip hop and alternative EDM, but not much else is known about him.
However, upon discovering Revin’s music, game director Tyron immediately knew that he had found his composer.
Revin Goff, then, is something of an enigma. A man without a face. Yet, through his vivid and multi-faceted compositions, a man about whom we want to know more.
I recently had a chance to chat with Revin and learn about the man behind the mask…
Listen to the ECHOPLEX Main Theme by Revin Goff
How did you get started in music, and how would you describe your musical style?
I come from a musical family that owned a record store. My brother also played the drums. However, it was only in my teens when I started getting into music and learning how to play some instruments.
Style-wise, I hear the tag ‘experimental’ floating around a lot but I think that’s due to the fact that the standalone tracks on my Soundcloud are often quite far apart stylistically.
‘Net Girl’ – a visual art release by Goff. He sporadically posts images to tumblr with similar cyber-horror elements and distorted figures lost in cyberspace
Take us through your process of producing a track. How is the track mixed? Do you follow a routine procedure or do you wing it for each track?
Generally it’s different for each track. It really depends on how much progress I’ve made with the track, and whether I’m happy with the sound or not. Sometimes I can sit for hours just replaying the same section of a song and tweaking it until it sounds just right. There’s a lot of experimentation, and trial and error.
What are some of the challenges involved with composing music for a video game?
Time can be an issue. If you are on a schedule and people are counting on you to produce something by day X but the track you are working on is presenting problems, the pressure can amp up and affect the decision-making process in a big way.
Another challenge is not getting too emotionally involved with the compositions. There are times when you think that you have a winner on your hands, but a developer feels that the composition doesn’t quite mesh with the game; you have to start from scratch and just learn from it.
Do you ever fight with the Game Director?
Constantly! [Laughs] It’s a good thing though, it’s a creative form of sparring to me that always lands in a productive place. I suppose the frequency of our debates shows our level of investment in what we collectively want to convey. At the end of the day, we both want to create the best experience for the player.
What drew you towards ECHOPLEX despite these challenges?
The minimal art style and the mask [which the main character wears] caught my attention at first. The way the Echo seemed to reset the simulation when it caught up to you also kind of grabbed me. I had never seen horror like that executed within a such a minimal and tech-based environment.
Another thing I noticed was the use of cut scenes. Live Action gets a bad rap in games because generally it veers into uncanny valley alongside a game’s graphics. Visually it can all lack seamlessness. In this case however, the Echo already projects a sense of non-belonging to its own world. With the cut scenes feeling more like they are in the environment (popping out at the screen as the player reaches them) you end up with a balancing act that works quite well. The scenes provide a warmth; not a stark removal from the world.
The ECHOPLEX soundtrack is quite atmospheric and eerie. How did you decide which sounds to use, and how to piece them all together?
The idea of being stuck in a simulation is terrifying, and I tried to recreate that feeling with sounds that made me feel anxious both recently and long ago.
There were quite a few unusual influences though. In one of the songs, I looped the sound of someone banging on my walls, and in other songs I actually used a few ASMR-esque sounds (which are commonly used to help people relax or sleep).
Through the wonder of the internet, we’re able to connect with people all over the world. For instance, Output Games is based in South Africa and you’re in another continent on another hemisphere. What are your thoughts on online opportunities for musicians, and collaborations with other artists online?
I think that the internet great for musicians. Most composers work remotely these days. As a result, they don’t have to travel as much, and game devs have more choices with regards to who they can recruit.
What instrument, piece of hardware, or software plug-in has to always be within your reach in your studio/room?
If it counts as an instrument: my voice. My music incorporates a lot of vocal layers that are pitched up or down and mixed to fit in with the tracks.
Do you ever get writer’s block, and if so how do you deal with it?
Often times I will just watch a video of an artist that I may not even know anything about, just riffing on their work. They may even be creating things in a medium that I have less interest in, like dance or theatre. But it’s the spark you see in someone’s eyes when they talk about what they love to do that can fill you with a particular longing to just start fresh and make something again.
How do you feel about the future of video game music?
I think games and film will merge via VR at some point – which will lead to the non-linearity that music has been afforded by the influential games of the past.
In a sense, the future is already here – it’s just not accessible to the mainstream. In an old Half Life mod from nearly a decade ago, a player triggers music for a whole server of people via a typed command, some kid is shouting something unintelligible on his mic, guns are firing and the sounds are coming from the directions they should be; all of these random sounds will never be heard again at the same time in the player’s lifetime and what’s more – if he/she jumps into the water in a source game, all of the high frequencies get cut… so it becomes an underwater mess of muffled sound, orchestrated by ten or twenty people having a good time from different reaches of the world, which is pretty beautiful.
That’s the future to me – it’s just being slept on.
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