Rarity Guide interview with Gordy Haab

Doug: Gordy, thanks for agreeing to this interview. So, let's start with a tough one: What's your favorite game?
Gordy: Oh man, that is a tough one. I guess you'd have to go off the game I play most often and right now that would be Angry Birds.
Doug: That's a pretty popular one.
Gordy: Yeah, but honestly, my favorite as far as content: been really getting into The Old Republic, which is a game I worked on. I made a point to not get into it for a long time, to let the hype die down a little bit. I'm digging into it now and it's been a lot of fun. Just started playing Skyrim as well which is a really good game also.
Doug: Both those are really awesome games. One of the other people I work with has been, I think he's insane for this, working on a walkthrough for the Old Republic.
Gordy: Oh, that's a long walkthrough!
Doug: Yeah, it's kind of his standby project.
Gordy: That's cool.
Doug: Let's move onto something simpler; what are your current projects?
Gordy: Well, that's actually more complex. In this game industry work you can't say anything about anything. I think I can now official, as of tonight, Activision's new Walking Dead First Person Shooter. And that's official as of tonight. There's another project that I can't speak about probably for a good year. That's just how this business it's all so secretive.
Doug: Well, the secrets add a little mystique to it. On now, do you have any particular process for writing a score for a game or …?
Gordy: You know, it varies project to project. But my process varies from a lot of different composers. Once we've decided on exactly what going to do, what type of music to do, figured out what the interactive elements, what purpose they're going to serve. My next process is actually to write all of my music by hand. Just a wayward guy. Then I have a couple of people who work for me that actually create the mock-ups. Once the mock-ups are signed off on, I give my sketches to them. Then I actually orchestrate it as well. That's sort of my process when I'm fortunate enough to have an orchestra which happens more often in games than anywhere else.
Doug: I'm honestly a little blown away there because I grew up playing 8-bit games. That whole era.
Gordy: Yeah
Doug: On that note any preference like, acoustic or digital means of production?
Gordy: I always prefer to record real players, no matter how you make that happen. Even if it is on a small scale. Even like a brief set. I just finished a sort of a hybrid score. It has some synth sound and some electronic elements and then I brought in a string quartet. And then I brought in just a bass clarinet player. I like having that organic element in the music. You know, all the way to the “Old Republic” score was the other extreme of it. That's certainly what I prefer. Don't get that every time but a luxury when you do.
Doug: Who do you consider to be your influences?
Gordy: It's sort of cliché to say but with all the games I've been doing have scores based on John Williams so he's been a huge influence on what I've been writing. In all honesty I couldn't think of a better influence to be forced on. He's works pretty incredible. I grew up as a Star Wars fan so it's been a part of who I am from day one. So it's pretty easy  influence to take on.
Doug: Well, diving into the past here, what was your first music gig? How'd you get your foot in the door?
Gordy: I got my foot in the door because I did this short film called “Ryan vs. Dorkman 2”. It's 2 kids fighting with Lightsabers on YouTube. We managed to raise enough money from fans of the first “Ryan vs. Dorkman” to book a full day in capitol records and I did this whole score for a 5 minute YouTube video. Right about the same time someone at LucusArts was looking for a composer for an Indiana Jones video game. Somebody had seen the video and it passed around the office a little bit. Possibly got a wild idea and thought “let's call this guy and see if he's available do it” of course I was. That's how I got the job of doing “Indiana Jones and the Staff of Kings”. That's what started the relationship with LucasArts for me.
Doug: That's definitely a good way to get your foot in the door. I'll give you that. What got you into music itself?
Gordy: You know, that's a good question. As I kid I wanted to do everything a kid wants to do: a Fighter Pilot, a Race Car driver, name it and I wanted to be it. Probably because music was already such a natural part of life for me, even from an early age. It just felt like, “this isn't something you do as a job, this is just what you do”. When I saw “E.T.” in the theaters, I remembered every theme from that. Couldn't name one character but just latched onto music at an early age. My Dad had his guitar and I used to figure out films on his guitar. I was just 8 years old, I guess it just came naturally. It found me rather than me finding it and I fought it more than anything. And I still ended up in music, right where I was supposed to be.
Doug: Well, since we're broaching into the past anyways, how do you feel music's changed through video games?
Gordy: I think that it's introduced a really interesting element into how to craft music. The idea of  these interactive elements that play with one particular mood but then build into layers was something that wasn't really thought of. When you're scoring a film you're writing for something that is set and is solid. You have this much time to get to this point and this much time to get to that point. But then writing music so it can endless loop on itself then another layer can be added to that and it still works together and it still works to loop together. This type of thing is certainly used in pop music but doing that with an orchestral score is something very unique. That's something that's being done with video game scores, that's really changed the way a lot of composers have to think.
Doug: Guess we got to wrap it up then. Thank you very much for your time Gordy.
Gordy: Appreciate it, thanks so much.