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Talking Tunes with Astro Bot Rescue Mission's Kenneth Young

The talented composer and sound designer has given us audible treats for 15 years with LittleBigPlanet, Tearaway, last year's fantastic Astro Bot Rescue Mission and more.

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Kenneth C. M. Young might not be a name as recognisable as Hans Zimmer, John Williams, or any other composer who is mostly known for their work in cinema, but it's fairly likely you've heard his work if you love games. Having worked in the games industry as a sound designer and composer for more than 15 years, Young has won a bunch of awards for making the music and sound in games like LittleBigPlanet, Tearaway, Tethered, last year's Astro Bot Rescue Mission, and the upcoming Knights & Bikes. We were reminded of his great work when Astro Bot Rescue Mission's fabulous soundtrack became an integral part of our playlist, so we wanted to learn more about the Scottish composer. Fortunately, he agreed to do talk with us, and here's our interview about his time in the industry, his favourite soundtracks from last year, his work on Astro Bot, and much, much more.

Talking Tunes with Astro Bot Rescue Mission's Kenneth Young

As you've now entered your 15th year in the games industry we're wondering if you can tell us how audio design and music has evolved through the years?

KY: Sure! Well, it's always easy to view games from a technology point of view because it changes so fast and that really dates everything. When I started out working on PlayStation 2 games (EyeToy: Chat, anyone? I didn't think so...) we were streaming music off of DVDs and were seriously limited with the amount of memory we had to play with for sound samples. Which was challenging, but that just meant you had to get creative whilst also squeezing the life out of everything! But that gave the games a particular, unique sound and aesthetic - a naïve lack of sound, a lot of repetition and an unpleasant grainy quality that you get from low bit-rate, ADPCM audio. It's interesting, actually - I think perhaps we're still a little too close to that period to look back on those limitations with fondness, but I feel like the 90s aesthetics of the original PlayStation-generation are due a bit of a revisit and revival. Perhaps not in the mainstream, but there's definitely room for that nostalgic niche within gaming culture.

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The truth is, though, that the main change since that time is we now simply have the capacity for more sound and more music in our games. For example, on my current project (which is for PlayStation 4, PC and Mac), overlooking the fact that we haven't started optimising yet, I've got more memory available to me than I know what to do with. I'm just throwing sound at the game and haven't hit any limits yet. Whilst that's down to the peculiarities of that specific project and isn't by any means applicable to all games, that would nonetheless have been totally beyond my comprehension 15 years ago. But, fundamentally, the basic premise and technology of interactive audio hasn't changed all that much since the PlayStation 1 and 2 eras - we're still just triggering samples and streaming assets off of disk for the most part. Which has been advantageous in many respects, because it means we've been able to spend less time battling the technology and increase the focus on refining it so we can create engaging, immersive audio experiences. I think you can hear the fruits of that in terms of the quality and sophistication, which just keeps on going up, but also in terms of the breadth of different audio experiences and aesthetics on offer - it's really amazing, and perhaps even a little overwhelming at times, to see quite how insanely broad the church of games has become.

And then there's the matter of how game development culture, and its relationship with audio, has changed over the same period. When I got into the industry audio was always jokingly referred to as the "bastard stepchild" of game development, because it was easily overlooked and very much seen as the icing on the development cake rather than one of the main ingredients. I've come to appreciate and accept that an element of that is inevitable and actually desirable - sound and music's superpower is being able to influence people's thoughts, feelings and perceptions on a subconscious level, and it is precisely this mercurial, intangible quality which leads to it being underappreciated. You can't have one without the other! Having said that, as audio experiences in games have become more sophisticated, experienced developers have become more aware of the potential for audio to contribute in a meaningful way towards the player experience, and audio professionals have also become better at engaging, collaborating and inspiring their colleagues in other disciplines. So, we're in a much better place now, and I look upon the eerily similar contemporary conversations surrounding younger crafts such as narrative design or community management with a wry smile and look forward to seeing how that progresses over the next decade.

Talking Tunes with Astro Bot Rescue Mission's Kenneth Young

Where do you think audio design and music in games will go in the future? Will it become an even bigger part of gaming, will we see more games using music as a mechanic?

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Absolutely. Or, at least, I hope so! There's so much unexplored territory here, we've barely scratched the surface. Going back to the notion of games being a broad church - there's room for everything under the sun and a growing audience to support it. People are always hungry for new experiences and audio is relatively untapped, so let's go, right?!

But audio is hard to exploit, for all the reasons I touched on earlier - it can be mercurial and hard to grasp for folks that aren't specialists. So, inter-disciplinary collaboration is the key to making progress here and, as an industry, we now better recognise the importance of this, so on our current trajectory I think we're going to see more and more experiences emerging that are comfortable using sound and music in ways which are unique to our medium rather than essentially just aping how it is used in linear media.

This feels culturally related to how it is getting easier to celebrate games for being games. I don't think the industry is quite over its desperate desire to be accepted by the establishment, but the younger generation coming through take games, interactivity and even making games for granted and I think that mindset is significantly different and will be really disruptive and positive for our industry.

One of the key insights I championed and brought to Media Molecule's Dreams project in the four year period I worked on it was the realisation that in pursuing having a real-time music system we had an amazing opportunity to foster deep integration between it and all the other systems in the game, particularly the other temporal elements such as gameplay and animation. I was thinking about it primarily in terms of how to make the product stand out in the marketplace by offering a unique player experience, but it's only in seeing what the team have achieved with the tool-set that I'm now much more excited and inspired by the idea of a generation of games makers growing up taking this kind of deep integration between the tools and disciplines for granted. Because when those folks get into the industry they are going to be sorely disappointed, and they will demand better!

Real-time music systems making a comeback is a general trend in the industry, it's just that Dreams is a little ahead of the curve there. When the Multimedia PC and the original PlayStation introduced optical media it shifted music in games towards streaming/pre-recorded audio and we lost touch with much our heritage of real-time music, but we're reconnecting with it now and this is going to allow game music to really be the best version of itself by making it infinitely more malleable, dynamic and integrated. I'm excited!

What's the most underappreciated part of being a sound designer and composer?

Oof! What a question... I guess I can contrast the two crafts a little having experienced both, both in-house and as a freelancer. One thing they share in common is that it can be quite a lonely job - which is only a bad thing if you aren't OK with that! Not only do you work in a room by yourself but, if you're a lone freelancer, you often won't professionally interact with anyone "in the flesh" for weeks at a time.

Whilst sound designers are much more likely to work in-house than composers (meaning, in a studio full of other human beings) because sound is little understood or appreciated it's nonetheless quite isolating and therefore not a profession for people who seek praise or attention. On the plus side, soundies get loads of freedom, and that makes it particularly attractive to detail-oriented types (because they tend not to be as good at handling criticism or being told what to do), which is a snug fit, actually, because sound work requires a laser-focused attention to detail. The downside is they're often not given the time and resources they might like or need to do their best work. So, sound folk need to have a strong internal compass if they are to raise the bar because they're unlikely to be pushed, and they benefit from having strong social skills because then they can appeal to people on a personal level which helps to compensate for their work being overlooked.

Composers have it quite different - people are all over their music and, relatively speaking, there is no shortage of attention and opinions! So, it's less freeing in many respects, but you're held to a higher standard and, if you can meet that, then it brings more buy-in, willingness and love. Composers are often sensitive types because this is what allows them to channel their feelings into their work and elevate the project, but they need to be pragmatic and robust enough to face criticism, deal with rejection and roll with the punches. It's a real high wire act!

The combination of isolation and emotional highs and lows means that mental health is something that composers need to be particularly aware of, take seriously and learn to manage. Indeed, audio has the strongest community of all the disciplines in the industry, in large part because it has historically always had a significant percentage of isolated freelancers in need of some empathy and human contact.

Talking Tunes with Astro Bot Rescue Mission's Kenneth Young

With you being a founder of the Audio Mentoring Project, a juror on multiple awards, sitting in the GDC advisory board, contributing on multiple books and obviously being willing to do this interview, there's no doubt that you're passionate about audio and music. These kinds of emotions often come with strong opinions, so what do you think about the industry today? Is it in the best position it can and will be?

It's true, I am a passionate soul! But, honestly, all that volunteer work (which is what those honours really are, it's just that nobody sees the work that goes into them!) and my contributions towards my discipline and community are things I take seriously and feel a genuine sense of duty towards. I recognise that I'm incredibly privileged to earn a living creating audio experiences and writing music for games, and I do what little I can to give back in my corner of the industry. I would do more if I didn't also have a responsibility to my family, my work and paying the bills!

But I think that passion, which is by no means unique to me, is also the answer to your question - the games industry and its audio community are in the best places they've ever been, but we've got a long way to go on all vectors and we just need to keep pushing, helping and inspiring each other towards better things.

Just to continue focussing on the present, or at least the last year; do you play many video games yourself? If so, were there any games or audio designers/composers that stood out to you last year?

Yes, I try to! But it's a lot harder these days now I have young children and run my own business. I usually only have the time or energy for a couple of games during the year, but then when awards season comes around I take the opportunity to catch up on a bunch of stuff. We were seriously spoilt last year, so I can't possibly list everything that stood out, but the folks that spring to mind are the crew that worked on God of War and, of course, Bear McCreary's score. Rob Bridgett, Brian D'Oliveira and their respective teams' inspiring approach and work on Shadow of the Tomb Raider, Lydia Andrew and her team and The Flight's work on AC Odyssey, Jesse Harlin and Tom Bible's work on Yoku's Island Express and Stephen Hodde and co and Jason Grave's beautiful work on Moss. But I was particularly impressed by the soundscape and presentation of the great outdoors in RDR2, so hats off to the team at Rockstar for that - I also found Woody Jackson's ambient music really nicely judged and effective at scoring the open world experience. Lena Raine's music for Celeste has rightfully been getting a lot of acclaim - it's beautiful music, has an interesting blend of acoustic and synthetic sounds, and it really elevates the game on an emotional level. But it's also proper melodic VGM! And it's refreshing to see that being recognised alongside the AAA offerings.

Talking Tunes with Astro Bot Rescue Mission's Kenneth Young

You're too modest to mention yourself, so we will. Astro Bot Rescue Mission's music is absolutely amazing and deservedly got a few rewards, which leads us to the following question: what kind of praise or feedback really makes you feel warm and fuzzy inside? Getting awards, people buying your songs, fans writing to you and/or anything else?

Aw, thank you! Honestly, any and all forms of appreciation are very much welcome and mean a lot. Critical acclaim is obviously nice, it's a good talking point and makes PR easier which is important for your career and business, but it's easily eclipsed by appreciation from individuals, be they your colleagues on the project, a respected peer, a journalist or a fan that reaches out on social media to say thanks. One of the nice things about music is people get inspired to cover it, or learn to play it on their instrument, and that's always really touching to see and hear! And if people love the music so much that they want to buy it so they can listen to it outside of the game and treasure it always, that's really cool too. I often can't quite tell if people are happy or annoyed that the music from Astro Bot has been stuck in their heads for weeks, but I take it as an achievement when one of my goals for the project was to write instantly engaging, poppy music!

We find it interesting just how perfect the music is for each level in Astro Bot Rescue Mission. It takes the immersion and enjoyment to sensational heights. Can you tell us what your process was for this game? Did you see the levels before you made the music, did you just see concepts or what?

Again, thank you! I'll take "perfect"!! Something I really enjoy doing is distilling a project down into its component parts and finding aural analogues that back up those ideas or even accentuate them if they are somewhat lacking in the experience. That's the bread and butter of an audio director, but I've always been led by the conceptual side of projects because that's what informs my work as a composer and sound designer. The first few weeks or months on a project are always focussed on exploring those core ideas and it's a massive help if the team you're working with know what they are aiming to achieve in the wider game because then it's just a case of trying to understand that vision and doing your part to help them realise it. Nicolas Doucet, the creative director and producer of Sony Japan Studio's ASOBI team that create Astro Bot, had a really clear and considered brief that focussed on having a playful, cool and digital sounding soundtrack that would appeal to core gamers whilst still being accessible to a larger audience so, as a result, my job was relatively easy and I just had to focus on writing music and coming up with ideas that respected those goals.

The playful part we got for free because that's part of my personality anyway, so I don't have to try too hard to bring that out. I'm a fiddle player at heart, so dance and melody are in my soul. The game and its music are unashamedly old school and fun - so, it has wallpaper music and catchy melodies with strong chord progressions. But the playfulness also manifests itself in hundreds of little touches in the writing and production that you can pick up on and appreciate if you listen closely.

For the cool aspect - well, I can't claim to be cool (because that wouldn't be, would it?) - this isn't about a pathetic attempt to be hip, it's referring to something that's quite hard to define and communicate, but having worked for or with Sony my whole career I was able to grasp what was getting at... basically, just watch a PlayStation advert because they often feature some kind of celebration of pop culture or gaming culture but they also have a slightly dark underbelly or a quirky edge and, crucially, they don't take themselves too seriously (because that would be embarrassing). Confidently creative, maybe? But that, whatever that is! For me, this was the justification for the eclectic choices of genre, but also the poppiness and the retro tinges which infuse a lot of the tracks. That's something I could be quietly confident and creative with.

The digital aspect is most obviously a reference to Astro and their crew as robots, but it's also something the team infused the entire game world with, so it's a significant consideration. I didn't take that to mean digital in the cold and clinical sense, because that would be in danger of fighting with the playful aspect of the brief, or end up veering towards saccharine, it's more "retro future-technology". This is the justification for the synths and retro gaming sounds, a lot of the '80s vibe, the sampling, the glitchy stutter-edits and, of course, the various different forms of robotic vocalisations and singing.

When it comes to making the music fit the levels, each level (or location) had a particular feeling that the team wanted me to nail which we would discuss in detail up front, and I would have videos of the level, normally in quite an advanced state because the art and lighting is super important for inspiring the music. I didn't have a build of the game, but I was able to go to London to visit Sony and hear my music in-context and get a better sense of how it was working. The main consideration was always intensity and keeping that party vibe going if appropriate and putting the right amount of pressure on the player to propel them through the experience. I hadn't written music this intense before, certainly not consistently across a whole soundtrack, so it was a new experience for me! But then there was the sense of place which is also really important to back up and get right. So, for the cave levels the goal was to create a sense of space, hence the gaps in the melodic bass line (so you can literally hear the reverb and appreciate the space) and, for me, the intention behind the big leaps in the bass line are to give a sense of height or "jaggyness" which back up the stalagmites and stalactites of the cave (which is also why the bass' synth patch is distorted and a bit spikey!). Or in the treetops level, I wanted to give it a "woody" feel, hence the use of a lot of wooden percussion which also serves to imply "jungle" on some level. Basically, each track contains elements which help to tell a story or convey an aspect of the place you are in, and I think that's also the primary attraction (for me) of VR experiences - you're there. Some tracks are more successful in this regard than others, but it's nice to hear you picking up on it even if you couldn't quite articulate why - that's the power of sound I was talking about earlier! When the visuals and audio are all singing from the same hymn book it's really a special experience. If you can pull that off, that's what makes it all worthwhile.

Talking Tunes with Astro Bot Rescue Mission's Kenneth Young

You play quite a few instruments, so we're wondering if you're the one playing any of the instruments in Astro Bot? Are you the one playing the guitar in Bite It, making the human sounds in some of the songs, or anything like that?

I am indeed! [skips through soundtrack to remind himself of everything he played]. I play ukulele on Seeking Shade, melodica on Tite Mites, Inside The Whale and Polyethylene Paradise, bass on Discotree and A Fire In Your Mind, rhythm guitar on everything that features it and lead guitar on Follow Me (Into The Storm) and A Fire In Your Mind. The lead guitar on the boss tracks is a virtual guitar - I wanted those to sound more sampled, artificial and "gamey", which is why they're also doubled up with 8-bit sounds!

My processed vocals feature on 12 Bar BOT (the "ya, ya, ya"s), Follow Me (Into The Storm) and I am ASTRO BOT (the "oh yeah"s), Off The Rails (the "ha ha ha ha ha!" evil laugh) and A Fire In Your Mind. Any other robotic sounding vocalisations are synthesised (using singing text-to speech or a process called formant filtering). I also play various percussion instruments and a few other bits and pieces scattered throughout the soundtrack!

How did you come up with the idea of having the same melody but with different instruments in each boss fight? Was it a stroke of genius or did you just run out of time?

Haha, it's both, actually! Nico and I spoke a lot about the importance of repetition in the game, particularly as it's essentially a new IP and we weren't able to rely on the audience's familiarity with established melodies and the dopamine hit you get when you hear music that you already know. So, the first thing was to appeal to our core audience by giving them the strong melodies that they crave, with the added benefit that they could then latch on to them and learn to associate them with the game, its locations etc. Then we've got something to work with and can bring those melodies and ideas back, sometimes wholesale and sometimes in new forms, and that communicates something to the player - "OK, this is a cave level", "Oh ****, this is a boss fight". The music takes on meaning, and that's really powerful.

For the bosses, the idea was that we'd have the same melody in each level but with a different arrangement, and we managed to pull that off for the most part. But if you listen to them all back to back [You can listen to the entire soundtrack here] you'll notice that the Shark and Spider boss tracks are quite distinct from the other four - ideally, all of them would have been more distinct, but I was indeed running out of time towards the end of the project and using the Octopus boss (which was the first boss I tackled) as the basis for the Gorilla, Bird and Alien boss tracks was a quick win! This works in the game, because there are at least four levels in between each boss, and they do all have a distinctive character, I think it just takes away slightly from the experience of listening to the soundtrack album.

Talking Tunes with Astro Bot Rescue Mission's Kenneth Young

Besides these specific similarities, you're known for having a very diverse soundscape and that really comes through in Astro Bot with both disco, classical, rock, pop, and "moody" songs. Do you have any favourite genres or does this diversity come from you loving each equally?

I sure love me some popular music, but I don't know if I love any particular genre more than another. If it's good it's good, right? I have a soft spot for easy listening (James Taylor, Jim Croce), including cheesy and inappropriate covers of pop songs, space age pop (Esquivel!), library music, funk, anything with a strong and unique retro sound is right up my street. And then the sampling and reimagining of these things by hip-hop and breakbeat artists is super inspiring. And I love folks who use sampling techniques essentially using samples they've created themselves (Ratatat) - I've been getting a bit more into that approach in my own work the past few years.

My other strong musical influences and loves are folk music (particularly traditional Scottish and Irish music, but also Appalachian Old Time and Bluegrass), blues, pre-bop jazz, and the late classical/early romantic and baroque periods. That mostly comes from my background as a fiddle player and violinist, but also the music I studied as a student.

Speaking of diversity, most of the games you've been credited in are what might be called playful and cute games. Is there are reason for this? Would you ever consider working on Call of Duty, Resident Evil, God of War or other similar action-heavy games?

I'm pretty sure it's simply because having created the audio experience in LittleBigPlanet, I'm now "the LittleBigPlanet guy". Which is great, actually, because that international reputation for excellence is what gets me invited to work on amazing projects like Astro Bot, so it would be pretty sad if I was so ungrateful as to complain about that. I feel incredibly lucky to have worked on all of the games I have in my career and with such amazing and talented collaborators. But, from speaking to other composer pals, they all feel totally typecast too and know that they get overlooked for certain projects because of their established track record.

You have to try and see it from other people's perspective though - they're looking for someone to handle a really important and significant part of their project so, naturally, they gravitate towards people who have a demonstrable track record in that genre or approach or whatever it is that you are perceived to be a relatively safe pair of hands in. I don't think it's fair or realistic to expect people to take a risk with that so, actually, it's up to me to show people what I can do so that they feel confident in trusting me with that responsibility.

I guess there are a couple of avenues for me there. The first is that I've always made a real effort towards and take great pride in being a good collaborator and doing the best job I can, and that results in the people I work with wanting to keep working with me. So, that inevitably leads to new projects, and I'm pretty sure that at some point I'll get an opportunity to work on something outside of my comfort zone solely based on my proven ability to create unique, high quality and tailored audio experiences for new IP. The other thing I can do if I ever tire of the projects that are coming my way is just take some time out and pursue personal projects that show me in a new light and using that to sow seeds in my network.

As to what kind of game I'd like that to be? Not horror - haha. I'm way too sensitive and can't handle playing horror games, so I'll take that as a clear sign that I shouldn't try making them. Action feels like a little bit of a stretch for me right now, I think I'd be more interested in exploring something a little bit more on the emotional side of things, whatever that might be.

Talking Tunes with Astro Bot Rescue Mission's Kenneth Young

Do you have any favourite songs in LittleBigPlanet and Astro Bot? Whether they
have a special meaning to you or you just can't stop nodding your head when you hear them?

I've got a soft spot for the menu music in LittleBigPlanet just because it nicely represents the project on a conceptual and emotional level, but it's also been played and heard millions, possibly even billions of times, and that always blows my mind!

Discotree and Tite Mites are two of my favourite tracks from Astro Bot, for all the reasons I was able to articulate earlier about how they are intended to fit the levels they are used in - if you can pull that off and write music that you're into and proud of, and other people like them too, then that's about as good as it gets in this job!

In retrospect, I Am Astro Bot played a really important part in establishing the game before it was released - it certainly helped cement the name of the project in peoples' heads! Which was intentional, but there was a lot of serendipity involved too - the track is a sped up version of Follow Me (Into The Storm) with the bridge from the boss fight music placed on to the end. That came about as a result of trying to find a track for the announce trailer, and we wanted to use music from the game to keep it integrated and relevant, but none of it was intense or fast enough so I got creative using existing material rather than creating something from scratch.

Have you contributed to any games people might not know you were involved in?

When I was at Sony's London Studio I worked in a centralised audio department and recorded and edited voice for dozens of first party and second party games, many of which I'm not credited on and I don't even remember what they were - it's all a blur! That was the first time I encountered LittleBigPlanet, actually, long before it was announced.

I worked on all the cutscenes in Heavenly Sword, setting up the master Pro Tools sessions that all the other audio elements (music, ambience, FX, foley) were eventually brought in to, but was primarily focussed on taking the voice recordings delivered from the performance stages at Weta in New Zealand, synced them up to the reference videos, edited them, cleaned them up and EQd them, spotted for any unusable lines that needed picked up and then made those replacement recordings match the production dialogue. Not sexy work, but super important!

Also, random factoid - the first time anyone publicly heard the PlayStation 3 make a sound was via a tech demo that I created the sound for [You can see that exact moment from Eight Days here]! Which, in retrospect, wasn't my best work, and you can hardly hear it under Phil's commanding voice, but I remember being terrified at the time because I only had a few hours to put it all together - it was all very hush-hush and I was brought in at the last minute to help get it ready for the announce. I'm getting stressed just thinking about it, haha.

Talking Tunes with Astro Bot Rescue Mission's Kenneth Young

When did you realise that you'd made something really special with LittleBigPlanet and Astro Bot Rescue Mission?

You just know! And that's not a guarantee of commercial or critical success, because nobody can truly predict that when creating new IP, but when you've worked on enough less impressive or less inspired projects it means that when you do eventually help to create something special it's just obvious from the delight and special feelings it gives you. All projects have promise, otherwise nobody would be trying to realise them, but sometimes they never get there, or aren't given the time they need to get there. But for those projects that do, there's usually a tipping point where you start to get a little excited.

LittleBigPlanet was unusual because it had been announced when it was still pretty early in
development and there was a lot of interest and buzz around the project, so it was clear even when I started working on it in May 2007 that it was something special, it was just a case of realising its potential. But there are a couple of specific moments that I remember being particularly excited about. The first was the day we got physics audio working because audio coder Matt Willis and I had come up with a novel way of approaching the problem and it had paid off [You can actually see the moment here]. And then there was a trip that art director Kareem Ettouney and I made to New York for a PR event at the Parsons New School of Design which was the first time any member of the public got their hands on the game - we knew we had made something that we could use internally to create levels, but this was the first real test of whether it actually worked as intended. And we were blown away by what the students were making with it and how much fun they were having doing so. It was the first indication of the game going on to be a smash hit. That trip is also a fond memory because Kareem is now a close friend and that shared experience of hanging out in New York and seeing the game come to life marks the beginning of that friendship.

With Astro Bot, it was clear even from my first go playing an early version of the game that it was going to be a really special VR experience because the core mechanics were already there, they felt great, and the handful of levels I was shown looked fantastic, played well etcetera. Once I was signed up and working, I was really into the music I'd written and was confident it fitted the project well, and the team seemed happy, but it was only once Nicholas relayed that he'd shown the game at an internal Sony meeting in North America and people were visibly and verbally really excited about the project that we started to get a sense of what the reaction might be. And, not only that but people were commenting on how much they liked the music and asking who the composer was, so it felt like I was winning and just needed to keep on going. Positivity like that puts the right kind of pressure on you!

You mentioned that you're working on a project for PlayStation 4, PC and Mac earlier. Can you tell us more about that and what kind of music we can look forward to?

Yes! I've been working on Knights and Bikes [here's a trailer for the Kickstarter project] with Rex and Moo at Foam Sword Games off and on over the past three years, and I'm currently full time with them in the final stages of development. It's set on a small Cornish island in the '80s, and follows the adventures of two young girls and their overactive imaginations, tearing about the island on their bikes, trying to solve an ancient mystery! I'm doing the sound, and Daniel Pemberton (Into The Spiderverse, Steve Jobs, The Man From U.N.C.L.E.) is doing the music. It's been a real labour of love, it sounds friggin' amazing and I'm really proud of how it's turning out - it's a really beautiful, immersive soundscape. It's definitely still in the realms of the cute and playful, but it's a different kind of experience to the games that we've made together in the past, so really looking forward to shipping it and seeing what people make of it. No firm release date yet, but we're definitely getting there so watch this space!

Finally, what's been the proudest moment of your career so far?

Sat with my family, hearing music that I had a hand in writing being performed by the RPO in the Royal Albert Hall at PlayStation In Concert last year was pretty special and hard to beat! But I also love it when my son asks to hear some "daddy music", so I play him what I've been working on and he starts dancing around like a lunatic.

We'd like to thank Kenny for taking the time to have this very fascinating talk with us, and advise you to follow him on Twitter if you're interested in learning more about him, his thoughts and upcoming projects.

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