Gris came out of nowhere, and all of the sudden it took gamers’ tastes by storm. Metacritic’s average grade oscilates around 83/100, while many reviewers are agreeing that audiovisuals are one of the most beautiful of 2018. It would be a sin not to interview the band responsible for creating this Album of the Year Award pretendent.

Many reviewers are agreeing that audiovisuals are one of the most beautiful of 2018. It’s the second game of yours. What new challenges were you facing? Was it harder or easier this time?

Berlinist: This could be considered the first “serious” one. To be honest, the only difficult part was to try to stick to the original concepts that came naturally after Nomada showed us new stuff. The creativity flow was huge, and we wanted to stick just to the first idea or music draft trying not to alter that. Your music has a very particular style. Did you change anything in your approach toward composing while you worked on Gris, or was your unique sound perfect for the game’s narration?

Berlinist: It is true that we have our own style and we think that is why Conrad Roset, the art director, trusted us to create the music. The approach to composition was not very different from previous works, but certain musical elements were thoughtfully chosen based on what the narration and atmosphere of the game needed. The landscapes of the game inspired us. We used certain instruments that we may had not used in another context. Let’s say that the game itself led us in the process of composition and its implementation, connected to the personal sound of the band. Has the interest in your music increase after Gris premiered?

Berlinist: We cannot deny that the release of the game has raised interest on what we do or have done previously. The fact that our music has reached a wider audience has a notorious influence on it. We were surprised though that before the game premiered, there was a certain interest in the OST, so that made us really happy. Did the fact that some of you are gamers have an impact on the decision to take part in this project?

Berlinist: Absolutely, but also because the project was extremely interesting and stimulating to everyone in Berlinist. The fact that Marco is an experienced gamer and a composer, made him the most appropriate person to develop the musical score for GRIS, since he mastered both languages. Dev team’s highly artistic approach to the production of Gris, and gaming community reactions prove that such games not only can be art, but also succeed. What’s your opinion on that statement?

Berlinist: It is always good to see that games could be different things. We love games like The Witcher or Zelda BOTW. At the same time, we think that the industry needs titles that only ask you few hours trying and let you disconnect from other things. We think that people need this kind of games and in the future, this need will grow as the application could grow. So, there will be games that challenge you, others that aim to scare you, to surprise you (we are all waiting for Death Stranding) and others that you will simply use to experience something (calm, peace and so on). We remember playing Everybody is going to the Rapture and how we were speechless by the end of the game.

We believe that games public is also very changeable. – Berlinist In the past you could count “experience games” on one hand. “Monument Valley”, “Journey”, “The Witness”. Now Gris joined this company. Do you think that thanks to you more independent bands outside of mainstream will cooperate with video game developers? Is a video game a good medium to introduce your art to broader audiences?

Berlinist: It is a proven fact that videogames are a medium that gets you closer to a broader and especially different audience from the one a musician can have. The point is what is the importance that this audience can give to music. We believe that games public is also very changeable, and their interests can be too.

Regarding the first point, we knew before Gris’ release that there were great independent musicians that have collaborated with game developers (Hot line Miami, Celeste, The Talos Principle, Hyper Light Drifter, Journey…). In this sense, Gris can be a good example of how love for videogames and professionality can coexist making part of a small independent family. So, if we have contributed to show it to the rest of the world, then we are proud to have done it.

We are not so good giving advices, it is something that could lead other people away from what they believe in music. – Berlinist We have plenty composers amongst our readers, who are thirsty for knowledge. Could you unveil a little how do you work? What does the creative process look like? What are your favorite tools, effects and techniques?

Berlinist: We are not so good giving advices, it is something that could lead other people away from what they believe in music. So, the one thing we can tell you is what we did. The working process has been very cooperative and in parallel with the game development. This has been a very positive element to move on with the composition of the different tracks in the game. From the very beginning, continuous feedback from the developers and the art director has been crucial.

We didn’t listen to anything during the process and we tried to avoid any distraction. We didn’t want to listen to other genres, instruments and so on. But to stick to our own idea and Nomada’s concept. We dealt directly with Conrad, Roger and Adrian emotions. If they loved the first take of something, we didn’t change it or decorate it more. We thought that the feeling was more important that the technique in this case.

Regarding the tools and resources we have used, you can find Ableton, Logic, Pro Tools, real instruments (great part of the ambient soundtrack was made with just a Yamaha VSS-33). Apart from this we used digital libraries and the real voice of Gemma (no pitch or tricks there. Highest note of GRIS pt1 and 2 is Gemma’s real voice).

We didn’t want to listen to other genres, instruments and so on. – Berlinist Are you planning a concert tour with Gris’ soundtrack exclusively or mixed with your other compositions?

Berlinist: We would like Gris ’soundtrack to be performed on stage. A conceptual and unique concert would be fantastic, we think it can have a lot of potential not only as a musical experience but also as a visual one. We would love to mix that with some dance performance trying to extend the meaning of the game and music to other art fields. If you had the opportunity to create music for a game that already exists, what title would that be?

Berlinist: It’s a tough question… Here is Marco answering, on his knees and apologizing to the main composers of these games: I would love to create the music of ICO. For me that game is true love.

We would like Gris ’soundtrack to be performed on stage. – Berlinist What are the plans for the future? More personal creations, or more video games? Another medium perhaps?

Berlinist: We are taking a short break after the release of the game since last two years have been quite intense and immersive. We have projects in mind that we would like to give shape soon. We are always open to synergies between any artistic discipline and music, in fact we find it very interesting to work in a different medium from ours, it makes us grow professionally and it enriches our vision of things as artists. So, who knows what the future can hold in this sense!

Executive Editor

Konrad Belina-Brzozowski

Lecturer at Warsaw Film School and School of Modern Music. Sound alchemist, electronic musician and sound designer.