Laurie Ann Haus is the lead vocalist and co-composer for the American ethereal symphonic folk and metal band Todesbonden. She is also a singer for 8Dio’s „Laurie” sound library, and an award-winning solo and soundtrack vocalist. It’s worth saying that Laurie’s vocals are naturally connected to many important music themes composed by Neal Acree for Blizzard’s three main series. We talked with her about StarCraft II (including both expansions), World of Warcraft: Cataclysm, and Diablo III: Reaper of Souls.
Dedicated practice should be applied to all vocal styles if you want to be skilled in the vocal style you are interested in.
gamemusic.net: What is it like to be a vocalist? How much work must a vocalist do to fulfill her talent?
Laurie Ann Haus: I believe that a singer’s skill never stops needing to be attended to. Exact hours needed woodshedding is an individual experience. Some singers work harder than others and it shows in their work. My dedication to my vocal practice varies. When I have a task at hand, particularly with session work, I will work obsessively to make my tracks as perfect and beautiful as possible. In college while studying opera I would reside many hours in the studio daily practicing arias.
gamemusic.net: An opera singer from a movie which title I can’t recall said that singing is more like sport than art because she must train her lungs all the time. What do you think about her words?
Laurie Ann Haus: Opera is a vocal technique that requires range, flexibility. accuracy, and projection over an audience without a microphone. Dedicated practice should be applied to all vocal styles if you want to be skilled in the vocal style you are interested in. However, some people are able to achieve high levels of singing more readily than others with less practice, but the very best in the business have worked hard to get there.
gamemusic.net: What’s your goal as the vocal artist – for example, to establish a musical style?
Laurie Ann Haus: Singing is a catharsis, a bearing of my soul. I would say that my style is “passion”. I suppose my goal always is to create music that moves the listener. Hopefully at times bring a tear or transcend. As far as style is concerned, I don’t focus on it all that much, I do what moves me and I try to be flexible tonally and dynamically.
I love practicing traditional vocal styles from all over the world, however, I am not heavily trained in any of them.
gamemusic.net: In which styles are you able to sing? Which is your favorite? Is there any you’d like to learn?
Laurie Ann Haus: I trained in classical voice and then without instruction moved on to “Laurie” voice. It is difficult to classify my style. I love practicing traditional vocal styles from all over the world, however, I am not heavily trained in any of them. I think the conglomeration of styles makes me uniquely my own style. However, I can mimic styles, and my tones and dynamics are flexible. I tend to be attracted to traditional Irish singing, Balkan choir music or Middle Eastern sounds. Very recently I have been interested in ethereal pop sounds as well. I just love beautiful, flexible singing of all styles.
gamemusic.net: How about singing in many different languages?
Laurie Ann Haus: When I was studying opera I would sing in French, Italian, and German. I love singing in other languages, it is a nice break from English.
gamemusic.net: How did you start your music career?
Laurie Ann Haus: I studied classical voice in college and after I began to write my own music. After many short term musical ventures, I started a band Todesbonden from which I was discovered online by composer Neal Acree. He introduced me to the soundtrack music industry and ever since then I have been working with various composers, continued to work with Neal, wrote music for Todesbonden and my solo compositions.
gamemusic.net: Could you tell us how you work with composers? Is there any place for some musical freedom?
Laurie Ann Haus: It really depends on who the composer is. Every composer works differently. Some want me to write and some want to write vocal lines for me. Since I am a hired session musician, I do whatever they wish. Musical freedom is off topic with session work, it is the composer’s vision that matters to me most. I save my musical needs for my own work.
(…) I was discovered online by composer Neal Acree. He introduced me to the soundtrack music industry (…)
gamemusic.net: Do you compose your own music?
Laurie Ann Haus: I do! Recently I have taken a several year break from writing when I started singing session vocals for soundtracks, but I now feel a nagging drive to dive back in and start writing again. I miss it. I primarily would compose on my piano since that was an instrument I was most familiar with. I can sit at the piano and play for hours when inspired. I would then transport these melodies into my DAW and then play around with the many options using MIDI.
gamemusic.net: How did you start your adventure with the video game music industry?
Laurie Ann Haus: Neal Acree, a Los Angeles composer, discovered me 6 years ago online. He was looking for a singer who would fit the music he was writing and he believed that my voice matched the style of what he was looking for.
gamemusic.net: Please, tell us more about your cooperation with Neal Acree. How exactly did it start?
Laurie Ann Haus: Neal messaged me on Myspace to ask me very modestly if I would be at all interested in singing for him for his upcoming music for StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty. I will admit that at the time I was unfamiliar with StarCraft II, so I looked it up on Wikipedia and was amazed to see what a well known video game it was. Neal asked me to send a little vocal audition snippet so he could see if I was able to do what he needed. Neal approved my audition vocals and then Blizzard generously offered to fly me out to L.A. to meet him in his studio and the rest is history. You can actually hear my audition vocal line in the The Betrayal cinematic when Kerrigan loses hope.
gamemusic.net: Neal said that your vocal was a big part of Kerrigan’s music side in StarCtaft II games. How was it like to be a musical voice of the Queen of Blades?
Laurie Ann Haus: It is an honor to be part of such a well loved game and to be associated to the musical theme for such an important character. In the end it is all about the music and I always trust Neal to provide what is needed for the scene. To hear my voice laced throughout Neal’s brilliant composition while watching the cinematic with Kerrigan is moving and surreal.
I will admit that at the time I was unfamiliar with StarCraft II, so I looked it up on Wikipedia and was amazed to see what a well known video game it was.
gamemusic.net: We started talking about Blizzard’s games, so could you share your thoughts with us about the Nightsong? I think it’s a signature song of World of Warcraft: Cataclysm, as well as one of the most popular video game songs of yours.
Laurie Ann Haus: I thought it was wonderful to work on Nightsong with Neal because it was not the typical deeper range voice that I often get hired for. Neal trusted me to be able to be flexible enough to sing in a lighter style, and I eagerly dove into the spirit of it. He provided me with a list of elvish words and from there I sang elvish phrases over a drone. Neal morphed and strung them together. Then over the chorus section I wrote a few vocal lines. It was a back and forth collaboration. I enjoyed it very much and I am very proud of our song. So, I am pleased that it was well received.
gamemusic.net: We can hear your vocals in games, but in movies too. In which ones?
Laurie Ann Haus: Outside of several documentaries I sang on the following movies and TV series: The Borgias, National Lampoon’s: The Legend of Awesomest Maximus, Scorpion King, Assassination Games, Favela, The 9th Floor: Quest for the Ancient Relic and Witchville.
gamemusic.net: You made your first step in sampling industry. How was it like? Aren’t you afraid that a vocal library will replace your irreplaceable performance?
Laurie Ann Haus: I will admit that creating the library was the hardest and longest job I ever had, but the most gratifying. However, I am not at all concerned about being replaced by the library for several reasons. The most important reason being that even though it is a fantastic library, I have worked with it for writing on my own music and it is clear to me that it doesn’t come close to an actual live performance from me.
It is fantastic for some ethereal moments and perhaps it can fill the shoes of some songs, but if you want something that is fluid, dynamic, innovative and original, the only way to go is to hire me directly and I am confident in that fact. I am not using all of my tones and voices on that library, and playing with the library has actually reassured me that I am irreplaceable. I have however really enjoyed hearing what composers have come up with while using it, that to me is the most thrilling part. Each composer is unique in their writing style and thus far what I have heard has been beyond beautiful. I feel like I have collaborated with them without having to negotiate anything and that is both thrilling and freeing.
I will admit that creating the library was the hardest and longest job I ever had, but the most gratifying.
gamemusic.net: Could you share with us one of your unusual experiences as the vocal artist?
Laurie Ann Haus: My strangest experience was when I performed Nightsong at BlizzCon in 2010. Not only was this the largest audience I had ever sung in front of, but I also stepped on a nail while walking out barefoot onto the stage at the start of the song. I was bleeding profusely throughout the entire song while trying to concentrate on my performance.
gamemusic.net: Would you like to say something to your fans?
Laurie Ann Haus: I want to thank everyone who has followed my work and has contacted me or supported me over the years. I am inspired right now to dive full on into the musical abyss. I will never stop working with music in some capacity, so I look forward to many more years of sharing with you.