Tunes worthy of a Zombie Viking – ZoinkDay #15

Zombie Vikings has some great art and gameplay. But as we all know, a game is not really that fun without some epic, perky or creepy melodies to set the mood. So, we sat down with Joel Bille, who produced the music for both Zombie Vikings and Stick it to the Man, to pick his brain about his work with the game. 

Hey Joel, introduce yourself!
I’m Joel Bille, the composer and music producer for Zombie Vikings. You might know me from another blogpost, where I talked about making music for video games in general.

How has it been, working with Zombie Vikings?
When I began this project I wasn’t really sure what to do with it. I got in quite late in the process, and most of the game was outlined quite well already. Zombie Vikings is a game with a very specific and expressive style, not only graphically but also in the writing, voice acting and game mechanics. It’s full of raw power and coolness beyond the limits of reason, but with equal amounts of humor and heart, in some undead sort of way. The music had to match all those things somehow. It’s got to be that over-the-top-awesome, without losing the playfulness that is so present in the game.

Sounds like a challenge! How did you pull it of?
I started off by buying a guitar and learning how to play it as I went. I wanted to create the naive feeling of a kid trying to be a rockstar without really knowing what she’s doing, combined with some proper production values, real musicians and kickin’ drums. So I used my own incompetence on the guitar as a start, combined with and old toy synth that makes a fun rattling noise when you shake it.

Signe and joel in the recording studio.

Signe and Joel creating awesomeness.

Is the music incorporated in the game in any special way?
While playing Zombie Vikings you’ll find yourself in a lot of fights, but you will also just run around, solving puzzles and stabbing you friends. As the characters enter and win battles, the music’s intensity follows dynamically. Every level’s got two layers of music: one for the fights, and one for the rest. The idea behind this is to contribute to the dynamic feel of the game- it makes you feel like the entire game sort of rises when you enter a battle, only calming down again when you’ve killed all the evil Hawaii shirt-wearing maggots in the room. That way, the music helps you understand when a fight is over.

Signe with her saxophone.

You can’t really set the mood without a saxophone, can you?

What kind of tunes will we get to enjoy while bashing our enemies brains out?
Zombie Vikings has A LOT of levels, which means A LOT of music. The different worlds have very different atmospheres and I’ve tried to capture them and enforce them with the music, while still keeping them within the games general style and feel. Take Megathorp, the home of Gunborg. We wanted it to feel like a big Brazilian/Nordic city full of Söcker-fans, keeping it really groovy and sporty. So the levels of Megathorp’s got a bit more funky music, with influences from afrobeat and ska. Then on the other hand there’s Fishgaard, the fishing village where Seagurd is from. Fishgaard is a small island society, inhabited by quirky island people who’s not to happy about your visit. The level has got a bit of a inhospitable feel to it, so I tried to catch that in the song too. The result it a strange song with a weird melody with lots of tones and chords you wouldn’t expect. It’s got a steady beat-box groove and lots of accordion, as a tribute to the Swedish west coast traditions (the accordion, that is). When you enter a battle, lots of extra percussion is added, as well as big reverberant guitar chords.

Anything else you want to share?
I want to give a big thank you and lots of cred to my magic musician friends, Signe Dahlgreen on tenor saxophone, David Engvall on the trombone and Joel Persson Haag on the trumpet. They’re making it sound like I know what I’m doing! And I hope you enjoy the music! It’s been a a big challenge working with this game, and still is – we’re not ready yet. But also lots of fun.

Give Joel a big thanks for sharing his thoughts with us! Oh, and he’s new on Twitter and is really worthy of more than twelve followers, so go ahead and check him out there: @joelbulle.

Alexandra Dahlberg
Community Manager
@dahlbergskan