alternative ambient composer gaming interview music VGM whispers of the plains

Whispers of the Plains – Interview with Winifred Phillips

Last week we bought you a review of Winifred Phillips’ latest fantastic soundtrack “SimAnimals” which was released yesterday. This week we have an interview with the siren of song herself! So without further ado, I bring you Winifred Phillips:

What were the highlights for you when writing for SimAnimals?

Meeting with the development team at EA was a real highlight. My music producer Winnie Waldron and I visited the team early in the project, and they demonstrated gameplay for us and talked to us in great depth about what they were trying to achieve, and how the music should contribute to the overall experience. It was very inspiring!
When you listen to the soundtrack there is always an overall feeling of warmth and almost a motherly-love to it. Was that something you had tried to factor in or did it just happen?

I think it just happened on its own. The game SimAnimals encourages the player to shape the environment according to his or her wishes, and there is the potential to form very warm and friendly bonds with the animals, and to become quite attached to the ever-evolving environment. I think that potential relationship was always in the back of my mind when I was working on the music. Of course, its also possible to wreak havoc and cause trouble for the animals, and some of the music in the game expresses that sentiment, too.

You said originally that you were excited to have free reign from the start over the sound. Did anything in particular inspire you to get the tone you finished with?

I took a slightly experimental approach with the music – not that the resulting score comes across as all that experimental! But when Winnie and I were watching the early gameplay videos and deciding what music would best enhance the experience, it seemed that a sense of perpetual motion was permeating the game at all times. This perpetual motion needed to be mirrored in the texture of the music, and that suggested an experimental approach. The world of SimAnimals is constantly changing and evolving as you experiment with it, adding elements to it and encouraging various interactions within it. This ebb and flow of activity forms the core momentum of the game, and it was very important for us to reflect that in the music.

Your producer Winnie Waldron is a bit of an unsung hero as the producer is never given the same spotlight. How does her input help your work?

Winnie Waldron is a great creative partner. We brainstorm, evaluate various musical concepts and develop strategies together. During the music creation and production process, Winnie offers advice and encouragement, keeping things on track and on schedule, and up to the high quality that the game needs. Her input is invaluable to me, and I’m very fortunate to work with her on all my projects.

How does writing music for computer games differ from writing for TV or radio?

Video games are interactive by nature, so the music requirements are fundamentally different. To create music for television or radio is to craft a linear experience in which events happen in a certain order, without changing. But events in a video game are constantly in a state of flux and change, so the music needs to be created in such a way that it supports the unpredictable nature of the gameplay. It’s always an interesting challenge.

Your God of War compositions won you an award. Tell us how that feels…

I was incredibly honored that Winnie and I were recognized as part of the God of War music team with an Interactive Achievement Award from the Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences.

Is there any projects you’d like to tackle or new things you’d like to learn?

I would love to create the music for a fantasy roleplaying game. It’s one of my favorite types of games to play, and a genre that I haven’t had the opportunity to work on yet. Any game set in a serious fantasy world would be appealing to me, but an RPG would be an especially enjoyable project.

What’s next in store for Winifred?

At the moment I’m working on the music for another title at EA. Also, I’ll soon be working on a highly-anticipated mature game with another developer, but I’m not allowed to say anything about that yet.

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