If you think of the production of a videogame, a lot of the time you’re going to think about the team who constructed the gameplay, the graphics, learning curve, that sort of thing. In recent years the musical compositions of games have been widely acknowledged, with legends such as Koji Kondo and Yuzo Kushiro being remembered for their works in Mario
and Streets of Rage
respectively, and modern games such as Halo
taking game soundtracks to a level resembling that of Hollywood production.
One of the men most revered for this change in awareness is
Richard Jacques, a popular composer who spent a large chunk of his videogame career working internally for SEGA. With a discography including Metropolis Street Racer
, Jet Set Radio
, Sonic R
and Starship Troopers
under his belt, it’s no wonder he has a few admirers.
With news that Richard is to create the music for the single player campaign for SEGA/Bizarre’s new project, The Club
, SPOnG was offered a chance to speak to the composer about his career and drive to take videogame music to the next level. Of course, we jumped at the chance…
Your name, to many, is synonymous with SEGA. How did your career begin at the company, and what got you interested in music composition in the first place?
Well, I grew up in a musical family - my father being a composer and my mother a piano teacher - so music was a very large part of my childhood. I have been composing since the age of about seven and then studied at the Royal Academy of Music in London. I am not sure what really got me into composing; it just felt like a natural step for me, having heard my father compose at the piano. Back in the early days I wasn’t particularly good at reading music, as I just used to make it up, so I guess you could say that I was always destined to be a composer.
My long-standing relationship with SEGA began in the early ‘90s, when I was hired as a composer and sound designer to work at their Development offices in West London. I had been a SEGA fan for many years, so this was the perfect job, combining my passions for gaming, music technology and composition. It was a great place to start my career, working on many high profile titles and getting the opportunity to meet and work with some real visionaries such as Yuji Naka, Tetsuya Mizuguchi and Yu Suzuki.
Do you have any influences that inspire you to create music, be it specific people or movies or other things?
Of course, all types of media influence me in different ways, be it music, movies, games, even radio and print media. As I progress in my career I suppose that everything has an effect on my music. I often draw inspiration from people, places, emotions, life experiences, as well as the other forms of media. It is also helpful that I have a pretty wild imagination, so I can often hear how a composition is going to sound before even getting into the studio.
Throughout my musical training I studied many classical and contemporary composers, and being a trombonist and percussionist in various orchestras, I was drawn to the music of Stravinsky, Vaughn-Williams, Host, Elgar, Shostakovich and Debussy. Of course my taste in music varies hugely these days, spanning a vast array or classical and film composers, to Hybrid and the Plump DJ’s, to jazz and world music. As a composer you really need to be open minded about all things creative.