Hi. I had a great interview with Petri Alanko . here it is from www.bazicenter.com
Interview très sympa de Petri Alanko, compositeur sur Alan Wake
Quelques spoils attation !
1- Right now I'm listening to Alan Wake's OST and wright the questions cause I wanted to talk to you from deep of my heart when you are there with your music. How did you become Remedy composer for Alan Wake?
That's a long story, with lots of interesting twists, but in the end it all comes down to knowing people: A good friend of mine was doing sound design for Futuremark back in the 2005 and Remedy people asked him if he knew anyone capable of composing orchestral music. He answered "yep, I know a guy" and gave them my work phone number.
I'm still convinced I really was the only dude he knew. :-D
Anyway, I finally got the phone call from Remedy and I was literally shocked, in a very positive way. My friend, Nicklas Renqvist, mentioned me about him spreading out my work phone number when we were out listening to some music, but I didn't really pay a lot of attention to his story. Actually, I remember him saying it, but I thought it was one of these "let's hook up and go have some tea" things - never happening, that is.2- Do you play games often? Did you finish Alan Wake? what is your opinion about it?
Well, I do, actually. I've got Gran Turismo 5 going on right now, just finished Fallout New Vegas. I also enjoyed a lot playing Call Of Duty Black Ops - although I don't really like army stuff, I'm more of an adventurer and a loner myself. :-D
Also, I'm now playing Alan Wake for the third time (played it through twice already), just enjoying the site, the woods, etc., literally fooling around now. AW got some negative feedback for its face motion capture and facial animation - hey, look at Fallout series... :-) What I''d like to see is the sandbox world in Alan Wake. Now it's too linear to my taste, I'd love to be able to just wander around the surroundings.
The woods in Alan Wake remind Finnish forests a lot, by the way. It's winter time here now, 40 cm snow everywhere already, and I miss walking in the forests, the air is so... fresh, easy to breathe. Of course you could walk there now as well, but the amount of snow... no way, no. :-D
Anyway, when you have to adjust yourself to the timetables of the significantly larger publisher (MGS, who really schedule everythinig years ahead), you need to start prioritising. Even though Remedy is the game developer, there were many, many different aspects and factors to the whole thing, everything was connected, and when something started to lag, it affected everything. I'm still thinking about the producers' and project managers' duties: they must have had the hardest jobs in the world. I was just there tinkling with my keyboard, humming and recording my memos into a digital recorder - probably the easiest job of the bunch! ;-)
Seriously speaking, it's not the easiest, but when you like - no, love - something that much, you stop paying attention to the weight of your duties. You just enjoy doing stuff you have always wanted to do: compose.3- Max Payne's Scores wrote by Kirtsy Hatakka. Why Remedy decided to work with you? Did you know Kirtsy Hatakka ?
Well, Finland is a small country, so yes, I've seen him many, many times, but we haven't talked. It's actually funny, because everyone seems to live in or around Helsinki, inside 120 km radius. I assume K?rtsy was doing one thing really well and Remedy wanted to take some distance to what he'd done. They wanted a purely orchestral score with a lot of emotions, so perhaps that's why they decided to call me.
Also, it might have been due to his timetables, or whatever. I haven't asked Remedy much about Max Payne times, there were quite a lot of to talk about with AW - sometimes I stayed there for hours, just listening to people go through the manuscript, and I really enjoyed it a lot. There are only a handful of people that have the ability to catch my attention for hours, and it seems they all are working at Remedy! :-)
What a bunch of brilliant storytellers, them.
I assume my ability to dive into the story was what really mattered for Remedy. For some reason, I've always been very good at absorbing feelings and emotions, and putting sound or music into the picture has always been very easy for me. I very often start "hearing" music when I see a movie clip or a picture - which is why I like to watch TV with its sound off just before I go to sleep.
(I just try to remember NOT to watch scary stuff, heh!)
4- Alan Wake took long time for development process , when did you start to write the songs?
The first two-three themes were created in 2005, after seeing the first preview clips of AW. There wasn't much then, but the scenes were so atmospheric and enjoyable that I started hearing the themes immediately. I literally had to write something down when driving back home from Remedy... at about 120 km/h it's quite dangerous, I have to admit...5- When the first time you saw the game and the story what was your feel?
I was grabbed by the atmosphere, the "visual weather" and the open space. By "visual weather" I mean the humidity and temperature, if you know what I'm after? It's quite hard to explain, but in some photos you can actually "see" or "feel" the weather - AW's first demo was that specific from the beginning. It was very much like that (visually) from the very first day that I saw it. Of course, the story and the manuscript developed a lot after that, but the initial "feel" of the game was very, very prominent.
I knew it would be great to be a part of that process, but little did I know it could be THIS great. I literally enjoyed every second, there were no tough times, no hard words, it was like a nice day on the beach 24 hours a day with Remedy - and this is no bullshit: according to practically everyone at Remedy, it's been the best place to work in in their lives.
It was a remarkable honor to be involved that long. I managed to see every single little twist of the meandering story of Alan Wake, his wife and his friends. When the final script hit the table, I was thrilled. I think my first comment after reading it was just "whoa." I couldn't say more. It was hard not to cry when I read the ending of the story, Alice surfacing, crying after Alan, the Deerfest, the dark void in which Alan was captured... I'm having goosebumps even now, after this long. The ending had a very powerful grab of my heart, so to speak.6- Did you inspired by something or someone to make the songs?
The more I kept diving into the motives of Alan, Alice and others, the more I was inspired. It was a score composed from guilt, love, desperation, loss, trust, freedom... and a lots of sadness combined with those aforementioned emotions. I somehow felt the sad history Alan and Alice had was the key to all themes, Alan trying to atone for something he'd not done. And, after the initial shock in the game, something he'd done or at least caused.
Musically, I've always been a great fan of melodic and dramatic scores, along the lines of Zimmer, Shore, Tykwer, Ottman, McCreary... if it has a memorable melody, I love it. There are too many battle drum scores with heroic horns and brass - and without melodic content. I tried to avoid that consiously.7- When I'm listening to soundtracks I really feel Alan Wake's feelings at the moment, I think you have a great recognition in Alan's personality. How did you understand the soul of characters?
I recognized a lot of myself in how Alan had thrown himself into his creations. I also recognized the effects it can cause if you stop looking around... :-D Alan loved to indulge his stories, living his life of "famous writer", and at the same time hating every promo tour, every marketing issue, every TV show.
I began reading the original AW manuscript carefully, listening to their presentations, making memos and notes all the time. I first tried to find out their base motivation, then I started "dressing up" that backbone by the aspects of their personalities, their history, the modus operandi, so to speak. It was actually quite easy, for some reason. I found out I could relate to their lives easily - which probably was due to the magnificent writers Remedy had. Sam Lake, for instance, should be in my opinion in Hollywood...
It's easy to "dress up" the story if the story itself is good.
I have somewhere my notebook into which I had drawn each character layer by layer. In Alan, the origin of all his actions was "guilt". It was his tool, so to speak. That combined with his so-called writer's block, the inability to write, created all that eventually happened. It was very interesting, as everything originated from one character's imagination. Actually, one imaginary character's imagination, but the protagonist was so well written he felt like a real person all the time.8- I feel a lot of Romance and Love , specially a lost love and somekind of childhood in some of the songs. It's very great that you created a great atmosphere there. How did you get in to the nature of Bright Falls?
It reminds me of certain remote parts of coastal Finland, somehow. There's not much difference between North-Western USA and Finland - except us Finns we tend to be much easier to approach and are very easy-going. We don't speak much, but when we speak, it's all essential. :-D
The air, the weather, forests... it's all here as well. If you travel to Eastern Finland, you'll find some rocky rivers and higher mountains (or hills) as well. It could've happened in Kuopio or Koli as well.
(Hmm, I think I should start asking a fee from Finnish Travel Information Centre...)
The childhood you're mentioning is probably due to the sincerity of some themes. Sometimes the melodies I write are presenting only one initial feeling, into which I like to weave other things later on - but even though it's simple, it's not necessarily obvious. I might be underlining the original reason, then transforming the melody and harmonic content into something that's happening later, or now. Somehow I feel it's all very simple and I feel a bit silly when I'm trying to put the process into words. I'd say it's a simple man decorating simple things. :-D
9- Poets of The Fall did a great job in Alan Wake. Do you know them?Did you have any collaboration with them?
No, unfortunately I didn't collaborate with them. I know each guy by their looks and have met them quite a few times (again, Finland being a small country of only about 5.6 million people), but...
I can relate to their music pretty well, and have always wanted to do a remix of one of their songs, by the way.10- I have some experience in writing song, I love composing songs for movies and games but problem is, it's really hard to gathering a band for that. what is you suggestion for people who wants to be a great composer?
Oh dear... the connections are everything, it really doesn't matter if you're the best composer on earth if you don't have connections to media houses, ad agencies, game developers, whatever. I've found it actually very, very hard to network with people.
Skill-wise, though, I've got a few things: you have to be creative. A composer must be able to write simple stuff, and yet be able to decorate it. One must be able to feel the picture, the characters, the situation - sometimes the location is a character in some way as well.
Also one has to accept that 9 themes out of 10 are just... crap. Either that, or they require a lot of attention. Or they might be in their cradle, requiring a lot of time to mature well. I try not to write anything down, not until the first two weeks: if I can remember it after the first 14 days or so, it's worth remembering.
Sometimes the trigger for a melody can be just one tiny thing on screen. In AW it was Alice's raw photo from the casting shoot that caught my eye, believe or not (or rather, the lady who gave Alice her face).
It's really important to work efficiently, to know your tools, strengths and weaknesses as well. I've noticed that I like to go towards my weaknesses everytime, maybe due to the fact I want to develop myself. I'm trying very actively to avoid safe havens, because in that case I'd be repeating the same stuff all over again - and not going forward.11- What are you working on right now? Did you have any new project like movie or game? What about Alan Wake 2?
AW2 remains a mystery until Remedy one day announces they have done such thing, I'm afraid. ;-) If it ever happens, I really want to be in. No question about it. If the same group does the sequel, it's going to be HUGE. I know this for sure, as Remedy is one funky bunch of talented people; they've learnt their lessons, I'm sure, and whatever they're going for next, it's going to be _great_.
I have to be sincere: I'm going into a rather murderous mode if they're going to get another composer. :-D
I've done quite a few things after AW, some of it for other Finnish game developers (there are quite a few, by the way), theme songs, trailer themes, main themes... There are at least four projects right now coming out (of which I cannot even mention the names, unfortunately), and in addition to that there's a movie score in the talks as well - plus that my "home project" Slusnik Luna is going to release a single, and shortly afterwards an album. It's club/dance/trance stuff, and probably very unknown over there, but great music nevertheless. I was originally just an engineer and a part-producer for them, but the dudes (Nicklas, who I mentioned earlier, and Niko) have decided I should be in. The next release, "The Sun 2010" is going to be an exciting one, as it's a re-worked classic (Niko's composition, by the way), put into new clothes, with several BRILLIANT remixes from real class a people.
I can assure you we're really enjoying being in my studio. The presence of three totally different people in a same room, creating something together is a throughly enjoyable experience... it's beyond words, honestly.12- If there is a Alan Wake 2, would you like to work with Remedy again?
Yes. I haven't mentioned this yet, but I'm probably the world's most persistent man, and I've decided I'm going to do that. :-D AW1 wasn't work, it was sheer fun all the time, so - hell, why not? It's a rare treat to work with skilled people, I must say.13- Which genere do you prefer to working on ?
I must say I've enjoyed the psychothriller genre very much. I do have a soft spot for romantic scores (but I think I still have to wait for the next Keira Knigtley / Natalie Portman movie, oh well...) but I think the plot is the one that really counts. If the story speaks, it doesn't matter which genre it is in. I do feel that Finnish darkness (the day is right now only 6-7 hours long, only, in the up North it's not even day, just long darkness until the spring time again) nurtures that psycho twist in every being here.
If I should put things into order it might be this:
2) fantasy (the possible upcoming movie belongs to this genre)
4) just plain good old romantic stuff (anything with Hugh Grant, heh!)
(Damn, the world needs more love, so I think I should put that #4 to #2. Besides, I'd put AW1 into "romantic psychothriller" genre myself. :-D)
Again, I have to emphasize, that the story is everything, no matter what the genre is.Thank you Petri for your time . You are in Finland and I'm living in Iran but you are living so close to me, in my heart and my soul. When I playing Alan Wake I'm feeling all the objects and envoirment and when I listeining to your music I remember all the love that I have in that game. congratulations and I wish you the best, cause you are the best.
Ok, right now I'm very, very moved. It's hard to put this into words, in a language that's not my native, but I'm deeply grateful of what you just wrote and I must express my deepest respect in Finnish: "Kiitos, tuhannesti kiitos. Olen vuosien varrella oppinut ottamaan iskuja vastaan ilmeeni v?r?ht?m?tt?, mutta yll?tt?v?lt? taholta tulleet kauniit sanat saavat sieluni v?risem??n". I'm afraid that's beyond Google Translate, but believe me, I cannot put that into words in any other way. It might be something like this (a very weak translation): "Thank you, a thousand times. Throughout the years, I've learnt to receive blows and punches without even noticing them, but kind words from an unanticipated direction make my soul tremble."