Let’s Interview: Banjo-Kazooie and Mario + Rabbids Composer Grant Kirkhope
Here at Gaming Reinvented, we’ve interviewed quite a few people involved in creating famous video games.
We’ve interviewed Tomoya Tomita, the composer for Wario Land Shake It and Kirby’s Epic Yarn. We’ve interviewed Randy Linden, the person responsible for porting Doom to the SNES and making the Bleem emulator in the PS1 era. And well, when it comes to YouTubers and fan game creators, we’ve interviewed dozens of them by this point. From Kaze Emanuar to SKELUX, from Source Gaming to the Lonely Goomba, the list of interviewees on the site is something to behold.
And today? We’ve got another great interview for you. Yep, it’s a full-blown interview with Grant Kirkhope, the composer responsible for such hits as Banjo-Kazooie, Perfect Dark, Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle and many other games alike. So, if you want to hear what it was like writing music for those classics (or just what kind of crazy things nearly gotten in Mario + Rabbids), keep reading, or watch the video interview below:
Cause this is gonna be one hell of an interview…
So, let’s start with the obvious backstory question first and foremost. How did you get into composing music for video games? What made you want to get into this field?
It was completely by accident. I’d been in rock bands as a kid, and that’s all I ever wanted to do. I went to music college (the Royal College of Music in Manchester) in 1980, did a four-year classical trumpet degree and when I left I went back to playing rock bands.
Then my friend Robin Beanland announced he’d got a job. I was surprised, no one I knew got a job. He went off to work at Rare to write music for video games.
A year soon went by, then he said “You know Grant, you’d been on benefits since you left college, why don’t you try to do what I do?”
I said “I don’t know, I’d failed all the exams at college and only passed the last year by the skin of my teeth since I didn’t understand harmony at all. So, I bought some new gear, composed some music I thought I’d be good in video games and sent some demos to Rare. I didn’t get an immediate response, but a few years later I got a letter from them saying to come down for an interview, and then got the job.
Either way, your first major project was Donkey Kong Land 2, a port of Donkey Kong Country 2 for the Game Boy. What was it like converting the music from the SNES to the Game Boy?
It was tricky. In that time, Rare did all their Game Boy games in hex, no MIDI file or anything. I was like “how the hell am I going to do this?”
So, Dave Wise came across and showed me how it worked (very quickly) on my first day, and it was really hard. I actually said to Robin “I’m going to have to resign, this is too hard, I can’t actually do it”. However, he said to ask Dave back tomorrow and write down every step that he tells you to do. So, I did this, wrote down every step-in order (like number 1, press Alt 4, number 2, type this, etc) in real parrot fashion and then I kind of understood it then. Heck, I quite enjoyed it in the end, and thought it was quite fun to get the music to work on the Game Boy.
So yeah, I liked it in the end, but the start was super scary.
Indeed, it actually worked out really well. The music sounds incredible, especially given the limited technical capabilities of the system.
Yeah, a lot of people like that. A lot of them talk about Stickerbrush Symphony on the Game Boy, which amazes me. It’s Dave’s music, it’s just me trying to make it work on a Game Boy. Dave should take the credit really.
True, but you did the technical side and got it working.
I suppose, I get that. But he wrote the music.
Either way, I guess you moved onto Project Dream after that?
Well, I did the Game Boy, then I moved to GoldenEye straight after that.
What was that like? Did you have any rules or restrictions from the movie company about what music you could use?
We had free reign then, which is quite bizarre. They’re very protective about the Bond license these days.
So, Graham Norgate was doing Blast Corps and GoldenEye and once he’d beaten Blast Corps, he asked whether I’d be interested in working on GoldenEye.
I said “Are you joking, I’d love to do it”. So, I did Game Boy in the morning, GoldenEye in the afternoon, that was the agreement.
In answer to your question, we were told we could use the Bond theme as much we wanted to, and it was fantastic for me. I mean, I love Bond.
Hence, we brought a CD that contained all the music from the Bond movies, so I listened to them and tried to piece it altogether. It was brilliant trying to piece it altogether, great fun.
Hmm, seems GoldenEye in general was a project the team had quite a lot of free reign on…
Did you work on any other games between GoldenEye and Banjo?
No, that was it. I just worked on GoldenEye, then one day Tim Stamper (who was the boss of Rare) and Greg Mayles (who was the lead designer) showed up and just said “could you please play your GoldenEye music”
I was like “alright, I’m gonna get fired because they think it’s crap”. So, they sat listening, I played the tunes and then they said “right, you’re gonna come work on Dream with us”
To which I was like “yeah, that’s fine, just need to finish on GoldenEye” and they were like “no no, you’re finishing GoldenEye right now”.
So, I moved to the barn where the Dream team was and started working with them.
Talking about Project Dream, it changed quite a lot in development didn’t it? What was the idea behind the music before it became a Banjo game?
Yeah, I never worked on the SNES, just the Game Boy and N64. So originally it was gonna be on the SNES, then just about when I switched to Dream it got switched to the N64. It was going to be a very Zelda like open world 3d exploration game, then I just changed to Banjo.
Okay. How did you come up with the audio direction for Banjo-Kazooie?
I thought that Banjo-Kazooie were very odd characters, being opposites (like Banjo’s a bit dumb and Kazooie’s a bit snazzy and sarcastic) so I tried to get the music to match that.
I hit on the idea of this tritone thing. It’s the furthest point in a musical scale, so I wondered if I could work it in somehow.
At the time, I’d been listening to quite a bit of Danny Elfman, and so that kind of gave me the idea for the direction here. I just stumbled upon it really.
And as it worked well, I just used it through both of the games.
One of the songs quite a few people remember is the Gruntilda’s Lair theme from the original game. What was the thought process behind this one? Like how it’s inspired by the Teddy Bear’s Picnic song? Or how it faded into each area as you went to it?
I just wanted to find something really kooky that summed up Gruntilda. I guess the bear thing worked into the idea because Banjo was in the adventure, so the two aspects meshed well and you got a plodding along, witchy tune that summed up her (Gruntilda’s) character perfectly.
So, I just wanted to find something that was a memorable tune that really matched the characters again.
Another thing people like and remember from the series is how you take a single tune from the level, and subtly remix it based on where you are and what’s going on in the level. What was the inspiration behind that?
Yeah, we did the whole channel fade thing. When I first got to Rare, Greg and Tim were very keen for me to play the Lucasarts games (especially Monkey Island) since they loved said games a whole lot. And in the early Secret of Monkey Island games, they had that channel fade thing working like in FM synthesis; not quite MIDI files but just using the FM chip on the sound card. They loved how it worked with the IMUSE system and said they’d love that to work in Banjo. So, when you wander around, the music would change (same tune but a different arrangement based on the area).
That meant I had to work out how to make that happen, figured out how it’d sound in my head and then have the coders figure out how to get the software to support it afterwards. Hence all the music for one level would be in one MIDI file, and different channels would play to change the feel of the song in different areas.
Have you seen any of the remixes of these songs on YouTube?
Yeah, it’s awesome. Usually when people remix my stuff, it turns out better than my version. Least most of the time!
It’s also super flattering people want to do that to my music really. I never dreamed that’d ever happen to me, so I love when people do arrangements of my work. They have some really good ideas too.
Cool. Still, favourites now. What’s your favourite song in the Banjo series?
That’s tough that one. I guess my favourite’s probably Mad Monster Mansion.
Yeah, I like that song. Great haunted house tune!
I’d say those three are my favourites.
Talking of Banjo-Tooie, did your music change direction a bit when you moved from Kazooie to Tooie?
I don’t think so. I just tried to keep that same feel in Banjo-Tooie. It’s just a continuation really.
Okay, some may have gotten slightly darker, and having boss battles at the end of every level meant I got to remix every level’s song in that style. But it was just a continuation really.
Are there any songs you wish you’d done a bit differently?
I do get asked that a lot, and honestly no. I’m a really bad polisher, and am really bad at going back at changing things. My first idea is usually the only one I have, and if that’s bad, I’ll just start again. I don’t like messing around with stuff, I just make a mess of it and it just gets worse really.
So, no, I wouldn’t change any of the music I’ve written in my entire career. It’s all worked out great.
Donkey Kong 64 now. What was it like composing music for that game? Obviously, you had a lot to live up to given the great soundtracks in past games.
Yeah for me I guess I was doing Banjo-Tooie, DK 64 and Perfect Dark at the same time…
Jesus. That sounds tough.
I know. It was a hectic time that was.
So, my main thing was to try and keep DK different from Banjo-Tooie. Wanted to make sure it didn’t sound the same.
And in general, I always thought DK was a darker sounding game. David Wise’s Donkey Kong soundtracks are amazing, but they are quite dark. So, I felt I made DK 64 a bit darker than Banjo, with the toy factory level being quite haunting and the spooky level being quite haunting too. That and Gloomy Galleon.
I really tried to keep it slightly darker than Banjo.
You certainly did that well with the Mad Jack boss theme!
Oh yeah, I love that one.
Onto Perfect Dark now. What was that like? Was it like composing for GoldenEye?
I thought that was different. It was more electronic. The X-Files was very big, and I kept thinking of that and Blade Runner when composing. I mixed orchestra and synth back then, and I tried to make it as good as I could. I really enjoyed working on it really.
Perfect Dark was a great game in general too. Great story, great team, great fun to do. So that was something different. Fun to do something that wasn’t a jolly platformer.
Either way, Rare soon moved off to Microsoft. So what kind of songs did you like composing in that era?
Grabbed by the Ghoulies was great fun. I mean, haunted house games are great fun to do because of their atmosphere. It’s spooky and comical. So, it was good to do that.
But I guess the high point for me was doing Viva Pinata. That was the first time I got to use live orchestra, so it was a proper 100-piece live orchestra in Prague. That was spectacular to get to do that. Utterly brilliant.
Yeah, it was certainly a great game that one. Wish more people had played it to be honest.
Yeah. I think people loved it, but they also thought it was a bit cute. But it’s not cute, it’s actually pretty deep when you get into it. Hard to get it to work properly.
That seemed to be an issue with quite a few Rare games in the Microsoft era didn’t it? They were great fun, but their style was perhaps not the best for the Xbox’s audience…
Yeah, I think Banjo-Kazooie Nuts & Bolts suffered from that. You know, if you think about it now, Nuts & Bolts is a bit of a predecessor to Minecraft because you can build what you like.
I think with Nuts & Bolts though, the issue people had was that it was a Banjo game more than anything else. If it was a new IP like Minecraft, I think people may have looked on it a bit more fondly.
But Banjo was always a platformer series, so people were a bit hesitant to play a spinoff which was totally different to that.
I think you’re right about that. If it was a new IP, it would have gone down a lot better.
Still, the visuals and music were nice, and the storyline was well written…
Yeah, when my son was young (he was born in 2002), so when we went to America he was starting to play games. And him and his friends really loved Banjo Nuts & Bolts. That was their favourite. When his friends came to our house, that was the one game they wanted to play because they didn’t know about the first two Banjo-Kazooie games and just got engrossed in building vehicles and seeing what they could do with all that stuff. It was funny how that’s the way it was.
I think Microsoft missed the boat there. They didn’t realise that little kids who didn’t know Banjo would love that kind of game.
Interesting that. Seems Nuts & Bolts could have been what Minecraft is now if Microsoft had marketed it carefully enough.
Still, did anyone Rare ever think maybe insulting the original Banjo series in the game’s story may not have been the best idea?
That’s the style of Rare’s humour right. That was all part of their way of doing things. That was how it was in Banjo-Tooie and Banjo one, so I think we wanted to keep that same irreverent humour in because it’d lead it all together.
And did you have any involvement with Banjo-Kazooie Grunty’s Revenge on GBA?
No. That was Jamie Hughes. Jamie Hughes was a guy who started at Rare after I’d been out for quite a while and he was in charge of putting all that together. So, he did all that.
Do you think he managed to match the feel of the previous Banjo games with that game’s soundtrack?
Yeah, I think Jamie did a great job. I like Jamie, he’s a good guy.
What made you move on from Rare anyway?
I just became unhappy with Microsoft; didn’t like the way they were running the company and I just felt my time was over.
Like, I love Rare. I thought I’d be at Rare for the rest of my life. I absolutely adored it with the Stamper brothers and family there. Loved working for them. They’re just fantastic guys and they have great ideas for games.
When they left, it just lost all its magic to me. It just wasn’t the same place any more, and I just wanted to leave.
And when you did leave and become indie, how did you decide what projects to…
I didn’t do that straight away. I moved to Baltimore and worked at  games and made that game Kingdoms of Amalur Reckoning. So, I was still a staff guy then.
After that I became a freelancer.
And when you become a freelancer, you need work right? To make money to pay your bills and all that?
But yeah, I was pretty lucky. First game I touched was Mickey Mouse Castle of Illusion…
That was a really good game!
I loved working on that. I’ve got a friend of mine called Jamie Taylor who’s an audio guy from Britain who
went to live in Australia, and he was working at Sega Australia. So, he was working at Sega Australia, and said “Grant, I’d love you to work on this game” so I agreed.
It was fantastic working on that game.
I can imagine. What was it like working on it, trying to reimagine the game’s soundtrack for a new era while keeping the feel of the original intact?
Yeah, I wanted to make sure it all fit well. I’d written some original tracks and used some tracks of theirs, so I wanted to make sure I was very true to the original game with them. Cause everybody loved that game.
However, I also wanted to add a bit of ‘me’ in there, so it was a fine line to walk overall.
But I was happy with the way it turned out. Honestly, you never know with those things. You’ve just got to wait to see how people will receive it when they play it, and I tried super hard to be respectful to the original music. Then for the pieces that were new, I did my usual stuff.
So really, I was super careful about all that.
Yeah, you did a good job with the Castle of Illusion soundtrack. Did you have any favourite songs?
God, it’s hard to remember that now. It’s quite a long time ago.
Erm, I can’t remember. It’s so long ago I’d have to get it out and listen to it to answer that.
But I really did enjoy all of it, and it was a great experience working on the title.
Either way, after that you worked on quite a few 3D platformers, like Yooka-Laylee, A Hat in Time, Lobodestroyo and what not…
Yeah, they asked me to do it. Sometimes I get asked to do guest tracks, and I sometimes do them and sometimes not. That’s because sometimes it feels like people they can just get me in to write a track to get more money off Kickstarter, and I don’t agree with that.
I’ll do it if it’s a genuine love of the music I write or what not, but if people try and use me to make money, I don’t really like it.
But Lobodestroyo were great guys, and also doing Yooka-Laylee was great too. Those were my old friends with back on Banjo at Rare, and it was great to work with them again.
With Yooka-Laylee, obviously you tried to get something similar to Banjo there, but what did you try and do to make it stand out from its inspiration?
I think with Yooka-Laylee, the very first track I wrote (the jungle track which they put on Kickstarter), I wanted to make sure that had all the bits from Banjo-Kazooie rolled into one. For the rest of it… well hopefully I’m a better composer than I was back then, so I tried to keep the best bits from 1 and 2 while adding some new stuff to mix it up.
And what was it like working with David Wise on this project?
Erm, me and David have been friends for a very long time, so it was very easy to divide up the music here, and it was obvious which bits would be Dave and which would be me here. Don’t forget Steve Burke did music here too.
So, we all had a bit of a chat about it, and it was just obvious that since it was in a Banjo style, I should handle the majority of the music. However, for the next games Playtonic do, Dave might do more or Steve might do more, depending on the type of game.
But yeah, because it was a very Banjo like game, it was very easy to work out the bits I should do and the bits Dave should do there.
Another one of the memorable bits about Yooka-Laylee was the story, which seemed very much like it was poking fun at the Microsoft buyout (Hivory Towers buying the smaller company, Capital B being the villain, sucking out literature for profit, etc). Was this a deliberate choice by the company?
Oh yeah. Remember, some of those guys left well after me, and went through the whole Kinect Sports thing.
So, I guess they weren’t happy about that.
Mario + Rabbids now. What was it like working on the music for a Mario title like this?
That’s like spectacular. I never dreamed I’d get to touch anything like that. I mean, Mario’s the best-known character in the world, probably next to Mickey Mouse. To get to work on a game with him was just unbelievable.
Also, the team in Milan and Paris are just such great people. Like, I had really good fun with those guys. I talked for two-three years about doing another game with them. We’re all best friends now.
So, having Davide Soliani (who I’m great friends with now) working me has been such a great experience. It’s been a really amazing process. And I think that’s one reason why the game is so great. Because the people in Milan and Paris were so respectful of getting to touch Mario, everyone worked so hard to make it the best it could possibly be. Because you know, you don’t want to be known as the guy that breaks Mario, right?
You can really feel the passion in that game cause of how hard everyone worked on it. It was a real labour of love from start to finish.
Yeah, the humour is especially amazing there. It’s almost like Rare wrote it…
Yeah. That’s because Davide is such a massive Banjo-Kazooie fan. He wanted to give me the project because he loved the Banjo games so much that he wanted to get that same feel in Mario + Rabbids. To get that same sarcastic humour in there.
Let’s not forget the language barrier either. I mean, they’re Italians, so it could be quite hard for them to understand some aspects of the series, and so they did a fantastic job considering all that.
They love that kind of slightly irreverent poking fun at people humour like in Banjo, and that’s why I was on the project. Cause they love Banjo so much.
And hey, talking of irreverent humour, we all immediately fell in love with that Phantom song. The one where he mocks Mario in the form of an opera sing and all that. What was it like working on that tune?
Yeah, I mean, Davide wanted to have an opera song in a game for 15-20 years or so. He just never had the budget to do it.
So, the minute he had the chance, he said he wanted to get an opera boss in the game.
A lady called Christina Larva wrote the lyrics, and I then just put the music together. And well, I had to demo the song with me singing!
Oh god… That must be have been hilarious!
I know. What’s more, originally there was supposed to be an opera version, a rap version and a metal version for the three parts of the battle. But at the end of the day, we decided those versions didn’t work very well, and we couldn’t quite get act two in either. Cause yeah, act two was recorded, but it was animated. That might turn up at some point on a soundtrack or something. Who knows.
But yeah, that was super great fun to do.
Act 2? Isn’t that the one where he says you haven’t hurt him very much and you should be ready for his greatest hit?
Yeah, that’s right. It is in there, but it wasn’t in the game cause we didn’t have time to do it.
So back to the rap song for a bit now. How would that have been represented in the game?
I think the Phantom was going to wear a leather jacket for the first metal act…
A metal jacket?
Yeah. Still, I did write it, it’s all done. It just never got recorded.
Because the idea was to get the opera singer (Augustine, I forget his full name) to do the rap and metal version as well. So, he had the same voice. But they never got that far, they just didn’t work very well.
So, we decided it’d be better if we kept it entirely as opera. But as I say, if those recordings still exist, the ones with me doing it… I hope they’re never released cause they’re awful.
But it was good fun.
Do you think there’s a chance someone (like you or Ubisoft) might post them on Twitter one day? Perhaps for a bit of a laugh?
Well I guess Ubisoft could release the songs in a month or two.
Even the lyrics would be nice to have…
Yeah, I don’t think it’s out of the question. I think they’ll just do it for a laugh someday just to take the piss out of me, eh?
It’s probably better than you think it is…
Eh, it’s all good fun. I don’t mind really.
The final boss song is also really amazing in Mario + Rabbids too. How did you come up with that one?
Well, we looked at the [Mario] games and thought that Bowser has never really had a theme really. In all the Mario games, there’s never been anything that’s consistent there.
So, we thought that I should to try to write a theme that would fit Bowser. So that’s what I tried to do. I tried to keep the same theme and make it as big as I could. But Davide getting saying “Bigger, bigger, bigger, more choir!”, so when I started the game I didn’t realise it’d end up being so epic.
It’s a really gigantic, epic theme, and you don’t think Mario games are going to end like that. It starts off pretty jolly, and ends up pretty dark. So, with darker themes comes darker and bigger music, and I was just also trying to come up with a memorable theme Bowser might use in the future too.
I don’t know, but that was my plan.
Sounds rather Galaxy like!
Probably better than Odyssey’s final boss theme (though that’s great too).
Well, everyone’s got tastes right? The way I wrote it was that it was right for Mario + Rabbids, and that it might stick to Bowser in future.
On a less positive note, one game that your name was associated with that got a bit of controversy was Fur Fun. They pushed your name quite a lot on Kickstarter.
That’s the thing, I get contacted all the time by people saying they’d like to use my music in their game, and I always say “Yeah, I’m interested, what’s it all about”. So, I said that without really knowing what it’s about it, it got to the point it was something I didn’t really like and I said “Sorry guys, I don’t think I can write for this. It’s too close to Yooka-Laylee”.
I just felt something wasn’t right about this project, so I just backed out.
However, I should have paid a bit closer attention to that at the start. That was a big mistake.
Ah well, everyone makes mistakes at some point. So, are there any other interesting games you’re working on at the moment? Like other indie titles or what not?
Well, I’m working on stuff right now. But you know, it’s games you just can’t talk about.
I mean, I am doing the DLC for Mario + Rabbids right now, but everyone knows that. Still, it’s great fun, especially given it’s DK. It’s great fun doing music for a game with DK.
Will it have any references to DK 64? Like how the Rabbid Kong theme was based on Jungle Japes?
And if Nintendo ever contacted you about a 3D Donkey Kong game (like Donkey Kong 64 2) would you be interested in composing for it?
Of course. My job is to write music and I really enjoy it. When people ask me to do great projects like that, you can’t turn things like that down. It would be such great fun to do.
Doing Mario + Rabbids with Davide has been a great experience, and I’d never turn down anything like this either. As long as I’ve got the time to do it, it’s the best. It’s so good.
Yeah, David Wise did Tropical Freeze, maybe you could do a Retro made 3D Donkey Kong game!
I have to admit, I do think that DK needs another 3D outing, so maybe Nintendo or Retro Studios might do it one day.
But erm, I think I’d like to see another DK 3D game, it’d be great.
Think there’s a possibly Playtonic Games might make one in future?
Well as long as they’ve got enough to get the license from Nintendo! Anyone can get the license from Nintendo, it all depends on whether Nintendo will let them have it.
Ah, just curious whether Playtonic could become the next Rare…
Yeah, I think they could be. They could certainly do it, they’d just have to let Nintendo give them the chance.
On another note, would you ever be interested in porting music again? Like you did for Donkey Kong Land 2 back in the day?
It’s quite good fun, and you do learn things from another people’s music. You learn how they’re different to yourself, how they treat harmony, etc.
So, I’m up for anything really. As long as it could and I get the chance, I don’t mind.
And would you be interested in Smash Bros at some time along the line?
Well if they asked me, I’m sure I wouldn’t say no!
Wonder if they’ll use Mario + Rabbids songs in the next Smash game?
Yeah, I wonder. You never know, do you?
It’d be neat to see those songs remixed…
Yeah, I get that.
Have you ever considering composing for any projects outside of games?
I did a movie last year, it’s called the King’s Daughter and has Pierce Brosnan in it. And I’ve done a few shorts as well.
So, I’m certainly keen to do something movie stuff.
Also, I’ve just written my first full on concert piece, which is called Kirkfeld. It’s a trombone concerto. There’s a guy called Ian Bousfield who’s probably the best trombone player in the world, and we’ve been friends for a while, so he asked me if I’d write a piece of music.
I said I’d give it a go (having never written for the format before), and wrote this kind of trombone piece that he’s playing on his trombone tour right now. Japan, England, he’s been on a bit of a world tour playing it. Been amazing really.
My first bonafide concert piece!
Hmm, maybe I could get some more people interested in this concert. I’m sure all those gaming sites would love to talk about a concert Grant Kirkhope is involved in writing music for…
Yeah, no it’s been at the international trombone festival in California last year, and he’s due to play it in Glasgow next month. So, I tried to write a kind of Hollywood soundtrack there. The sort of music I like to write for video games, except for a trombone soloist.
Wow, that sounds great! However, did you hear about the new Mario movie that’s coming soon? Would you want to write for that at some point down the line?
Yeah. I would love to write for that, it’d be my absolute dream. To be the composer would be fantastic.
It’s by Illumination isn’t it?
I would love to do that then. If there’s any way I could do it, I would. It’d be fantastic fun.
It’d certainly have a great soundtrack if you were responsible for it!
Well yeah, but I just feel like… you know, I know Mario inside out and I’ve already written for live orchestra, so I could do it easily. So, I’d love to work on it. It’d be a great project to work on.
And have you ever considered working on other Nintendo Ips? Like Zelda, Pokemon, etc?
Yes. My favourite game of all time is Zelda a Link to the Past. I love that game and I love the music in that game, so you know, I’d love to have a go at working on a Zelda game. But it’ll never happen.
But it’d be fun to do a Zelda game, since I love that stuff so much.
Well you never know! Breath of the Wild certainly changed up the feel of the series as far as music is concerned, so you getting to work on the soundtrack for another game wouldn’t be too unbelievable…
Over the years, a lot of people have remixed your work and posted their remixes on sites like YouTube. So, are there any remixes or covers you think are really good?
Oh, there are so many! Err, Family Jewels, they do great stuff. Then there’s that Poop Poop Fart guy, he’s fantastic as well. Err, there’s that Endigo guy, can’t remember his name. Think he’s Scandinavian. He’s in a metal band but did a fantastic version of the Phantom’s song. So yeah, there are so many out there. They do my stuff way better than I do, I’ll tell you that!
Eh, don’t be too harsh on yourself! Your original music is fantastic, and their covers and remixes are fantastic too!
Glad you like it.
Moving on now, what games have been the most fun to compose music for so far?
That’s really hard to answer. Like, I’ve liked working on all the games I’ve worked on, I really do. But I guess the first Banjo is special in my heart. Also doing Mario + Rabbids was amazing and I guess Viva Pianata too, that was a great one to do as well. But I’ll say those three probably right now, it may change but I really enjoyed all the music I’ve worked on. I’ve been so lucky to work on the projects I’ve gotten to work on. It’s been a real lucky ride.
Are there any other games you feel more people should listen to the soundtracks to?
Well, I did a game called Dropzone last year, which is a very synthy game, and I hadn’t done one of those for a while. It’s on my website, and I’d like people to listen to that. I like to write for that sort of thing, it makes a change from doing all the orchestra stuff.
So that was mostly synth with a bit of orchestra mixed inside, it was more Perfect Dark really. So, I guess I’d like more people to listen to that. I really enjoyed doing that one.
Do you have any favourite composers outside of your own music? Whether they’re in the video game industry or another form of media?
I guess video game wise that’s a tough one, but movie wise it’s John Williams. He’s a great one. Like, I’ve listened to his three Harry Potter soundtracks over and over. They’re my textbook that I learn from, he’s such an amazing composer.
And I guess Danny Elfman too. So yeah, I guess those guys.
Either way, that now concludes our interview. We hope you liked it, we certainly tried to discuss every game Grant Kirkhope was involved in over the last few decades or so, and managed to find out quite a bit about the development for games like Mario + Rabbids in the process. Who’d have thought the Phantom originally had a genre switching song? That Donkey Kong 64 was meant to be darker than Banjo-Kazooie? Or that Davide Soliani wanted to have an opera song in a game for many years?
Not us, that’s for sure!
But still, what do you think? Tell us your thoughts about the interview and everything revealed in it via the comments below, social media or the Gaming Latest forums…
And remember to check out Grant Kirkhope’s website and social media profiles too. They’ve got tons more samples of his work, including songs from games most of the internet hasn’t even heard of!
Thank you, and good night!