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Interview with Richard Jacques

Versión en español

Richard JacquesAbout Richard Jacques

Richard Jacques is an award-winning composer of blockbuster scores for videogames, television and film soundtracks. He writes, orchestrates and produces epic anthems and dramatic underscore that blur the line between Hollywood films and cinematic video game entertainment. His action score for Headhunter was the first videogame soundtrack to utilize the world famous Abbey Road Studios and record with a live symphony orchestra usually associated with the film-scoring world. Richard is currently writing the original orchestral score for Empire Interactive's Starship Troopers ( 2005 release based on the Sony Pictures movie and animated series franchise. For more information visit

BSOSpirit (BS): First of all thank you very much for granting us this interview, it’s a pleasure for us.
Richard Jacques (RJ): You’re very welcome.

BS: A typical question to begin, how was your interest born to be employed in music business and more concretely in soundtracks?
RJ: My family are all musical and my father is also a composer so I have been surrounded by music all my life. I was studying piano, trombone and percussion, and I began to compose when I was quite young, around 7 years old. So I guess you could say it felt very natural for me. I have always had a huge interest in soundtracks, for movies, games and TV.During my music studies, I majored in both composition and music technology and having been a keen gamer from a young age, it seemed like a natural progression to start work in the games industry. Scoring orchestral music was always my biggest passion, as I had played in orchestras for many years, and I knew that this was what I ultimately wanted to do.

BS: Starship Troopers, The GameAlthough we will focus this interview on the "phenomenon" Headhunter, which is your favorite soundtrack you’ve composed?
RJ: Apart from the Headhunter series my favorite at the moment is my score to the upcoming release of Starship Troopers (, but that is not complete yet!

BS: How did you begin to be a member of “Headhunter” project?
RJ: At the time I was working as the in-house composer at Sega Europe in London. Part of my role involved working with all of Sega’s creative partners, by providing music and audio content for their games. Once Sega had signed Headhunter, I met with the game’s director, John Kroknes and his development team at Amuze. It was clear from the beginning that we both shared the same vision for the game; He takes music very seriously and has a huge passion for it.

BS: What did attract you of this video game?
RJ: The game is very character-driven and has a great science-fiction story, so it was an interesting project to work on for me. It meant that we could have themes for some of the main characters and action set pieces as well as underscore for other gameplay sections. Also the score needed to sound cinematic, and had to convey adrenaline-fuelled action. These were all factors that attracted me to the project.

BS: HeadhunterHow had you the possibility of working with the London Session Orchestra, with 67 instruments, and records in Abbey Road Studios?
RJ: From the beginning of the project, I had made a good case to the people at Sega and Amuze that it would be necessary to record the score live, since the orchestral samples at the time weren’t really up to the job. Also for this type of score, you can’t beat the sound of a live orchestra. The London Session Orchestra record many film scores, including the Bond soundtracks, and I knew that my writing, especially for the brass and percussion was quite demanding, so I opted for the best players for this kind of contemporary theme. Abbey Road was also a natural choice because the sound of the room was perfect for the score. As well, it provided the marketing team a good angle and we actually invited many of the press along to watch the soundtrack being recorded. It was a very exciting and tiring few days but definitely worth it!

BS: For the first part you composed a score that attracted the look of many people, making the game very popular thanks to its marvelous soundtrack. Full of big themes and action moments, Headhunter is considered one of the best soundtracks ever done for a videogame. How much did "Headhunter" change your life as composer?
RJ: HeadhunterWell, this is the kind of score I had been waiting to write for many years, so it was just a question of finding the right project. And Headhunter was certainly the right project for me to create a large-scale thematic action score. It has certainly attracted a great deal of attention from both the games and film industry, as well as game and film soundtrack fans. I just gave it 110% all the way, hired the best orchestra and studio I could, and tried to do the best job. Since completing this score and becoming a freelance composer, I have not stopped working and now I get offered some great projects, which are booked a long way in advance. So it certainly has garnered attention.

BS: Besides the own video game, what other professional or personal elements did motivate the composition of this magnificent theme "Jack Theme"?
RJ: That’s a very good question! We knew that the character of Jack Wade was a very rugged, bold sort of character, who doesn’t mind bending the odd rule. He also has a slightly inquisitive nature but is still a very tough guy. So we knew that the theme had to be bold above everything else, which is why I chose a lot of brass writing and syncopated rhythms. “Jack’s Theme” was actually the first track I scored for the game, and the theme came to me very quickly whilst I was on a train journey. I’m not sure how but it just came! That provided a clear direction for the rest of the score.

BS: "Headhunter" is not very far from David Arnold compositions for "James Bond" series, what motivates a clear question. Is it possible that videogames world remains small to Richard Jacques and now it is time for seeing you in big budget productions at your talent level?
RJ: David Arnold is a great composer and it is true that we are similar writers in our choice of melody, harmony and rhythm, and that we both love to write large scale thematic works. However the gaming world certainly does not seem small to me! I still play games regularly and would like to continue scoring orchestral soundtracks for games as well as to write music for more films.

BS: Headhunter: RedemptionFor "Headhunter: Redemption," they return to contract you since it might not be otherwise after seeing the marvelous reception of your first part. "Headhunter: Redemption" changes substantially the sound of the first part, leaving the orchestra and being sustained exclusively in electronic sounds, did not you think that it might damage the showiness and the quality of the score?
RJ: The two soundtracks are intentionally very different. The decision to go for more electronic sounds was a joint one by myself and the director of the game. Headhunter: Redemption is a very different game from the first Headhunter, and so we opted for more of a textural sci-fi score, which involves electronic elements and orchestral elements, but the orchestral elements were samples. People need to remember that I am creating music to match the game, and in my opinion, even though Redemption has less thematic material, the score fits the game better.

BS: There is obvious a perceptible difference between both compositions, happening from a rich score in melodies and flood of big moments of action for the first part to other one more incidental, and full of tension moments or atmospheric for the second one. This is the reason why most of fans consider the first score as his favorite, did you know when you composed the first part that on having preferred a few less grateful or less melodic sounds, the fans were not going to enjoy so much like with the first one?
RJ:Headhunter: Redemption I think this was inevitable. Many soundtrack fans (myself included) enjoy big thematic works, as they make a good listening experience outside of the game or movie experience. Having a soundtrack that is pure underscore would probably not make a great soundtrack release. In Headhunter: Redemption there is a new main theme and a sub-theme for the main character, Leeza. I am not surprised if the first soundtrack is the fan’s favourite, but ultimately my job as a composer is to score the music to the medium accordingly.

BS: The edition of La-La Land is sensational and in addition the first requested copies had the possibility of being signed by you. Will you edit someone of your previous or future works again with La-La Land Records? Can we know which?
RJ: Thank you, I’m glad you like the CD release. I would certainly like to work with La-La Land Records again in the future as they release some great soundtracks. As for my past works, this would be unlikely but I will be exploring the possibilities of releasing my score to Starship Troopers ( when the game is released in September/October 2005.

BS: To say goodbye, do you want to dedicate a few words to your Spanish fans?
RJ: I would like to thank all my Spanish fans for their great support over the years, and I hope to visit your fantastic country again soon. Thank you!

Cover signed

Interview by DDBSpawn (David Doncel Barthe)
Translated to English by Jose Luis Diez-Chellini
Translated back to Spanish by Oscar Giménez

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