We had the change to get a interview with Kaveh Cohen and Michael Nielsen, the composers for Forza Motorsport 6.
1. Of the various songs, which one is your favorite?
MN: I have 2 for different reasons. I really love Track 1 on the OST, “Forza Motorsport.” This was Kaveh’s brainchild, and sets up the primary Forza theme. It’s the first time that Forza Motorsport has a reoccurring theme in the cinematic sense. We tried to be careful not to overstate the theme SO often in the score that people would get sick of hearing it, but it comes up quite a bit.
The other track is number 6 on the soundtrack, “Tyre Smoke.” I really like the programming and the guitar work on this. I’m very pleased that we were able to create a score that incorporates such a wide color palette.
KC: I also love the main theme and have a few other favorites including The Grid and Slipstreamer.
2. How long did it take to finish?
We worked on the score for about 11 months.
3. How many people were involved?
Outside of the 84 piece orchestra and our audio leads at Turn 10, it was just the two of us. From a composing and production point of view, we are highly self contained.
4. What is your favorite type or genre of music?
MN: I enjoy a very wide scope of music, but I listen more to songs than scores.
KC: I’ve been an avid film score collector for many years now so I generally listen to a lot of film music - both old and new.
5. If you could go back and make ANY edits with the music, would you? What would they be? Why?
MN: If I could, I would like to extend some of the pieces to further explore some of the themes and motifs. There are certain target lengths that we had to hit, depending on which section of the game we are writing for. For instance, something like a “post race” will be much shorter than actual race music, but the music that happens in post races are some of the nicest musical moments in the score. We were able to go back to the score and extend a few pieces for the OST.
KC: I agree with Michael - some of my favorite pieces in the score were relatively short due to technical restraints so it would have been great to have the opportunity to explore the pieces further. Overall, I’m very pleased with the results so I can’t think of anything I would go back and edit.
6. What are some pros and cons of being a composer(s)?
MN: There are LOTS of pros. It’s great to help shape the sound of a game like Forza Motorsport 6. We have been fans of the franchise since the beginning. As a composer, every day is a creative journey.
There isn’t anything that I could really call a “con.” It can certainly be very demanding and involves hard work and grueling hours, but at the end of the day we’re able to make a living creating music.
KC: For me personally, there’s nothing more rewarding than creating music. It’s an incredibly powerful form of self expression and scoring takes it a step further as you, as a composer, bring the 3rd dimension to what would otherwise be emotionally and viscerally lacking without music. I think as with most art forms, a composer’s career certainly takes an emotional and physical toll.
The scoring landscape nowadays requires a composer to wear multiple hats, requiring them to be a composer, engineer, businessman and most importantly - a psychologist. There are difficult hours and demands to be met but in the end, it is a privilege to be able to create music for a living.
7. Did you know you wanted to be a composer(s) from the beginning?
MN: I had a strong pull towards music since I was a child. Music was always playing in my household. When I was a kid, I would make “mix tapes,” or little compositions on a 4 track recorder, or bad 8 bit sequences and play my old Apple IIC games to them. I didn’t know I wanted to be a composer, but looking back, the signs were there. The studio environment is really where I’ve always been most comfortable as a musician.
KC: My love of music started as a young child. I started with piano lessons but soon discovered that I could write my own little tunes. My first meaningful exposure to film music was John Williams’ score for E.T. in 1982. I remember being absolutely stunned by what I was hearing so I asked my parents to buy me the theme from E.T. on a 7” vinyl that I still have here in the studio. I would sit on the floor in front of the turntable listening to it over and over.
As I got a little older, I discovered TV music as well. I would record the themes to my favorite shows like Knight Rider, Airwolf or the A-Team on a small cassette player. I think as a result I knew pretty early on that I wanted to be a composer.
8. How did you get involved in creating music?
MN: There were always guitars around the house. I picked it up when I was about 12. As the years passed, I went to bands to songwriting, to producing, and finally composing.
KC: For me it started with the piano. I was pretty young when I got my first small synth that had a few controls on it and continued learning and writing with that. As the years went by, my studio continued to grow - first based around a Commodore Amiga 500 and then a Mac Classic. I just kept growing and upgrading my studio and continued learning and writing over the years. My first “scoring” job was in high school where I was asked to write the theme music for a student radio show. I got my first professional job years later.
9. Any advice to people wanting to have a music career?
MN: Start creating right away. It doesn’t always have to be good in the beginning. But it’s important to get your creative engine going.
KC: It’s important to be writing and perfecting your art all the time. Really make an effort to learn your craft and the tools of the trade, especially since so much of a scoring career nowadays requires technical knowledge. Most importantly, find your signature. Your musical voice.
10. What type game music are you listening to?
MN: It’s the soundtracks to the games I’m playing with my kids. Right now it's lot of Forza 6, some FIFA songs and lots of Star Wars.
KC: I’ve enjoyed the recent Assassins Creed scores and Forza 6!