Dildo Sound Effects & Showtunes: The Music Of Saints Row IV
Game Front: Can you talk about what your job entails?
Brandon Bray: I’m responsible for the high level vision as far as audio goes. I work with all of our outsources, so I was responsible for being the point person for [the team] dealing with the licensed music, working with [our contact] at Warner Bros., we did some outsourcing of sound design with them, working with our composer. That way, the other designers could just work on the game audio, and work on the actual in-game assets for Saints Row IV. I did some of that as well, but more of the high-level planning.
Game Front: I’ve been playing them since the first game and Saints Row: The Third is the first with a really strong soundtrack presence, the licensed music as part of the plot, but also the original score. Can you talk about how that aspect developed?
Brandon Bray: With Saints Row: The Third, we really wanted to push the big, “holy shit” mission moments, put the player in a situation that’s crazy, over the top, like with the flying through the plane sequence, that giant ball drop, stuff like that. And so we started to vet composers because we did want to get some original music in it, an original theme, because we really wanted to start branding Saints Row from an audio standpoint. And so we used Malcolm Kirby Jr., who was the composer on Saints Row: The Third and on IV as well. And he created this awesome main theme, and then he did original scoring for the plane sequence in mission two of SR3. And everybody loved it, everyone on the team loved that we were scoring these missions. So we decided “hell, let’s do it in every mission that we possibly can.”
“Welcome to Volition, we’re going to have some fun. Now I want you to make some dildo impact sounds”
Now, there were a couple of instances where we used licensed music to help sell the mission, like Kanye West in the first act, Bonnie Tyler “Holding Out For A Hero”, the Karate Kid song ["You're The Best"] that went over so well with both the team and the fans. So that led us into amping up the music for Saints Row IV.
There’s roughly 90 minutes of original composition for Saints Row IV, there’s over 100 licensed tracks, there’s a bunch of other music that we got from a company called APM, some things like the music you hear in the store interfaces, some of the missions are scored with APM. Music is a huge part of Saints Row IV and on top of that, we have a music gun.
Game Front: There was some really interesting music in the shops, especially for really knowledgable music fans, tracks that relied on some pretty obscure samples. Were those songs selected specifically? How did you choose it for those scenes?
Brandon Bray: Oh no, this company is used by all kinds of outlets – ESPN, the NBA, it’s just a gigantic library of hundreds of thousands of songs. So we just go in, we hear stuff we like, we hear stuff we don’t like, and we make sure that it fits. There’s a certain kind of music style for all the songs at Planet Zin, there’s a certain kind of music style for all the songs that are in Let’s Pretend, and of course Nobody Loves Me. They all have a certain genre or at least a style of music. We picked songs that fit both the overall style of the interface, and the overall tone of the store. It’s just a gigantic library, tons and tons of songs to pick what fits.