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Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Interview: 'Souleye' The composer behind indie hit VVVVVV

In all types of visual media, Soundtracks have become essential. Imagine watching Indiana jones or Star Wars without hearing John Williams’ fantastic compositions in the background. It would become a completely different film. In the same way, music in video games is also essential to the immersion. Playing a game with the sound off is never fun, you need to hear the OST otherwise the lack of sound will significantly detract from the overall experience. The genre that heads the top of the leaderboards for best soundtracks have to be 2D Indie games. VVVVVV, Super Meat Boy, Arcadia, and Frozen Synapse all boast incredible soundtracks.

My favourite soundtrack is in ‘VVVVVV’ the indie hit by Terry Cavanagh which is based on the graphics style normally seen on 80’s computer hardware. It looks gorgeous and has the same gameplay mechanics ZX Spectrum users would be familiar to. It is another indie platformer which is a well-trodden genre in PC Gaming second only to Diablo clones. The game stands out because of its simple controls and the incredible anti-gravity mechanic that puts this game to the top of the pile. What keeps it at the top is it’s incredible Soundtrack. The chiptune tracks are heavily influenced by the 8bit sounds of the Commodore 64. I spoke to Magnus ‘Souleye’ Pålsson who wrote the incredible soundtrack that accompanies the game.

Bob: What inspires you to write music?

Magnus: I get inspired by, well, anything. I find that moving my body, eating well and having a lot of fun social interactions makes my brain come up with stuff easier.

Bob: Do you have to wait until you play the game before you can compose the soundtrack for it?

Magnus: I don't have to play the game, but usually I have at least some screenshots and descriptions to go with it. All things the devs can give me helps. Inspirational tracks, graphics, similar games, storyline, mood settings, et cetera.

Bob: What software do you use to create your tracks and how long on average do they take to write?

Magnus: I use Madtracker to make everything. I may change though, as it's got a lot of limitations. A track can take as long as I need it to. A VERY simple and short track can take 10 minutes, but if I want something to sound really GOOD, I need much more time and inspiration. Those tracks can oftentimes somewhere take between 10-40 hours spread over a lot of days.

Bob: What are your favourite game soundtracks?

Magnus: My favourite game soundtracks... Well, I recently enjoyed Trine's, but usually reference old school stuff, like for the Commodore 64: Wizball, Ghosts 'n' Goblins, Gianna Sisters, and Delta. There's a bunch of classics for NES too: Zelda 2, Punch Out to name a few.

Bob: Have you got any projects on the go?

Magnus: Besides having a couple of tracks released on Rock Band Network (such as this), right now I'm working on a few projects, but can only name one due to some secrecy: Pulsen. It's a rhythm/music game, and I'll be releasing a pack for it at a later stage with new material and a couple of VVVVVV remixes that will blow the originals out of the water. More info will come on my twitter (@mpsouleye), as that's mainly where I do my news. I'm going to release a CD too, around when my pack for Pulsen is released, which will contain some of those tracks, the missing VVVVVV tracks and some new material too. Exciting times!

Magnus' Tracks are a fast paced blitz of electronic chiptune sounds that are unbelievable when listened through headphones - Listen to a bit here and if you like it purchase the game or the soundtrack or both!


  1. Love the music to this game :D put it full volume when i was playing!!

  2. Brilliant interview, love the soundtrack too!

  3. Wow! Really impressed! Such a good soundtrack!

  4. WOW! I LOVE THIS GUY!!!!! <3