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Olivier Deriviere (Composer)

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For more than a decade, Olivier Deriviere has been scoring music for video games. He started studying classical percussions at the age of five and went on to study harmony, counterpoint and instrumentation under the guidance of Mr. Jean Louis Luzignant at the Conservatory of Nice, France. In 2000 he won a scholarship to Berklee College of Music to study film scoring and jazz. In 2003 he was hired by Hydravision to score their first game, Obscure, a survival horror game. More recently, in 2012, Capcom and Dontnod Entertainment asked Deriviere to provide them with a unique score to support their new game Remember Me, set in a futuristic and dystopian Neo-Paris where the memories can be digitised, shared and hacked. Darren Rea caught up with Deriviere as his latest score for Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag - Freedom Cry, was due for release...

Darren Rea: How would you describe your latest score for Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag - Freedom Cry?

Interview imageOlivier Deriviere: I would say it’s an original score with elements of historical and traditional music from Haiti with lots of energy and emotions.

DR: Had you heard the previous scores by Jesper Kyd and Lorne Balfe and does Freedom Cry revisit any of the old themes or is it completely new music?

OD: Freedom Cry is a very unique Assassin’s Creed game. It’s much more about its main character Adewale and the struggle of his own people than anything else. Therefore we chose not to relate to any previous work yet we decided to keep some of the brand palette of instruments like acoustic guitars and strings. We also wanted to keep the idea of having a solo female singer but since Adewale is a strong character it felt much better to use a male singer.

DR: Your score for Remember Me was interesting - mixing orchestrated music with electronic stutters. Was this an idea you came up with or was that the game developers idea? It's really effective, were you satisfied with the finished score?

Interview imageOD: For every game I work on I try to capture the core ideas and add another dimension with my score. The idea came from a talk I had with Jean Maxime Moris, the creative director, and my long and deep love of electronic music.

Remember Me happens in Neo Paris in 2084 where you can digitise memory, share them or, like the main character, manipulate them. I thought the idea to record a live symphony orchestra and to manipulate it with electronic processing was the perfect extension of that premise.

The end result works quite well but it works even better when playing the game. I think you need to experience the game to really feel how the music reacts to your own actions.

DR: Who would you say is your biggest influence as a composer?

OD: I usually name Peter Gabriel, Dimitri Shostakovich and Aphex Twin. You can be sure that every score I do has some influence from one or all of them.

DR: When you're relaxing, what sort of music do you enjoy to listen to?


Olivier Deriviere and La Troupe Makandal at Avatar Studios NYC

OD: It depends on the mood. I can go really casual and listen to some Mumford and Sons, Kings of Leon or Au Revoir Simone but my real thing is electronic music such as Kettel, Lorn, Clark, Murcof, Autechre, and many more. I really believe electronic music is where we should focus our creativity for games because it gives us a lot of options on how we can connect a score to a game.

DR: How did you feel the very first time you heard an orchestra perform music that you had composed?

OD: Scared as hell! Years ago I had the chance to exchange with John Williams and he gave me some great pieces of advice. One of them was “You will make mistakes with your orchestration, don’t panic” and of course it happened... but I was so much anticipating the moment that I felt it was right to fail, one might say. I think I can really appreciate the result once it is completed, when the pressure is out of the way.

DR: Is there ever enough time and music when it comes to your work? Do you ever wish you had a little more time to complete your projects?


Olivier Deriviere with with The Brussels Philharmonic Orchestra at Galaxy Studios

OD: Working in the gaming industry teaches you that there is no rule. Sometimes you have eight months to score a full game like for Remember Me and other times you have only one month and a half like for Assassin’s Creed. But no matter what, I push myself to deliver the best I can in the time frame I’ve been given, and as a creative person, it is great to have deadlines.

DR: Do you remember the first piece of music in a film that blew you away?

OD: Actually the first piece of music for media I remember perfectly was from a game called Shadow of the Beast on the Commodore Amiga computer composed by David Whittaker. It’s maybe why I focus my work on games; I think there is so much to explore - it is a very exciting time to be a composer for games!

Otherwise some movie soundtracks that blew me away were Terminator 2, Interview with a Vampire, The Matrix and Gattaca, among many others.

DR: If you could have just one piece of your music to be sealed away and discovered 100 years from now, which piece would you choose?

Interview imageOD: I don’t know if any of my music deserves such attention but I would choose Remember Me 'Nilin the Memory Hunter' because it unites acoustic and electronic music in a really unique way. Also, the spectrum of emotions and the different dynamics makes it quite complete.

DR: What are you working on at the moment?

OD: I’m currently finishing an Action RPG game called Bound by Flames from Spiders Games, a great team, that should come out on many platforms (PS4 included) beginning of next year. And I’m almost done with an indie game from Moon Spider Studio called Harold, a very upbeat and crazy little game, I love it!

Interview image
With thanks to Greg O'Connor-Read

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