Level 7: An Evening with Miracle of Sound

Level 7: An Evening with Miracle of Sound

Gav is also limited by his own enjoyment of a game. If it's not a great game, it won't give a great song.

"No matter how much people want, I can't force good work. A perfect example recently is Final Fantasy. It's been the most requested one all year. But when I played the game, it just didn't grab me. I could do a song just to keep people happy and, on a very cynical level, just get the views. But I honestly wasn’t inspired, and if I did do something I think people would be disappointed. My heart really needs to be in it.

"I think the only military style game I did a song for this year was Battlefield One, and that was because I could take the 'soldier going off to the Great War' angle, which to me is far more interesting than another 'I'm a cool space marine' kind of thing.”

I comment that ‘Pawns of War’, could stand on its own merit as a song about World War One. Gav is pleased to hear it.

"I try to do that with all my songs, where you can never have played a game in your life and you can still enjoy the song on some level. With Battlefield's song I tried for this, that it could stand on its own as a piece about war. And if you look at The Natural Heart, the Deus Ex song from this year, that's a song about prejudice; not really about any specific form of prejudice, it's just a song about looking inside yourself and trying to see everyone as equal.

“That's the message I was trying to get across there and, even though it's inspired by that particular story, I hope that someone could listen to that and have their own interpretation of those words."

Gav isn’t just a one-trick musician, though. His first non-gaming album, Metal Up, released in 2015 to both critical and fan praise, becoming the best-selling album in the Miracle of Sound catalogue. For him, this was a dream come true.

“Metal Up has nothing to do with gaming, and it's my best-selling album ever. That was vindicating, it proved to me that I don't need the extra crutch of the games, and it was nice for me to make something very personal. I was thrilled that people could still enjoy it on the same level as they do the gaming songs.

“Songs like Grainne Mhaol I wanted to do for a few reasons. Pirate metal is awesome, obviously, and also she was a real person that deserves a bit of a fanfare. Not only that, but the Irish language stuff is a big hit with the Irish descendant crowd, especially in the US.”

As influences go, Miracle of Sound transcends genres, drawing inspiration from across the entire world of music, both within gaming and without.

"If I'm doing work about the story in a game, the big influence is going to be the game's soundtrack and visuals. I want to make into music the feeling I get when I’m looking at and playing a game. So I try to use instruments that sound like the ones in the soundtracks, and I use similar motifs to the game soundtrack. That dulcimer at the start of Clockworks, that kind of Sherlock Holmes-esque sound, has similar notes to those used in Dishonored 2, I just make my own melody out of them. That’s where the mixing and production sides come in; before that, a song is just chords and lyrics, but this is how I really make a song sound right."

"On a personal level, Bowie was my hero, as is obvious from the song about him on Level 7, ‘The Man Who Rocked the World’. He was pretty much my number one influence, but I'm also a huge fan of Iron Maiden, and of course Kate Bush; I really love her ability to take you into another world. But in the end I'm influenced by everything from The Prodigy to Enya, it's very rare for me to find a genre I don't really like.”

I asked Gav what he would personally recommend for a newcomer to his work. He laughs and says it really depends on what you like, but he definitely knows where not to start.

“There's a lot of people who say "Oh, Miracle of Sound, you have to hear his Commander Shepard song" and I just scream "No, no, don't start with that one!

“Wake the White Wolf is probably a good starting point, or Skellige Winds, for someone into folk music. Hell to Pay is an obvious starting point for metal fans, and something like the Natural Heart for electronica fans. The recent Dishonored song has gotten the most positive reaction I had all year, so that's probably a good introduction too.”

“My own favourites change all the time, but My Shooting Star is definitely up there, and Some Things Never Change. The Best of Us, my The Last of Us song, is also one of my all-time favourites, I love that.”

As we drew to a close, I had to ask the burning question; what is Miracle of Sound's Game of the Year for 2016? He laughs; it’s an easy question.

"Surprising absolutely no one, Dark Souls 3. It was tough actually, because I loved Deus Ex too, and in some ways I liked it more than Dark Souls. The Last Guardian was a late runner too, and if it wasn't for the controls on the kid, which drove me absolutely crazy, it would've been my GOTY; as it is, it's a flawed masterpiece.

“I just thought, if I could only replay one game from this year, what would it be, and I was like yeah, Dark Souls 3. That would be the one I’d go back to."

So what's next for Miracle of Sound? First on the list, a long overdue break.

"I've been going pretty much nonstop for the last four years. I've had a couple of days here and there, but never really a break to just chill and recharge the batteries. Creativity's a well, but sadly it's not an infinite resource.

“Music wise, I haven't thought too much about next year yet. I absolutely adored The Last Guardian, despite its flaws, and I would love to do something for that. No guarantees that I will, of course, but that's what I would like to do next."

Miracle of Sound’s latest album, Level 7, is out now on Bandcamp, iTunes, and available for streaming on Spotify. Gav can also be found on YouTube as Miracle of Sound, as well as on Twitter @miracleofsound and miracleofsound.net


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Comments Comments (6)

Posted by Coddfish
On Wednesday 11 Jan 2017 7:39 PM
Awesome interview, great read. Gav sounds like an interesting dude.

Now I want a game about Gráinne Mhaol
Posted by emetic
On Wednesday 11 Jan 2017 10:55 PM
That's awesome, thankss for the interesting content :D
Posted by Goonertron
On Thursday 12 Jan 2017 1:31 AM
Gavin's awesome, big fan of his on podquisition as well.
Posted by Xaphriel
On Thursday 12 Jan 2017 8:42 AM
11 January 2017, 07:39 PM Reply to Coddfish
Awesome interview, great read. Gav sounds like an interesting dude.

Now I want a game about Gráinne Mhaol
She's an Assassin's Creed sequel waiting to happen.
Posted by thomasammy15
On Thursday 12 Jan 2017 4:38 PM
11 January 2017, 07:39 PM Reply to Coddfish
Awesome interview, great read. Gav sounds like an interesting dude.

Now I want a game about Gráinne Mhaol
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Posted by drunk_monk
On Friday 13 Jan 2017 8:37 PM
Wicked interview thanks Xaph.

I cant believe My Shooting Star only came out last year, I could have genuinely believed it was from the original soundtrack, it just fits Firefly so well.