16/04/2019

๐ŸŽ™️ Britt Interviews: George 'Fatman' Sanger ๐ŸŽ™️ @TheMightyFatMan @BrittRecluseuk

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George Alistair Sanger also known as "The Fat Man", is an American musician who has composed music for computer and video games, beginning in 1983. 

Some of George's best-known works include The 7th Guest, Wing Commander, Maniac Mansion, Loom and Zombies Ate My Neighbors. 

As you can see from George's Moby Games profile George has worked on a LOT of awesome games www.mobygames.com 

Here's a transcript of Britt's recent interview with the amazing George 'Fatman' Sanger
Hey Britt, It’s George Sanger (The Fatman) here on April 5th, 2019…answering your questions.

“Will there be a vinyl release of 7/11?” I will send that as a question to my record label, Materia Collective, I will put you on pause (pauses recording) Ok, I just asked them… because I don’t know."

I was introduced to you through your work with the seminal PC classic, 7th Guest. The music is so wonderfully eclectic, shifting from lounge jazz to ambient horror and even spiralling whimsical circus themes, what are your lasting memories of this time and were there any specific influences during this period?”
Well, my lasting memories are to be mistrusted, I remember it one way and others may remember it another. I had just given a talk at the Game Developer Conference, it was very small at that time. My big memory is that I got a call from Graeme Devine who really treated me very well and was very respectful and couldn’t believe that he was talking to the guy who did the music for LOOM and Wing Commander so I felt very full of myself and felt like I was the guy in charge who was a big deal.

Then he mailed me a videocassette of their materials to see if I wanted to work on The 7th Guest. The video cassette contained that scene of climbing up the spiral stairs and I knew it was going to be a big hit so my memory is of that visual of a videotape going up the stairs and thinking, “Oh my gosh, I’m really on to something and I want to give this all I got”. A lot of jumping with both feet, that’s an old saying, y’know, you don’t test the ice with both feet, but that was what I did. A lot of the music I did was trying to put more and more in because I had a great deal of faith that eventually this would establish me in a new artform if I could do a good job and push the art form forward so I was thinking of it more as being like rock and roll and this was our Woodstock, so I wasn’t really thinking of it in a business way, I was thinking I’d earn my place in this world, so I thought of it a lot that way.

Influences? Everything I everything I ever listened to was an influence and when I was writing it, I didn’t think of what was appropriate for The 7th Guest or horror film, I would dredge up one of my favourite tunes in the world, what would I like to listen to now? That’s why you hear the tune ‘Ghost of Bo’ is like a Bo Diddley beat because I believe every band should have their Bo Diddley song, y’know (hums a ‘Bo Beat’) so there was that. There are references to West Side Story (hums an upbeat tune) that’s almost a direct lift, there was a Twilight Zone episode about a one-armed bandit, a slot machine which went (hums descending fretless bass line) there was this vague memory of it in the back of my mind. There was no YouTube so I couldn’t look it up but it was there at the back of my mind. I came a little bit dangerously too close to it but, uh, you hear the bass (again hums bass line). the Twilight Zone was just a couple of notes but I turned it into a longer thing, hopefully, I’m forgiven for that.

Umm, what else? I liked Tubular Bells and I tried to sound like that, that was the theme from The Exorcist so you’ll hear the song ‘Rain’ kind of sounds like that. When I was working on 11th Hour, I was instructed to sound a little bit like Danny Elfman ...actually I just had a Guinness with Graeme Devine last month and he reminded me that the first two tunes that I turned in when they asked me to sound like Danny Elfman, I got all haughty and said “well, if you wanted Danny Elfman, you should have HIRED Danny Elfman!” (laughs), haha, like a snot!

Then I wrote ‘All the Guests’ (hums frantic, circus-esque theme) so that was trying to be like Beetlejuice or the kind of things that Danny Elfman was doing then you know, the kind of quirky, awkward things, uh and then the other one I wrote was the main theme, the intro (hums slow, atmospheric, pining music) I don’t really know what that was influenced by, y’know…that one was just from the heart.

Also, I was inspired by the new instrument I had just got, the Roland Sound Canvas.
Question 2, Looking at your discography, you’ve worked on a LOT of soundtracks over the years, are there any that stand out for you as ones you are particularly proud of or you feel specifically represent you and your approach?

Yeah, Putt-Putt Saves the Zoo really represented the team approach, having Team Fat all working on different parts of that, I’m VERY proud of it and if you want to really tune into that, look for Curator Putt Putt There’s a friend, Timothy Knox, who is going to be releasing the music from that game and other games like it, Freddy Fish and Pajama Sam 3. The real joy of those games was that it really felt as much as possible that we were implementing as much as we had learned from studying The Beatles, you have Dave Govett playing up his orchestral approach and you had Kevin Fallon doing slide guitar and other folksy things for the tundra and the grasslands. Joe McDermott, children’s music wizard, he was the Zombies Ate My Neighbours’ main composer, a very capable and wide-ranging musician. He did a lot of the African things and I kind of tied it all together with the ‘Welcome to the Zoo’ song and cracking the whip, keeping in touch with the clients… so I kind of produced that one, that felt good and I’m really proud of that one.

“Can you give an example of your creative process, as in perhaps the instruments/collaborators that you prefer to work with the most and how you build upon an idea or how you decide on what each project requires?”

Well, I’ve heard some really great composers talking about this topic and I really agree with this. When you start a project and you look at the creative draft and you look at the blank paper and you look at the empty computer, there comes this moment where you think “I don’t know to do this, how can I do this? No-one can score a game, this is impossible! I don’t know what I’m doing!” and when you have that feeling, that’s the right feeling to have, you’re doing it right so you know, every project needs to be approached on its own terms fresh from the beginning, you need to kind of dip into your templates a little bit but not too much. Right now I’m working on Oddworld: Soulstorm…Oh, that’s the next question, I’m skipping ahead, forget I said that (laughs)!

So, when I was in Austin I used to bring in the best musicians that I could find and I had access to all of the Western swing musicians, I REALLY loved working with Floyd Domino on keyboard. He is actually the guy around whom they wrote The Best Little Whorehouse In Texas theme. When that was written they actually did that with Floyd Domino’s style in mind and then he eventually got to play the piano in the pit on Broadway so that must have been a crazy gig for him, playing piano on something that was written with his style in mind. Floyd is just a genius so when you hear really nice keyboard playing on my works, it’s almost always Floyd Domino.

Then one of my secret weapons was John Ely on pedal steel guitar so you’ll hear him on Freddy Fish, you’ll hear him on The 7th guest etc. Why pedal steel on those? Because he’s such a great musician, that’s why! Then as much as possible I’ll have Team Fat play. Maybe not the strongest players but I wanted to build a sonic identity.

What I try to do is get in the game developer’s head, stylistically. I mean, there are two things that you have to do when you’re doing game audio and one of them is gameplay gameplay gameplay…well, that’s three of them (laughs) but if we’re just talking about the other thing, setting the mood, branding it, the intent, the immersion… then I’d usually fall back to thinking of this as a movie and I think of it as the biggest, most immersive movie version of what the game is going to be and that way I am taken out of the driver’s seat and I’m swept away by my imagination and I just hear some kind of… a style, some kind of sound… that’s my one formula that seldom fails. Whatever it is that I hear in my imagination, y’know, I usually get a little bit of a melody, a little bit of orchestration, a little it of tension, I can’t hear the chords in my head but I can hear a sense of tension and that’s a lot of how I wrote that theme to The 7th guest. You see that house on the hill and hear a few notes which will be the basis for the theme that’s going to draw you into the movie you’re about to see.

“What can we look out for next from you and Team Fat?”

Well…I am working on the new Oddworld which is called Soulstorm, this is the follow up to Abe’s Odyssey and Exodus and New ‘N’ Tasty and it’s going to be BIG. It is a BIG project so you can check that out but I am just now looking at what they have so far and I’m putting myself into that giant mental movie again, trying not to let down the fans of Abe.
I’ve run into so many people who will say, “Wow, you’re working on THAT! Wow, I grew up on Oddworld!” People have tattoos of this series so I really want to help these guys build a world that holds up not just to fans’ expectations but goes beyond that to a dark but hopeful world. That’s the weirdness about Abe, his world is very, very dark, he’s trying to not be turned into food and so in trying to avoid that he finds himself roped into being a sort of a messiah, helping set people free, other ‘Muds’ (Mudokans, the race of Abe’s people) and in the process he breaks a lot of things, brings down the factory and his boss and his bosses boss etc. How much of that evil system that was turning the innocent Muds into slaves and food, how much of that system is going to crumble? And how do you put so much of that dark hopefulness into music? We will see.

Thank you for asking these questions, thank you for caring, you are awesome and uh, (laugh) enjoy translating all this! Haha, bye!
"THE FATMAN"

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