Jón Hallur Exposed
The man Jón Hallur, Tell us a little about yourself
I was born at 21:45 on the 6th of May in ’78 in Iceland’s capital Reykjavik. That makes me a Taurus with all the drawbacks that includes. When I was young I was a very curious child who talked way too much, which apparently was not liked by my teachers at school. At a young age, against my own will I took piano lessons for 5 years. In that time I finished all the music theory that my school taught, but because of lazyness I didn’t do too well with actually playing, I’d much rather be making my own music. So at the age of 14 I bought myself a cheap Roland GM/GS synth and a friend of mine lent me a MIDI card for my (back then) very good 286 computer. Right there it all started. Age 15 I bought a Roland sampler (although you might think I love Roland I don’t, I only knew about this one store which sold Roland only equipment.) and there was no turning back. I started making electronic based music and I continued until I got better (hey it only took like 7 years.) I bought from a friends friend (although I never paid it’s full price, sorry Agnar) a DAT machine and started recording everything I make, and I still have them all.
How did you get involved with CCP?
Funny story really. When I finally got back too school and my life was set on being a CS major in University I stumbled into a small but fast growing Computer game company. It was like a field trip with my whole class, checking out what was exciting and happening in the field of programming . When the companys art director, Reynir Hardarson was giving us the tour we came into this empty room where he said that this would be the room of the sound engineer that hadn’t been found yet. And I thought , hmmm… I can do that. So I pointed them to a website where they could listed to some of my music, went to three interviews where I lied about my skills and I got this amazing job I’m still doing.
Is Jón Hallur a self-taught or a trained sound-engineer (or the mix of both)?
I did this one seminar in a local studio which is like the only formal education in sound engineering in Iceland, and I think I did very well, at least they offered me a job which I declined since I had a much better job at CCP.
What part of your career are you most proud of at the time being?
Well, since nothing I’ve done before counts as the “Biz”, the answer to that question in quite obvious. The only thing I’ve done before are a few local bands that never made nothing nowhere.
There is a lot of diversity in the songs you have created so far, yet so different, yet so fitting to the game. How would you define the nature of your music ?
Well, I work very closely with Reynir Hardarson my Art Director. And like any good director he directs me (obviously) and this music is mostly his vision. We tried to make the Races sound unique, different from each other, and from the question it sounds like we succeed.
How do you go about the creative process? Do you use the game(play) as a reference/inspiration, or are you usually focusing on your imagination rather than a visual aid?
The game itself has been a huge influence to the music in the game. Also the concept art for the game helped me alot in the beginning before the game got to where it is now. When the game got to that level where I could play it, see the world and immerse myself into it I started to make all those great ambients. And as I said above, Reynir has been very helpful putting moods and ideas into my head. I credit him for 50% of everything I make for EVE.
What gear / instruments do you use, which one of them is your most treasured piece of studio equipment?
My studio is huge, I have a ProTools 24|MIX rig and some virtual modelling synths, plus that I also got some other old ones and also a guitar and a bass. But I have to say that my big love in life is my fully expanded Triton Workstation, most of the music I make is from the Triton. Perhaps it’s not the greatest synth on earth, but the User interface is unparalelled, except perhaps the JD-800 which only has a third of the polyphony of the Triton and no sampling. But with all the evolution that has been going on I am very likely to shift to software, at the moment I’m having a love affair with Propellarheads Reason 2.0, nuff said.
What’s your vision about game-soundtracks vs movie-soundtracks ?
For games that have storylines and are linear I think the difference between movie soundtracks and game soundtracks is next to none. But with games like EVE for example there are some great things to be done in the nearest future with interactive music. Microsoft tried to make a system called Direct Music to make interactive music but the system was really badly done. I’d really like to take a part in a project where the music would be made in a system where you could tweak the parameters of a sound according to what is happening in the game, which is not possible with non-interactive music like mp3s.
Who’s your big example in the game-industry as a composer.
Of course there is a lot of composers out there who are making great things, especially after music compression technology got to where it is now, where you can have a whole score in CD quality played by an eastern europian symphony orchestra, making it sound like a hollywood movie soundtrack. But my true admiration goes out to the people who did amazing things with limited resources. Like Trent Reznor of the NIN did for the original Doom, done only with the General MIDI standard. And all the stuff made for the SID synth, a four voice synth that was inside the Commadore 64 computer and some other. There was some truly amazing stuff done with just those 4 voices.
Where do you see yourself in the future, any future plans?
Don’t we all dream of wealth and fame. One day I’d like to make a professional album. I’d also like to make music for at least one movie. But seriously I see myself continuing to work for CCP making the music for all the games we are going to make.
We would like to thank Jón Hallur for this very openminded interview and wish him the best of luck in his career to come.
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