Employee Spotlight 05/06/2014
Our fourth Employee Spotlight features the extremely talented Musician and Composer, Leonardo Badinella. Leo’s contribution to Expeditions: Conquistador was a breathtaking instrumental soundtrack so rich in quality that it garnered its own attention. We are so pleased to have him continue his work with us on our latest project, the upcoming spy-thriller Clandestine.
Where are you from?
I was born and raised in Santiago, Chile. But my family comes from Quiliano, Italy.
You recently moved to California, what brought you to that decision?
I recently moved to sunny California because in addition to making music for Logic Artists, I want to expand into films and TV, and you basically have to be here to make that happen. The nature of my work allows me to be wherever I want while still being 100% effective when composing the music for Logic Artists.
How long have you been working with Logic Artists?
I have been working with Logic Artists since 2011.
What do you do at the Logic Artists Studio?
I composed the music for “Expeditions: Conquistador”. And I am now working on the new secret project “Clandestine”.
What was your training for this? How long did that take? Where did you do it? Why did you get into this career?
I have been involved with music since I was 6 years old, I played keyboards and flute when I was a kid, and picked up the guitar when I was 13. I can’t honestly say when I actually started writing music, but it was probably when I was very young. I started doing session work when I was still in high school, and later studied music composition and instrumental performance.
I was always interested in music for videogames…
How far back does your interest go?
Let’s see, I remember the music for the game Karateka(1984) on Atari being particularly great, I also remember taking notice of the music from games like Skate or Die(1988) and Twin Cobra(1987). I was a music geek, I even recorded the music from Skate Or Die on a cassette so I could take it with me! (I did the same with the ending credits of Back To The Future and Gremlins). But it wasn’t until I got Final Fantasy VII(1997) and Vagrant Story(2000) on Playstation that I got actually interested in making music for games. It seemed the music capabilities of consoles had developed enough that you could make some seriously expressive music. I have fond memories of playing the tutorial level from Tenchu and really enjoying the music. Then I played Deus Ex and got hooked with the game atmosphere, and of course loved Synapse when I got to the Hong Kong level. I always wondered about how to go about composing music for video games. Santiago was a comparatively small place for video games in the early 00’s and none of my friends knew anyone who worked in computer programming, let alone video game development. One day in 2003 I found out about a Deus Ex mod that was being developed by fans of the original game, they were looking for composers so I put together a folder with some TV commercials and demos that I had done and send it over. And that is how I got into The Nameless Mod. Which later developed into my affiliation with Logic Artists and Jonas Waever.
What other game or non-game projects do you put your time into?
I love to compose music for video games, and this is is where my heart is at the moment. Before working with Logic Artists on Expeditions: Conquistador, I also composed music for the acclaimed Deus Ex Mod: The Nameless Mod (The Nameless Mod Soundtrack on BandCamp). Other than video games I have also written music for TV commercials and I released a Rock/Metal Guitar Solo album in 2009 titled “Beyond Consciousness” (Leo’s Solo Album Beyond Consciousness on BandCamp). And for the past 8 years I had also been producing other artists and bands at my studio iElo Studios , I enjoyed working with other people on their music, but every day that I did I would finish, longing to spend more time composing new music, so in the end I decided to focus on doing exactly that. Then life took over and I moved to Los Angeles.
What kinds of digital games do you play?
I enjoy story driven action games, RPGs, and strategy games. Video games give you a chance to step into the shoes of every hero or villain you can come up with. Good games though, like good movies must have a great story. For me everything comes after the story, if it’s not a good story then why would I waste my time? A good story makes you care, it involves you on an emotional level. For this same reason I enjoy reading very much, sadly I can’t dedicate enough time to it.
I really wish I had more time to play games too. Would you believe I have never played System Shock? I loved Deus Ex when it came out; the new Deus Ex too; the Mass Effect series; Crysis; Wolfenstein; Empire Earth; Civ 3; the Final Fantasy series; I loved Metal Gear Solid; and I remember Vagrant Story as being a damn good game. Before that, I enjoyed the Monkey Island series and Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis. And the moment I saw Doom I was addicted!
What kinds of other games do you play?
Chess. I don’t use a timer, I like to take my time. I know how to play a bunch of boardgames but I don’t invest much time in any.
What is your favorite thing to work on at work?
I enjoy crafting the initial melodies that will later develop into the game’s themes. I talk with Jonas about the story, the setting, and the important plot points. I look at concept art and get inspired by everything that the game is about. After that, I just sit down and start writing.
What is your technical approach to composing? Do you sit at a piano? Hum in the shower? Go to the park? Stay up to ungodly hours of the morning drinking energy drinks?
All of the above! Really. A musical idea can come to you wherever, whenever. I usually carry my iPad and can notate stuff on it when I am inspired. Sometimes you don’t get any ideas and you have to sculpt them from what you did the day before…
My method -if you can call it that, is to start with the musical idea that encapsulates my initial gut feeling to what I am being presented to work with. That can be a complete melody, a motif, a chord progression or just one chord. I take that and work on it, I get as much as I can out of it, and use that to build the track or write variations that will later be used on the other tracks of the game. ie: All of the important melodies you get to hear on the Conquistador soundtrack are included in the main theme track. I could go on at length with this…
What is your least favorite thing to do at work?
My least favorite part of composing music is not being sure which direction to go. I try to always have somewhere to aim my creativity before I actually start writing. Otherwise, I wouldn’t stop. This is very important. I am restless until I am happy with the direction I am going.
Where do you find your inspirations for the game music for Expeditions: Conquistador and Clandestine?
I will read everything about the game’s story that I can get my hands on. I’ll look at concept art and try to have access to the game as early as I can. I also surf the web for information about the period, musical instruments, genres, etc. In this research my knowledge of the games universe deepens, and I start developing a mind-frame within which I can write freely. So usually the last tracks I compose are also the ones that take me the shortest time.
So for example, what was it that drew you to the guitar themes of Expeditions: Conquistador and where are you going with Clandestine?
The melody for Conquistador came on the guitar, I was doodling over the G pedal at the beginning, doing these pentatonic chords (the pentatonic scale is basic to all the earth and is present in all the cultures from Japan to Africa to America), and the basic 3 note motif that you can hear at the beginning on that airy synth came out of that. That is the same 3 note motif you can hear on Potente, but in there it is backwards (on Conquistador it is G-F-D and on Potente is is D-F-G). The main Conquistador melody came in a flash while I was building up on the previous section, I came to it on the guitar and then took it to the piano to develop it. And as an example of what I spoke of before, you can listen to this melody on Voraz at 00:53, but this time inverted (http://leobadinella.bandcamp.com/album/expeditions-conquistador-soundtrack).
For Clandestine I am using guitars but aiming for a modern sound. A blend of acoustic and electronic elements that mirrors the technical breakthrough that went over the years the game is set in. Very exciting!
Exciting indeed! Thanks again Leo! If you are interested in reading or hearing more of You can follow Leonardo Badinella via the following links
You can listen to and pick up Leo’s music and soundtracks on bandcamp