Black Magic, Zombie Dust, and Zydeco: behind-the-scenes of cult classic Voodoo Vince
While the game itself turned out well enough in its own right, it would be an absolute travesty not to mention Voodoo Vince’s wholly unique jazz soundtrack. “Audio is half your game, yet it’s almost an afterthought in a lot of game development,” Clayton says. “I always felt there were two main characters in our game: one is Vince and the other is the environment. And there was no getting that across without really good sound design.”
For both audio and soundtrack duties, Clayton enlisted the talents of Steve Kirk, a composer who was more than up for the challenge of scoring Vince’s unsettling Louisiana escapade. From the outset, it was an ideal partnership.
“Unlike a fair amount of game designers, Clay is pretty musically literate,” Steve says. “He had a really good idea of the style he wanted for each level, and he had examples he would play for me. Like he’d say ‘I need something that sounds like Tom Waits on Swordfishtrombones and I knew exactly what he needed. Or another example was in the beginning level, when he said we needed something similar to Django Reinhardt's Hot Club stuff. So I thought, I’m going to do that, but I’ll make the chord progression a little spookier.”
Seeing as Zynga’s Farmville has almost 70,000,000 monthly active users and somewhere between 20,000,000 and 25,000,000 players a day, we can assume that whoever wrote the Zynga theme song has written one of the most listened to audio tracks of the year. Well, I did some research, and Zynga hooked me up with the man behind the Farmville theme song: Steve Kirk.
Hey Steve, My name is Zane Carney. I am currently a freshman at USC majoring in studio/jazz guitar under the instruction of Pat Kelley. For Christmas, I was lucky enough to have received Voodoo Vince from my mother, and once I opened it I was expecting to play what was reviewed as being a fun, and humorous game. But, once I inserted the disc I found much, much more than a good time and a few laughs. This is definitely the best video game music I have ever heard. I mean I've heard music from games like Lord of the Rings, and Azurik, where it's obvious that professional musicians were hired to play the music, but the music from Voodoo Vince is definitely something else. You can imagine how awesome it was for a studio/jazz guitar major to hear in a video game what sounds like...i dunno....improvisation! I honestly don't know how you did it, because the mixture of textures and styles combined with the juxtaposition between arranged little jazz pieces (like what is heard when one is transferring from one level to another by train) and improvised Django-ish combo tunes (like in the French Quarter) is just perfect - and I've only gotten to the 6th level! If you'd like to e-mail me back, I would be glad to hear from you, and if you're interested in hearing any of my guitar playing I'd love to send you some of that, too. Again, thank you writing such great music, and I look forward to hearing from you once you get some time. Sincerely, Zane Carney
Hi, I just came across Voodoo Vince again on my old Xbox, and just wanted to say that your music rocks ! Is there a way to find the album of all the complete songs from the game ? Thanks, Davy
Hi Steve, I was so happy to find a CD of the Voodoo Vince music! I loved the game and the music was a big part of that. I listen to the CD all the time. My favorite track is "On Fire". I am a drummer and I love the drumming in the music. Whoever that guy is, he's excellent. I look forward to your future musical endevors. Any more plans with Beep Industries? Sincerely, Jason McNeal
Hello this is purely fan mail- i'd just like to tell you my most sincere appreciation of the soundtrack you composed for the game "Voodoo Vince". It was a unique game and the music for it was excellent. I have bought the soundtrack cd and have heard nothing like it since. Thankyou for a great collection of songs. Vaughan King
Steve, Just a quick note to say your work on the Voodoo Vince soundtrack was just amazing. I'm a 31 year old gamer and musician, and as I played Voodoo Vince, I felt that the game would not have had the same character and depth had it not been for your soundtrack. After I played the game, I couldn't wait to get my hands on the soundtrack which I finally just picked up, it's just great stuff all around. Bravo and I look forward to checking out some of your other work. Regards, Eden DCooper
Steve- We love this CD! Elisabeth and I have been listening to it a lot. Zombie Guidance Counselor is an early favorite. Now we want to get the game (although we're both immersed in Grand Theft Auto San Andreas at the moment). I hope you make many more soundtracks. If you ever need MIDI vibraphone or marimba, let me know. I have some high-quality samples in Akai format, which you are welcome to copy. And I'll drag my MalletKAT to your studio any time. Or better yet, just program the parts and credit me falsely as the vibraphonist! -DC ----------------- David Cooper MTC Graphics
Hi Steve, I am a keyboardist/vocalist/composer in the Atlantic City, Philadelphia and NYC area. I have a 3 year old son who got into xbox games at age 2 when he saw me playing Gotham racing. He became amazingly good at it by age 3, so I wanted to get him something that was fun and non-violent enough for a little boy, so I got him Voodoo Vince, and I have to tell you, we all loved your score for the game. (my wife is a player /composer too). We found the variety of motifs and styles to be really inventive and tasteful and the playing is just great. recently we finally played through to the end credits and when I saw your name, I decided to seek you out to tell you that your writing was spot on for this project. Best of success to you in your future work. Jon Pruitt