Yeakun Yoo is a multi-media composer and classically-trained multi-instrumentalist with credits across film, television, and video games. He recently scored music for Lies of P, a soulslike action video game inspired by the story of Pinnochio. Yeakun relied on his talents as a multi-instrumentalist and vocalist to create the edgy and emotionally evocative score for the video game.
During our chat, Yeakun discussed the process of creating music for video games, his unique sound, and how he brought Pinnochio to life through music in Lies of P.
You composed a main theme and the final stage music for Lies of P, a soulslike action role-playing video game. Can you break this down for us? What is the key to creating a main theme, and what are the components of final stage music?
Whenever I work on title music or menu music, the most important thing I always consider is creating a theme melody that perfectly suits the game or designing sound uniquely so that just by listening to the music, one can immediately associate it with the game.
When creating the menu music for Lies of P, I pondered a lot on how to musically express the visual images visible in the menu screen. Not only the visual images seen in the menu screen, but I also had to consider the overall feeling that could encompass the entire game. Therefore, music combining all these elements could be called menu music. In the menu screen of Lies of P, there was a ticking clock, and in the background, it was raining on a dark night. To express the ticking of the clock, I formed a slow, rhythmic pattern with the piano, musically depicting the image of the clock. Additionally, wanting to beautifully express Pinocchio’s desire to become a real person, I aimed to portray his emotions by introducing a violin solo from the middle part of the music onwards.
The name of the final stage is Arche Abbey, known as the Alchemist’s Isle. This place is an abandoned fortress that consistently evokes a dark and eerie feeling. At the same time, being one of the last stages where Pinocchio meets Geppetto, it’s emotionally one of the most intense places, reaching a climax. To create an effective climax, I used a simple and memorable theme melody in the early part of the music. Initially, alongside the theme melody, I incorporated harmonies and orchestrations with a dark and eerie feel. As the music progressed towards the climax, I structured it to intensify emotionally by gradually adding more chord progressions and layering more instruments sequentially.
When you start on a video game project, what are the first steps you take? Are you viewing/playing the video game beforehand, or does music come in long before the game is developed?
It varies depending on the situation. There are a couple of reasons why a game development team might want music created and provided before the actual development of the game begins. One reason is to create the main theme music first, which can be utilized for trailers or commercial promotional purposes. Another instance could be when the game development team highly values music and seeks to derive overall game ideas or motivation through it, requesting music composition at the early stages of development. In most cases, after a certain amount of progress in development, I receive game footage or images from the development team, and start working on the music based on that material to gather musical ideas.
What are some critical sounds players will hear in Lies of P, and how did you bring them to life as a composer?
I can mention a couple of things briefly. One is experimenting with various sounds in the violin solo, and the other is creating atmospheric instruments, akin to synthesizer pads, using my voice. In the violin solo, I tried to evoke feelings of instability and gloominess through irregular tremolos. I then lowered the pitch of these created sounds and extended their length through audio editing, aiming to create a slightly eerie and ominous emotion.
I often experiment with my voice because I believe a person’s voice is the most unique instrument in the world. There’s only one person in the world with my voice. That uniqueness allows me to create my own distinct sound by utilizing my voice uniquely, ultimately leading to creating fresh music. In Lies of P, I recorded my voice multiple times in different tones, then spread it out in stereo, merging it with string instruments to create a slightly eerie atmosphere.
In addition to your work as a composer for video games, you are a composer for film and television as well. What are some significant differences in composing for these various mediums?
There are several differences between film and game music, and personally, I believe the biggest difference lies in the freedom that game music often possesses compared to film scores. In films, dialogue is paramount, and music must never disrupt the overall story or dialogue. That’s why many film scores tend to remain ambient, repetitive, and at times, might feel monotonous. However, in game music, it’s usually designed to loop endlessly while playing the game. As long as the music aligns with the overall atmosphere and mood, game music can often be crafted with more creative freedom.
In between projects or in your downtime (if you have any), what are you doing as a composer to keep up with your craft? What music do you listen to, and what sounds are you experimenting with for fun?
As a multi-instrumentalist, I enjoy purchasing, learning, and experimenting with various instruments. Generally, I play five instruments: violin, piano, guitar, percussion, and trumpet. Having already handled several instruments, I tend to pick up new ones or learn to play them a bit faster than others. Recently, I bought a Cajón and a Djembe, and I’ve taken a few private lessons from percussionists. After that, I applied what I learned directly to my music by recording various sessions with the Cajón and Djembe.
When it comes to listening to music, I don’t set aside specific times. Instead, I actively utilize my time while driving, having meals, or during leisure hours for music appreciation. I enjoy a wide range of music genres, drawing inspiration from epic orchestral pieces, classical music, jazz, metal, rock, new age, and essentially every genre out there.
How would you describe your sound? Like the theme music in the video games you compose, is there a through-line in your work that listeners can keep an ear out for?
As a composer, my sound is characterized by a seamless fusion of diverse musical elements that harmoniously coalesce to create immersive sonic landscapes. I strive to infuse each composition, especially within video game themes, with evocative melodies, rich harmonies, and dynamic rhythms that not only captivate listeners but also resonate with the emotional core of the game’s narrative. Consistency lies in my commitment to crafting music that not only enhances the gaming experience but also maintains a distinct identity marked by its ability to evoke a range of emotions and immerse players within the game world.
What mark would you like to leave in the world of composing?
Leaving a mark in the world of composing is about crafting music that resonates deeply with people, evoking emotions and connecting with them on a profound level. I aspire to create compositions that transcend boundaries, cultures, and time, leaving behind a legacy of music that inspires, uplifts, and brings solace to people’s lives. Whether it’s through innovative sounds, storytelling, or the ability to capture the essence of human experiences, I hope my music leaves a lasting imprint by touching hearts and minds across generations.
You can learn more about composer Yeakun Yoo via his company website.
Copyright YK MUSIC PRODUCTIONS 2022