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Galactic’s Stanton Moore Electrifies The Soundtrack for “Infamous 2”

Galactic’s Stanton Moore Electrifies The Soundtrack for “Infamous 2” (photo)

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Sony’s got a good thing going on with the musical accompaniment in their “Infamous” action franchise. The two games focus on Cole McGrath, a hapless everyman who gets electrical superpowers and battles evil in giant, open-world cities. Set in NYC analogue Empire City, 2008’s “Infamous” rocked out to twitchy, bleeps-and-bass tracks by electro-DJ Amon Tobin. That game’s sequel–which just came out last week–moves to the southern locale of New Marais after a massive supervillain destroys Empire City. To create a voodoo-inflected vibe for “Infamous 2,” Sony and dev studio Sucker Punch enlisted Stanton Moore of genre-blending group Galactic.

06142011_stanton_hi_res2.jpgThe five-man collective’s music incorporates funk, R&B, blues, hip-hop and jazz to create a unique sound all its own. Sucker Punch wanted to create a polyglot musical backdrop for their virtual version of New Orleans and the work of Galactic drummer Stanton Moore provides the core for that. In the interview that follows, Moore talks about creating music for “Infamous 2” and percussion instruments he used to give New Marais its bounce.

Can you talk about why your involvement in the game happened? How did you try to evoke the feeling and texture of New Orleans in the music you did for the game?

We were contacted, I believe, because the new city, New Marais, was to be based off of New Orleans. I think Jonathan and the crew felt we could add a New Orleans vibe while being experimental at the same time. With us being from there, we were able to tap into the vibe of the city and have it underlie everything that we were doing. Hearing that the city was going to be based off of a fictitious destroyed version of where we live, we knew how to convey the vibe without making it sound like traditional New Orleans music. Having played video games, we knew we could twist and alter and obscure the New Orleans vibe so that it fit in with the world of “Infamous 2.”

The karma system’s always been a big deal in the Infamous games, with the experience changing with how good or evil you are. This time, that system’s embodied in the two partner characters Kuo and Nix. What was the approach to giving these women their own musical themes?

For Nix and Kuo, we paid attention to the qualities of the characters and what the developers wanted. We experimented and came up with a couple of different options of things that we felt sounded right. We were also given drawings, scenes and descriptions as well as the previous game. These games show an attention to detail and we definitely used all of that as a guide and as inspiration.

A lot of video game music tries to sound just like movie music, with sweeping strings for drama and thumping bass & drums for action. How did you try to avoid or rework these clichés?

We were encouraged to be really experimental, so we improvised a ton and the music and development teams used what they thought fit what they were looking for. We haven’t done too much soundtrack work yet, so we weren’t really tied into any clichés per se.

Galactic’s music mixes funk, jazz, electronica and hip-hop, with a heavy dose of improvisation, too. Did you do multiple takes for the soundtrack work?

I’d do about two or three passes on the “brutal” kit which was made up of three toms, three floor toms and a 26-in bass drum with maybe one cymbal. On this kit, I played a lot of powerful, aggressive tribal (for lack of a better term) ideas. I’d then play two or three passes on the “bizarro” kit. I used the opportunity to set up lots of different instruments that I have been collecting over the years, too. I had some Nyhabinghi drums from Jamaica and I set up one of the bigger ones on a cradle as a bass drum. I set up several Remo Mondo snares, which have simulated calf heads. I set up a 10, 12 and 14 as a snare and toms. I also used a lot of LP micro snares and drum set timbales and used a lot of Pete Englehart percussion and bells as well. We came to affectionately call this the “Bizarro Kit”. I played a lot of grooves that I have come to develop over the years but they all sounded different on this kit.

Did the ideas change radically from take to take?

I’d say yes. The takes varied a good bit from take to take and this led to lots of other ideas as well. It was a very creative process that then led to lots of grooves that I was able to use for the current Galactic record. We were recording at the same time as some of the “Infamous 2” sessions. It’s been a very liberating experience and has opened up a lot of creativity in some of the things that I do in the studio now.

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A-O Rewind

Celebrating Portlandia One Sketch at a Time

The final season of Portlandia approaches.

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Most people measure time in minutes, hours, days, years…At IFC, we measure it in sketches. And nothing takes us way (waaaaaay) back like Portlandia sketches. Yes, there’s a Portlandia milepost from every season that changed the way we think, behave, and pickle things. In honor of Portlandia’s 8th and final season, Subaru presents a few of our favorites.

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Put A Bird On It

Portlandia enters the pop-culture lexicon and inspires us to put birds on literally everything.

Colin the Chicken

Who’s your chicken, really? Behold the emerging locavore trend captured perfectly to the nth degree.

Dream Of The ’90s

This treatise on Portland made it clear that “the dream” was alive and well.

No You Go

We Americans spend most of our lives in cars. Fortunately, there’s a Portlandia sketch for every automotive situation.

A-O River!

We learned all our outdoor survival skills from Kath and Dave.

One More Episode

The true birth of binge watching, pre-Netflix. And what you’ll do once Season 8 premieres.

Catch up on Portlandia’s best moments before the 8th season premieres January 18th on IFC.

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WTF Films

Artfully Off

Celebrity All-Star by Sisters Weekend is available now on IFC's Comedy Crib.

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Sisters Weekend isn’t like other comedy groups. It’s filmmaking collaboration between besties Angelo Balassone, Michael Fails and Kat Tadesco, self-described lace-front addicts with great legs who write, direct, design and produce video sketches and cinematic shorts that are so surreally hilarious that they defy categorization. One such short film, Celebrity All-Star, is the newest addition to IFC’s Comedy Crib. Here’s what they had to say about it in a very personal email interview…

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IFC: How would you describe Celebrity All-Star to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Celebrity All-Star is a short film about an overworked reality TV coordinator struggling to save her one night off after the cast of C-List celebrities she wrangles gets locked out of their hotel rooms.

IFC: How would you describe Celebrity All-Star to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Sisters Weekend: It’s this short we made for IFC where a talent coordinator named Karen babysits a bunch of weird c-list celebs who are stuck in a hotel bar. It’s everyone you hate from reality TV under one roof – and that roof leaks because it’s a 2-star hotel. There’s a magician, sexy cowboys, and a guy wearing a belt that sucks up his farts.

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IFC: What was the genesis of Celebrity All-Star?

Celebrity All-Star was born from our love of embarrassing celebrities. We love a good c-lister in need of a paycheck! We were really interested in the canned politeness people give off when forced to mingle with strangers. The backstory we created is that the cast of this reality show called “Celebrity All-Star” is in the middle of a mandatory round of “get to know each other” drinks in the hotel bar when the room keys stop working. Shows like Celebrity Ghost Hunters and of course The Surreal Life were of inspo, but we thought it
was funny to keep it really vague what kind of show they’re on, and just focus on everyone’s diva antics after the cameras stop rolling.

IFC: Every celebrity in Celebrity All-Star seems familiar. What real-life pop personalities did you look to for inspiration?

Sisters Weekend: Anyone who is trying to plug their branded merch that no one asked for. We love low-rent celebrity. We did, however, directly reference Kylie Jenner’s turd-raison lip color for our fictional teen celebutante Gibby Kyle (played by Mary Houlihan).

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IFC: Celebrity seems disgusting yet desirable. What’s your POV? Do you crave it, hate it, or both?

Sisters Weekend: A lot of people chase fame. If you’re practical, you’ll likely switch to chasing success and if you’re smart, you’ll hopefully switch to chasing happiness. But also, “We need money. We need hits. Hits bring money, money bring power, power bring fame, fame change the game,” Young Thug.

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IFC: Who are your comedy idols?

Sisters Weekend: Mike grew up renting “Monty Python” tapes from the library and staying up late to watch 2000’s SNL, Kat was super into Andy Kaufman and “Kids In The Hall” in high school, and Angelo was heavily influenced by “Strangers With Candy” and Anna Faris in the Scary Movie franchise, so, our comedy heroes mesh from all over. But, also we idolize a lot of the people we work with in NY-  Lorelei Ramirez, Erin Markey, Mary Houlihan, who are all in the film, Amy Zimmer, Ana Fabrega, Patti Harrison, Sam Taggart. Geniuses! All of Em!

IFC: What’s your favorite moment from the film?

Sisters Weekend: I mean…seeing Mary Houlihan scream at an insane Pomeranian on an iPad is pretty great.

See Sisters Weekend right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib

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Reality? Check.

Baroness For Life

Baroness von Sketch Show is available for immediate consumption.

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Baroness von Sketch Show is snowballing as people have taken note of its subtle and not-so-subtle skewering of everyday life. The New York Times, W Magazine, and Vogue have heaped on the praise, but IFC had a few more probing questions…

IFC: To varying degrees, your sketches are simply scripted examples of things that actually happen. What makes real life so messed up?

Aurora: Hubris, Ego and Selfish Desires and lack of empathy.

Carolyn: That we’re trapped together in the 3rd Dimension.

Jenn: 1. Other people 2. Other people’s problems 3. Probably something I did.

IFC: A lot of people I know have watched this show and realized, “Dear god, that’s me.” or “Dear god, that’s true.” Why do people have their blinders on?

Aurora: Because most people when you’re in the middle of a situation, you don’t have the perspective to step back and see yourself because you’re caught up in the moment. That’s the job of comedians is to step back and have a self-awareness about these things, not only saying “You’re doing this,” but also, “You’re not the only one doing this.” It’s a delicate balance of making people feel uncomfortable and comforting them at the same time.

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IFC: Unlike a lot of popular sketch comedy, your sketches often focus more on group dynamics vs iconic individual characters. Why do you think that is and why is it important?

Meredith: We consider the show to be more based around human dynamics, not so much characters. If anything we’re more attracted to the energy created by people interacting.

Jenn: So much of life is spent trying to work it out with other people, whether it’s at work, at home, trying to commute to work, or even on Facebook it’s pretty hard to escape the group.

IFC: Are there any comedians out there that you feel are just nailing it?

Aurora: I love Key and Peele. I know that their show is done and I’m in denial about it, but they are amazing because there were many times that I would imagine that Keegan Michael Key was in the scene while writing. If I could picture him saying it, I knew it would work. I also kind of have a crush on Jordan Peele and his performance in Big Mouth. Maya Rudolph also just makes everything amazing. Her puberty demon on Big Mouth is flawless. She did an ad for 7th generation tampons that my son, my husband and myself were singing around the house for weeks. If I could even get anything close to her career, I would be happy. I’m also back in love with Rick and Morty. I don’t know if I have a crush on Justin Roiland, I just really love Rick (maybe even more than Morty). I don’t have a crush on Jerry, the dad, but I have a crush on Chris Parnell because he’s so good at being Jerry.

Jenn: I LOVE ISSA RAE!

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IFC: If you could go back in time and cast yourselves in any sitcom, which would it be and how would it change?

Carolyn: I’d go back in time and cast us in The Partridge Family.  We’d make an excellent family band. We’d have a laugh, break into song and wear ruffled blouses with velvet jackets.  And of course travel to all our gigs on a Mondrian bus. I feel really confident about this choice.

Meredith: Electric Mayhem from The Muppet Show. It wouldn’t change, they were simply perfect, except… maybe a few more vaginas in the band.

Binge the entire first and second seasons of Baroness von Sketch Show now on IFC.com and the IFC app.

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