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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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SO EXCITED!!!

Reminders that the ’90s were a thing

"The Place We Live" is available for a Jessie Spano-level binge on Comedy Crib.

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Unless you stopped paying attention to the world at large in 1989, you are of course aware that the ’90s are having their pop cultural second coming. Nobody is more acutely aware of this than Dara Katz and Betsy Kenney, two comedians who met doing improv comedy and have just made their Comedy Crib debut with the hilarious ’90s TV throwback series, The Place We Live.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Dara: It’s everything you loved–or loved to hate—from Melrose Place and 90210 but condensed to five minutes, funny (on purpose) and totally absurd.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Betsy: “Hey Todd, why don’t you have a sip of water. Also, I think you’ll love The Place We Live because everyone has issues…just like you, Todd.”

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IFC: When you were living through the ’90s, did you think it was television’s golden age or the pop culture apocalypse?


Betsy: I wasn’t sure I knew what it was, I just knew I loved it!


Dara: Same. Was just happy that my parents let me watch. But looking back, the ’90s honored The Teen. And for that, it’s the golden age of pop culture. 

IFC: Which ’90s shows did you mine for the series, and why?

Betsy: Melrose and 90210 for the most part. If you watch an episode of either of those shows you’ll see they’re a comedic gold mine. In one single episode, they cover serious crimes, drug problems, sex and working in a law firm and/or gallery, all while being young, hot and skinny.


Dara: And almost any series we were watching in the ’90s, Full House, Saved By the Bell, My So Called Life has very similar themes, archetypes and really stupid-intense drama. We took from a lot of places. 

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IFC: How would you describe each of the show’s characters in terms of their ’90s TV stereotype?

Dara: Autumn (Sunita Mani) is the femme fatale. Robin (Dara Katz) is the book worm (because she wears glasses). Candace (Betsy Kenney) is Corey’s twin and gives great advice and has really great hair. Corey (Casey Jost) is the boy next door/popular guy. Candace and Corey’s parents decided to live in a car so the gang can live in their house. 
Lee (Jonathan Braylock) is the jock.

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

Dara: Because everyone’s feeling major ’90s nostalgia right now, and this is that, on steroids while also being a totally new, silly thing.

Delight in the whole season of The Place We Live right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib. It’ll take you back in all the right ways.

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New Nasty

Whips, Chains and Hand Sanitizer

Turn On The Full Season Of Neurotica At IFC's Comedy Crib

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Jenny Jaffe has a lot going on: She’s writing for Disney’s upcoming Big Hero 6: The Series, developing comedy projects with pals at Devastator Press, and she’s straddling the line between S&M and OCD as the creator and star of the sexyish new series Neurotica, which has just made its debut on IFC’s Comedy Crib. Jenny gave us some extremely intimate insight into what makes Neurotica (safely) sizzle…

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IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon.

IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon. You’re great. We should get coffee sometime. I’m not just saying that. I know other people just say that sometimes but I really feel like we’re going to be friends, you know? Here, what’s your number, I’ll call you so you can have my number!

IFC: What’s your comedy origin story?

Jenny: Since I was a kid I’ve dealt with severe OCD and anxiety. Comedy has always been one of the ways I’ve dealt with that. I honestly just want to help make people feel happy for a few minutes at a time.

IFC: What was the genesis of Neurotica?

Jenny: I’m pretty sure it was a title-first situation. I was coming up with ideas to pitch to a production company a million years ago (this isn’t hyperbole; I am VERY old) and just wrote down “Neurotica”; then it just sort of appeared fully formed. “Neurotica? Oh it’s an over-the-top romantic comedy about a Dominatrix with OCD, of course.” And that just happened to hit the buttons of everything I’m fascinated by.

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IFC: How would you describe Ivy?

Jenny: Ivy is everything I love in a comedy character – she’s tenacious, she’s confident, she’s sweet, she’s a big wonderful weirdo.

IFC: How would Ivy’s clientele describe her?

Jenny:  Open-minded, caring, excellent aim.

IFC: Why don’t more small towns have local dungeons?

Jenny: How do you know they don’t?

IFC: What are the pros and cons of joining a chain mega dungeon?

Jenny: You can use any of their locations but you’ll always forget you have a membership and in a year you’ll be like “jeez why won’t they let me just cancel?”

IFC: Mouths are gross! Why is that?

Jenny: If you had never seen a mouth before and I was like “it’s a wet flesh cave with sharp parts that lives in your face”, it would sound like Cronenberg-ian body horror. All body parts are horrifying. I’m kind of rooting for the singularity, I’d feel way better if I was just a consciousness in a cloud.

See the whole season of Neurotica right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

The-Craft

The ’90s Are Back

The '90s live again during IFC's weekend marathon.

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Photo Credit: Everett Digital, Columbia Pictures

We know what you’re thinking: “Why on Earth would anyone want to reanimate the decade that gave us Haddaway, Los Del Rio, and Smash Mouth, not to mention Crystal Pepsi?”

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Thoughts like those are normal. After all, we tend to remember lasting psychological trauma more vividly than fleeting joy. But if you dig deep, you’ll rediscover that the ’90s gave us so much to fondly revisit. Consider the four pillars of true ’90s culture.

Boy Bands

We all pretended to hate them, but watch us come alive at a karaoke bar when “I Want It That Way” comes on. Arguably more influential than Brit Pop and Grunge put together, because hello – Justin Timberlake. He’s a legitimate cultural gem.

Man-Child Movies

Adam Sandler is just behind The Simpsons in terms of his influence on humor. Somehow his man-child schtick didn’t get old until the aughts, and his success in that arena ushered in a wave of other man-child movies from fellow ’90s comedians. RIP Chris Farley (and WTF Rob Schneider).

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Teen Angst

In horror, dramas, comedies, and everything in between: Troubled teens! Getting into trouble! Who couldn’t relate to their First World problems, plaid flannels, and lose grasp of the internet?

Mainstream Nihilism

From the Coen Bros to Fincher to Tarantino, filmmakers on the verge of explosive popularity seemed interested in one thing: mind f*cking their audiences by putting characters in situations (and plot lines) beyond anyone’s control.

Feeling better about that walk down memory lane? Good. Enjoy the revival.

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And revisit some important ’90s classics all this weekend during IFC’s ’90s Marathon. Check out the full schedule here.