We’re excited to work with the talented Dean Valentine on the score for Rune: Ragnarok. Dean is an Irish composer whose previous work includes trailer scores for Dunkirk, Captain America: Civil War, Fury, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, and Prometheus. Dean has also scored films such as Tiger Raid, Condemned to Remember, Close to Evil, and…Viking. We have no doubt that Dean’s music will add character, personality, and impact to the world of Rune: Ragnarok.
Late last year, we asked Dean a few questions about his experience and what he has planned for Rune: Ragnarok. Here’s what he had to say about joining the project.
Tell us a little bit about your background and what sparked your interest in music.
DV: I never studied music – art was always my thing. I fell into music when I was in my early teens after my dad received an unwanted upright Bechstein piano from a co-worker. I immediately started tinkering away in our front room making it all up as I went along. Before long, I was skipping dinners and totally transfixed as I taught myself to play and then compose. I joined various bands and also started working as an animator (on the cult series Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles). All this eventually lead to my first professional scoring gig – a 26-part animation series for a major network (in at the deep end as always)!
Which projects have you enjoyed working on the most?
DV: That’s a tough one…I really love feature film scores and trailer projects. I love working with strong themes, mixed emotions, and combining the orchestra with electronics and less traditional instruments. I loved the films Tiger Raid, Viking, and a beautiful little film called Violet. They were all very different projects, but I always start from the same place – I establish the theme and the tone first. Trailers are great fun, too, because you’re not tied down to scoring any visuals – you get the written brief and some links, but then its wide open from there.
You’ve created music for trailers, TV, and movies for almost 20 years. What made you want to work on video games?
DV: I have scored trailers for video games like Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor and Rainbow Six, but usually a film project leads to more film projects and a trailer leads to another trailer gig. Mind you, I have noticed that this has changed lately because I actually landed the Viking and Tiger Raid projects through my trailer music, and now a film project and trailers has lead to scoring this incredible game (at last!). I’ve always wanted to score a video game and to be able to score a game like Rune: Ragnarok is such a thrill for me.
Can you tell us a little bit about your writing process?
DV: I tend to take in as much information as I can get. Creative briefs, links, and sometimes just talking with the director and producers in an informal way really gets to the heart of it all. I like to latch onto keywords or phrases that sum up a character or the story. I absorb it all then just start composing instinctively from there – mostly on piano or a simple string bed. When I feel I have something strong enough, I’ll start to develop that idea into the world (sound) of the story with the right instrumentation or sometimes try something very different, who knows? (I make this s**t up as I go.) 😉
You’ve used unique instrumentation in the past to create emotion and a sense of place through your music. Is there anything you can share about how you’ll do that in Rune: Ragnarok?
DV: In addition to orchestra, massive percussion, and synths, I have some ideas I want to try with the viola d’amore (live string instrument like the Nordic Hardanger fiddle) for combat music and Berserker mode. I’d like to get some WTF sounds out of that instrument and mangle them with other orchestral instruments and effects. In my (messed up) head I have all these ideas and sounds churning around, but I work very instinctively so I’m not sure until I actually try them out. Also, on the Viking score in rehearsals, I was playing with some metal percussion (the wrong way by accident) but that led to the sound of the main character’s theme, so I think some great mistakes will end up leading to some great themes and crazy sounds, too!
What was it about Rune: Ragnarok that appealed to you?
DV: Everything! Gods battling giants, Loki, Thor, beasts, mankind fighting for survival in a frozen wasteland. (l also loved the artwork as I used to work as an animator and the passion of the team behind it all!) To be honest, I just love those Viking myths and legends. I’m Irish so I grew up with a lot of Celtic myths and stories. I loved ‘Slaine’ the berserker in 2000 AD, which crossed over into that world, too. I remember Slough Feg…some crazy stuff in there. So to be asked to write the score for all this madness just puts a smile on face, makes you feel like a kid again!
What do you hope your music brings to the game?
DV: In a nutshell, I hope my music will enhance the gamers’ experience and adds another layer of intensity, emotion, and excitement to the world of Rune: Ragnarok. The score is there to help underpin the story, characters, and world we’re in – to accent moments and ramp up the intensity and emotion where needed. I hope the score will help ‘round off’ the world of Rune: Ragnarok and give the game its musical identity and voice.
In a 2013 Trailer Music News interview, you mention that you’re related to Boy George. Any other fun facts you’re willing to share with us?
DV: Well, Boy George is my first cousin and he bought me my first synth. My first electric piano belonged to Leo Sayer, and my next piano was Crowded House’s old piano. I’m from Cedarwood Road in North Dublin and Bono was our neighbor. Cedarwood Road is the title track off their last album…tourist buses still arrive there to see his family home. Anyway, there must be something in the water as there are another bunch of famous Irish bands and artists all from the same street!
Are you playing any games right now?
DV: I haven’t had the time to play any games or do anything outside of composing for a long time..its a vocation sometimes.
Is there anything else you’d like to let us know?
DV: Dogs are the best!
I still haven’t seen Breaking Bad or The Wire (deal with it!) 😉