Composer Interview: Austin Wintory (Assassin’s Creed Syndicate, Journey, The Banner Saga) [VIDEO]

Austin Wintory is the man behind the beautiful music of video games such as the critically acclaimed Journey and The Banner Saga, as well as film festival hits such as Captain Abu Raed and Grace. His work on Journey has been nominated for a Grammy, and he’s won multiple awards for his numerous contributions to the world of video games and film. His latest project about to be released is the soundtrack to Ubisoft’s next instalment in the fight between Assassins and Templars, Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate. Below is his bio according to his official website:

“Austin Wintory began his obsession with composing back when he was ten years old, when he discovered Jerry Goldsmith’s scores to Patton and A Patch of Blue. After a busy high school career composing for the student orchestras, Austin went on to study at NYU and USC with composers Morten Lauridsen, Charles Fussell, and Erica Muhl. Never satisfied with working in a single medium, Austin has worked in the concert world, film music, video games, and miscellaneous others.

In March 2012, the PlayStation3 game Journey was released, after three years of work. The game instantly became Sony’s fastest-selling PlayStation title, and the soundtrack album debuted on the Billboard charts higher than any original score in gaming history. In December 2012, more history was made when it was announced that Journey had become the first-ever Grammy-nominated videogame score. The score subsequently won an Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences D.I.C.E. award, two British Academy Awards, a Spike TV VGA, and IGN’s “Overall Music of the Year,” five G.A.N.G. Awards and host of others. The score features the Macedonia Radio Symphonic Orchestra and a lineup of top soloists (Audio excerpts available here). Orchestral excerpts, and the stand alone mini-concerto “Woven Variations” have been consistently scheduled for concert performances all over the world since its release.

Beginning humbly as a Kickstarter campaign, Austin’s next major game effort was Stoic Studio’s The Banner Saga, a unique and mature turn-based strategy / RPG hybrid with a dazzling art direction. The score featured the Dallas Wind Symphony, America’s premiere wind ensemble, and an all-star trio of YouTube musicians: MalukahPeter Hollens and Taylor Davis. The game and soundtrack were released in early 2014 to critical and commercial success; the score earned Austin over a dozen awards and nominations, including his 4th and 5th British Academy Award nominations, and a nomination for the peer-voted ASCAP Composer’s Choice Award for “Best Video Game Score of the Year.” He is currently working with Stoic on The Banner Saga 2, which was announced live, on-stage at The Game Awards in December 2014 to an audience of nearly 2 million people.

Austin has also scored over 45 feature films, and his first major film score, for the Sundance Film Festival-winning film Captain Abu Raed, was shortlisted for the 2009 Academy Awards for Best Original Score by the LA Times. His next major film, Grace, was also a hit at the Sundance Film Festival. Austin’s score (which featured a wild array of custom-recorded sounds such as babies crying and horse flies, in addition to a large ensemble of clarinets at London’s famed Abbey Road Studios), was also highly lauded, earning a notorious Fangoria Chainsaw Award nomination and being cited by “Visions in Sound” (a popular film scoring radio program) as among the Top 10 Scores for 2010. His most recent film is writer/director Adam Alleca’s Standoff, starring Thomas Jane and Laurence Fishburne.

Outside of games, Austin is also very busy working in films and composing / conducting for the concert stage. The Boulder Symphony named Austin their Composer in Residence in 2011, first premiering the award-winning orchestral/choral work “Gray Rain.” In April 2015 Austin will debut “This Gaming Life” with the iconic Australian comedians Tripod, an evening-length show with the Melbourne Symphony.

Passionate about education, Austin is a regular public speaker at schools and events around the world, in addition to pre-concert talks and workshops. He also serves on the Board of Directors for the non-profit Education Through Music – Los Angeles, as well as the Board of Directors for the Society of Composers and Lyricists.”

We had the chance to chat to Austin Wintory about his work on Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate, collaborating with Australian comedy duo Tripod and the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, the profound impact of his beautiful soundtrack to Journey, and his frequent collaboration and friendship with filmmaker Amin Matalqa.

Interview with Austin Wintory, Part 1 – Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate

Interview with Austin Wintory, Part 2 – Tripod, Journey, & Amin Matalqa

Interview with Austin Wintory, Part 3 – Creative Life & Radical Honesty

Interview with Austin Wintory – AUDIO VERSION

The Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate soundtrack can be purchased on BandcampiTunes, and Amazon.

Find out more about Austin Wintory through his official website, as well as his SoundcloudTwitter, and Facebook pages.

Our thanks to Austin Wintory and Sarah Kovacs for making this interview happen.

Written by: Meena Shamaly

Meena Shamaly is a composer, artist, multi-instrumentalist and performance poet based in Melbourne, Australia. His music covers a wide range of styles and sensibilities and often intersects with his poetry. He is part of international production house EON Sounds, working on various film, TV, video game, and production library projects.

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