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By Rukari

Introducing Atlas Plug & Celldweller – Composers for Season 3

If you’re anything like me, you’ve been watching the trailer for Rash repeatedly since its release early yesterday. And in those brief moments you’re not glued to each frame of Battletoad-y goodness, you’re humming the theme to yourself. Your reactions to the music in this trailer, like mine, have been filled with elation. Go ahead. Take another moment to listen to the Soundcloud embed above. We’ll wait for you…

Killer Instinct has definitely had an iconic sound to it thanks to the work of Mick Gordon, but the above title has already alluded to one fact – this awesome piece was composed by someone else.

Before we get in to the particulars, we’re going to let our good friend, Mick, have the mic for a few moments:

To my dearest Killer Instinct friends,

I give the greatest thanks to you all for your incredible support and trust with this kick-ass fighting game.  I’ve been a devoted fan of Killer Instinct for 22 years and it has been a dream, an honor and great privilege to be involved in the reimagining of the Ultratech universe.   The opportunity to dabble in the world laid down by Robin Beanland, Graeme Norgate and the rest of the exceptional team at Rare has been an absolute dream…

Friends, I’m sad to say that the time has come for me to move on to something new.

I’d like to shout out a massive heart-felt thanks to Double Helix Games, Microsoft and Iron Galaxy for allowing me to share in this truly amazing experience.  These passionately dedicated teams have been an endless source of inspiration and they all share a deep, infectious love of the Killer Instinct universe.  Speaking as a fan, we’ve all been incredibly lucky to have these groovy people behind the development of KI.

And to you, the fans that have made all this hard work and late-nights worthwhile, I thank you from the bottom of my linker-parry-windkick-quartercircle-monster-combo-heart.  I’ve absolutely adored every tweet, forum post, email, FB message, letter, handshake, hug and fistbump.  Your endless support and encouragement is the driving force behind the Killer Instinct sound.  We do this for you.  There would be no KI without you.  Thank you.  Keep blocking, spot those lights/mediums/heavies, trick a lock-out and go in for Ultra.

I’d also like to give a shout out to my fabulous team of collaborators, musicians, singers, lyricists, translators and engineers.  Thanks to you all for lending your fabulous skills and knowledge to the Killer Instinct soundtrack!

I wish Iron Galaxy and Microsoft the very best with the future of KI and I’m incredibly excited to see (and play!) what’s in store for Season 3!!!

Party on, dudes!

ULLLLTRRAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!!!!!!
-Mick

First things first, we want to thank Mick for everything that he has done for the Killer Instinct franchise, the passion he poured in to the project, and the beautiful music delivered through our ears each time we play the game. Naturally, we wish him the absolute best going forward, and can’t wait to see what he has in store.

So who is taking over the mantle now? Allow us to introduce you to Celldweller and Atlas Plug who both have quite an extensive and diverse musical history. We got a chance to ask them a few questions around their work, Killer Instinct, and what’s in store for us all. So let’s dive right in to the Q&A.

Tom Salta

Atlas Plug (Tom Salta)

Hi, guys. Let’s open with both of you talking about your history with one another.

Atlas Plug (Tom Salta)Hey, it’s great to be here. My music career started back in 1991.  In those days I was touring with various artists, songwriting and producing records. In 2002, after playing games like Halo, I had the epiphany of wanting to get into making music for games. After trekking out to E3 in 2002, I quickly realized that “wannabe” composers were a dime a dozen, but artists like Crystal Method, Prodigy, and the Chemical Brothers were perceived as cool and very in demand. So I set out to create my first artist album under the name “Atlas Plug.” The goal was to create music that would be perfect for licensing in games, TV and Film. I connected with my publisher and that’s when I first heard Celldweller. I was blown away. Shortly after, that same publisher introduced us.  From that day forward, Klayton’s work has always been an inspiration for me.

Klayton and I finally had a chance to work together shortly after I scored Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter.  We collaborated on a song called “Ghosts” which was inspired by the game.  Celldweller released it in 2013.

Celldweller (Klayton): As Tom said, we met through our publishing partner. We’ve worked together on various things over the years. The “Ghosts” track was exciting to create. Tom also orchestrated my song “Ursa Minor” which has been heard in movie and TV campaigns like Ninja Assassins, the X-Men trilogy and Face-Off.

The Battletoads trailer track is the first we’ve heard from the game. How did collaboration work on that particular piece?

Tom: The first thing we had to establish was Battletoad’s sonic identity and musical personality.  Obviously, BT’s 8-bit roots would play a strong role.

We also asked the KI team: what kind of music would Battletoad be listening to as he kicks people’s butts? Adam Isgreen said Van Halen… and THAT became BT’s other signature sound. I called upon my guitar hero friend, Steve Ouimette—who is the master of guitar tones—and he laid down some insanely Eddie Van Halen-inspired riffs and then Klay and I went to work crafting those sounds into BT’s music.

Klayton: Doing various projects together in the past made it easy for Tom and I to jump into the Killer Instinct collab. It was great not having to worry about that part of it—but just ideate and jump right into creation. I threw down some guitar riffs and beats for the Battletoads trailer and Tom shot ideas back.

We just keep going back and forth until the track sounded cool to us. We’re pretty glad that Microsoft is being so cool as to upload the track to Soundcloud, that way people can hear the track in all of its brutal Future-’80s, 8-bit glory.

Celldweller

Celldweller (Klayton)

What are some ideas you have for future tracks?

Klayton: We have a few skeletal ideas for some of the upcoming characters in Season 3, but we don’t want to spoil anything. It’s safe to say that each character will have their own distinct sound, so you’ll be able to identify which fighter is fighting based on the vibe and elements of the music. It’s really great to be part of a game that has been historically driven by music.

TomYep! This is going to be fun. 😉

What games are you playing? What are some of your favorite games?

Klayton: When I can squeeze in some time, I’m digging Halo 4, Destiny & Dead Rising 2 & 3. I’m an old school gamer, so my favorite games of all time are Donkey Kong, Space Invaders,Centipede, Galaga, Popeye, Tempest…. and the list goes on and on.

Tom: Yeah, I have to say the only downside on working on so many projects is that game time is a luxury. I savor the moments. When I do steal some time—usually late at night—you might find me playing Halo Anniversary, or on long flights, I’ll be playing Zelda Majora’s Mask on 3DS.  I also love going back to old favorites once in a while. I’m currently replaying through Eternal Darkness, one of my all time favorites from the Game Cube.  We also have a few full-size antique coin-ops like Dig Dug, Centipede, Donkey Kong and Arkanoid.

What’s got your most energized about this project?

Klayton: I’ve been involved with game scores in the past but this is the first full-blown game score I’m involved in. I’m really looking forward to the challenges we’ll face in giving the characters their sound—but know when all’s said and done—people are going to jam this score even when they aren’t battling each other in the game. We’re gearing up to make some seriously kick-ass music to kick-ass to, Killer Instinct style!

Tom: Working on Killer Instinct with Celldweller really brings lots of things full circle. A lot of people don’t realize that Atlas Plug made its first appearance in Microsoft Games back in 2004—first Rallisport Challenge 2, then Project Gotham Racing and Crackdown. And Celldweller was also in those same games. So it’s pretty amazing to be back as Atlas Plug, working on another Microsoft project, teaming up with Celldweller. History is definitely being made.

A big thanks to both Tom and Klayton for taking the time to sit down and answer a few questions for us.

We’re more than excited to see what the tandem work of both Celldweller and Atlas Plug will produce, and we’re thrilled to have them both on board. We’ve only heard the music for one character…well two if you include you know who…and the future of Killer Instinct’s music definitely seems as bright as ever.

That’s all for now, but make sure to be on the lookout for more from these two soon.