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15 Minutes of Fame: The music of Nathan Allen Pinard

From Hollywood celebrities to the guy next door, millions of people have made World of Warcraft a part of their lives. How do you play WoW? We're giving each approach its own 15 Minutes of Fame.

You may not recognize the name Nathan Allen Pinard -- but if you're a fan of the machinima scene, you're bound to have heard his stirring musical take on life in Azeroth via the ever-popular Oxhorn machinima. I mean, come on ... If the irresistible compilation of Oxhorn favorites above doesn't get your foot tapping, then you may just have left your heart frozen solid back in Northrend!

As much as we love what he's done with Oxhorn and others, Pinard's known for much more than his music for machinima. Specializing in composing for video games, movies, TV and films as well, Pinard has been hard at work on the score for the sci-fi game Gemini Rue -- oh, and tearing through Cataclysm like a bat out of hell, as well. What's the composer up to lately? There's another Oxhorn machinima in the works, yes, and much more. Join us after the break for the scoop!

15 Minutes of Fame: So Nathan, despite the new projects (which we'll get to in just a minute), we hear you've been putting in your fair share of time with the expansion.

Nathan Allen Pinard: Yes, I'm up to 85 on one of my characters, but I haven't played much after that. I'm not available enough to get into it just yet.

What are your impressions of the new Cataclysm soundtrack?

It's much better than The Burning Crusade or Wrath of the Lich King. The biggest problem with those two was the soundtrack was so disjointed in terms of style. Cata actually gets back into more of the traditional WoW style of music that we fell in love with, so I'm much happier about it.

Let's step back a moment to your WoW-related machinima. How long have you been making soundtracks for Oxhorn's machinima? How did the two of you connect?

The first film I did for Oxhorn was Inventing Swear Words 3 (below). Before that film, Oxhorn had either supplied his own music or used something else, such as the score he used in Racing the Grimtotem. So ISW3 was the first time he had an original, custom score for his films. From then on, everything just caught on, and I continued to create scores for his work.

We initially met through Myndflame. At the time, I was talking to Clint Hackleman about his music, as I enjoy it, and I showed him some of my work as well. He then asked me if I was interested in creating some music for other machinima artists, and I accepted. The first project I had was ISW3. Later on, I also branched out to Firebolt Production, which were insanely epic scores throughout.



What makes an Oxhorn machinima soundtrack sound like an Oxhorn machinima? How do you approach the music to give it that distinctive flair?

In a nutshell, it's the overall cute/comedic sound mixing with drama and epic moments. A good example would be Inventing Swear Words 3, in which the scene where the all the mobs in Un'Goro crater are coming at them; you hear this huge frightening music, but then immediately it goes into this anime theme song spoof, which then cuts into just a few flutes outlining what at the time was the Inventing Swear Words theme. Oxhorn's movies switch gears very fast, so the music has to reflect that.

Are you involved in the Oxhorn lyrical songs?

I am often involved in producing them but not writing them. One thing don't do is write lyrics. It's a skill I would like to have some day if possible, but right now I can't even remember lyrics from my favorite songs.

That being said, the way Oxhorn sends me his material is much like it's done in the pop industry. I receive an MP3 of him singing, with nothing else. From that point I decide what instrumentation, what orchestration techniques, what style, what rhythm, etc. If Oxhorn wants to have more involvement in the music and what it conveys, he simply states that on the MP3 and even sings rhythms and melodic ideas at times. We then have him record himself, then I piece things together. This was especially hard to do with Oxhorn Brand Medley, as the voice clips and vocals took a lot of effort to piece together. You can actually see that here.

Also, I thought I'd point out I did do the background vocals on Tank Tank Heal Tank, which is the closest to singing on an actual project I've gotten.

What is it about video games and machinima that attracts you (musically)?

Machinima can pretty much tell any story but is often centered on WoW, of course. So it gives me the opportunity to draw a lot of emotion out of the audience. I'd say the same for games because literally, games are almost playable movies now, given the advancements we've made. Most games often retain a cinematic quality my music goes with. Of course I'm a lover of the older scores from the Final Fantasy, Secret of Mana, and Chrono Trigger series. Also one of the better scores written for a game probably is Leon Willet's Dreamfall; Funcom sure knows what they are doing when it comes to choosing which composer to use.

Do you play WoW? Do you find that you need to play any game that you end up writing music for?

I still play WoW but haven't been playing as much as I used to. I went as far as just playing the game to being a guild officer and raid leader. At one point, I even went pretty hardcore raiding 6 days a week, so I very much know what WoW is about.

As far as the second question, there are points where I don't get to play the game even if I want to. I created music for a game entitled Doodle Warrior in which I wasn't able to play the game till the later stages. However, in some projects, I have more direct involvement.

What's on your project plate right now?

I have a new album, Machiniscores, I released that all machinima fans will want to check out. You can find it available for purchase at my web site. It contains mostly the scores from Oxhorn's films, as well as Firebolt Productions and Bakasavants Productions.

I also have a game available for preorders that I did music and sound to, entitled Gemini Rue, which is currently set to release on Feb. 24! This game is the biggest project yet, as it's published by Wadjeteye Games. I also plan to release a soundtrack album of that game, as it has a very unique Mass Effect/Bladerunner-type score mixed with some film noir orchestration. It will also be included in the preorder.

Later this year, I plan to create a full album for my mother's book as well as a Christmas album. This is all dependent on how I do at GDC though, as I plan to attend at least the after-parties this year -- simply because one of them will be the Gemini Rue release party!

Good luck with the launches, Nathan, and we'll be listening for more of your work soon!

Visit Nathan Allen Pinard at NathanAllenPinard.com. See the trailer for Gemini Rue on YouTube.

"I never thought of playing WoW like that!" -- and neither did we, until we talked with these players, from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine's Aron "Nog" Eisenberg to an Olympic medalist and a quadriplegic raider. Know someone else we should feature? Email lisa@wow.com.

Filed under: Interviews, 15 Minutes of Fame

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