Exclusive: Behind Austin Wintory's musical mastery in Tooth and Tail
If you’re going to announce a videogame soundtrack that is destined for great things, the best choice you can make is invoking the name Austin Wintory.
Having made a name for himself across more than fifty feature films, Wintory's break-out work has coming the form of making game soundtracks that are often a bigger draw than the games themselves. If not a bigger deal -- his music is often so directly tied to the gameplay experience that games mesmerize you into always retaining their essence somewhere in the back of your brain. Games like flOw and Journey used Wintory to tell their story, and Wintory’s work on The Banner Saga provided the background to dozens of hours of methodical strategy. He also did Monaco and the remake of Leisure Suit Larry. Just sayin’, Austin can do it all.
So if you’ve been following the upcoming Tooth and Tail, get ready to lose your mind, because Austin Wintory is behind the fully orchestrated soundtrack that accompanies it.
Reuniting Wintory with the team from Monaco, Tooth and Tail is a real-time strategy game where you command animals such as boars, owls, skunks, or mice. There are four different factions within the game and it features its own unique lore – and even its own language, which Australian comedy group Tripod sing on the soundtrack over Wintory’s work. The world of faction-based battle and deep world-building is an excellent fit for Wintory’s bona-fides and a chance to explore vast palettes based in a blend of European regional-inspired dance styles and self-described “sarcastic tinges of Russian folk music.”
The world of Tooth and Tail allows Wintory to stretch beyond the sort of worlds and influences that he developed for Assassin’s Creed Syndicate and Abzu by having to add Tolkeinish depth to more than four cultures. As Wintory explains:
“Normally I’m not interested in writing music that has a sort of deliberate eclecticism, because I tend to heavily favor cohesion and economy. Each faction became this sort of quasi-nationalistic sound; a brassy quasi-Bavarian waltz for the militaristic character, an orchestral Italian wedding tarantella for the aristocrats, a strange 'liturgical tango' for the Longcoats, and a semi-Bulgarian folk dance for the Commonfolk. I can honestly say I’ve never attempted a score quite like this.”
Below, check out our exclusive video (ooh) of the recording process, focusing on Austin Wintory and his work.
Wintory spoke with Zam about the score spotlight and how the most joyous part of this kind of work is collaborating with talented musicians.
“It’s like casting actors,” Wintory said. “Their specific strengths are catered to in the writing so that they can just be their most free selves while performing. A perfect example are the violin solos written for Sandy Cameron. The 'Civilized' faction, which are a sort of clergy-type group, called for a strange pipe organ tango. I couldn't resist featuring a bold solo violin and no one I know plays such a solo better than Sandy. And so it is with everyone else you see here, from the wonderful orchestra in Macedonia, to my fantastic brass ensemble here in LA, and the other soloists like guitarist Tom Strahle or oboist-turned-recorder-player Kristin Naigus. Time in the studio with players like these is truly the most gratifying destination for years spent toiling over the notes themselves.”
T-65b Records and Varese Sarabande Records will jointly release the CD and vinyl soundtrack on September 12th, so you have don’t have to wait very long to make this part of your collection. The game Tooth and Tail releases the same day on Playstation 4 and Windows PC.