A Few Questions for Daniel Lindholm (Interview from 2018)

(The following interview was originally published on Twitlonger on October 7, 2018. You can find the original post here: https://www.twitlonger.com/show/n_1sqm9c7. This interview was also featured on Event Hubs on October 11, 2018. For that article, you can go here: https://www.eventhubs.com/news/2018/oct/11/he-redeemer-or-evil-incarnate-street-fighter-5s-composer-his-approach-tackling-gs-theme-shares-remix-sagats-theme-and-more/)

After listening to G’s theme many times,and trying to find hints in his music about who the character was, I was still left with many questions. After bouncing ideas with other people, I decided to reach out to the composer himself, Daniel Lindholm. He was very kind to answer my questions about G, as well as a couple of other questions on the other characters he composed for as well.

(Aside from some minor editing for style and word choices, the interview is listed exactly as written.)

1) Each of the character’s themes have something unique about them, even if the theme is a remix of an old theme. I’m wondering where the inspiration to create a piece a certain way comes from. Certainly, there are directions from the higher-ups, but how much of the ideas come from you and how much comes from your clients?

A: If we look at the new characters of Ed and Menat, I had about 20% input from the client to guide me in the right direction. Zeku was more my own feeling about the character, but with the suggestion about adding in “The Raid” motif from the very first Strider game. With legacy characters like Sakura and Cody, they already had melodic material, and trying to reshape them into their new genres was a balancing act, but I’d say the one song that needed to be a certain way was definitely Sakura’s Theme. That really needed to show growth of the character, while Cody’s, from my point of view, was trying not to piss off the fans in the forums. I had my concerns about his depiction from SF IV, and people kept telling me in the forums that, “Nobody touches CODY’S theme.” Still we kept the hip hop, but trying to get that positive spin, I had to add the live trumpets as a confirmation that Cody has left his past behind him and started his next chapter in life; a more positive outlook on his character but still keep the cool with the bass lick which I dedicate to my drum teacher back home in Sweden. Finally there was G. Who is he, and where does he come from? Is he a good guy or a bad guy? The documents about him were and still are a mystery to me. Going with the synth music with jazz was their idea, but taking it to Dixieland style was my own approach; [it was] the character’s physical attributes that decided the instruments I picked for him. Since he looks a lot like Mr. Lincoln himself, and since I saw his opening animation before the fight, I went with instruments of the Earth – woodwinds and viola and violin to represent that element. No saxophone though. However, when you start looking closer you see his golden tattoos of the continents, and I felt a trumpet and a trombone was an obvious choice to display his presidential ways.

2) As a game lore speculator, I’m very interested to know the stories of characters as well as what goes on behind the scenes. Like I said, this is going to be more focused on G, so I was wondering what directions Capcom gave you in regards to creating the theme for this character? Did they give you a full synopsis of who he is or did they show you a picture and say, “What can you come up with?”

A: Seems like I answered no 2, so I’ll jump to no. 3.

3) Some people have noticed that G’s theme has some elements to the theme of a previous character, Q. While its not the same theme, I was wondering how much of that song was an influence in the creation of G’s theme?

A: I was given very little info about him and the styles chosen for his character was Capcom’s idea. But for the arrangement, it was all me. The kick drum line is a reflection of Depeche Mode’s “Personal Jesus” which kinda adds that duality of G I mentioned earlier. Is he a redeemer or the evil incarnate? The way he moves and the way he talks feels very conflicting. So having that kick drum pattern locked in really makes you think, “Is he a psycho or is he really that dedicated to his cause?”

4) There was something I noticed in G’s theme in the brass section. There’s a sort of scratchy sounding layer there that sounds to me like back-masking. I was wondering if you could confirm what this was?

A: That scratching noise is just a “dubstep” wobble-distortion bass with a gate-effect, trying to symbolize his crazy, schizophrenic nature. My own interpretation of the character, because once it goes whistling Dixie, you go “crazy.”

5) You also created Ed’s theme, which is wholly different from the other songs you created because it has lyrics. Was this decided on in the beginning, or something that took shape as you progressed through the composition?

A: The rap for Ed was not in consideration when I begun writing the song. However, later on during production, Capcom said they were thinking about having rap on it. I was scared that I might have to write lyrics and rap on top. But luckily, it never went there. The talented rapper, Cal Combs, took over from there and supplied me with two versions [of the song]. What you hear in the end is the more aggressive take which I really liked and recommended Capcom to use.

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