We’re creeping ever closer to the inevitable release of Junction Point Studios’ and Disney Interactive Studios’ Disney Epic Mickey, hitting Wiis everywhere November 30. The game has already received a lot of attention for its vibrant visuals and create/destroy gameplay, but the game’s soundtrack is equally exciting. To learn more about how the game’s score was put together, we interviewed Jim Dooley, the game’s composer.
Nintendojo: How did you get involved in the project? Did Warren Spector and Junction Point Studios come to you about composing the game’s music, or did you audition for the role?
Jim Dooley: Warren Spector approached myself and a few select musicians to write demos for the opening sequence and I got the project shortly after submitting. I started fully working on the game in April 2009.
What made you want to be a part of Disney Epic Mickey?
Dooley: It’s always humbling to be a part of the Disney legacy. Not to mention I had already worked on several Disney projects like Little Mermaid: Ariel’s Beginning, and Pirates of the Caribbean.
How is composing music for a video game different from film and television?
Dooley: The biggest difference is the concept of Adaptive music. The score needs to adapt to the player and his or her experience of the game.
Disney Epic Mickey utilizes an interesting painting and paint-thinning system. Does the music dynamically change depending on how much Mickey uses paint or thinner?
Dooley: Yes. There’s essentially three different pieces per scenario. The Neutral piece plays throughout the entire player’s experience. When they create with paint, a Positive piece layers in and becomes louder with each good deed. And of course the opposite happens when you utilize thinner, a Dark layer piece emerges.
Did you have to compromise any on the quality of the soundtrack because of disc space?
Dooley: There’s two hours of music in the game, so it’s nearly impossible to fit all onto one disc. However, there’s not really a loss of quality as we were able to get the essence of the game experience on the CD.
Some soundtracks are known for signature sounds or instruments– Professor Layton soundtracks use accordion, Super Mario Bros. has synthesized “wahs,” and Mega Man has rapid-fire synthesizer. Is there any particular instrument you think stands out as a signature element in Disney Epic Mickey‘s soundtrack?
Dooley: I utilized a Celeste sound (think “Harry Potter”, or “The Nutcracker”). I created this sound using wine glasses. I also recorded a number of different toys and organ sounds. My favorite was making percussion music out of clocks. We tried to take classic sounds from Disney movies and create them into musical instruments for the game.
Were you given free reign to use any classic Disney music from previous cartoons and features? If so, were any of these reimagined, combined into medleys, or used as subtle accents under new music?
Dooley: I was able to use the original “Steam Boat Willie” and “It’s A Small World” themes, which was then constructed into a much darker, combative piece.
What’s the ratio of original music made just for the game to music sourced from previous Disney features?
Dooley: It’s all original music. Nothing is directly reused from past Disney projects.
You have worked closely with Hans Zimmer in the past. Did you collaborate with him at all in creating the Disney Epic Mickey soundtrack?
Dooley: Well he’s obviously a huge influence on me. Not to mention, he’s down the hall from my studio here at Remote Control Productions, so I can always count on him for a fresh set of ears. Regardless, we did not collaborate on this particular project.
Was a real orchestra and/or choir used for any of the game’s music?
Dooley: No, everything comes from pre-recorded samples.
Will there be a soundtrack made available for the game? There are a lot of hardcore Disney soundtrack fans out there…
Dooley: While I’m working hard at providing a solid soundtrack, Disney has not announced any information on the release of it at this time…
What’s your favorite tune in the game that we should listen for when we finally play through Disney Epic Mickey?
Dooley: My favorite tune is the opening “Mickey” main title. It uses the most toys, which is so playful and fun. Also, the arrangement of “It’s A Small World” was my favorite piece to write. I did feel slightly odd working with the world’s greatest earworm. Try listening to “It’s A Small World” for over a year and a half and get that tune out of your head!
Thanks so much to Jim Dooley for taking the time for our interview, and to our contacts at Disney Interactive for arranging it. Be sure to check out the game when it releases November 30 exclusively on Wii.