[Interview] Jeramiah "Module" Ross

We sit down with the Kiwi composer behind Shatter and quiz him on everything from Daft Punk to, yes, Lord of the Rings.
Author: Sam Bishop
Published: August 19, 2009
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Music in video games is still something of a minefield. For every great soundtrack there are at least a dozen ones that will have you scrambling to find the mute button, and the rest are usually relegated to instantly forgettable at best. Despite all the whiz-bang tech that's gone into next-gen systems, allowing developers to spread their aural feast to seven different discrete channels, unfettered by the likes of compression or faked surround and yet music is still one of the last things to get any real attention.

Not so with the folks at New Zealand-based Sidhe Interactive, whose first PSN title, GripShift was really only given a modest chance to shine -- and no chance to fix itself -- thanks to publisher Sony Online Entertainment having no real interest in worrying about a patch or additional content. With the release of Shatter, however, all that has changed. Sidhe has been given the go-ahead to self-publish, and their first PSN release is a doozy.

A very respectful upgrade to the classic brick-breaking-with-weapons arcade hit Arkanoid, Shatter both taps into the old-school mechanics and updates them for modern consoles (and gamers). The result is nothing short of one of the most addictive, immensely enjoyable games available for the PlayStation 3, and one of the biggest reasons for that is the game's soundtrack. Blending shades of Daft Punk's splashy electro sound with ambient, progressive trance and straight-up dance floor beats, the music is, quite honestly, some of the best we've ever heard.

We had the chance to pick the brain of one Jeramiah Ross, who goes by the stage name Module, to see what makes him tick and just how he managed to craft something that's just as fun to listen to in-game as it is a normal, full, 80 minute album.

TotalPlayStation.com: We suppose the first question is probably the easiest. Most will probably have heard of you for the first time through Shatter or perhaps your work on Sidhe Interactive's first PSP/PSN game GripShift, but Module's more of an umbrella label, right?

Jeramiah Ross: When I started Module it was more of a live character persona, you know, like Gorillaz, I used to use Manga type images as press shots and I really liked what the word meant. Like a module is part of something that makes up a whole, which lends itself across the spectrum of what I do musically, taking different separate ideas and concepts and combining them. I think of Module more as a musical project, but yeah, I guess it could be an Umbrella for the various concepts and projects I do.

TPS: How did you get started in composition, and what've been some of your influences over the years? We obviously heard a pretty Daft Punk-y flavor to some of the tracks in Shatter, but we're curious if writing for games has turned you on to other game composers just as a byproduct of working in the medium.

JR: I have been composing music on the piano since I was pretty young. I got into using computers in my early teens on an Amiga 500 using octamed, then shifted over to 16 track midi sequencers and 8 track reel to reel recorders. I would make all the electronic elements and play live guitars and bass over them. I guess I have been influenced by lots of things ranging from classical music to rock music Lots of people say the soundtrack sounds like Daft Punk which is mostly because of the vowel filter I used on the synths, the arpeggiators and sidechain compression, but musically it's not really like Daft Punk. I think it shares that same energy of fun and free music that gives you a feeling of nostalgia. Yeah, I have been listening to other game composers, on the PSN, Flower & Söldner-X are the ones that stand out to me the most at the moment.
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