Welcome to Right on Cue, the podcast where we interview film, TV, and video game composers about the origins and nuances of their latest works.
The 2023 Grammys have come and gone, and the first Grammy for Best Video Game Score has already been awarded (congratulations, Assassin’s Creed Valhalla‘s Stephanie Economou!). But one of her fellow nominees in that category is video game music royalty in his own right — Austin Wintory, whose score for the acclaimed indie game Journey netted him a Grammy nomination for a video game score years before it became its own category. This time, he was nominated for his score for Aliens: Fireteam Elite, a third-person shooter based on the iconic Alien franchise.
Following a team of Colonial Marines shooting their way through alien-infested space stations and planets, Fireteam Elite calls for a much greater action focus than Journey or other games Wintory has scored. But in so doing, he manages to craft a bombastic, atmospheric score that both pays homage to the soundscapes of previous Alien composers like Jerry Goldsmith and James Horner, but also injects lots of low brass and flute solos courtesy of Sara Andon, creating a noir-like sound to fit the story’s mysterious tone.
Together, Austin and I talk about the score itself, how to weave those influences into the demands of gameplay, and grander chats about the broader composer community and his role in highlighting those voices (thanks to Wintory’s robust YouTube channel, which features score recommendations, BTS stuff, and interviews with other composers and voice actors). And if you want even more insight into his process for the Fireteam Elite score, you can find a track-by-track video breakdown of the score, complete with text commentary, here.
You can find Austin Wintory at his official website here.
Aliens: Fireteam Elite is currently available to play on PS5, PC, XONE, PS4, and XS. You can also listen to the score on your preferred music streaming service courtesy of 20th Century Studios.