INTERVIEW – In Conversation With Robert Holmes (Composer, ‘Sequel: A Collection of New Game Themes By Robert Holmes’ Kickstarter)

By Marty Mulrooney

Sequel - Robert Holmes Interview

Robert Holmes is the hugely talented composer responsible for some of adventure gaming’s most memorable music, including the soundtracks for the iconic Gabriel Knight trilogy and Gray Matter – standouts of the genre written by his wife, legendary game designer Jane Jensen. Following the launch of his exciting new Kickstarter campaign, which promises to deliver a new album of game themes in a similar style, Alternative Magazine Online is delighted to welcome Robert back – for the first time in over a decade – for yet another exclusive online interview to find out more!

Hi Robert, thank you for your time and welcome back to Alternative Magazine Online!

Thanks Martin! It’s great to chat with you again!

I can’t believe it has been more than a decade since our previous interview! What have you been up to since we last spoke?

Wow, really? Time sure flies! Well, since we last talked I’ve been producing albums with other artists as well as other activities. A standout is the album Renewal I produced for the legendary folk artists The Brothers Four.

These guys are icons that have played for JFK, the Oscars, the Grammys, movies etc. It was a thrill for me as I was a huge fan growing up and love their music. We took all their greatest hits and I added new productions and arrangements around the existing tracks. It was a real joy to do.

Another great project I produced was A Simple Refrain, an all solo piano album of some of my most famous game themes, played by the amazing pianist Roger Hooper. It was a great challenge and lots of fun to revisit those old themes and give them the love they deserved. Roger did an amazing job.

You recently launched a new Kickstarter campaign called ‘Sequel: A Collection of New Game Themes By Robert Holmes’. What is the idea behind this new project?

Yeah, I’m very excited about the Kickstarter and the project! We funded quickly and are now working to reach stretch goals before the campaign ends on December 31st. The goal is to do an album of new Gabriel Knight and Gray Matter style themes as if they were done for a sequel to those games. I’ll use some of the same older instruments I used in the games as well as new tech and instruments. It should be great fun!

Is it fair to say that this new music would sound right at home in a hypothetical Gabriel Knight 4?

You could say that! As we know, due to the Activision ownership of the Gabriel Knight IP, it’s highly unlikely we’ll see another Gabriel Knight. So I thought, well heck – I have more of that music to write so I’m going to do an album of it anyway! 🙂

What instruments and technology will you be using to create these new tracks?

The whole idea actually came about because Jane [Jensen] and I moved back to the West Coast about a year ago. I was setting back up my studio and getting old gear and keyboards out that I hadn’t played for quite a while. The moment I started playing them, I was immediately writing Gabriel Knight and Gray Matter style tunes.

One of the cores of both those original scores was  Kurtzweil 2600 which has a great haunting piano sound that would be very familiar to Gabriel Knight fans. Along with old keys like that, I’ll also be using plenty of newer VST instruments and samplers such as Omnisphere, SoundPaint, Pigments, and so many more!  There will likely be some actual guitar-centric tracks as well using real guitars, ukes, and more.

What emotions will you be trying to evoke?

Most of those early game scores were very emotional and dark in tone. I’ll be going down those same paths again with lots of melancholy, mystery, and the occasional glimmer of hope and light. 🙂

As you know, I’m a massive Gray Matter fan and I still hope that there will be a sequel one day! Will any of these new songs evoke the soundtrack of this wonderful game?

They will! I love Gray Matter as well! That’s another reason I want to do this album. To keep that spirit alive until the opportunity for a Gray Matter 2 surfaces. Jane and I would love to do one if it were to make sense in terms of the cost of development and production being provided somehow.

I have faith it will eventually, or as a TV series or film – which I think it’s perfect for. I guess time will tell, but we hope it will continue as we own the rights and there are no Activision entanglements etc. So until it happens, I’m going to make some more of the music!

Are you still making music with The Scarlet Furies and your daughter Raleigh Holmes?

Unfortunately, The Scarlet Furies are no longer. We had some members pass away, and Raleigh’s illness and resulting changes took her life in new directions. But we do sing together often, and I’m hopeful there will be some musical collaborations in our future someday.

We are enjoying living in the same area together again, just a short ferry ride away for a visit! She is still my favourite singer! And my favourite daughter. 🙂

When we previously spoke, you mentioned working as a producer with Sting, one of my favourite artists. What was he like to work with and who else have you worked with over the years?

Sting was amazing to work with. On that project, I was the producer for a new media project for Paul Allen’s wonderful company Starwave. Our job was to basically follow Sting around and make new content for the project. It was a great couple of years following him around the world and getting to know him.

He is probably one of the smartest, best-read, warmest, and most generous creative spirits I have ever known. Everything you would expect him to be and more. I’ve been fortunate to work with many talented folks over the years including guys from Toto, REO Speedwagon, Leon Russell, The Zombies, Jim Messina, Peter Asher, Rusty Anderson, and The Brothers Four.

You’re also running a Cover Contest for backers – can you tell AMO’s readers more about this?

Yes! We are very excited to also be doing a Cover Contest as part of the Kickstarter, running until March 1st 2022. We are asking folks to submit any style cover they want of a Robert Holmes or Scarlet Furies tune, and the winner’s tune will be included on the new album! We are hearing everything from cathedral pipe organs to industrial pop, so it’s really fun! More info is available on my website: https://robertholmesmusic.com/

What rewards can backers look forward to?

We have all kinds of great stuff, from digital and vinyl versions of the album and custom themes written by me to collectable memorabilia from myself and Jane’s archives, many of them signed and historic. There are even some of my instruments that have been used on the Gabriel Knight games and Gray Matter, as well as with The Scarlet Furies.

A little something for everybody and at all price levels. Come join us and get in on the fun before December 31st!

Thank you for your time and good luck with the rest of the Kickstarter campaign – I can’t wait to hear the finished album!

Thanks so much! It’s great to connect with you and your readers again! Happy holidays!

For more information about the ‘Sequel: A Collection of New Game Themes By Robert Holmes’ Kickstarter – and to pledge your support – please visit:

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/robertholmesthemes/sequel-a-collection-of-new-game-themes-by-robert-holmes

AMO would love to hear your thoughts via the comments section below! Also, don’t forget to follow AMO on Twitter and Facebook!

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