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11 Things You Didn't Know About AWAY Composer Mike Raznick

Composer Mike Raznick's latest project is the VR nature documentary interactive experience, AWAY, for which he describes his game score as expansive and evolving. We decided to learn more about him and the AWAY score, so here he reveals 11 fun facts you might not know.

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2.

During production, Mike made his first visit (yes, in his whole life) to a junk yard, where he managed to salvage a number of metal objects (from old cars) that were eventually utilized to create transitional bowed and scraped sounds that were featured during the hi-intensity escape sequence of AWAY.

4.

Mike scored Netflix’s Bionicle: The Journey to One by Lego. His favorite episode of the mini-series was Episode 4: The Dark Portal. It was especially exciting for him to learn the back-story of Makuta, as Ekimu tells the Toa of the story of Makuta's betrayal and the forging of the Mask of Ultimate Power, and finally Makuta's unveiling of the mask in the Capital City. With the addition of the final battle of the mask makers and the Great Cataclysm, which pulled both the Capital City and Makuta into the Shadow Realm, this surely puts the story on par with something as epic as Game of Thrones or Lord of the Rings! That particular montage was one of his favorite parts of the whole series, both to watch as a fan of Bionicle, as well as to compose music to. Overall, the last two episodes featured almost wall-to-wall expressive and often hi-intensity music. The third episode additionally featured a ten minute action sequence, which was a blast to work on.

5.

Mike worked on The Handmaid’s Tale. He was approached by music supervisor and song-writer extraordinaire Jody Friedman back in 2015. He was familiar with some of Mike's trailer music work and asked if he’d like to collaborate on remixing songs into a format that would be appropriate for trailers. They presented the song Pure As Snow, which was co-composed and recorded by a band called I Hate You: Just Kidding. Once he heard the song, he decided to jump in head-first. What was interesting was that the original arrangement featured a slow, grungy rock feel with guitars, cello, drums – almost like something you would hear on a 1970s Neil Young album. However, the lead vocals and children’s choir were already recorded and provided a wonderful starting point for the remix. The version that is featured in the trailer is backed by only piano, some light effects, strings and brass orchestra and epic drums.

He probably spent three weeks to a month on the remix before he was completely happy with it. Once they were finished, it took well over a year before he heard any news. It was a complete surprise to Mike that the song was picked up for the trailer. He was literally sent an email the day it was released with a note of congratulations. Over the next few hours, it was actually the number #1 trending video on YouTube.

6.

Mike got involved with the Ratchet & Clank series when he was invited to compose music by Michael Bross, who was the featured composer for the past few titles. He worked with Michael for a few years at an audio production company focusing on the game industry. He was the in-house lead composer there and he was audio director. He brought the project to them and asked Mike to contribute to Ratchet and Clank: Into the Nexus. They were already mid-way through production on the game and were just ramping up on the music score, which would feature over three hours of music. He ended up composing about 90 minutes of music, including many of the cut-scenes, in-game battle cues and much more. One of the great highlights of his career so far was attending the orchestral recording session in Nashville.

7.

Mike is a huge fan of the Uncharted series. He loves stealthily completing missions and is a big fan of epic story-based adventure games. He's also a big fan of Red Dead Redemption as he has a deep background in acoustic, country, folk and western music and instrumental arranging and generally love the Western genre.

8.

In his spare time when he is not composing, some of his current favorite activities include traveling and exploring other countries, hanging out with his wife and two amazing kids, doing yoga, and going to trivia with friends. He has also recently been collecting synthesizers and recently built a fledgling euro-rack system.

9.

As a kid, Mike performed as a member of the San Francisco Boys Chorus for a number of years. They toured the United States, performed with the San Francisco Opera and Symphony and sang the national anthem at a number of sporting events, including Super Bowl XIX (go 49ers!). They recorded in a church in San Francisco and later went on the field at the game to sing onstage with their performance. With eighty thousand fans, there was no way they would be heard so they played the recording of them through the speakers to augment their onsite performance. It was a great experience to watch Joe Montana, one of Mike's childhood heroes, warm up while they were on the field.

10.

His dream project is very often his current project. He loves to find the hidden opportunities that exist in his current projects. For example, he is now working on a fun multi-player medieval battle brawler game and came up with an idea to record the whole score using early classical and baroque musical instruments. He never dreamed of doing anything like this in the past and is learning about musical instruments that he previously didn’t know existed. He can guarantee the music that comes out of this project will be unique and quite different from anything he has done previously and hopefully what has ever been done in a game before.

11.

He knew he wanted to be a composer when it became evident that this path was the only one that would ultimately lead to career fulfillment. For many years, he ignored the calling. He got a degree in Environmental Sciences, learned computer programming and worked in IT. He was always involved in music in some form or another though. For years, he played in an Irish and world folk band, played and performed in Jazz ensembles, played in rock bands, etc... Eventually, he decided to quit his job and go back to school. He studied at CalArts, where he enrolled in a film-music composition course. It was one of the most satisfying and challenging things he did at that point and it ultimately led him toward a career in music creation.

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