Recently, Louis-Félix Cauchon and Antoine Vachon traveled to Boston to record the Mages of Mystralia’s soundtrack. Borealys decided to collaborate with Soundtrec, Shota Nakama and the Video Game Orchestra, renowned for their work on the latest Final Fantasy and Kingdom Hearts titles, among others. It all began when Falk Au Yeong (Soundtrec’s Sound Mixer), whom Antoine met on the NeoGAF message boards, suggested he send a few samples of the soundtrack to Shota. Upon listening to them, they immediately decided to get on board and plan the recording.
Antoine (Composer and Sound Designer)
The trip to Boston took a lot of time to prepare, but it was so worth it. I had so many experiences I’ll never forget. It was the first time I had the chance to work with a live orchestra to record some of my music! Shota and the orchestra did an amazing job to make my music more natural and more dynamic. It was a very memorable experience, both artistically and on the human side of things. I had the opportunity to hang out with Shota and many very talented musicians, like Sho Omagari, Chris Ferrara, Emily Shibata Sánchez and Rebecca Hallowell, who shared a lot of their knowledge about creation, orchestration and musicianship. They’re all inspiring, open, and very nice people. A few of my compositions, originally written for virtual instruments, proved to be harder to perform with live musicians. They did a great job overcoming this challenge. Everybody worked really hard to make the best music possible to improve the player’s experience.
Early in the day, I was very nervous as there were still a lot of things to plan out. We had a huge challenge: recording strings and brass for 18 songs in less than 12 hours. All day long, I had to be very attentive to the recording, follow the score, and guide the musicians. I also got to conduct the orchestra for a few songs, including the game’s main theme. Working with live musicians is so different from working in front of a computer – the music takes a whole new life. I worked with everyone to sculpt the sound of each track to my liking. I’m extremely happy with the result.
All of this wouldn’t have been possible without the work of Robin Moore, the sound engineer for the recording session. She’s been incredibly efficient even though the day required a lot of work and patience. Having worked in a similar role at my former job at CBC/Radio-Canada, I know how demanding it can get to work on these sessions and make everything flow. Robin did an amazing job, the recordings sound great.
But the work isn’t all done yet. The woodwinds will soon be recorded by two very talented musicians from Video Games Live, Laura Intravia and Kristin Naigus. Furthermore, Shota Nakama is currently working on the guitar parts for a few songs.
We decided to document the experience, so we hired a documentary filmmaker to do a “making of” for the recording of Mages of Mystralia’s soundtrack. We can’t wait to share this film with you. For my part, I was the only one who wasn’t really busy! My role was to drive to Boston. I feel lucky to have been able to attend this recording session. Seeing Antoine having so much fun was great, even if I didn’t understand what was happening most of the time! I’m not a musician or composer, so I had a very different perspective on the whole process. I didn’t understand the specific terms that Antoine and Shota were exchanging during the recording, so I was amazed at how well they could understand each other. It was great to see Antoine call the shots to the orchestra and be able to stay focused all day. I got goosebumps when I heard the musicians play the music that Antoine has been working on for more than 2 years. I really was a privileged spectator! Finally, it’s important to acknowledge the generosity of Shota, who took us to some great restaurants. We spent an unforgettable weekend with the gang of Soundtrec and the Video Game Orchestra. We hope to repeat the experience for future projects!