Gareth Coker: The Composer Behind Ori and the Will of the Wisps & Ark: Survival Evolved.
Welcome back to the NFO blog. This article is the first in a new series of blog posts where we take a look into the story of some of the most in-demand composers in the industry. In this first article we explore the career of British composer Gareth Coker.
Gareth Coker began playing the piano at a young age. He was a member of the orchestra and a jazz band in high school, and afterwards went on to the Royal Academy of Music to study musical composition. For three years, he travelled and resided in Japan, where he taught English and studied several instruments.
In 2009 he relocated to Los Angeles where he split his time between video game composition and the University of Southern California's film scoring programme, he still resides there to this day. He's noted for his melodically driven compositions, unusual soundscapes, and meticulous attention to detail.
Whilst Coker is predominantly known for his excellent work in the video games industry, he has composed a plethora of music for the silver screen. Some of his work includes, Emma's Chance, a forthcoming feature film, and the upcoming documentary Resistance is Life, Labyrinth, and Dark Power are among Coker's film credits. Recoil, Waking Up, and What To Bring To America are just a few of the short films he's scored.
Gareth's score for the game Ori and the Will of the Wisps drew critical acclaim.
Success in Video Games
Video games! Now this, this is where Coker excels and produces his best work. Coker can call on all his experience throughout his life to create music for video games that just fit the tone and atmosphere perfectly. Ori and the Will of the Wisps (2020), Darksiders Genesis (2019), and ARK Survival Evolved are among his most recent projects (2017-). He's also contributed to Insomniac Games' VR game The Unspoken and has written many soundtrack albums for major Minecraft expansions (2016-2019). Another huge indication to Coker’s ability is his upcoming work on 343 Industries Halo Infinite, one of the biggest gaming franchises in the world. With all this phenomenal content, comes the reward and recognition for all of Coker’s hard work. His music has won numerous honours, including the Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences Award for Outstanding Music Composition, the SXSW Award for Excellence in Musical Score, and other Game Audio Network Guild awards.
Gareth contributed to the soundtrack the the latest instalment in the Halo franchise, Halo Infinite.
“I have been very fortunate to have worked across a range of IPs that really allow me to exercise the creative side of my brain, as they have all been so different. ARK is about as different as it gets to Ori and the Blind Forest, which sonically is on the opposite end of the spectrum to The Unspoken, which in terms of intensity is also pretty much the opposite of the work I’ve done on Minecraft! I do like working on different projects because it keeps things fresh, and with each different style you’re always learning something new. One of the great things about music is that there’s always an opportunity to learn, and techniques picked up in one game soundtrack can easily be applied to the next one, whether the two games are related or not. Additionally, one can never have enough experience of working with the orchestra, whether it’s a chamber group of 22 musicians, or the behemoth that we had on ARK of 93 players, orchestration is a lifetime’s study!”
Gareth in the studio.
Work Harder & Smarter
It’s nothing particularly innovative in terms of advice, but you really do need to work incredibly hard and get your music out there. The most important thing is to finish work and not sit on it. If you’re looking for work, it’s a lot easier for someone to book you when you have completed projects under your belt.
It is very hard to get something out the door, so if you are able to do it, the more confidence it will give potential clients to pick you. Additionally, we think self-awareness is incredibly important, knowing roughly where you are in terms of your technical skills, what you’re good at, and what you’re not good at. Write and compose to your strengths while working on your weaknesses. Aspiring composers definitely won’t be good at every skill required to be in the industry, so if, for example, you have a weakness in orchestration, find someone that is good at it and that can help you or at least teach you.
If there’s one thing we've found about the game audio community over the years, it’s that the people in it are incredibly generous with their time and very willing to give, you just have to have the courage
We hope you enjoyed this article!
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