Unsung Heroes of Video games

Unsung Heroes of Video Games: Composer Jose Varon

Years ago music in games was 8-bit music or chiptunes composed of simple computerized blips and bloops. It’s come a long way since the days of 8-bit music. Not only in the triple-A titles but also in the indie titles. Independent game developers pay more attention to in-game music than they ever did. To gamers, the music in the game can help the game. It brings the whole package together to immerse you into the gameplay.

So we thought it was time to introduce some of the composers of our favourite game soundtracks and ask them a few questions. We feel that composers of game soundtracks are entitled to lots of praise for the excellent work they do on in the game.

This time, Jose Varon, composer of the soundtrack for Imp of the Sun, has agreed to chat with us.

Meet Jose Varon

James recently reviewed Imp of the Sun and gave it our highest score of Two Thumbs Up. While playing, he enjoyed the soundtrack so much, that he has been listening to it over and over again on the developers’ website. Jose Varon is the composer behind the music score.

Composer Jose Varon Imp of the Sun

Welcome Jose, tell us a bit about yourself!

Sure, let me start with my purpose in life:

“To help people connect with their emotions, so that we can better understand others and ourselves.”

That’s why I wake up every morning, and from different angles, that’s what I do with all my companies and on every project, I work on!

I’m a composer by trade, and I’ve been in the film and gaming industry for about 8 years. I’m very business-oriented and I’ve always loved to lead teams, so when the opportunity to found Sunwolf Entertainment appeared I jumped right into it.

So you founded Sunwolf Entertainment?

Yes! I have two main roles in Sunwolf,  as CEO of the company and as a composer. It’s a rare privilege to be able to choose what kind of music you want to write!

I have three main projects. One is Sunwolf Entertainment, a game development company, where we just released our first game Imp of The Sun. Second is The Audio Hive, a full audio post-production company co-founded with Cris Velasco. And third is my project as a composer, on which I work as an independent composer for Film and Video Games.

Of course, as I founded the studio that made Imp of the Sun, Sunwolf Entertainment, I was our first option to compose the music!

Composing for Imp for the Sun

Composer Jose Varon Imp of the Sun

How did you get into making video scores in the first place?

I’ve always loved Video Games and Video Games Music. So when I co-founded my audio company The Audio Hive along with Cris Velasco (God of War II-III, Bloodborne, Mass Effect), our main goal was to bring full audio services to Indie as well as AAA companies.

Imp of the Sun clearly derives inspiration from Peruvian culture. Did you do much research on it before composing the score?

Yes, I’ve worked on quite a few Peruvian-inspired projects and I’ve been digging deeper into the different cultures, instruments and traditions of the area. It was super fun! We actually got to record actual instruments from a museum.

LadiesGamers Imp of the Sun

What challenges did you face? And how did you overcome them?

From a composer’s point of view, the biggest challenge was changing hats from being CEO to being a Composer in an objective way. Of course, I wanted to record the London Symphony Orchestra at Abbey Road, but it just didn’t make sense for this project (or did it?). Balancing the emotional with the rational was definitely the biggest challenge on every level of development.

What was your favourite instrument to use in the score?

I loved the Quenas Chincha, Cajones and Charangos. But each area has unique sets of instruments so it’s hard to say.

What is your favourite track? For James, the main theme really hit an uplifting punch!

Yes, the Overture was my favourite for sure. It’s really about the dance between The Sun and The Moon. It’s inspired by a style of music called “Huayno” but Epic! I also loved the contrast of the solo quena representing little Nin against a huge epic orchestra with choirs and an epic cajones ensemble.

LadiesGamers Imp of the Sun

Have you played the game? How does it feel to hear your score?

I have, because I’m CEO of Sunwolf Entertainment so I kind of had to. I feel the music works really well. I particularly love the battle against Tui, which feels like a Peruvian Duel of Fates.

Favourite Scores and Composers

I noticed you have worked on many other video games? Which are your other favourite scores?

I loved working on Immortal: Gates of Pyrus and Arafinn: Return to Nangrim and also helping Cris Velasco in Darksiders III (even though I didn’t write the music there)

Do you like any other video game scores or other composers?

Yes, my favorite composers are John Williams, Hans Zimmer, James Horner, Marc Mancina and Joe Hisaishi. And as far as video game scores go, I really love the Final Fantasy games (especially FFXII) and Kingdom Hearts II-III.

The video game Ni no Kuni: the Wrath of the White Witch with music by Joe Hisaishi

Have you got any other compositions in the works for video games or entertainment?

I do! One is our next game at Sunwolf Entertainment, which is very different from Imp of The Sun. It’s an RPG with a more Hollywood sound. An animation movie called KAI. And the others I cannot say yet (unfortunately because they’re very cool).

Hollywood Sound with Asian Instruments

What are your favourite video games, other than Imp of the Sun of course?

There are many! There’s Breath of The Wild, Banjo Kazooie, Final Fantasy XII and more recently Elden Ring. (I’m really trying to keep the lists short)

What’s the one instrument you would love to use in a video game score you have not tried?

I would love to do an Asian RPG that mixes Hollywood sound with Asian instruments. I actually did a whole album in that style called Silkpunk. But I would absolutely love to write that kind of music for a game.

Silkpunk soundtrack by Jose Varon

Is there any advice you have for budding musicians looking to get into this field?

It’s a hard road, but extremely rewarding. So perseverance is key.

And with that, we’d like to thank you for this interview, Jose!



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