Tag Archives: video games

Interview: Einar Selvik Talks Assassin’s Creed Valhalla

Einar Selvik is a Norwegian composer and founder of Wardruna, a project renowned for its innovative and genre-creating renditions of old Nordic songs.

Selvik merges the scholarly with pop culture by integrating old Nordic instruments, poetry and poetic meters in a contemporary soundscape. He lectures about his work with historical music at universities, such as Oxford, Denver, Reykjavik and Bergen. Selvik’s work is used by top Old Norse scholars to exemplify how music might have sounded in early Scandinavia.

Selvik and Wardruna contributed on History Channel’s Vikings soundtrack, in which Selvik also appeared as a singer on two episodes of the television series. He was awarded the Egil Storbekken’s Music Prize, which is a national award given to those who have made extraordinary efforts in Norwegian folk music, especially with older folk instruments.

More recently, Selvik was tapped to work on the Assassin’s Creed Valhalla game soundtrack with co-composers, Sarah Schachner and Jesper Kyd. The game is set in 873 AD in warring Norway and follows the Viking invasion of Britain. The full album is out now on Lakeshore Records. 


SSM: How did you get involved with the Assassin’s Creed Valhalla project?

ES: I was first approached by the musical team of Ubisoft through my publisher BMG in 2018. They were familiar with my work with Norse and Nordic music and had already been using a lot of my Wardruna compositions as temporary music in the game ad was interested in discussing a possible cooperation. I made an initial pitch with my musical ideas and we had some discussion over the phone before we decided to meet up in person.

A delegation from the AC music team came over to Bergen, Norway where I happen to be holding an acoustic “skaldic” concert in the royal medieval feasting hall “Håkonshallen”. This format of performance is in many ways very close to parts of the musical expression they wanted me to work on, so it was quite an appropriate occasion and backdrop to start planning our further collaboration on ACV!


SSM: The track ‘Vígahugr – Lust For Battle – Skaldic Version’ is awesome! Can you speak about your process with creating this track and the instruments you used?

ES: Thank you! It is in fact one of my favorite pieces from this whole material and also one of the songs I would consider as reflecting most authenticity in terms of the composition as a whole. The Norse culture was predominantly an oral society and so we clearly see that in the oldest song traditions we have here in the north, rhythms and melody are often guided by the (often) complex poetic structures.

The Vígahugr song gives good example of just that and also clearly reflect the tonality of ancient Scandinavian music. The lyrics is an excerpt of a poem composed by one of the most interesting Viking age skalds there was, Egill Skallagrimsson from the saga Egill´s Saga. They rather vividly express the rousing and build up before a battle, and if people think that Metal lyrics are brutal in nature, then they haven’t read much Viking age poetic battle descriptions, ha ha!

The backbone of the song is vocals and a seven stringed Lyre. Based on the historical sources we have; Lyres were the most common string instrument in Northern Europe in this time period and that is naturally also reflected in my work on the game. I also use bowed lyre (AKA Taglharpa, Haargigje, Jouhikko etc.) which is the earliest bowed instrument we have in the Nordic region.

The sources are conflicted on whether or not the instrument bow was used in the Viking age, but archelogy from both Ireland and Denmark suggest it was. Further, I have used bone flute as well as various percussion and animal-hide framedrum.

Assassin's Creed Valhalla (Original Game Soundtrack) - Jesper Kyd, Sarah Schachner, Einar Selvik

SSM: You have been involved with so many projects, from playing in the metal band Gorgoroth, fronting the Nordic folk project Wardruna to working on music for History Channel’s Vikings. What do you find is the most challenging part of the creative process for you?

ES: Yes, I´ve been very fortunate to get the chance to gain experience from many different types of musical formats and concepts. I guess one of the main challenges is to find the balance between being patient and working with deadlines. I like to let the songs take me where they want to take me rather than squeeze them into a predetermined shape or structure.

Not pushing it too much but still being pro-active. I generally like to take my time with my writing so when I started working the soundtrack on Vikings I really had to learn how to work faster without compromising the art itself. More instinctively and really tuning into my artistic impulses and intuition. I think that whole process helped me further develop my skills as a composer.


SSM: As someone who travels the world holding lectures and workshops about life in the Nordic region, what do you find is a common misconception about Vikings?

ES: Well, there are quite a few both positive and negative stereotypes and misconceptions out there. I guess the most common one is that the whole of ancient Scandinavian history has been named and defined by what a small number of people in the Nordic population did for a short amount of time. The word Viking is first and foremost a verb defining what some people did when they went off to sea, trading, raiding and warfare – which by the way wasn´t exclusive traits to the Norsemen.

They were, however, the best at it back then and dominated the period with their superior ships and fearless mentality – which again makes it very understandable why these Vikings have dominated the views on Norse history as a whole as well. Still, I would say that the old Norse culture has far more interesting things to offer than just warriors and warfare.


SSM: What’s coming up next for you?

ES: These days I am still doing musical work for AC Valhalla and also focusing on the new Wardruna album Kvitravn set for release in January 2021. The plan and hope are of course to start doing concerts again but with the current situation we have to plan for all sorts of scenarios depending on when the world goes back to some form of “normality”. If the concert restrictions are continued I will focus my time on writing music and studio work.

Follow Selvik on Instagram @einar_selvik!


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‘Anthem’ Composer Sarah Schachner Talks Composing For Video Games and That Game Awards Performance! | Twinfinite

But it’s more than just the appearance of Anthem’s world that makes it so compelling. It has a palpable atmosphere that really draws you into the mystery of its sci-fi meets fantasy aesthetic, and for me, that’s in no small part due to a superb musical score. – Alex Gibson, Twinfinite

As an accomplished multi-instrumentalist and modular synth artist/programmer, critically-acclaimed Composer Sarah Schachner who many know from her Call Of Duty and Assassin’s Creed game scores talks to Twinfinite about her Anthem video game score (out now on Lakeshore Records and EA Games), one of the most exciting game music releases of the year! Even if you haven’t played the multi-player role playing game developed by game titans BioWare and Electronic Arts (EA), just know the music has been praised by critics for its cinematic, world-building composition, right in that sweet spot for film music fans.

Senior Editor Alex Gibson jumped at the chance to interview Sarah and you can check out the full story now at Twinfinite!

Soundtrack Available Now: [Download/Listen]

Anthem, from its inception, has always been something that we wanted to be very different from a Dragon Age or Mass Effect or even Baldur’s Gate.” It began, he says, with a question: “How do you tell a story, how do you have an amazing game, in a cooperative space where your friends are telling the story with you?”

Play Anthem now at Anthem online.

Battlefield V Picture Disc Vinyl From Record Store Day

Did you score all the records you’ve been dying to get your hands on for Record Store Day 2019? If you missed out on the Battlefield V soundtrack on vinyl (score by Johan Söderqvist and Patrik Andrén), the epic video game soundtrack release in partnership with EA Games and Lakeshore Records, we got our hands on a limited number of copies, and it’s headed to our web store very soon! Be sure to sign up specifically for this drop on the email here to get notified the moment we release it.

We repeat, this is a limited number we will have on hand, so don’t snooze on this one.

Download and listen to the digital album here.

Review: Apex Legends Video Game Score By Stephen Barton | A Closer Listen

The intro blasts the motif with background percussions reminiscent of Queen’s “We Will Rock You” and dissonant strings that emphasize the excitement and the anticipation of participating in this deadly myth… Apex Legends is short, but Barton turned that into the OST’s greatest strength. – A Closer Listen

The good folks at A Closer Listen review Stephen Barton’s (Titanfall, “12 Monkeys” Series, Call of Duty 4) epic score to Apex Legends, the EA/Respawn game that made headlines when it broke records gaining 25 million users in just one week upon its launch in February 2019 (now 50 million players)! This review provides a perspective between a standalone listening experience and hearing the music during in-game play for context! Are you a fan of Apex Legends? Let us know what you think of the video game score below!

Soundtrack Available Now: [Download/Listen]

Review: Sarah Schachner’s Score To Blockbuster Anthem Video Game | A Closer Listen

Surpassing 80 minutes, its score is a grand orchestral set with electronic incursions that evoke the sci-fi elements of the game’s world. So far so expected. But there are more ~ and surprising ~ elements fused into the bodies of these pieces that make them well worth a listen. – A Closer Listen

Music discovery and review site A Closer Listen shines a spotlight on Sarah Schachner’s epic score to Anthem, the blockbuster new video game from EA Games / BioWare! The album review of one of the most exciting new video game soundtrack releases of the year might just trigger a repeat listen as you compare notes on the individual tracks called out in the piece. Plus, you might find a bonus bit of video game soundtrack news if you scroll to the very end. Read it now at A Closer Listen. What’s your favorite part of the Anthem soundtrack?

In partnership with EA Games, Lakeshore Records has released the video game soundtrack, available now digitally worldwide!

Soundtrack Available Now: [Download/Listen]

Anthem, from its inception, has always been something that we wanted to be very different from a Dragon Age or Mass Effect or even Baldur’s Gate.” It began, he says, with a question: “How do you tell a story, how do you have an amazing game, in a cooperative space where your friends are telling the story with you?”

Play Anthem now at Anthem online.