Assassin's Creed Odyssey – Interview with The Flight

We are very happy to welcome the composers for the Assassin's Creed Odyssey soundtrack, The Flight!

Q: For those who don’t know you, can you introduce yourselves for our fans?

The Flight: Hi! We are Joe Henson and Alexis Smith, collectively know as The Flight.

Q: How and when did you start working together and how was The Flight born?

The Flight: We started working together in 2004, producing a record for Joe’s band. We got on really well, both musically and socially, and so after that project ended we kept in touch. Eventually, there came a natural point when we worked on so many things together that we decided to make it permanent. We got a new studio to share, thought of a name, and the rest is history!

Q: Let’s talk for a bit about your creative process. To create a soundtrack, do you need the visuals of the game or can you create it with descriptions given by the creative team?

The Flight: For us, visual elements are really important to get us into the world. We always try and gather as much concept art, gameplay videos and mood boards from the developer as possible. The smallest details in design can influence the musical direction we take massively.

Q: What sort of hardware and software do you use to create your music?

The Flight: We use Apple Mac computers, running Logic Pro with Universal Audio interfaces. Lots of plugins; Native Instruments, Spitfire Audio, Eventide, Audio Damage, to name but a few. Hardware-wise, we have a large collection of vintage analogue synthesisers, and lots and lots of instruments.

Q: What is the process behind which instruments or sounds get used for certain atmospheres in the game?

The Flight: As soon as we see the brief and the first visuals, we are both hearing music in our heads; sounds, instruments, feels. For Odyssey it was finding ancient-sounding solo instruments, and then using them in a modern way, like the way the franchise blends history and sci-fi. Next, we will run our vision past the developers and the audio director/ music supervisor, and see if it links up with what they were thinking too. Once we all are on the same page, we will then try and look at the game as a whole, to see if there are any ‘rules’ we can apply across the project; which instruments to use in which areas, what characters require themes, and how they should make the player feel. With today’s technology, anything is possible, so having an overall vision like this is hugely important.

Q: Surely you had some key figures in your life during your education, right? Which artists inspired you and / or keep being a source of inspiration for you nowadays?

Joe: For me it was my dad, who owns a vast vinyl collection, including a large selection of film scores from the 1970s. I spent my teenage years listening to OSTs on my walkman rather than contemporary pop music, and have only recently realised how influential that has been on my career.

Alexis: Ours was a house of music too. My mum and dad were both folk music fans, and we would often play and sing together in the evenings. Important artists in my musical education were Richard Thompson, Leonard Cohen, Bert Jansch, and then later as I found electronic music, Aphex Twin, A Tribe Called Quest, The Beastie Boys, amongst many others.

Q: In your résumé we can see how you worked both on movie/television (for example:Drugsland, Kids on the Edge) and videogame productions (Alien: Isolation, Horizon: Zero Dawn and Assassin's Creed Odyssey, amongst others). What are the differences, if there are any, between composing music for a movie and for a videogame? Do you prefer one over the other?

The Flight: One big difference between games and television is when you are engaged on the project. On TV or film you are usually employed during the post-production phase, which might be only a couple of months, and usually when everything but the editing is finished. With a game, the process is much longer, and you start writing in the middle of production, as everything is still being built.
Usually there is a lot more music to compose too, as they tend to be much longer experiences. For Odyssey we composed over four hours of music, and the game can be up to 100 hours long!

Q: Speaking about the gaming industry, which one of the games you worked on was your favourite in terms of inspiration for your music? Is there one of them that holds a special place for you?

The Flight: We have been lucky enough to work on some fantastic titles, and it would be very hard to choose between them. Alien was an amazing experience as we were both lifelong fans of the franchise, but then as soon as we saw Horizon we realised that was going to be a very special game too. Obviously with Odyssey being our most recent soundtrack, we think it contains some of our best work, but that’s up to others to decide…

Q: can see that you have already worked for the Assassin's Creed franchise on the Multiplayer soundtrack for Assassin's Creed 4: Black Flag. These are two very different locations and time periods: which one did you enjoy the most composing the score for?

The Flight: We enjoyed doing the Black Flag Multiplayer, pirates and palm trees, but with Odyssey we had the whole game to write. It’s always more rewarding to work on longer projects, as we can really immerse ourselves in the world.

Q: Did you enjoy working on the Assassin's Creed Odyssey soundtrack and did Ubisoft give you complete freedom while working on it?

The Flight: We had a great experience. Obviously, Ubisoft had a lot of specific things they wanted us to include in the music, and a lot of music to write, but having said this, they did give us a lot of freedom to experiment too, especially once we had nailed the overall sound of the game.

Q: If you had to pick one track from the game, which one would it be and why?

Joe: ‘The Hills of Attika’, this is a development of one of the pieces we composed as part of our pitch, so will always be very special to me.

Alexis: ‘A Happy Family’ and ‘Legend Of The Eagle Bearer’. These are the two main themes of the soundtrack and I loved writing them, mostly live with Joe and Mike.

Q: The track ‘Enter The Animus’ is audibly distinct from other tracks on the Odyssey soundtrack, mostly no doubt due to its Modern Day focus. Were there any particular challenges to this track compared to the rest of the OST?

The Flight: Just making it fit in with the rest of the soundtrack. If you listen closely, you’ll hear the main player theme from ‘Legend Of The Eagle Bearer’ in there, and a few of our ancient instruments, treated in a much more modern style.

Q: Can you tell us a bit more about some of your future projects? Can we hope to see you again working on a future Assassin’s Creed instalment?

The Flight: We are currently working on the Assassin’s Creed Odyssey DLC, as well as another game project, but if we told you about that one we’d have to kill you.

Q: Last but extremely important question: your equipment is catching fire and you can save only one object from it. What would that be and why?

The Flight: Joe would take his Warwick Dolphin bass, Alexis his SAD Lamp.

Thank you for your time, The Flight!!

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