Episode #207: Oleksa Lozowchuk, Dead Rising 3 Composer

October 16, 2014 · 18:27
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Our interview with Oleksa Lozowchuk was full of surprises, and the most striking story came near the end. Lozowchuk released his “Bright Sadness” album about a decade ago with the goal of conveying both the internal struggle and great joys that come with being  human. He later found out that a local priest in Montreal had started to use the disc for music therapy with cancer patients and the terminally ill. Realizing the power of his music, Lozowchuk immediately donated 200 CDs to the cause.  Critical reviews are good, he said, but this kind of real impact is priceless.

If Lozowchuk’s music hasn’t interested you yet, the stories continued.

Born into a musical family, Lozowchuk’s education started young. With grandparent artists, siblings who played and a music teacher-mother, he picked up the violin at age 3. A few instruments later, he started composing for small games, but his musical appetite was just warming up.

Lozowchuk describes his writing process much like one might expect a bird to explain singing. The tunes are already in his head, or they flow out as he writes. It doesn’t seem like he has to wrestle them from his mind. Game composing is special, though, he says. It must be pared down to the absolute essentials, and must exist like an onion – a careful listener can discover and peel away layers they never heard before.

Musical heritage plays a major role in Lozowchuk’s compositional style. His grandparents hailed from the Carpathian Mountains in Ukraine, and he found inspiration in the folk music of the region. Expanding his horizons further, all folk music had its own appeal. He says folk music contains its own power to help the listener mourn, find joy, and connect with whatever reality they are dealing with. Religion, too, played a part. Describing his own orthodox spiritual tradition, Lozowchuk finds that ancient spiritual tunes are a “deep well to draw from” and can carry a great emotive impact. Both religion and folk music make an appearance in “Bright Sadness,” an orthodox term that captures the simultaneous darkness and joy of the Lenten season. The album contains the voices and instruments of several Quebec Symphony principle players as well as Lozowchuk himself.

Best known in the video game world for scoring the humorous and addicting Dead Rising 3, Lozowchuk says he loves the joy of collaboration. And he had plenty of that for the game. With over 10 hours of music, 60 percent of which he wrote, he wants to continue working with the best in the industry.

A fascinating man with a deeply genuine love of music, Lozowchuk provided Top Score with one of the longest interviews we’ve ever had the pleasure of conducting. Enjoy some samples of his work, and hear him describe his start and what music means to him with the above audio.