Troy Baker talks about video games, voice acting and “Mythos” concert

Troy Baker is one of most well known voice actors in the business. He is known for his roles as Booker DeWitt in “BioShock Infinite”, Joel in “The Last of Us”, Kanji Tatsumi in “Persona 4”, Pain in “Naruto Shippuden”, Hawkeye & Loki in “Avengers Assemble” and The Joker in “Batman: Arkham Origins” and “Batman: Assault on Arkham”. In conjunction with New York Comic Con 2014 and the first annual New York Super Week Festival, Tina Guo will be performing as a guest artist in MYTHOS! A thrilling and unique concert experience, MYTHOS, showcases great music from across the spectrum of modern orchestral genres – inclusive of music from the concert stage, television and film, and video games – featuring the all-star orchestra The Third Estate, conducted by Grammy Award nominee, Austin Wintory, composer of Journey, as well as vocalists from Choral Chameleon.

Mike Gencarelli: Tell us about your involvement with “Mythos” video game concert?
Troy Baker: This counts as a win in my book for social media and for the community of gamers. I was a fan of Journey and especially the music. I reached out to Austin Wintory to compliment him not only on his amazing score but also his subsequent success. That began a long Twitter conversation back and forth about games and how we should collaborate on something musically. Also, competitive cat pictures might have been involved. This happened over at least a year and has culminated into this amazing event.

MG: What do you think that video game music is so important to its fans?
TB: The entire soundscape of a game plays such an integral part in the overall interactive experience. The same is true with movies. Dramatic moments are supported by a musical movement. Games are no different. Everyone can hum the underground tune from Mario Bros, some of us can hum selected themes from Final Fantasy of Metal Gear. What we’ve seen recently is how these thematic musical elements play such a crucial element, almost a character in these games. The main theme and even all the music from The Last of Us is a perfect example of this. Look how much of a role the music in Bioshock Infinite played in the overall experience!

MG: You have voiced many great video games including “Persona 4”, “Diablo III” and upcoming “Batman: Arkham Knight”; what do you enjoy most about video games?
TB: First and foremost I love being a part of making something that I’m going to geek out over later. As a gamer, I get to experience these games on two completely different levels and both are equally magical, first as an actor, then as a player. There’s not too many jobs that can boast that kind of benefit. I love that in the gamespace some no name kid from Texas can be a “leading man” in a huge franchise and maintain some anonymity that allows me to hide behind the character. I always want the role I am playing to take center stage, not me.

MG: Ranging from anime to video games; which is more challenging to work in?
TB: Both have their intrinsic challenges and each job requires a certain skill set. I view myself as a carpenter. I come into every job with my toolbox and I pull out the necessary tool for the job. At it’s root, however, everything I do has a foundation in just being an actor. Sometimes you’ll only use your voice and allow the animators to interpret your performance, others the onus is on you to present that character soup to nuts in your performance.

MG: How was it taking on the role of such an iconic character as The Joker in “Batman: Assault on Arkham”?
TB: In a single word: “humbling”. I grew up on Batman. It was my first comic I ever purchased. I’ve seen everyone from Caesar Romero, Jack Nicholson, Heath Ledger and, of course, Mark Hamill portray that role. To in any way be counted among those people, to have stepped into those shoes in any way, is an honor. I would rush home from school to make sure I caught Batman: The Animated Series on TV. Which to me, changed mover animation and how we tell a story in that medium. That show is unparalleled. To be directed by Andrea Romano was nothing short of a dream come true.

MG: What was the best part of getting to voice both Hawkeye and Loki in “Avengers Assemble”?
TB: The fact that they let me! I was cast as Loki first and really thought I would be recast as soon as I was cast in Avengers Assemble as Hawkeye. I’ve always loved Hawkeye, especially after The Ultimates series, because you got to see him as just a guy. Not a superhero with crazy powers, but just someone who is really REALLY good at what they do and can fight shoulder to shoulder along side a god, a gamma freak and a billionaire in an iron suit.

MG: Tell us about your first solo album “Sitting in the Fire”?
TB: It’s been such a labor of love. Some of these songs have been gestating for almost 10 years, waiting for the right time, right place. We finally found both. Our producer, Johnny What, our engineer and mixer Rob King and I, along with our musicians went up into the mountains of Big Bear, California with almost a half a million dollars in gear and tracked this record in an amazing cabin. It was a truly remarkable experience. Death bed moment for me. I’m proud and excited that the album is finally coming out. It’ll be available on iTunes, Amazon, Google Play and all digital retailers as well as an actual “digital LP” physical copy in select stores October 14th.

Tina Guo talks about music, video games and concert “Mythos”

Tina Guo has developed an international multi-faceted performance and recording career as a classical cellist and heavy metal electric cellist, erhuist, and composer known for her distinctive sound and improvisatory style in major motion picture, television, and game scores. Tina toured with Japanese superstar Yoshiki of X Japan on his Classical World Tour, and recently appeared with the Tenerife Symphony and Choir in the Canary Islands performing “Batman: The Dark Knight” Suite at the 2014 Tenerife International Film Festival, featured on Electric Cello. In conjunction with New York Comic Con 2014 and the first annual New York Super Week Festival, Tina Guo will be performing as a guest artist in MYTHOS! A thrilling and unique concert experience, MYTHOS, showcases great music from across the spectrum of modern orchestral genres – inclusive of music from the concert stage, television and film, and video games – featuring the all-star orchestra The Third Estate, conducted by Grammy Award nominee, Austin Wintory, composer of Journey, as well as vocalists from Choral Chameleon.

Mike Gencarelli: Tell us about your involvement with “Mythos” video game concert?
Tina Guo: I’ve known Austin (Wintory) since University at USC and have enjoyed working with him over the years on all kinds of musical projects! In the Mythos concert, I will be playing cello on 3 different tracks that are based around the music from his Grammy-nominated score for the PS3 game, Journey, on which I did the original solos as well. I’m super excited and can’t wait to perform these completely new arrangements with a fantastic group of musicians in NYC!

MG: How much of a difference is there between the worlds of a classical cellist and heavy metal electric cellist?
TG: All music is music… for me there’s no difference between genres or even in different kinds of art, whether it be playing the cello, singing, dancing, painting… any kind of expression is expression, and some genres or ways of expression may be more suited to expressing different feelings or energies than others, but in the end, everything is simply a reflection of ourselves. I love dichotomy and extremes, and although there are some extremes between classical music and industrial metal, there are also heavy similarities. For me, the passion, depth, and fury expressed in these two genres make them siblings rather than opposite polarities.

MG: You have worked on various video games including “Diablo III” and “Call of Duty: Black Ops II”, what do you enjoy most about the genre?
TG: I love to work on all kinds of recording projects- on the Video Game Scores, working with the composers to create a feeling and bringing their notes and their ideas with what the cello and electric cello can bring mood-wise to the score is super fun! Video Games are an important and popular form of entertainment, and the music is such an integral part of it.

MG: Tell us about your one night only solo show “A Journey Through Music”?
TG: That’s my solo show at the Center for the Arts in Escondido, CA which is a gorgeous 1500 seat theatre in the San Diego area. I’ll be playing everything from classical works by Bach and Vivaldi to my Industrial Metal “Queen Bee” to covers of Beatles and Game of Thrones music. (I love Game of Thrones!!) I’ll be joined by a chamber ensemble of amazing musician friends from Los Angeles, my dad will be making a guest appearance to play the Vivaldi Double Cello Concerto, wonderfully talented Uyanga who is an ethnic Mongolian singer will be performing a few pieces with me, and my husband who composed the final two pieces in the show will be joining us onstage as well on keyboard/samples/electronics for those Trailer Music “Epic Music” songs. The show is sponsored by the Asian Heritage Awards, which is the evening before my show in which I will be receiving the 2014 Award in Innovation. I feel very honored and a little intimidated to be among the award recipients, who include molecular biologists, the scientist who discovered the greenhouse effect of halocarbons and led the first NASA assessment on the climate effects of non-CO2 greenhouse gasses, a California Assembly Speaker, the founder of the UCSD Skaggs School of Pharmacy and scientist responsible for uncovering the structure of neuroligin, the founders of the Global Institute of Stem Cello Therapy and Research… etc… and then… there’s me… Tina, the girl who saws wood. *hand to forehead* I’m very grateful for the Asian Heritage Society for sponsoring my solo show however, and I hope that I can express through the multimedia performance my version of Innovation through music and art. You can find more info here:

MG: Tell us about your upcoming albums?
TG: I just released an album on Oct 1, 2014 called “Tina Guo & Composers for Charity” which is available on iTunes,, Google Play, and other digital retailers. 100% of the album proceeds are going directly to The Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation to support music education in our underfunded music programs here in America. 13 amazing Film, TV, and Video Game Composers (including Austin Wintory) contributed original pieces that feature the cello for the CD.  In February 2015, I will be releasing a Heavy Metal EP of Metal Classics played on Electric Cello with a full band- Raining Blood, Sanitarium, The Trooper, Iron Man, and Cowboys from Hell. The EP features guest guitarists on a few tracks, including my friends Al Di Meola, Wes Borland of Limp Bizkit, and Nita Strauss.

Austin Wintory talks about scoring video games like “Journey” and the concert “Mythos”

Austin Wintory is a composer known best for his scores to the acclaimed video game titles “flOw” and “Journey”. His score for “Journey” was the first video game to ever be nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Score Soundtrack for Visual Media. Austin is currently taking the role of conductor for the upcoming concert called “Mythos”, which is a 70 minute continuous musical presentation played by a 15 piece classical ensemble performing live the music of composers for Film, TV and Video Games. Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Austin about the concert and what can we expect next.

Mike Gencarelli: How did you get involved with conducting the concert “Mythos”?
Austin Wintory: “Mythos” is a concept I first had in 2011, which I conducted as part of a fundraiser for my non-profit Education Through Music – Los Angeles. The idea behind it was to mix together some of the most interesting, engaging music in today’s scene, totally regardless of the media from which it came. I was approached by Peter Sachon about performing video game music during New York Comic Con, and pitched back the idea of reprising “Mythos.” And here we are!

MG: Having done scores for video games like “flOw” and “Journey”; was this a natural transition for you?
AW: Yes I’m fortunate to have lots of conducting opportunities, which I love taking advantage of in the midst of composing commissions. I grew up conducting in concert, but eventually my primary outlet for it was in the recording studio for films or games, so the onslaught of concerts lately has been a joyous return!

MG: When you did the score to “Journey”, did you ever think that this would become a Grammy-nominated score and the only video game every to be nominated in the “Best Score Soundtrack For Visual Media” category?
AW: Needless to say, not in the slightest. And now, almost two years later, it’s not really sunken in. It’s no less surreal than it was that day.

MG: What is the video game(s) that influenced you to do what you do?
AW: The infectious and witty nature of Tim Schafer’s games was a big part of my early gaming, and the music Peter McConnell wrote for them was basically the first game music I truly loved. It all culminated in Grim Fandango, which I think is one of the greatest games ever made, and with a score to match. It’s such soulful, passionate music and all around brilliant game.

MG: Why do you think that 8-bit music has stood the test of time and still resonates with fans?
AW: Chiptunes, those authentic early 8-bit hardware-based scores, were a huge musical contribution. There was nothing really like it before then. Electronic music was, before then, an extension of either the classical or rock scenes, using analog synths and tape manipulation and such. This, in games, was something now totally different. I think a big part of why it still resonates today is that the music was forced to distill a lot of dramatic intention into a very narrow bandwidth. But also a lot of game developers AND gamers alike are nostalgic to the games – and game scores – of their childhoods. So it’s gotten a revival as children of the 80s now enter the mainstream of professional game development.

MG: Can you tell us about little bit about what we can expect from upcoming game “ABZÛ”?
AW: Only that it’s still very early, and a massive delight to be re-teaming with Journey’s art director Matt Nava. I’m very very excited about this one!

MG: What can you tell us about your project “Our Curiosity”?
AW: This was a really special and wonderful experience. I’m a die-hard about NASA and scientific literacy in the general public, and this opportunity emerged to pay tribute to the Curiosity Mars Rover. An old friend, astrobiologist Jeff Marlow, had been working directly with the Curiosity team and so were able to get green lit to produce the tribute. We co-wrote the script, and then recorded our two narrators, actress Felicia Day, and acclaimed science educator Neil deGrasse Tyson. After that I wrote the score around the VO performances, and recorded it with a fantastic orchestra in Nashville. We co-directed the film and tossed it back to NASA who put it on YouTube. I like to think of it as an officially-sanctioned fan love letter.

MG: What else do you have in the works for the rest of the year and 2015?
AW: Lots and lots! But I will say, *hopefully* more Mythos performances!

Peter Sachon talks about concert with The Third Estate, “Mythos”

Photo Credit: Laura Marie Duncan

Peter Sachon is a classical cellist that is currently playing in the orchestra for Broadway shows like “Pippin”. He is becoming know as being one of the “go to” cellist for recording sessions in NY. He is also a producer of an upcoming concert called “Mythos”, which is a 70 minute continuous musical presentation played by a 15 piece classical ensemble performing live the music of composers for Film, TV and Video Games. Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Peter about the concert and what can we expect.

Mike Gencarelli: I am in love with the idea of “Mythos”, the 70 minute musical presentation featuring the all-star orchestra The Third Estate showcasing the music of composers for Film, TV and Video Games. Tell us how this came about?
Peter Sachon: Thank you! “Mythos” began as a blog about video game music. I imagined the New York Philharmonic seriously performing thoughtfully considered and adequately rehearsed video game music for all those people who love Comic Con here in New York City. It is easy to dream about what a great concert that would be, and the different sorts of people who might come — perhaps many for their first live orchestra concert. After all, millions of people love the music from games. However, the truth is orchestras like the New York Philharmonic won’t program video game music. The only music that passes artistic muster at major American orchestras is classical music — and those living composers approved by culturally conservative critics at The New York Times and The New Yorker Magazine. Unfortunately, video game music does not meet their conservative prerequisites. Contemporary composers are writing music that’s both good and popular, and that apparently breaks those critical rules. The fact is classical music these days exists in a kind of artistic terrarium. It continues to live, sort of, if you leave it alone. (And don’t you dare suggest it’s not alive!!). But if you let the air in…watch out! This is why it’s a terrific idea for MoMA to present Tim Burton. Seemingly no one there bats an eye at labeling Mr. Burton a serious artist who’s work is worthy of consideration. Yet, somehow Danny Elfman’s music has managed to get played everywhere in the world except at the New York Philharmonic. I realized that writing and proselytizing about orchestras wasn’t helping anyone, so I decided to take action.

MG: What was the process for which pieces of music were chosen for this concert?
PS: It’s still an ongoing process! At the very beginning, when Austin Wintory and I first started talking about putting a concert together, the conversation was shaped around the aspiration of presenting the spectrum of modern composers together, no matter their genre — something that no major orchestra is willing to do, so far. Austin has composed some of the music (after all, this all started with me wanting to hear Journey in NYC), and he has arranged and curated other music into a single-movement work. The programming is ongoing and collaborative. I would like “Mythos” to demonstrate to even the most conservative of musical minds that making a bigger tent for how orchestras program repertoire can both expand orchestras’ permanent audience base, and revitalize orchestral music.

MG: Tell us about your decision to not list which music will be presented?
PS: Well, Boulez and his ilk have done a lot of damage with decades of anti-audience music, and so much of the audience still reflexively braces itself whenever they see a new name in their program. After fifty years of being force fed really foul “modern” music, who can blame them? The new music scene has gotten so esoteric that often it is better categorized as performance art. But this bias goes the other way too — the audience has also been carefully taught that music with titles like “Final Fantasy”, or “Star Wars”, are not to be taken seriously. We don’t want to tell people what they should hate, or like, ahead of time. So we won’t distribute programs until the end of the concert.

MG: Tell us how you ended up working with conductor is Austin Wintory?
PS: I read about Austin shortly after his music to Journey was nominated for a Grammy award. The nomination was an especially big deal because this was the first time a video game score had had that distinction. I fell in love with his music. It is beautiful and evocative, and smart. It’s terrific modern orchestral music, and I couldn’t help noticing that video game music suffered from the same artistic discrimination as film music. I wrote to Austin, cold, and told him that I admired his music. We have a similar outlook about modern genres and also we got along, and he could not have been kinder. I asked him about doing a concert of music from Journey here in NYC. He said yes, and we began talking about how best to present game music as art. Our answer is “Mythos”. We still haven’t met!

MG: Will this be a one-time only performance or will their be additional dates planned?
PS: There are additional dates planned, but nothing I can share as of yet.

MG: If people are looking to get more information on this; where can they go?
PS: Of course! Go to the “Mythos” website,

MG: How does it feel to be considered the “go to” cellist for recording sessions in NY?
PS: Well, first I am one among many great cellists in NYC. I’ve worked hard, and I’m grateful to get to make music for a living.

MG: You are currently playing in the orchestra of Broadway’s PIPPIN; tell us about that experience?
PS: I have been fortunate enough to work on Broadway for ten years, and I have been with a number of shows. Playing in the orchestra at Pippin is wonderful. I especially love Stephen Schwartz’s music, and he’s been kind enough to compose two pieces of chamber music for The Cello Project.

MG: What else do you have in the cards coming up next?
PS: I will continue to produce “Mythos”, and I hope to finish my album of new music by Broadway composers by the end of the year. I have also begun creating and producing several Broadway musicals.