We had the chance to interview Peter Connelly, who composed the soundtrack of Tomb Raider: The Last Revelation (1999), Tomb Raider: Chronicles (2000) as well as Tomb Raider: The Angel of Darkness (2003). He is currently in charge of the Tomb Raider: The Dark Angel project, which aims at offering fans a re-orchestrated, rearranged version of these three games soundtracks, Peter Connelly has agreed to engage in our Q&A session.
Hello Peter Connelly, first of all I would like to thank you for agreeing to do this interview with us. To begin, could you introduce yourself in a few words to our readers and tell us a bit about your career path.
Hi. The pleasure is all mine. I am a Video Game Composer AND Sound Designer, working in this industry for almost 25 years now and have had the honour and privilege to have worked on some amazing games in my time… including South Park, Assassins Creed, Driver, Watch Dogs, The Crew and, of course, Tomb Raider ! 😊
Let’s focus on your ties to Tomb Raider for now; how did all of this began?
Over Christmas, in 1997, I was playing Tomb Raider 2 (1997) and I remember wishing I was working on a game as big and successful as this. 9 months later, I was working for Core Design, originally assigned to Herdy Gerdy which was the work that piqued Jeremy Heath Smith’s attention and, soon after that, I was assigned to Tomb Raider: The Last Revelation (1999).
Did you approach Core Design or did they approach you? Could you explain to us how it all went?
I got a call off my agency (Aardvark Swift at the time) who said there was a position going at Core Design and if I was interested in applying… of course!
Did you know Lara Croft before you worked on the games?
I did, I was a big Tomb Raider fan back in the day. I played both games before starting work at Core Design then got the chance to do some last-minute tasks on Tomb Raider 3 (which is my favourite as I love the diverse locations you can explore).
As you probably already know, the soundtrack of the first three Tomb Raider games were composed by Nathan McCree. So you picked up the torch and composed Tomb Raider's soundtracks for The Last Revelation (1999) , Tomb Raider: Chronicles (2000) and finally Tomb Raider: The Angel of Darkness (2003). Did you draw inspiration from what had been done before or did you start something completely new, in your image?
I made a conscious decision to continue as Nathan had left off, with the intention of throwing in my own angle (as any composer would) as it made more sense not to re-invent the wheel… that could’ve had catastrophic consequences so played it safe (and the only way it should be played in an IP as big as this).
How did you compose music for Tomb Raider? How long does it take?
A lot of the time, I just look at some visuals and let me fingers do the talking or I hear something with inspires an idea and take it from the. The idea to actual CAN be quite dynamic.
What does the character of Lara Croft mean to you? Did she inspire you to create music for video games?
She is simply adorable, and I can see why she has a huge hold on MILLIONS of people out there. She has all the qualities in someone admirable. What’s not to love ?
Out of the 3 games you have composed music for, which one is your favourite?
I am quite fond of the theme to Tomb Raider: The Last Revelation (1999) which is why we carried this motif over to Angel of Darkness. A lot of the music in Angel of Darkness are revisions or reprises of music I wrote in Tomb Raider: The Last Revelation (1999) and Tomb Raider: Chronicles (2000)… along with some new stuff we threw in too, of course.
To many fans of the license, Tomb Raider: The Last Revelation (1999) is the best game in many aspects, including the music. What does it make you feel, knowing that you have worked on this?
I still pinch myself I achieved my lifelong ambition to work on such a successful game. It’s still sinking in, if I’m being honest as, when I wrote it, I never gave it a thought that, almost 20 years on, I’d be thinking about it, never mind looking to revisit it.
Do you have some interesting things to share with us about your relationship with the Tomb Raider license?
I like to do silly things and there are some things in the games, most people know about, that kept me entertained. Not really interesting but amusing to my own humour.
Have you played some Tomb Raider games? If yes, which ones?
Before Core Design, I played Tomb Raider (1996) and Tomb Raider 2 (1997). At Core Design, I played 3 right through, 4 I just played to test stuff and 5 was pretty much the same. I played less of 6 and, after that, that was it for me… I have picked up a few of the later ones but only played them briefly and only as I’m now a (pretty much) married man with kids and no time to myself anymore, lol.
Did you keep in touch with what was happening in the Tomb Raider franchise, especially in terms of music? For example, the work of Jason Graves on Tomb Raider (2013) or Junkie XL on the latest movie Tomb Raider (2018). What does it inspire you?
I have been out of the scene for quite some time now, my daily work keeps me super busy to the point that I don’t “get out much” anymore.
You have recently been a composer for The Crew, Watch Dogs or Driver: San Francisco. What did these projects inspire you? How were they different from Tomb Raider?
Every developer and project is very different. I worked solely as Sound Designer on Driver San Francisco, none of my music in this one… Watch Dogs got a handful of my music tracks, as did The Crew, but, again, I was mostly involved with Sound Design. The main difference today is the size of the team… during the Tomb Raider days, it was pretty much a one man band (I did music, sound effects, cutscene audio, animation audio, in-game audio, languages, etc)… nowadays these are all split into different disciplines, some split and / or shared too.
TOMB RAIDER: THE DARK ANGEL
You are currently project manager for "Tomb Raider: The Dark Angel", can you explain in a few words what the project is about?
Tomb Raider: The Dark Angel Symphony is a re-write of my Tomb Raider 4/5/6 music, from the ground up… it isn’t a DIRECT copy of what you hear in game, it will be the same music but re-arranged and re-imaged so will be completely new in terms of what you’re used to.
Where did the idea for this album come from?
I’ve been wanting to do this for some time, but the timing has never been right. I first explored the idea in 2014 then made a post on my Facebook Page testing the waters to see if this is something I could do.
Why the name "The Dark Angel"? An inspiration to The Angel of Darkness?
There were a few possibilities, and this is the one we ALL decided on so, yes ! 😀
You have set up a Kickstarter campaign to fund the project. What are the main objectives, what will they include in case of successful funding?
We have split the targets and the higher we achieve, the more we can do. Main Goal is £60,000. This essentially is me locking myself away in the studio for 9-12 months and doing EVERYTHING myself and I am EXTREMELY confident I will make it sound EXACTLY as I want it. We have other Stretch Goals which, at £90k will include Richard Niles (an OUTSTANDING arranger with an OUTSTANDING track record)… to be honest, The Dark Angel Symphony is really about using Richard and, if we don’t raise the funds to access him, it will be such a tragedy to not have him on board. Having him on board is like comparing me driving a Formula 1 car and Nigel Mansell driving a Formula 1 car. There is no comparison. Then we have further stretch goals to allow live musicians to work with the synthesised / sampled orchestra, then £180k allows us to record a LIVE ORCHESTRA to play the newly revised music…. There is a £300k stretch goal too to do all this PLUS put on a one-off live show.
Do you know how many songs will be featured in this album?
It all depends on funds but, utilising our current asks, we’re expecting around 60m of revised music. If funding goes mental, we will spend the extra money wisely.
Will the album be available on streaming platforms like Deezer, Spotify, […]?
Yes, for sure, but I want to ensure EVERYONE who backs the Kickstarter to get their rewards FIRST.
Did you plan to include the original music on the album in addition to the new version of the soundtrack?
YES. We will remaster the original music (remaster in the sense of cleaning up) and it will be included as extra CD(s) in the same package.
Do you know when the album will be released?
If all goes to plan, we expect an Autumn 2019 release.
Would you like to organize a concert where you could play all these music accompanied by an orchestra?
Yes, absolutely. Depending on the success of the Campaign and how much we raise, we would certainly be eager to put on a live event to perform the music from The Dark Angel. We have already planted seeds with regards to doing this but, until the music is written, we can’t do any more about it.
If you were asked to come back soon to compose for a new Tomb Raider game, would you be up for it?
YES ! 100% !
To conclude this interview, do you have a small message to send to the Tomb Raider fans?
I can’t thank you all enough for, not only inspiring me to want to do this, but, to all your support sharing, pledging and feedback in making it what it is. This is seriously a ONCE IN A LIFETIME OPPORUNITY to see this project become a reality. If we don’t raise the funds, it might never happen so, if this is something you would love to be part of, please back and share the project. You can’t buy this later as, if we don’t get the money NOW, it will not be available to purchase later. Thanks for reading / listening <3