Roll7’s upcoming skater-shooter, Rollerdrome, is our first to feature a fully original soundtrack, featuring dark retro-futuristic synth beats by the incredible Electric Dragon. I spoke to Ian, the artist behind Electric Dragon, to discuss the process of working on the project and creating this all-new album.
Jemima Tyssen Smith: Hello Ian! I had the pleasure of working with you while you created the incredible all-new music for Rollerdrome. This was such an exciting project for Roll7 because it’s the first time we’ve had a totally new soundtrack made just for one of our games. What was it that drew you to the project?
Electric Dragon: You summoned me!
Haha – it’s true! Yes, I was actually the first person to reach out to you – we initially wanted just the one track, right?
Yes, that’s just it – I didn’t know the full details of the game at the time, but what I saw was super interesting to me, and I actually offered to do some original work at that point. After that I had a meeting with some of the team and we talked through what was needed in more detail. I’d been in a rut with the album I was working on, and talking to the folks at Roll7 really gave me a burst of inspiration. I think it just all came together really well for everyone involved, actually. I’d always wanted to work on a game soundtrack, and Rollerdrome is an incredible game to be involved with.
I think when you spoke about the possibility of original tracks that felt perfect for us since we wanted such a specific vibe to the soundtrack. Could you talk a bit about that?
Yeah, so the energy we were after was a soundtrack with the power of synthwave but a distinct 70’s flavour. It felt like it might be quite tricky to balance as we really wanted to avoid going too disco as well – the game has a darkness to it that needed to be echoed in the music. In the end it actually came together quite naturally, though. I basically tackled the soundtrack as if it was sort of from the angle of the 70’s looking forward – very BBC ‘Tomorrow’s World’, you know? And then I was inspired a bit by lots of different things really: 70’s pioneers like Vangellis, Wendy Carlos, Philip Glass, Giorgio Moroder, Tangerine Dream… lots of inspiration from lots of places!
Seeing all of the cool kit you have is so inspiring – it’s all really interesting stuff. What was it that drew you to music and to synthwave in the first place?
I used to have a Commodore 64 as a kid, and my uncle bought me some software for that which was called ‘Utilisynth’. It was very complicated, but I managed to make some awesome wibbly-wobbly noises, and from there on I was sort of hooked! I went on to play guitar, I DJ’d house music in the 90’s, I was even in a death metal band for a bit… but in time I returned to synth.
And we’re very glad you did! This project is obviously quite different to working on an album that’s not attached so closely to a game and a concept – how did that work for you?
Yeah, since the tracks need to fit with the gameplay I couldn’t really do breakdowns in the same way I might have done on a totally free-form album, so that was a really interesting challenge to work around. I also needed to strike a balance between the dystopian narrative and the thrilling gameplay – the tracks needed grit, but they also needed a sense of fun in there, too. I think those moments of positivity really help make the dark parts of the game darker, which I really like. One thing I did love about the process – and this might seem silly – is that the narrative really helped me to pick track titles. I always find naming tracks a bit tough, so it was a real relief to have content already there to pull titles from!
Lastly, I have to ask – where does the name ‘Electric Dragon’ come from?
It’s from a 2001 Japanese film – Electric Dragon 80.000 V. It’s about two rivals who get electrocuted and then end up with superpowers… and they also play seriously guitar-wrecking solos.
That sounds so cool! I’m adding it to my watch list as we speak. Thank you so much for taking the time to chat to me today and for making this epic soundtrack. I just can’t wait for people to experience it in-game.
Rollerdrome is coming to PlayStation 5 and PlayStation 4 August 16.