When we were asked to create a soundtrack for a game that featured a well known line of toy trucks, we created an entire musical genre customized to the needs of our client. The product never saw the light of day, but the experience provides an excellent example of how a creative approach and a bit of ingenuity, can solve a puzzling stylistic dilemma.
Our requirements were simple. First and foremost, the music had to say “truck.” It needed to complement burly dump trucks, bulldozers, and backhoes. But because the game was intended for children, the music needed to be cheerful and fun.
We decided that Country and Western music had a truck-like attitude, probably because it elicits film and TV reference to truckers (of the eighteen wheeler variety). But we were concerned that a C&W soundtrack might negatively draw upon stereotypes, limiting the accessibility of the game.
To shift the feel away from country and to underscore the heavy work element, we created instruments sampled from industrial noises: real trucks, heavy machines, and various mechanical sounds. From these, we fabricated elaborate percussion kits which became the base of our music beds.
The bulk of this job was spent in the field. We sampled everything we could point a mic at. We befriended the local sanitation crew, Vinnie the UPS guy, the folks at construction sites, and vintage toy dealers who sold rusty aluminum vehicles. We recorded hydraulics, windshield wipers, faulty mufflers, and garage doors. At the end of each day, the crew could be found cleaning dirt out of the heads of our portable DAT machines and shaking broken glass out of our hair. When we were done, we had over sixteen-hundred samples to trim, catalogue, and map.
“Industrial” techniques like these were pioneered by bands such as Einsturzende NeuBauten, and Kraftwerk who created the genre, sampling factories, tools, and anything else they could get their hands on. But our new spin on this kind of music felt fresh. We affectionately referred to it as “trucker music. . . made with real trucks,” and it worked beautifully. Even when our “found sounds” were layered subtly in the songs, they imparted a sense of construction. The end result was sweet, quirky, unique and one-hundred percent “truck.”top