Danny Baranowsky’s game soundtracks are intense, bombastic, and most importantly—fun. He’s become of the most dependably enjoyable game composers of his generation, something that anyone who has had the pleasure of playing Crypt of the Necrodancer—which is built around Baranowsky’s compositions—knows well. The Seattle-based composer and musician, who is perhaps best known for scoring Super Meat Boy, has worked on a diverse set of games, including a number of mobile hits like Canabalt and Tapinator’s recent Rocky game. He has also collaborated with his friend, game music legend Grant Kirkhope (Banjo-Kazooie, Star Fox Adventures, Civilization: Beyond Earth), who he lovingly trolls at the end of this interview. Here Baranowsky discusses Cakewalk, the subtleties of loving film and game music, and the thin line between exhaustion and procrastination.
What came first for you as a passion: video games or music?
Video games. My first memory is watching my brother play Super Mario Bros. on a black and white TV.
Where did you grow up, and what effect did that have on your musical tastes?
I grew up in Mesa, Arizona, which was kind of a cultural black hole. All of my influences really came from video games and the internet.
What was your introduction to playing and recording music? Did you know you wanted to work on game music early on?
I messed around with Cakewalk on my mom’s computer in fifth grade, and transcribed ‘Good King Wenceslas’ from glockenspiel sheet music. I made a little techno remix version with terrible gunshot sounds and helicopter noises, and that was technically my first electronic music song. I didn’t really realize you could even work on game music for a living until about three months before I got my first paid gig.