Interview with Attila Heger - Laren d'Or
[ Japanese version | English version ]
Interview with Attila Heger - Laren d'Or via e-m@il interview & text by UEHARA
Attila Heger aka Laren d'Or is a Hungarian composer/musician. His first album - the War of Angels - was released in 1997, which had a wide international reaction, pls. see the critique as below. Attila Héger has been an inhouse game soundtrack composer for eight years at an USA based company. He composes 70-80 soundtracks for computer games (Sega, Nintendo, Sony, PC) per year. His main projects were: Ecco the Dolphin - Defender of the future (cinematic soundtrack), Tiny Tank, Contra`96: Legacy of War, Contra`97: The Contra Adventure, Magic School Bus, Star Trek - Deep Space 9, Three Dirty Dwarves, Grossology, Lost World - Jurassic Park, Museum Madness. Here you can listen excerpts from the above video game soundtracks: http://www.besonic.com/draco
Please tell me about your past works.
Heger: I would like to great your readers and thank you for the opportunity.
I was just 6 years old when my parents decided for me to take piano lessons. I can remember in the first time I really hated that instrument. Slowly, after 2, 3 years it all changed. I started to feel that kind of "power", that means instrumental knowledge and the feeling of possessing music within me, afterwards I felt like I couldn't exist without it.
Being a musician means two things for me:
First of all, I am a composer in the professional meaning. Since 8 years I am working at a game-developing company as an in-house composer. During this time I took part in the developing of over 20 games, I prepare many dozen in-game and filmsoundtrack for the most different computer platforms, like PC, Sega Genesis, Sega PICO, Super Nintendo, Sega Saturn, Sony PSX, SEGA Dreamcast.
My main projects were: Ecco the Dolphin - Defender of the Future (all cinematic soundtracks), Ecco the Dolphin 2 - Tides of Time, Contra`96: Legacy of War, Contra`97: The Contra Adventure, Grossology, Lost World/Jurassic Park, Museum Madness, Star Trek - Deep Space 9, Three Dirty Dwarves, Tiny Tank, Wacky Races, and many more midi music for the US kidsite, www.bonus.com
And on the other side, I appeared on the Hungarian market, as Laren d'Or, with my own music as well. However my album, War of Angels had some serious success abroad, and even today I receive a lot of excellent and marvellous critics, the Hungarian release of War of Angels seemed to me like a road to nowhere. That's why now I have released the updated double album version with additional tracks, it can only be found on, and ordered from the internet. The subtitle and style of part one is "Synthphonia", and "Progressive" for part two, the whole album is completely instrumental, electronic music from classic to progressive.
What does Laren d'Or mean in English?
Heger: It has no special meaning. Still a teenager, I promised myself that should I ever decide to present my music to an audience bigger than the circle of my closest friends, I will take on the name of Laren d'Or, the lonely bard, my favorite fantasy hero. Mostly I like to write symphonic compositions containing classical elements, but I also like to do progressive instrumental rock.
Please tell me about your recent works.
Heger: I just started composing for the follow up to Ecco. I don't know yet, whether Tim Follin will do any of the path-soundtracks for this part, but as in the first Ecco, in this one I will prepare all musical background for the game as well, and this has two reasons:
First of all, it's just in case, because an outsider can draw back at any time, not get ready on time, or the result is not what is expected. According to my experience, the best for the music is when the composer sits down with the promoters so he can follow up all changes, and make amendments in the soundtrack. I have worked on projects, where almost everything was redesigned a few weeks before the deadline and as a result I had to do 3 soundtracks every week.
The other reason is that I like the Ecco series. I have worked on Ecco 2 for Genesis 8 years ago, for Ecco Junior for PICO and finally Defender of the Future, which seemed to be the most beautiful game I've ever worked on. I regret that my soundtracks for the path did not get involved, only the cinematics soundtracks, as I wrote them with big enthusiasm. I feel the same vocation for the follow up. I think that the world of the games touches me deeply, and that this style is the most familiar with my own, so it is double pleasure to prepare them.
There are 3 main lines currently in my private musical life. One is the above-mentioned double CD released on MP3.com, the War of Angels.
My second album, entitled "Books" is about to be released. Now all we have to do is to find a sponsor to cover the advertisement and video costs. The works of 3 great science-fiction writers, as the title shows inspired this album. The roman's and heroes of Orson Scott Card (Ender's Game, Speaker for the Dead, Xenocide), Ian Watson (Inquisitor) and Harrison Fawcett (The Legend of the Cathedral) have given me a wonderful experience. This album pays respect to their talents.
My third project: as there is the kind of "evil" in all of us artists, I also wanted to rage out in a heavier direction. Under my other pseudonym, which is the anagram for Laren d'Or, I have released some music on mp3.com under the name of Al Norder. These might differ from the other tracks that my listeners got used to from "Laren d'Or", but they can still be categorized in the instrumental, electronic and progressive style. This week the whole Real Nord album will be available in the Internet.
I see. Can I buy the double War of Angels album in Japan?
Heger: Yes, as I mentioned it can only be found on, and ordered from the internet. When I released these albums only on internet, it was one of my intends, that everyone all over the world can play and buy them easily.
The URL: http://www.mp3.com/larendor
You've created lots of game soundtrack. What's interesting about game music?
Heger: The music I make I do with feelings and experiences. If, for instance, there is a suspicious, spooky, dark labyrinth made up in the game, I find myself in it, recover a similar scene in one of my favourite films and compose the music that will include everything that I felt by seeing that path. Because of the mood I've never had to change any path-music. Writing game-soundtrack is to find the right balance between the one who orders, the opportunities of the hardware, the style of the game and my individual ideas.
Most proudly I look at the soundtracks for "Ecco the Dolphin: Defender of the Future" where challenge met joy. Composing path-music doesn't seem to be a hard work, after so many game-projects. There are certain types that I adore particularly, like dramatic multi-instrumental pieces. I liked the swings in Wacky Races too, but I'm not really into the SEGA PICO songs, probably because after the 70th piece it got a bit boring. I like game movies much better, where the music has to go with the action, and there have to be some strong themes taking into consideration the actors characteristics of the film.
Do you actually play games, which you composed soundtrack of?
Heger: Not really. I like strategies, especially from the World War 2, but I also like to play simulators and FPS as well. Currently I play Deus Ex and enjoy it very much and I am waiting unpatiently for the European release of Crimson Skies. My favorites are Close Combat series, X-Beyond the frontier, Imperium Galactica 2, Outcast, X-wing Alliance.
From amongst the own developed games I think the "Tiny Tank" and the "Contra '96" were remarkable. And now I got presentation copy one of our last works, the Wacky Races.
What are instruments that you use when you compose music?
Heger: My opportunities are very much restricted on this area. If I could I would work in a good equipped studio, with many professional instruments and live choirs. Unfortunately my technical conditions are minimal. My instruments are a Korg Trinity Plus, a Roland JV 1010 and a JV 1080 (orchestra and vocal extension). To record I use a Lexicon hard-disk recorder. As I don't have anything else I do all my musical work with this set.
Please explain Hungarian music to us.
Heger: Hungary gave the world a huge number of very talented composers. Of course I do not mean the nowadays so-called "trendy stars", I do not grant their "art" in any point of view. Unhappily, in Hungary there are not too much opportunity for alternative or progressive musicians, bands - aside from one-two exceptions. In the compositions what I deem Hungarian progressive music, you can often recognise the old, traditional folk basis, rhythms. Appalling power streams out of the Hungarian melodies, I myself compose gladly such a theme as well.
Do you know Japanese music scene?
Heger: Unfortunately the common people in Hungary do not know too much about the famous Japan cultural and music scene of today. Of course for instance we know the music of Kitaro or Tomita, but I think they are well known all over the world.
Talking about Internet, do you create a web site?
Heger: We have internet access at home for about 4 months by a dial-up modem. My wife, Kriszta created an amateur but very informative web site for me and she also uploaded my songs to several places, like MP3.com or BeSonic.com. Now she is taking a course on Dreamweaver 3 and Flash 4 so as to be able to make a much more beautiful home page.
She also tried to contact people and magazines with similar interest - in the field of synthesizer and video game music. I have to say that much to my astonishment, we met superb and marvelous people via the net. These - in fact strange - people are opened to initiations, they are really curious about the music composed by a guy who was born on the other side of the Earth. This way we arrived - which gave me much pleasure - to the home page of the Astro Note.
Is your wife, Kriszta helping with your work?
Heger: She is my wife and my muse. She gave the inspiration for the cream of War of Angels - my first non-game music album. The first track on this CD - 4.12 (April ride) - was composed for her birthday, it is on 12th of April.
Kriszta manages as well my own music, due to her my first album was released and the 2nd one is also close to publication.
At last, do you want to say something?
Heger: I think if any of the readers got this far in the interview, they might be interested in more details about my music and me. For more information they can visit my homepage on: http://www.larendor.homestead.com, where you can read about my motivation, soundtracks, own albums, critics, interviews, and also get access to audio and mp3 songs, or you can occasionally contact me on e-mail.
Thank you for the opportunity!