Michael Nielsen Interview
Forza Motorsport 7 Soundtrack
How was the process going into Forza Motorsport 7 different from when you both worked
on Forza Motorsport 6?
We approached Forza Motorsport 6 as if we were creating a huge film score. Almost as if you
are a supernatural being looking in on your car collection. There were huge differences in
musical dynamics from intimate to enormous. Forza Motorsport 7 was completely different. 7
was about putting the player inside the car. Getting the player on the ground with the cars.
Making the player even more of a character inside the game. Instead of the cinematic score, we
created a indie rock and soul soundtrack that was earthy and gritty. It's very human, like if music
was Steve McQueen or Charles Bronson! Ha!
What helped to differentiate this soundtrack from your typical racing game soundtrack?
The player, cars and tracks are the star of Forza 7, and we didn't want the music to distract from
that. However, we needed to set a mood right away. Like you were listening to a particular radio
station. We wrote close to 40 instrumental songs. It's pretty tricky writing a catchy rock song
without a singer or an overt lead instrument like a Joe Satriani or Dick Dale song. The band
really has to be working as an ensemble to create interesting musical moments, and the sonics
have to be interesting so that hopefully the listener forgets that there's no lead singer.
Thankfully we recruited some of the best players in the world for our Forza bands. These are
some of the guys who have helped to shape the sound of modern radio.
Was there a particular piece that was cut from the soundtrack that you were sad to see
For F7 we would write and work up a mock-up sketch of a song to send over to the audio
director at Turn 10. He then would give a thumbs up or thumbs down. Thankfully, most of the
time it was a thumbs up. He's both very creative and trusting, because some of the sketches
were pretty sparse. There was one piece at the towards the end of the game development that I
really liked, but I think it was leaning a bit too 90's grunge. One day I'll finish that, just because I
want to hear it.
How long were you both working on this particular project?
It's about a year top to bottom. About six months of that were really working hard on music. The
rest of that time is prep work, creative exploration, and sorting out the logistics of how music and
sound will be functioning in game.
What inspired each of you to the path of being a composer?
M - I started out on the rock and pop side of things. I think my songs were always a little too
dramatic and cinematic for mainstream. But, when I started working a bit on commercials and
movie trailers, everything really just clicked for me. Now I feel like my background in record
production is one of my strengths.
What advice would you give for aspiring composers?
I think general professionalism is highly underrated. It's so important to be friendly, drama free,
reliable and timely. Everyone on a project is working hard. No one wants to add babysitter to
their job description.
Is there anything else you'd like to add?
We're working on wrapping up the Forza Motorsport 7 original soundtrack. Please keep an eye
out for it! Thanks!
Thanks so much for taking the time to speak with us!