Interview with H-Pi, the composer of Welcome to ParadiZe

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March 18, 2024 Back to Blog

H-Pi shares the secrets behind the creation of his latest soundtrack.

H-Pi is a multi-instrumentalist composer (guitar, bass, piano etc.), at ease in a wide variety of musical styles (orchestral, metal, electro etc.). This is already a fact in his many previous albums (Werewolf: The Apocalypse – Earthblood, Styx: Shards of Darkness, Chef Life: A Restaurant Simulator…) and it’s still true in Welcome to ParadiZe, his latest soundtrack, available everywhere since February 29.

A new offbeat and crazy original soundtrack! So we asked H-Pi a few questions to find out more about his vision and his work in Welcome to ParadiZe.

Listen to the soundtrack of Welcome to ParadiZe


Another soundtrack on the record, bravo! How does it feel having finalized a new project like Welcome to ParadiZe (34 tracks on the OST!)?

It feels great! There’s always a mixture of relief, excitement, and a little anxiety, but it’s a pleasure to be able to show your work to the world.

It’s true I had a huge workload during the spring/summer of 2023, especially since I was working on the animated series “Le Collège Noir” at the same time. I had a ton of fun with it though!

34 tracks might seem like a lot, but the in-game music is actually even longer, since it’s systemic with lots of random combinations depending on the gameplay, so we had to pick and choose to avoid having an OST over four hours long. I also went for simple, but high volume to stick to the budget and targeted runtime without sacrificing quality. That’s why there are a lot of solo instruments played live.

Can you describe the music of Welcome to ParadiZe, the different styles you tackle, your initial creative intentions, your inspirations, etc.?

Well, it’s complicated (Haha!). I think it has a punk/iconoclastic side, and then it goes back and forth between bluegrass, surf music, experimental electro, Scandinavian or Californian metal, not to forget the tense stringers of any self-respecting zombie game. The pitch was to do something offbeat, but the game takes place in a very mid-west American world, especially at the start, so we also had to stick to rather realistic visuals. I had received a few references and documents from G4F.

We quickly divided the worlds by biome and phases of the game. I found a note I had made where I wanted to use sounds that evoked a lost paradise, hence the surf music and 50s rock that goes into a tailspin with glitchy effects. For the combat phases, I wanted it to be energetic and tense without taking itself too seriously with a very festive side and… rusty sounds! Then, I went with a metal version to get a little more energy during the bosses, since it’s still pretty extreme and the Zombots almost look like they came out of a Slipknot music video.

Regarding your inspirations, what were the main elements from the game that you were able to latch onto when composing the music (visuals, lore, gameplay, etc.)?

I joined the project rather late, and the game was already playable, so I was able to test it. I had fun messing around with music from movies and video games and even Primus, MotorHead, Arch Enemy, and John 5 over gameplay videos trying to find the right formula—fun, intensity, drama. For certain biomes/bosses, I had screenshots and references and a basic pitch, and I also went back and forth a decent amount with the team.

The combat music was quickly approved for its energetic, bouncy, almost “Benny Hill” feeling and bizarro solos. For the “exploration” atmosphere, I first came up with something zen and soothing, subtle but effective, that gave the environment a little bit of a “heavenly” side, but it sounded a little too much like The Last of Us (hence the title “The Last of The Zombots”). Therefore, we interspersed instrumental parts that were a little more “silly” like the jaw harp or more playful melodic lines (depending on the time of day) to avoid being too cliché. This is how the piece “ParadiZe Forest” came about. Though it only appears in the game “deconstructed”, except in the credits.

Then I made this music that was halfway between a Beach Boys song and the background music of an amusement park that’s kind of annoying (like in the beginning of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory or in Shrek). The idea was to broadcast it in different areas around the park (as if there was a loudspeaker) to counterbalance the serious aspects before fading the theme at different places (cutscenes, bosses, etc.). The promotional music for Moon-W is a pastiche of music from Space X’s YouTube videos.

Welcome To ParadiZe

What were the main instruments you used for Welcome to ParadiZe? Did you play each instrument? And on the VST side, can you explain the hardware and software you use in your studio?

So I first bought a Lapsteel because it is THE stereotype idyllic sound! So it’s cool because, since it was low-cost, it sounded rather bad. I also added some fake breath, distortion, etc. to tap even more into the “false hacky paradise” spirit of the game. It was the first piece I wrote for the game, “ParadiZe Project (Menu Theme)”.

I played some folk guitar, mandolin, banjo, dulcimer, ukulele, fretless micro bass (which sounds kind of like a double bass), harmonica, jaw harp, electric bass, electric guitar, voice, cajón, tom drums. I played the dulcimer and banjo with a bow for the stingers, keyboard… You get the idea. The idea being that it’s a Zombot* playing, I was pretty relaxed about the quality of the performance! And in the age of AI, it’s a nice way to have a signature sound.

In terms of equipment, everything was recorded with an Aston Origin in a Neve 1073-type preamp. Then for the software, I love Neural DSP for amp simulations, especially Nameless Fortin and the signature Cory Wong. For comp/EQ, I quite like emulations of old machines (LA2A, SSL, etc.). I’ve fallen in love with the plugin version of Reverb Bricasti M7 too. For the electro part (in the city), I used a lot of synth emulations from Arturia, specifically SEM and Synthi, and all that in Nuendo.

*Zombots are hacked zombies that can be used as companions in Welcome to ParadiZe.


How does the music interactivity work in-game? You also mention procedural music. Can you tell us more about it?

The game is an open world with very different situations, so it made sense to have systemic music. For each biome (Forest, City, Hot Zone, Cold Zone), during exploration phases, there are small random improvised fragments with silences that can be superimposed (because they’re in the same scale). The instruments and motifs change frequently following the time (the night is quiet to make room for the sound design).

If there ever starts to be a few aggressive zombies around, musical stingers are triggered instead. This makes for a somewhat stressful atmosphere for an indefinite amount of time even if the situation isn’t critical. On the other hand, when the zombies start to be really numerous (or strong), the intro to the combat music starts playing, and if the zone isn’t cleared, that leads into the combat music (rock) and finally and outro when the area becomes safe again.

Within that same combat music, there are several variations on the intros and outros as well as the combinations and number of tracks (bass, percussion, guitar, solo) depending on the intensity of the combat and a bit of randomness with different segments. This has the effect of making each occurrence of the combat music throughout a game be different but in the same style! Therefore, the OST version of “Zombot, Attack!” or “Dueling Zombots” is only one possible variation that someone can hear in the game. You have to play the game to hear everything! The same goes for the random exploration music, which has also shortened pauses for the album.

It’s time we discuss your collaboration with Gery Montet (Sound Designer on the project). How did your talks with him go during development?

We know each other well, Gery and me. We worked together on the “Styx” games and on “Werewolf: The Apocalypse – Earthblood.” He was the one who took care of the implementation of the music in FMOD according to my instructions, and he always does great work. As a sound designer, he spends more time on the production cycle and is better equipped to fix small integration issues. I believe he struggled a lot, too, trying to get the music to start and cut at the right times and locations.

That being said, sometimes I regret not insisting (and having the time) to do some of the integration of the music like with other games, at least for the systems. I think I would have gotten a little closer to my vision and could have improved some details at the time of creation. It’s also important to divvy up the work to avoid any emotional bias over your music too, though.

Well, in any case, I’m always a little disappointed to be undermixed, but he knows it, lol!

Do you have a favorite track among all your compositions for Welcome to ParadiZe?

I think it would have to be “The Mighty Daisy” and the incredible “country” solos that I managed to stick in there even though I’m more of a bass player! But, overall, I like them all.

We have to talk about the song “The Merry Kong!” Was it just the perfect occasion for you to sing along to metal? How did you come up with the idea to remix “Jingle Bells?”

I was pretty stuck on the “Cold” world. The proposals and suggestions were a little too serious or didn’t have any visuals to link to. Then, while searching on YouTube and working the algorithm, I came across some Dark Christmas music. It was a kind of horror and kind of stupid at the same time, and the instruments immediately painted an image of snow and/or horror with the right melodic range (glockenspiel, violin tremolos, etc.). I still had to adapt it to the fighting phases, and I thought of putting in some nice heavy Scandinavian death metal drums, for the Nordic freshness.

Adding childish themes destroyed the seriousness, and then, even if it makes no sense, why not try having the zombies sing? The idea had me cracking up. It was around 30°C in the studio, even with the fan, I was getting delirious, I think!).

I made a first draft that sounded more like goblins, and I edited the voices to make them sound more like zombies. It’s a little less tonal, so we had to add an instrument backing them to make the themes recognizable. It was fun, but a bit too intrusive in-game, so Gery only kept it for the Yeti fight.

In Welcome to ParadiZe, compared to your previous video game music, did you integrate any new technical functionalities or methods of working into your creative process (tips & tricks)?

Let’s say I developed some guidelines, notably when it comes to the use of modal music, to be able to rapidly fade songs in and out according to the gameplay. I also often drew from my experience on previous projects (especially “The Architect” to create random variations). I’d say I perfected this technique with this project.

Otherwise, for tips, I use preset tracks from my old stuff in Nuendo more and more. Once I’ve found a good balance, it saves me precious time and is more flexible than a template. There’s also my live VST testing on Twitch that allowed me to have new ideas regularly (autotune and weird synths for this project in particular).

Welcome to ParadiZe

Do you want anything special for your next OST? A particular style of music you’d like to explore maybe? Or an artist you’d like to work with?

I’d like many things—either to do some orchestral music again because I’m starting to miss it even though it’s challenging, or else to do something more electronic, a really edgy sort of electro/retro shooter or a narrative indie exploration game with soft synths and a bunch of adaptive systems, or maybe to write something festive for a jazz big band!!!

As for artists, I know extremely talented people in my circle that aren’t nearly well known enough that I’d love to work with! We’ll see!

Thanks H-Pi!

As a reminder, the original soundtrack of Welcome to ParadiZe is available on all music platforms (Spotify, YouTube, Apple Music, Bandcamp…). Feel fre to listen et follow us on Instagram, Twitter and YouTube!