As the development of Starmancer continues in Early Access, we had a chance to chat with Starmancer’s talented composer, Dirk Kluesing.
Dirk has been working as a Composer and Sound Designer since 2015, creating music from fantasy orchestral to deep space synth and more. Dirk’s music has been featured in retailers, indie games and short films.
Find a comfy seat, treat yourself to some Starshine and join us as we explore Dirk’s musically creative mind.
[Chucklefish] – Hey Dirk, thanks for taking the time to chat with me. I’m loving the Starmancer OST and already find myself humming along while playing it. I’m curious, how did you join the Starmancer project?
[Dirk] – I first found out about Starmancer when they launched their Kickstarter campaign. I was immediately drawn to Victor’s art and when I discovered that one of the stretch goals was to hire a composer and sound designer I started working on some music demos right away. I guess they really liked the demos, and after a few more emails and a sound design test we started working on a contract. Maybe it helped that me and Tyler were both from Michigan. I think maybe his brother and I even went to the same college (Michigan Technological University). Small world.
[Chucklefish] – Small world indeed! What influences, from music and beyond, did you tap into for the Starmancer OST? I imagine Victor’s art did more than draw you in.
[Dirk] – Around the same time I discovered Starmancer, Surviving Mars had just been released and that game had a phenomenal soundtrack. I don’t think it influenced me much when creating the Starmancer OST, but it definitely got me motivated to make some sweet sci-fi, spacey tunes. The art of Starmancer was really the biggest influence to me when creating the soundtrack.
[Chucklefish] – Identifying those influences seems to be a key part of the process. What part of the music-making process do you enjoy the most?
[Dirk] – Starting a new song is always my favorite part of writing. Testing different sounds, messing around with synths, finding the perfect melody… all that stuff is super exciting to me.
[Chucklefish] – And what presents the biggest challenge?
[Dirk] – I’ve found that each new song provides a different challenge. Maybe the most frequent one that I run into is deciding when to just call it finished. If I work too long on a song I can start to hear problems that might not really be there, and in fixing those problems, I create new, actual problems. At the very least if you’re stuck on a song for a while, taking a break for a few days or weeks can make the world of difference when you come back to it.
[Chucklefish] – As a writer, I totally understand the balance of being a perfectionist and knowing when to stop. Looking at the tracklist, which track in the Starmancer OST holds a special place for you and why?
[Dirk] – ‘Deep Space’ and ‘Space Station 14’ are what became of the original 2 demos that I sent to Ominux Games, so those will always be special to me. Other than those, though, I have fond memories of working on ‘Daydreams of a Colonist’. I don’t know why I remember that one specifically. And I really like the middle part of ‘Zenith’, the flute-sounding synth and interplay of melodies is probably one of my favorite things about the Starmancer soundtrack.
[Chucklefish] – ‘Daydreams of a Colonist’ has great energy to it! Music has a big impact on the player’s feelings. What did you want the player to feel through the music when playing the game?
[Dirk] – In Starmancer, you are humanity’s last chance of survival among the stars. I wanted the soundtrack to convey the vast emptiness of space and loneliness but also a sense of hope. Since you are a sentient AI, I also wanted to limit the amount of “human” elements in the music. The soundtrack is almost entirely composed of synthesizers with no ‘real’ instruments to be heard. I made a choice early on to not add any percussion elements either; ‘Star Dancer’ and ‘Breach’ are the only exceptions.
[Chucklefish] – I definitely feel the lonely vacuum of space that you’re talking about. You captured it well. Now for a little curveball. If you had the opportunity to have your consciousness uploaded onto a computer and implanted into living or synthetic bodies, would you do it?
[Dirk] – I hope I never have to make that choice….
But probably, yea.
[Chucklefish] – Let’s get existential for this last one. Do you believe there’s life out there beyond Earth?
[Dirk] – I think the universe is too big for there to be no other life out there. I suspect there is more life out there than I can possibly even fathom.
[Chucklefish] – Maybe we’ll find out in the future. Thanks so much for your time Dirk. I enjoyed picking your brain and getting insight into Starmancer’s music from you. Where can our community find you to keep up with your future work?
[Dirk] – You can keep up to date with all of my work by following me on Twitter, Instagram, and Spotify. Here are all of my links: https://linktr.ee/Dirkkluesing
We hope you’ve enjoyed bopping along to the futuristic sounds of Starmancer and hearing about the process from Dirk. Bring the future of space travel to your life with the Starmancer OST, available now on Steam and Bandcamp.