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"We're trying something out that's very experimental" - Casey Edwards opens up about 2XKO's soundtrack

A chat with Casey Edwards on his journey to 2XKO, and his role on the project.

Seraphine League of Legends
Image credit: Riot Games

2XKO is firmly in its pre-release hype stage. People out there are fiending for the game, but unlike the past few years where information was drip-fed to keen fans every year or so, updates are coming firm and fast. The game is even coming to Evo Japan this weekend! Music to your ears, I'm sure.

Speaking of, I sat down and spoke to a certain member of the 2XKO sound team last month that you may be familiar with. Creator of tracks including Bury the Light and Devil Trigger from Devil May Cry V - Casey Edwards announced his role for Riot Games' upcoming fighting game back in February. But how did he come to join the team, and what exactly is he doing as part of the team?

But first, some background. Edwards first got his start in video game adjacent music creation through fan films - including Resident Evil vs Silent Hill which released on the golden age of YouTube 11 years ago. "There's always the 'man, I could do so much better now' right? But when I look back at that time, I just think about how grateful I am that people gave me my first shot. I believe Resident Evil vs Silent Hill was my first film score for the YouTube space, maybe my second film score in total. So I think about a lot of that as a big learning experience, and as a matter of fact meeting that director led me to people like Sam and Niko from Corridor Digital, and my good friend Clint Jones who directed the Zombie Island stuff. The Rocket ump people as well - Freddie Wong! - so it was this small seed that led to bigger opportunities".

Edwards, who began his music career as many kids do through bands and youthful self expression, is known these days for a blend of synth sounds and roaring guitars. But his journey there had him touch on a variety of genres and approaches over the course of the past two decades. "I'd think a lot of my style grew out of necessity and love. Typical high school angsty teen playing guitar in rock bands, punk bands. Then eventually it was prog metal when I fell in love with bands like Dream Theatre, and learned how incredibly difficult it was to play that stuff."

Edwards continued, "The theory involved in learning it quicker led me down more of an musical academic path. From there I fell in love with film scoring right before college, and took a very traditional degree in college. Very pencil, paper, piano. The only technology class they had at the time was notation - which is still very traditional (laughs). Right after college I got lucky and got to work with Mick Gordon a little bit!"

Orchid from Killer Instinct
Remember Killer Instinct? What a banger. | Image credit: Microsoft

That's right - that Mick Gordon! Mr Doom (2016) soundtrack himself. Back then Mick Gordon was working on a little game called Killer Instinct, giving Edwards a chance to hop onto games proper with the help of his significant other. "My wife is an incredible singer. She's known for her work on Orchid's theme, and later on I worked with her on Devil Trigger for Devil May Cry V. But I got to weasel my way in a little bit like 'hey, do you need this? Do you need that?' That guy is so busy, he took me up on my offer and it was an immense learning experience. Working with him made me pivot a bit to my angsty side you could say. I lot more focused on synthetic sound, sound design. A lot of stuff I didn't touch on for a long time as I'd abandoned it for a more traditional style. So now I'm this amalgam of punk rock and... I don't know - if Mozart had a mohawk or something (laughs).

From there it's been gravy. Killer Instinct led to various roles including Edwards' incredibly popular work at Devil May Cry V and now, 2XKO. So how exactly did that work out? Was Edwards approached for the role? "I was! Audio Director Eugene Kang was a big fan of my work on Devil May Cry V. We were already following each other on Twitter, we'd exchanged pleasantries, and I guess when the time came to start looking for people and expand the team he reached out. I was very thankful for that."

Edward's role is apparently similar to many on the team - working on multiple tracks for the game. Tracks that touch on the expected League themes, but share a common throughline that's crucial for any fighting game. "I think [my work] is going to be very different than an action game - especially like a hack and slash (like Devil May Cry V), but I mean sure - it's a fighting game! The same thing was true for Killer Instinct. I remember talking to Mick, and I feel like this probably goes hand-in-hand with any fighting game, we have characters and stages to represent, things we need to hit thematically or sound-wise. But at the end of the day, it's two people beating the s**t out of each other. So you kind of have to find that balance of representing what's on screen, either character or stage-wise, and always injecting energy into it."

Tag system in action in Project L
As a tag fighter, keeping things fast and energetic is crucial for any 2XKO track.

I asked whether Edward's work is split between characters and stages, to which he responded, "I don't know how much they've released on that so no comment for now (laughs). Just to be safe." However, he did note that as of writing, we've not actually heard any of his work. "So far, none of the music I've written has been shown. I think it's known that the character select or main menu is Tre Watson - he's doing a killer job. I'm not sure who's working on Illaoi right now but it's all really good. I think everyone is going to be stoked to hear everybody's work."

As a final question, I wanted to know what that unified sound was! The answer was intriguing, hinting towards a unique approach that keeps everything on the mark. "It's a mix between their very specific directions - we have meetings to make sure we're staying on track - but we're trying something out that's very experimental! We're having a, uhhhhhhhhhh, what can I say that doesn't get me in trouble? For now, I'll say we're experimenting with having someone who's already on the team as a unified production voice. I feel like they'll want to talk about that more at length, but it's something I've never done before and is working out really well!"

A tantalizing whisper of what's to come. We do know that the team are filming shorts with audio lead Eugen Kang - the same audio lead who recently expressed online that Hades was an inspiration for the 2XKO soundtrack - so hopefully we won't have to wait too long to learn more. For now, we'll have to sit on our hands and wait to see what juicy info the team has in store.

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