Joe Henson and Alexis Smith, aka The Flight, are London-based music producers who have taken an unexpected career path - writing scores for games such as Assassin's Creed and Alien: Isolation. The latter led them to being nominated for the Best Music category at the BAFTA Game Awards, which takes place on March 12th. I caught up with them before the event to find out what the transition between producer and cinematic soundtrack composer is really like.


Congrats on your nomination news! What does it feel like being nominated for a BAFTA?

JH: Haha! It's a bit crazy really but it's always nice to be nominated for something.

How did you guys first meet?

JH: Alexis was hired to produce an album for the band I was in. We got on really well and found our skill sets fit together perfectly.

AS: We have similar approaches to music, and although we have completely different musical 'upbringings', there is a huge overlap in what we love.

You've collaborated with some big artists like Björk and Lana Del Ray in the past - what was your favourite project to work on?

JH: Lana was amazing to work with, she's the real deal. We are lucky to get to work on so many different projects, it would be impossible to name a favourite. Though working on something in the Alien universe was a chance in a lifetime.

Your East London studio seems to have everything! Talk us through some of your favourite instruments/pieces of equipment in there.

AS: It has to be the old synths for me. The Korg MS10 is as old as me, and I bought it from my secondary school after I left. Once I started getting into producing and writing I remembered they had some analogue synths getting dusty on a shelf as no one knew how to use them. I offered my old music teacher some money for the school and said that I would give it a good home!

JH: I am a bass player and have a lot of bass guitars. The bass I always pick up first is my Fender Precision, played through a bunch of pedals - analogue, not digital. I also love our Gretsch resonator guitar that we bought for Ripper Street. We also have some very cool custom synth stuff including a circuit bent modular synth by a guy called Nervous Squirrel, it's bonkers.

What attracted you about scoring games rather than producing artists/musicians?

AS: It's not really about 'rather', we enjoy both. Doing different things keeps us fresh and inspired, and although the way the end product is delivered is very different, it begins with the same writing process for us.

JH: We were both avid gamers when growing up, although things were very different back then. The industry is really maturing at the moment and being part of a new frontier is very exciting. There are some really original musical scores for games coming through.

Are you big gamers yourselves? What are your favourite video game soundtracks?

AS: I was a big gamer when I was a kid, but working and having a family make it a rare pursuit nowadays. Obviously we both keep up-to-date with what is going on in the world, both technologically and musically, and play the games we are working on a lot. My favourite recent soundtracks have been The Last Of Us , Red Dead Redemption , Hotline Miami - ones that sound a bit different.

JH: Yeah, The Last Of Us was great. I also loved the music for Journey.

If you could have designed a soundtrack for the PlayStation game The Getaway, which is set in the seedy underworld of London, what songs would you have picked?

JH: The Getaway was out in 2002, so it has to be 'Baby's Got a Temper' by The Prodigy.

AS: If it were a 2014 remake, how about 'Is That Your Life' by Tricky or 'Bow E3' by Wiley.

Can you see more producers moving into working in games in the future - maybe even making music an integral part of the game?

AS: Yes, I think there are going to be more producers getting involved, particularly from the generation younger than us, to whom high quality games are part of everyday life.

JH: Music and audio are already integral in games. If you look at Grand Theft Auto V, it has amazing licensed music, but it also has a score composed by Tangerine Dream, Woody Jackson, Oh No and DJ Shadow. It's huge.

Do you think you'll ever move back to producing artists or is gaming your future now?

AS: We are always working with artists. At the moment we are working with a new singer called Starling who is amazing. We are also working on our third The Flight EP.

What are you planning to work on next? Are you going to stay in game soundtrack composing or work with more musicians?

AS: Both!

JH: We are working with a bunch of artists, and are in the early stages of some very cool new games... but as is the way with games, we can't talk about them at the moment.