The Musical Side of Shaun Hatton

Many of our readers may recognize Shaun Hatton as a familiar face from Electric Playground where his duties flip between content producer and news correspondent for programs such as EP Daily and Reviews on the Run – but that’s only part of his resume.

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On the side, Hatton is involved in electronic music, playing as part of a group and even laying down the soundtrack to independent game projects. He’s a stand up guy and was generous enough to lend his time for a Skype chat with myself where we touched base on his past work, current projects, and what he might have in store for us in the year to come.

His first game composition – working under his DJ alias, DJ Finish Him, was for a 2012 indie action-platformer developed by Spooky Squid Games called They Bleed Pixels.

After playing the game’s preview trailer without sound, I wondered what material was provided for Hatton while he chipped away at finalizing the soundtrack. He played portions of the game without music, looked at concept art; his goal was to establish an overall mood to a section.  It’s then that his imagination and music-making prowess could take over.

Hatton explains, “I wanted a really hard, fast, driving beat behind a lot of the music. Now, that’s not to say that the entire soundtrack is like that because it has its stronger points—as far as beats are concerned—and then it calms down in places as well.”

Since the completion of Pixels’ soundtrack, Shaun has moved on tackle other projects. As a member of the Laser Destroyer Team ensemble – he helped in the scoring of the music for another indie title, Always Sometimes Monsters from Devolver Digital (http://www.devolverdigital.com/games/view/always-sometimes-monsters), and as part of the Cybertronic Spree – a cover band of the 1986 Transformers picture – Shaun has been keeping busy.

So what sort of electronic studio setup does Mr. Hatton use for  his work?  “I’d say about 12 different synthesizers,” he explains.  “Filter units, things like that. I also have a bunch of stuff attached to the rig here that are actually toys.”

For live jams, Hatton typically only takes what he needs. As much as he would love to bring along his “battle station” setup, the type of gig would dictate the required equipment setup. “If it’s for a rock band I usually take my drum kit. If it’s solo then I’ll take a variety of synthesizer type things and hook them up.”

This still leaves endless opportunities for any number of combinations as Shaun has expressed interest in combining the elements of sound with items as simple as an “Intro to music-making Casio keyboards from the 70s and 80s,” to a Game Boy running a version of the Little Sound DJ to create a crunchy-sounding backing drum track.

While Hatton did not express a preference to the quality of sound one classic console produces as compared to another to another (which is a totally feasible debate among electronic music composers, particularly those that are fond of using chiptunes in their compositions) he did express that some of his music could have been pulled off on those older systems. “I really like being able to add a guitar here, or a really nice 808 drum or bass synthesizer track there. No one ever asked me to make things sound like a Nintendo game.”