Interview With Tomas Dvorak

Tomáš Dvořák (Prague, 1978) aka Floex, has put his talents to a few games, all from Amanita Design, and has already put his name among the composers to consider. With Samorost and, especially, Machinarium (whose soundtrack you can hear and buy on <a href=”http://store.floex.cz/album/machinarium-soundtrack””>Bandcamp) has become one of the most promising composers of the current game and electronic scene.

His work is not limited to video game music, and today he releases his second album, Zorya, a real musical journey full of versatility and talent. It is available to listen and buy on SoundCloud and Bandcamp. Coinciding with this date, Dvořák was kind enough to answer some questions about his work.

Hi Tomas! it’s really a pleasure talk with you. Can you introduce yourself to our readers?

I’m clarinetist, composer, artist from Prague – Czech Republic. On the gaming scene I’m probably mostly known for my cooperation with the Amanita Design. I’ve worked together with them on several projects – Samorost II, Questionaut, Machinarium. I’m releaseing the soundtrack works under my own name Tomáš Dvořák, I’m also making my own music which I release under my “Floex” moniker.

Just now there is new album comming out, it is called “Zorya” and it is released on small indie label Minority Records in cooperation with Amanita Design. Beside this, I’m also making sometimes some crazy multimedia stuff, mostly performances, you can check everything on my website.

As a musician, what is your main influences and inspirations (styles, composers, games OST…)? What music do you use to listen?

My roots are in electronic music, but I am actually really into broad range of music. In electronic music I am fascinated by this new possibilites – new sound universes – which is still possible to explore, but I am also looking for some musicality, some heart in music. It is always hard for me to find out something what would really “catch me”, but once it happens, I´m really crazy about that. To name a few favourite authors – Lusine, Apparat, Clark, Fennesz, Vladislav Delay, this kind of electronic music I am into. I am in love with different acoustic projects too like Fink, Portico Quartet, Grizzly Bear. Reallly different stuff. I guess it is again the musicality what I am into.

In classic music I have been especially influenced by the minimalism – I find Steve Reich trully most influential figure of the 20.th century music. In comparsion to the other authors he never stops to explore new teritories, he didn´t end up with certain musical concept trough his carrier. In soundtrack music, my favourite author above all is Hans Zimmer. He is one of these authors who can achieve incredible emotional depth with radical level of abstractness in music, I am also into this kind of “horizontal musical thinking” where the harmonies flow trough the larger space.

You have credited as composer in Samorost 1 & 2 and Machinarium, for Amanita Desing. How do you get in touch with the videogame industry and become a game composer?

The story is simple. Jakub knew my first Floex album “Pocustone”, he liked it and wrote me an e-mail with the offer for the cooperation. After the first project, we were happy with the result, so we are continuing the cooperation untill now.

What equipment do you use to compose music? How is your usual proccess of composing game music? What goes first in Amanita Design, music, artwork, story of all merge together?

First there is artwork. then I am trying to catch the atmosphere of the “scene”, this is probably most important moment of the soundtrack composing. Sometimes I have still image, sometimes there is some rough animation. It is really important to see how does music working with the image trough the time. If it gives enough space to the image, if it is still interesting after few minutes of listening etc…

My studio it is really laboratory with different components what I am trying to mix up together. I am originally clarinetist so this is my main acoustic instrument. However you can also find piano, metalophones, pianet, kalimba, melodica, acordeon, shakuhachi and several other instruments in my studio. And then there is computer, synths, effects – sound design and mix is maybe 70% of the time I spent over the song when I work on it.

Having composed music for a few games your name is already known in the scene because your music is that good. Clockwise Operetta, Elevator, GameBoy Tune, Budoar… Do you have a theme you are specially proud of?

Thank you! I am usually most satisfied about more melancholic and minimal pieces. I like the emotions in this kind of music, I also like to expose the sounds more individually so you can enjoy every detail of it. So kind of music like Glasshouse With Butterfly or Elevator are my favourites from the last soundtrack.

I’ve noticed that you work in game music is credited as Tomas Dvorak, and in the non-game music you are Floex. Why? Is there a difference beyond that fact between Tomas Dvorak and Floex?

Honestly at the moment I would rather present all my work under the project Floex. Possibly the next soundtrack is going to be released under the Floex moniker. When you work with the image, your music is influenced by the content of this image, so especially in the time of the first soundtrack Samorost II I had feeling that my own music is having different concept and that´s the reason why I was trying to separate the projects. At the moment I feel like both universes got so close that this separation is already loosing sense.


Casanova – Zorya

As Floex you are releasing today a new album called Zorya. The single, Casanova, is very touching, and I think I can hear bits of Miles Davis around, and that’s always a good thing. What can we expect of Zorya?

That´s funny. People use to have need to compare music to some other athors. In case of the first single I already find out that my music has been compare to such music like Apparat, Jagajazzist, Kosheen, Glass, Davis, Aphex Twin… I believe it is because it is really hard to categorize i, which is always good sign. Anyway there is definatelly reference to Steve Reich and I am happy that some people can read it. In this sense it is kind of “conceptual song”. Minimalism was always improtant reference in electronic music, but never has been both musical styles shown “naked” against each other.

As for the Zorya I am desperatelly looking forward this record. For me it is most important release in the last ten years. This should be my musical universe in the purest form. In comparsion to my soundtrack production music is more energetic, more evolving and more complex too. Often songs are very adventurous, I like to see the music as story, and i like to play with its developement.

The last one, are you working currently on anything related to videogames?

Amanita is already working on the Samorost III. This is going to be my main focus for the year 2012!

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