For our latest Q&A feature, we caught up with composer Cris Velasco to discuss his work on Resident Evil 7, Hulu's Freakish, and RocketJump's Dimension 404, as well as collaborating with Clive Barker on some of the great imaginer's projects.

Thanks for taking the time to answer some questions for us, Cris. Were you a fan of the horror genre growing up? Did the genre influence your music?

Cris Velasco: Oh yeah, absolutely. I used to watch Hellraiser 1 and 2 with a friend of mine almost every weekend. Chris Young's score became a significant influence on my own music early on.

You’ve worked on a wide range of video games over the years. How did you first get involved with that industry?

Cris Velasco: Hard work and tenacity are the keys. I spent about seven years trying to break into the industry after I graduated from UCLA. When I finally got my first opportunity to pitch for a project (Battlestar Galactica), I actually quit my job that day so that I would have the time to write a great demo. I'm not saying I recommend quitting your job! But this was what I needed to do to focus on my pitch. I did wind up getting that job. It led to a few more projects within that developer. I then had somewhat of a résumé and felt confident going to other developers and showing them my music. Luckily, this gave me a shot at writing music for God of War, my first AAA title.

What was it like collaborating with Capcom on Resident Evil 7? What musical tone did you set out to instill in the game that is taking the franchise in a uniquely different direction?

Cris Velasco: First of all, the Resident Evil franchise is, in my opinion, one of the great video game series. It was such an honor to be included in this latest iteration! The guys at Capcom really wanted to take this game back to its original horror roots—just a straight-up terrifying survival horror game. That meant the music needed to follow suit. We laid the groundwork for the score before a single note was written. This started out with a live orchestral session with a recording orchestra here in LA called Cinema Scoring. We recorded TONS of orchestral string FX with them.

We also recorded our own sound FX. This included things like detuned instruments, scraping metal, bee hives (full of bees), etc. Finally, we captured some extremely disturbing vocal FX with two actors (Chip Joslin and Tammy Barr). Besides the typical shouting, moaning, whispering... they also did things like "pretend to be drowning" or "pretend you're suffocating." We then took all these sounds and had a bespoke Kontakt instrument designed. This way, all the composers were using the exact same sound set for our compositions.

What types of instruments and sounds did you use to compose the music for Freakish?

Cris Velasco: A lot of the score is quite ambient—dark and disturbing pads that oscillate between the left and right speakers. The whole score was mostly electronic, actually, with the orchestra being reserved for the moments with the highest amount of tension.

Do you have a favorite musical moment from Freakish?

Cris Velasco: Probably the moments where there was some character development. Something more personal. It gave me a brief moment where I could compose a little more melodically. I always love writing melodies or motifs and look for those opportunities wherever I can find them.

Were you inspired by any other zombie movies or TV shows while composing the score for Freakish?

Cris Velasco: Not really. I met with the showrunner and producer for Freakish early in the process and we talked in detail about how the music should sound. They specifically wanted it to sound different from any other zombie-like shows that are out there. I generally prefer to be inspired by the show itself, anyways.

How did you get involved with Clive Barker’s Jericho and Clive Barker’s Books of Blood, and what was it like bringing music to his richly imaginative works?

Cris Velasco: It's a looong story. I'll try to summarize here. It started off with me just being a fan of Clive and going to his book signings. Later, as I became involved with music, I started bringing him demo CDs. He was always very encouraging when I told him my dream was to work with him someday. This went on for a period of many years. Every time he was doing a new public appearance, I'd be there with an updated demo and a smile. One day while I was sitting at home, my phone rang and it was Clive on the other line. He said he'd been following my progress over all these years and believed I was ready to work with him. He told me he had a new video game being developed and would I like to write the score? It was a very surreal moment for me! Clive has given me a lot of freedom to express myself musically on every project I've done with him. We always meet and talk about the fundamentals of the score, but then he allows me to interpret this as I see fit. It's always a very liberating and rewarding experience to be working with Clive!

Overall, do you find that any musicians, video games, or movies in particular influence the music you compose?

Cris Velasco: Oh, I'm sure there are a hundred things that inspire my own music. I'll give you a couple of examples that have definitely inspired me from my early years composing, though. The first is one I already mentioned. The music from Hellraiser. It taught me that music for a horror film could be beautiful, and that sometimes it's that juxtaposition of beauty vs. scary that makes things so much more unsettling. The other one that comes to mind is watching Mimic. There was a sound that I couldn't even recognize at the time—turns out it was a contrabassoon. It was so wonderfully dark and woody-sounding. It gave so much personality to this particular scene. Until then, I had always thought of woodwinds as a way to add lightness to an orchestration. This one particular cue, though, influenced me to use winds in ways I hadn't experimented with before.

Is there a type of project that you haven’t tackled yet that’s on your music bucket list?

Cris Velasco: I have two major bucket list projects. The first is Star Wars. It has been my dream since the first moment I turned my attention to composing, to work on something in this franchise. Game, TV show, movie... it doesn't matter. I would just love to try my hand at this. The second is to basically work on anything with Guillermo del Toro.

What can you tell us about your work on the new series Dimension 404?

Cris Velasco: This is the second TV show I've worked on. It may be one of my favorite projects, too! It's an hour-long sci-fi anthology show. This means that each episode has an entirely different kind of score. Horror to comedy to adventure to ’80s synth wave... I got to do it all! I was even able to finally use a theremin, which has been a silly dream of mine for years.

What projects do you have on deck that you can tease, and where can our readers find you online?

Cris Velasco: I'm currently writing the music for Dauntless and The Long Dark. One is a very aggressive fantasy-type score using some unique instrumentation. The other is a very sparse string quartet and piano score that conveys loneliness and desolation. I've also just finished writing and recording the score to The Invisible Hours. It's a VR murder mystery game by Tequila Works and was such a great pleasure to work on!

You can find me at You connect with me on Facebook and Twitter, too.

  • Derek Anderson
    About the Author - Derek Anderson

    Raised on a steady diet of R.L. Stine’s Goosebumps books and Are You Afraid of the Dark?, Derek has been fascinated with fear since he first saw ForeverWare being used on an episode of Eerie, Indiana.

    When he’s not writing about horror as the Senior News Reporter for Daily Dead, Derek can be found daydreaming about the Santa Carla Boardwalk from The Lost Boys or reading Stephen King and Brian Keene novels.