Kidneythieves is a band headed by both Free Dominguez, vocalist, and Bruce Somers on instrumentals. Earlier this week, it was announced that they produced a music track for the upcoming PSP game, Dissidia 012 [duodecim] Final Fantasy. Their music has transcended many mediums before, but this latest release spearheads the momentum of a long established game franchise. As you’ll hear in the featured track on Dissidia 012’s soundtrack page, the slight crescendo suddenly drops you like a thunderous wave and envelopes you in hard driving beats, electric riffs, and dramatic vocals. The passionate lyrics and powerful electronic-infused instrumentals are Kidneythieves’ unique musical style that suites the energy and conflict of light and dark in Dissidia 012 [duodecim] Final Fantasy. I had the pleasure of interviewing Kidneythieves on how they became a part of Dissidia 012’s soundtrack, some of their previous game audio and cinematic experiences, and where they are taking their music next.
Bruce: We like to use examples like a combination of Portishead meets Nine-Inch Nails. It’s a heavy sound, but with a lot of electronic elements that give you something a little bit different. We play a little alternative, taking a standard song that we would do and try to throw a few curves in like that. Free’s vocals are incredibly distinctive.
Free: I always think of our music as dramatic in some way. Whether it be more chill and open or super heavy and in your face. I always think of it as electronic, dramatic and rock with a groove element.
What is the name of the Kidneythieves track that is used in Dissidia 012 [duodecim] Final Fantasy?
Free: The track is called “God In Fire” [Track number 22 in the Dissidia 012 [duodecim] Final Fantasy Original Soundtrack]. I think because the game has not been released yet, that it’s kind of a surprise where it is in the game. It is something that will be revealed.
Free: No, we did that specifically for Square Enix and the Dissidia 012 [duodecim] Final Fantasy game.
Bruce: [Square Enix] is releasing “God In Fire” on their soundtrack for the game. We’re coming out with an EP that is coming out in the next couple of months that’s basically going to be all new tracks.
Can you tell us a bit about your upcoming EP, The Invisible Plan? Is there a prevalent theme?
Free: The whole theme of Trypt0fanatic was about blending the dream with the real life and sort of “wake up and move forward.” Trypt0fanatic gives you a story to the EP that was coming out of that, and into the next album. So it’s basically about dealing with all the material of your dream world in life. Musically, we’re doing some different things. We’re sticking to Kidneythieves, which is what we do. For the EP, it’s definitely a more electronic sound that we’re doing.
Bruce: Yeah, in Trypt0fanatic there were definitely a lot of heavy songs on it, and we wanted to definitely focus on some grooves, electronica and a couple of surprises too; some new styles we are playing with. I think it will be pretty slamming.
This isn’t the first game that your music has been featured in. What music have you done before in relation to video games?
Bruce: Yeah, we had a bunch of tracks in Deus Ex: The Invisible War.
Free: My voice was one of the characters in the game, which I love doing. It was so fun to watch a game and make all these “uggh,” “agh” noises [laughs], and getting into the scent of it. It was really fun.
Bruce: In the video game world we have so much fun. Free was talking about styles before and, you know, we never really set out to make a song for a video game. But there is a lot of drama and elements, and I think Free’s voice cuts right through as a girl singer. It’s unique for those heavy set elements. It plays really well in the videogame world. So that’s really good for us. We love video games too. So it’s good.
Free: And I agree with Bruce!
Did Square Enix show you any kind of artwork or game scenes to inspire you in the Dissidia 012 “God In Fire” track?
Bruce: Well, they wrote the track. They came to us with the track already written and what they wanted to do was put our sound. At the time, they were big Kidneythieves fans, which was such an honor. Takeharu Ishimoto wrote the song and he came in from Square Enix and said “we want you to put your stamp on this.” So, they give us a lot of latitude and let us rock it really hard, which was cool, and then in the final mix they were here and we worked in collaboration.
Free: It really, really was fun. They were so nice and generous.
Bruce: They asked us if you want to rock here, or more string bass here, and they went with more of the heavy guitar.
I know Kidneythieves really broke out in the Queen of the Damned soundtrack. In what other medium has your music been used in?
Free: We had Taxicab Messiah in a really great scene with Myka in Warehouse 13, where she is all decked out in latex and kicking ass. We’ve also done CSI, and other TV shows and films. Wherever we can do something like that, we like it.
I’m sure the music industry has changed so much since you’ve started.
Bruce: Yeah, it’s a big deal. Getting on the right track especially, whether it is TV, film or music, any kind of new media. Fortunately, we’ve had some of the stuff that Free just mentioned. The video game industry works directly with independent artists today, so it’s so critical that we have your support. You dig what we’re doing and we dig what you’re doing. It’s definitely a new frontier that way, but it’s been good for us.
I see you have a Japanese translation of your website, kidneythieves.com/category/japanese. Do you have a strong following in Japan?
Bruce: We were originally signed to a japanese headed label, and we’ve always liked that connection. And Free is starting to learn some Japanese as well, which is great. We really want to go and play in Japan.
Free, seems like your writings on kidneythieves.com are somewhat parallel to the theme of the Dissidia 012 [duodecim] Final Fantasy, on two opposing forces, the conflict of light and dark. However, your opposing forces seem to be that of the dream world and the real world, an inspiration for your last album Trypt0fanatic. Can you explain your inspiration and how you want to inspire others through your music?
Free: I think that dreams are so important because they tell us things we don’t hear while we’re awake. Thinking about what you are dreaming could really help you in your day to day life. My favorite part of music is connecting with people, hearing what other people think and how they feel. It’s not just about me doing music and then, oh, I’m going to inspire you. I get inspired by connecting with people.
Bruce: It’s like the connection of a live performance. A lot of people have played in front of other people, a lot haven’t played in front of people. For us, playing to a packed crowd is incredible. The audience inspires us, and we fire off that energy. It’s a real two-way street. Music may seem like a passive thing, but it really isn’t. There is emotion going back and forth.
Do you want to keep doing further work in soundtracks for games or film?
Free: Yes and yes! You can email us on our website [laughs].
What advice would you give bands like yourselves who want to break into the videogame or film industry?
Free: There’s two things that are the most important things to start with. Number one, do the best music you can do. Don’t screw around and try to pass something off and try to work on always being better. The second thing is always pay attention. There are so many avenues on the internet and when you meet people. Tweet your favorite video game composer, they’ll probably check out your music. It’s all about doing the best art you can and paying attention. There is opportunity all around you, you just have to pay attention.
Anything else you would like fans of Kidneythieves to know or that you would like to tell them? And are there plans of an upcoming tour?
Bruce: No tour as of yet, but we are definitely going to get out there and play at some gigs pretty soon. The Invisible Plan EP is coming out in the next couple of months, and we’re really excited about that. Support artist that you like. The bottom line for us is when you buy something on our website, that’s really letting us do what we love to do and hopefully what our fans like us to do.
Free: Please communicate with us. We love to hear from you. We love it when you post YouTube videos with covers of our songs or in film projects. Talk to us in Facebook (facebook.com/kidneythieves) and Twitter (twitter.com/kidneythieves). We really enjoy communicating with everybody. That inspires us.
Many thanks to Kidneythieves, Square Enix and Platform PR for making this interview possible!
For more information and to hear tracks from Kidneythieves, visit the official website at kidneythieves.com. Listen to Kidneythieves’ featured Dissidia 012 [duodecim] Final Fantasy track, God In Fire, on web.square-enix.co.jp/music/sem/page/dissidia/012 or from iTunes:
Dissidia 012 [duodecim] Final Fantasy will be available next week (pre-order here), exclusively for the PlayStation Portable, on March 22, 2011 (also to be available for purchase and download on the PlayStation Network). DISSIDIA duodecim prologus FINAL FANTASY is now available on the PlayStation Network for $2.99, a prologue to the game and a way to start stocking up items and unlocks (see more details here).
Dissidia 012: Duodecim Final Fantasy (PSP) trailer from Square Enix:
(see here on YouTube)