Rapid fire questions 

The instrument you use most: The Cello.

Music you’re listening to these days: Soundtracks, 1960s music, EDM, 2010 pop bangers.

Movie you wish you had composed the music soundtrack for: Blade Runner: 2049.

A big lesson you learned in the music industry: Value the human connection.

It’s no surprise that Kristopher Rioux found himself creating dreamy worlds with instruments and VST – the musical and visual aesthetics of films and video games have long fascinated him. He transforms his life experiences – interwoven with sports, motorcycling, and Quebec’s Laurentides landscape – into soundtracks that captivate our imaginations. RAC spoke to the sound designer and composer to find out more about his career.

RAC: Can you share with us the journey that led you to becoming a composer and a sound designer? 

Kristopher: It started from a young age, me and my parents watched all of these great blockbuster movies. One franchise stuck with me the most: Transformers. The soundtrack is so epic and emotional with very clear and memorable musical themes. It was pretty much my first introduction to musical scores. Later in primary school, I decided to join the school band playing the trombone. One day, the teacher told me to conduct the band, and from that moment, I knew this was what I wanted to do. In my teenage years, I discovered Deadmau5 and he inspired me to start DJing and producing EDM using a computer. From that point on, it slowly transitioned to producing hybrid soundtracks. Throughout all of this journey, I was also inspired by my love for gaming. With games like No Man’s Sky, Rainbow Six Siege, and many more. They just transported me to new worlds and put me in unique scenarios. It motivated me to create distinctive worlds and experiences with my music.

Album illustrations by Kristopher Rioux

RAC: You’ve created 3D visual designs for your album illustrations. Where did your interest in visual art come from?

Kristopher: From watching all of these great sci-fi blockbuster movies with amazing CGI, and from video games. I love watching the behind-the-scenes and seeing these amazing visual effects artists create alien worlds or unreal characters. Plus, there’s something truly magical about going the extra step and creating the visual side of the worlds I invent with my music.

RAC: What’s your favourite VST for designing and creating orchestral soundscapes or electronic music? 

Kristopher: Definitely Kontakt. It has everything – analog synths, crazy soundscapes, epic percussions, ultra-realistic sampled orchestras, ethereal choirs… literally everything.

RAC: What is your favourite type of sound to create and how do you do it?

Kristopher: Soundscapes, drones and pads. I use a mixture of analog synths and granular synthesis. I absolutely love granular synths, they allow me to create these insane soundscapes with the most random samples imaginable or by completely changing common sounds and instruments. For example, I take a piano and process it with reverb and delay. I arpeggiate it, render everything, throw this rendered audio in a granular synth, re-add reverb and voila! An otherworldly and ethereal soundsca

RAC: You work with a German record label called MidnightAV. Can you tell us how it all started and what you’re doing with them?

Kristopher: It started with me applying for the Trailer Rebel record label. They got back to me and suggested I work with their second label: MidnightAV, since my style was more cinematic and less trailer-y. MidnightAV is a record label that licenses cinematic music to filmmakers, film studios, video makers, photographers, and pretty much everybody who needs film music. I really like the fact that I can choose which songs I sign with them and which I don’t.

RAC: Your soundtrack compositions express a wide range of emotions, taking us to worlds of science fiction, action, dystopia, adventure, fantasy and even thriller. Is there a type of composition that challenges you the most? 

Kristopher: They all have their challenges, but I’d say, for me, fantasy is the hardest. You have to create unique worlds, stories and atmospheres, but without –  or using very few of –  synths. For example, when you think of Lord of the Rings, big saws and deep drones are not what comes to mind. When composing for fantasy genres you have to purely rely on melodies, chords, and creating unique orchestral textures. 

RAC: You’re currently composing a short animated film soundtrack and a post-apocalyptic game soundtrack. Can you tell us more about that kind of work and what type of requests clients make?

Kristopher: Since my style is very melodic, the most common request I get from clients is to create a very distinct and memorable theme. Some clients also ask for specific instruments or orchestration. I find it very fun to work on projects where I don’t have to worry about the story, the setting, the world, and the mood. These parts are already done and I can focus on the music.

RAC: What distinctive elements do you consider when composing for a soundtrack or video game?

Kristopher: First, the world. Video games are all about being in another world, so you need to nail the atmosphere and immerse the player. Second – this one is a bit odd – the main menu. It’s the first thing the player sees and hears. It must be something impactful that immediately puts the player in the right mood and sets the tone for the game.

RAC: What advice would you give to a music composer who wants to gain visibility and find contracts?

Kristopher: Invest in a good presentation. Online, people won’t hear your music first – they’ll see your website, your YouTube page, and your Instagram profile. A decent website goes a long way to present yourself as a professional. These days, we have so many tools in our hands, it’s become easier than ever.

RAC: You released the science fiction EP in 2022 Beyond Horizons, and you have several singles out. What’s next for you this summer?

Kristopher: In parallel with the two projects I’ve been working on, I have been composing another Sci-Fi and space opera-themed song called “Stargazed”. It should be released very soon. I’ve also been looking into making a more cyberpunk-themed song or EP but I only have sketches and nothing concrete for now.

Written by Caroline Boivin

Illustration by Holly Li