• Cody Matthew Johnson

Project Announcement: Resident Evil 2


We're eager to announce the next project in our continued collaboration with our friends at CAPCOM: our participation in creating original music for their internationally renown series Resident Evil 2. Twenty years after the release of the original Resident Evil 2, in 1998, CAPCOM has recreated the survival-horror genre defining game with shocking and disturbing realism. CAPCOM had asked us to write & produce the end credits song for the game.

people who played the original Resident Evil in 1998 and returned to play in 2019 will feel a certain nostalgia for the original game

From the get-go, the idea of nostalgia, remembering the feeling of hopefully looking to the future of what’s to come and what life could be was an important emotion to translate. Capcom was keen on the fact that the people who played the original Resident Evil in 1998 and returned to play in 2019 will feel a certain nostalgia for the original game (which they wanted to preserve a lot of), but also nostalgia for the their lives – friends, life, careers, outlook, and the music they listened to. We knew from the get-go it was paramount tapping into the music scene of the 90s and it’s iconic defining styles, specifically grunge.


There was a fine line we had to balance, because the goal was to never sound dated, but be heavily influenced and inspired by 90s grunge music. We set out to tap into the nostalgia, without falling too hard into the past. We aimed to get it modern with one hand on that underlying nostalgia.


IN SEARCH OF AN ARTIST

In the search of an artist, it was difficult to find a relevant artist that embodied the emotional depth of 90s grunge artists – so many artists fall short of the balance between the past and present, or go too far beyond losing sight. After long lists of artists turned down by Capcom, they ultimately felt the artist Shim, recommended to us by our mixer Mark Needham, was the one for the job.


Shim started making heads bang in 90s with his band Sick Puppies, who then soared to stardom on their energetic performances and hit songs. Shim now is reinventing himself as a solo artist who still is tapping into that raw energy he embodied at Sick Puppies’ conception in the 90s.

So we had our artists, the song was written, ready to record, and Capcom suggested a featured guitar player – we knew just the guy; Peter DiStephano. Close friends and collaborator with Perry Ferrel, Peter was the guitarist for band Porno for Pyros, founders of the Lolapalooza music festival. During his time with Porno for Pyros, Peter was brushing shoulders and partying with grunge legend to be Kurt Cobain. Peter was the perfect addition to help bring about the edge and angst for some new grunge revival.


BEHIND THE LYRICS

For Resident Evil 2, before we ever got started on the song, we were sent a story that was only a few short paragraphs long with a single work at the top — “Reunion”. A story director Kazunori Kadoi has written and wanted us to read. 

He told a story of a working classwork-class man remembering his life twenty years ago, the city and his dreams he moved to the city with all those years ago. Years have passed, and instead of manifesting his dreams & aspirations of as younger man, he still lives in the same city with an unfulfilling job. This city has changed, but he has not quite changed with it. He is feels a certain sort of a melancholy for the hustle and excitement of the old city, the city he used to love — perfectly paraphrased by the chorus lyric “now it’s all gone. The pain of remembering.” 

“now it’s all gone. The pain of remembering.”

Symbolically, Kadoi inferred that the changing city the man lives reflects the time in which when “Resident Evil 2” players used to play the original “Resident Evil 2” (in 1998), when they were young, spry, hopeful, and aspirational. Kadoi wanted wished the lyrics to evoke nostalgia so that players would remember fond memories not only of playing the original “Resident Evil 2”, but also of their lives and experiences since.


More than anything, “Resident Evil 2” has always been, and still is, about “reunion”. With the new “Resident Evil 2” there’s an added element of reunion, as now the player may remember and flashback to a time when they used to play the original game and remember what their lives were like 20 years ago — a reunion to one’s self.


Well known to the original “Resident Evil 2”, the gameplay itself has elements of reunion as players control two separate protagonists, Leon and Claire, who over the course of the game split up and meet again. Both Leon and Claire have unique experiences, and players won’t see the full picture of the narrative until they play and see the two sides of the story. 

“Resident Evil 2” has always been, and still is, about “reunion”.

From the start, Capcom wanted the song to reflect the era of the game and be the kind of music a young rookie cop like Leon might be listening to. They wanted were looking to be inspired by the past - , but not burdened by it - , while incorporating modern production techniques.


The collaboration with rock artist Shim went fluidly. as he brought his edge and two decades of experience as a songwriter a songwriting and& lyricist over the last two decades to the table. Lyrics for the song were heavily inspired, and not-so-coincidentally parallel to, the story of “Resident Evil 2”, all the while retelling Kadoi’s story of a man looking back on his life and his changed city. The lyrics follow the narrative of this person looking back on his life in the first verse, “Where did the time go?”, through the chorus “But how did it go so wrong? Now it’s all gone. The pain of remembering.” As the song progresses into the second verse, the man is reflecting not only on himself but also of the city that once showed him a façade of bright future, “I look in the mirror but what I see, it ain’t me. These streets are paved with fantasies.. but now its flying in the breeze.”. The lyrics paralleling not only the dichotomy of the man’s life past and present, but also of the story lines of Claire and Leon, the lyric “There’s two sides to every story, the defeat or the pain of the glory” builds up the listener into the chorus through the songs finish.


THE TEAM ASSEMBLES AT SPHERE STUDIOS

After the team was assembled we quickly jumped in to record at Sphere Studios, where bands like Rage Against The Machine recorded their hits. Peter brought out his signature bowed guitar and effects (featured in the bridge and intro) and then wrought pure manic havoc on his fretboard for the guitar solo and instrumental feature, at one point yelling to the engineer “turn it up! I need it to feedback! Up! Up! Up!” all to capture that angsty in-the-moment energy Peter knew all too well.


I personally know all too well the nostalgia of playing the Resident Evil 2 – growing up, I often escape from the clutches of my bedtime to sneak downstairs and play games like Resident Evil with my brothers and their friends. Reflecting on those times heavily inspired me while working on the project – the exhilaration of the unknown, doing something against the grain for the first time, breaking the rules. Getting asked back by Capcom to write the credits song for Resident Evil 2, I too felt “Saudade” for what life used to be, those rebellious moments, and how bright the future looked – “the pain of remembering”.


"Saudade (feat. Shim)" by Cody Matthew Johnson, the end credits song and opening track on the Resident Evil 2 soundtrack is available digitally on all streaming and music platforms. The Behind The Scenes music video from Gamespot as well as an interview with Game Informer is linked below.


Gamespot: Saudade (feat. Shim) - Cody Matthew Johnson

Game Informer: An Interview With The Composers Behind Resident Evil 2 and DMC





Get in touch with us! We'd love to learn more about your project and how we can help to make it sound amazing. 

Looking for general contact? Click here.

Or contact us at: info@emperiasound.com

Recent News Blog (coming soon!)

Make sure to check out our blog for new projects, interviews, press, and more!

Newsletter

Sign up for the Emperia Sound and Music newsletter to stay up to date on new project announcements, recent information, and helpful bits, tips, and tricks.

  • SoundCloud - Black Circle
  • LinkedIn - Black Circle
  • Tumblr - Black Circle
  • Instagram - Black Circle