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An Interview with BT

February 14, 2022
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As part of our continuing series here at Gala Games focusing on how music fits into the greater multimedia culture that gaming represents, we got the chance to pick the brain of revolutionary composer and legendary musician Brian Transeau– better known as BT. He has not only been on the cutting edge of electronic music for decades, but also is pioneering new ways that blockchain technology can interact with the artistic experience.

In our last article taking a deeper look into how music culture interacts with gaming, we took a deep dive into how music and gaming have evolved together. An expert like BT is the perfect voice to take us to the next level and discuss how music and gaming culture stand on the precipice of much-needed change, and how emerging technologies will shape and inform the next generation of every artistic medium.

BT’s career has helped shape the landscape of music for decades. His tracks, albums, and score work across video games and film are nothing short of legendary, and his innovations in the science and art of sound have revolutionized the tools that will be utilized by the next generation of musicians. He’s also an artist on the front lines of the NFT space, and will soon be making history with the first generative sound and visual art installation NFT in history — The Orbs.

Beneath all that pretty serious industry credibility, BT is a man with a unique perspective on the music industry and how the future of music culture will interact with emerging technologies. When the opportunity to interview him arose, I found the chance to pick at such a brilliant mind as exciting as it was terrifying. Not only has he been an unstoppable force in the industry for years, but his mastery of his craft can be a little dizzying to those of us with lesser musical and technical talents.

Luckily, while BT may be an unparalleled expert in a new frontier of musical creativity, he’s also refreshingly down to earth. During our conversation, he was able to provide insights on everything from family life to the very future of art in a clear way that sincerely has me excited for the possibilities on the horizon.

What I expected to find in BT was a brilliant musical mind. What I found wasn’t some elitist musician who couldn’t be bothered to talk shop though, but instead a lover of art eager to make authentic human connections and discuss his craft.

The Mind of BT

Warm up questions– always got to start with some hard ones to stretch out the brain.

Bacon or sausage?

I like where this is going. Both. I’m an honorary Brit after living in the UK for years at the beginning of my career. Nothing like a greasy spoon.

First song you heard today?

The blender. Its fundamental note is a F#3 and its harmonics are as fascinating as watching a whirling dervish. Since I was a kid studying classical music, I’ve always believed some of the highest expressions of musical form are actually natural or partially organized sound events. My brain is constantly looking for musical patterns and some of the most fascinating are not planned.

First song you chose to hear today?

We will be bumping some Anjuna Deep this am whilst making our Saturday tradition — pancakes.

Rainstorm or snowstorm? Pirate or ninja?

Well, I’m prob not allowed– but I’m going to pick both. A rainstorm is an incredible example of this natural sound event that is so musical. Rolling thunder subharmonics, the rhythmic crack of lighting and rain, oh the rain! Nature’s granular synthesis. Now a snowstorm, this is a magical experience. Because it deadens the refractions of sound, so it’s like standing in a mystical anechoic chamber. They are both delightful.

Pirate or ninja is a bit easier– I fancy myself the swashbuckling type.

How do you feel about people who sleep in socks?

Blasphemy. This is my favorite interview I’ve done in years.

I understand if you can’t answer this last one for fear of retribution.

Does pineapple go on pizza?

Replace pineapple with petrol — same question!

BT: The Artist

I appreciate you taking the time to answer some questions– it’s an absolute pleasure for me. You’ve been so busy that I hardly know where to start, so let’s start with just that. You’ve launched one unique project after another lately. What’s your favorite from the past couple years?

It’s a total pleasure. This is really a tough one as there have been some real milestone moments over the last couple years. Quick ‘zoomed out” story. My whole career– life actually– I’ve never really felt like I fit in. I’ve had an amazing career and been accepted by peers and received accolades etc, but my interests and focus have always made me an outsider in all the groups that I’m affiliated with. My film composer friends are comfortable seeing me with a baton conducting a score for a live orchestra but are mystified that weekend when I’m playing an electronic music festival.

“With the advent of blockchain and Web 3 technologies, from DeFi to NFT’s to new forms of expression in art and music, it’s a bit emotional honestly — I feel like I have finally found my true home and peer group.”

My dance music friends never want to talk about or hear about my latest coding exploits or fragment shaders. My programing friends and peers think it’s so weird I can hang in Xcode. Point being, there has never been a place that has quite felt like “home”.

People that like nerdy stuff, electronic music, games and NFTs? I pinch myself everyday I’m alive to participate in this. So long winded answer… all these explorations into stretching the canvas of what is possible for music and art– these have been the highlights. A 24-hour musical, multitrack “grandfather clock” that lives on the blockchain (genesis.json)… this was a huge step into a world I’ve looked for my whole life.

You really seem to have thrived in the studio recently. Do you ever miss the old days of performance culture?

Interestingly, in electronic music I find there are a lot of introverts. If you’ve ever heard of Myers-briggs, it’s a test that assesses personality traits and qualities. I’m this– I am a very weird one called an INTJ. It’s like… as introverted as you can possibly get. I’d say over half my electronic music friends are very introverted and love being in the studio (like me), and so quarantine was this amazing time for introverts. Amazing as in productive.

The part I love about performing is actually performing, being with people and sharing a musical experience together. Since things are opening back up, we’ve been able to do more of that AND, I must say, it’s made me look hard at what I love most about creating and it’s just that — creating. I’ll be seeking to strive a new balance with that moving forward as I’ve spent many a year on the road.

“The part I love about performing is actually performing and being with people and sharing a musical experience together.”

After as prolific a recording career as yours, how do you still love what you do?

I am a constant student. Every single day, I wake up with something I wanted to learn yesterday but may not have had time. I have lists for my lists. The creative process, coding and low level primitive solutions for emergent technologies (like how do we read time when the blockchain is time agnostic — answer: count the time interval between ledger entries). These kinds of creative ideation and learning new techniques, new programs, frameworks, possibilities– every day is literally Christmas (as it relates to this). There is never a shortage of new ideas, inspiration or things to learn.

“I am in awe at how simplicity and earnest emotional expression trumps technique… Learning what is underneath this process is one of my greatest passions.”

How has your passion for music changed or evolved over the years?

This is an excellent question. If anything, I am in awe at how simplicity and earnest emotional expression trumps technique– or (great yiddish word) schmaltz– every time. Learning what is underneath this process is one of my greatest passions. The real answer I’ve come to is long winded, but in short involves great habits, self care, health routine, fitness, etc. This is the quickest path to simple and altruistic artistic expression (imho) and some of my greatest passion is both trying to do and be this and model it for friends.

You run an incredibly low public profile for how influential you really are across decades of music. You’re a household name within the electronic scene, but there are a lot of people outside those circles that are intimately familiar with your work but may never have heard your name.

How does it feel to know that by this point you’ve influenced artists across multiple generations, sometimes without them even knowing?

It feels fantastic and again is such an astute observation and great question. It’s funny– I hear a breakdown in a dance music record and it’s like — ’93 people in the electronic music press made fun of me doing this. They’d say, dance music “keeps going” and what will people do in a “breakdown”… just stand there?

There are some legendary early days of dance music articles poking me like this. Now you can’t go to a show or festival– or hear a record much less– that doesn’t have this technique. It literally didn’t exist before IMA. Contributing in this way is not about the acknowledgment (which is wonderful and feels great from peers when it does happen) but instead it’s about expanding the vocabulary.

I adore electronic music. I’ve been making it my whole life (just about– first synth at 12 mowing lawns). Point is, things we love we want to grow the bounds of– lift other talented voices. To put a bow on it, it feels great to have made some big contributions and still be able to grocery shop in peace lol.

BT: The Human

There’s this legendary picture of you and your daughter on stage together that hits me in the feels every time I see it.

Is she a musician?

She is extremely musical and artistic but wouldn’t self identify as a musician. She has an artist’s heart for sure.

Has music played a big part in your family life over the years?

Absolutely — I come from a very non-musical family (exception being my grandmother). So our house is always filled with music– artists and talk of such things.

Has fatherhood evolved your artistic voice?

Absolutely without question.

One of the greatest joys of my life has been sharing art that I love with my daughter — not only music, but foundational pieces from every part of the artistic spectrum.

What are the top tracks, albums, movies… whatever, that were essential culture to share with your daughter as she grew up?

Pretty broad spectrum. Lots of classical music (Debussy is a fav), the Beatles, my favorite 80’s bands like New Order and Depeche Mode, Stevie Wonder was another big one around here. Pretty broad.

Gaming was a big part of my childhood, and it has been absolutely magical to re-experience some of those classic games with my daughter over the years. Any games that you’ve relied on for some father-daughter bonding over the years?

I was still cool enough when she was on Highlanders — post that, headsets on

playing with friends.

When did she start to beat you at games without you letting her? (One dad to another– your secret’s safe with me.)

Exactly then lol

BT: The Pioneer

It’s a little ironic to talk to you about playing beloved classic video games with my daughter, because you wrote the score for a couple of those titles!

What was the most fun you’ve ever had creating a game soundtrack?

Between you and me, the one I’ve been working on the last 3 years… but I can’t say what it is yet. It’s INSANE. There have been so many. One of my fav things ever was performing at Video Games Live and getting to play some score music live. That was a blast.

What was the most challenging game score that you’ve worked on?

Probably Tiger Woods, as EA had really specific ideas about what they wanted and I wanted to push a little farther. It can be really hard scoring when producers either get attached to temp music or keep pretty tight constraints on composer experimentation. The best things I’ve ever scored have always started from a blank canvas with cool people that want you to explore.

You were really among the vanguard of people starting to take the multimedia experience of gaming seriously. We’ve come a long way from dots that do things to breathtaking audio- visual masterpieces that are the combined efforts of thousands of artists and professionals.

Why did you first get involved in scoring for games?

Because I absolutely love video games. Mind, I have a big soft spot for early games: we have an OG Atari 2600, Colecovision and Intellivision here (along with all the modern consoles). I can get down with a good modern shooter but my heart is with Galaga or Mrs. Pac Man. The misses and I have Mrs Pacman battle royales on some date nights. On that note, I get my ass handed to me– but I put up a good fight.

When did you realize that games could offer a more and more substantial artistic platform as technology evolved?

When we started to incorporate dynamic stem and musical allocation. So Wwise and FMOD. On the project I’ve been scoring, I’ve been designing effects channels over iterative stems that, for example; the closer a player is to the proximity (coordinates) of a score cue, it’s fully wet in a convolution reverb with a low-pass filter that opens (and the reverb wet balance decreases) as you come closer. It’s like the music is in a cave in the distance and you don’t fully experience it until you’re in the designated location. I mean, imagine doing that for a record for Spotify lol. There’s not a creative equivalency.

Your score composition work extends far beyond my fondest memories of ‘Fifa 2002’– you were also key in bringing authentic dance music to the big screen during a time when the entire electronic scene was largely underground. In an interview in 2014, you mused about how creating a score is an entirely different beast from making beats to stand alone.

With that in mind, I absolutely have to know: what was it like to craft the soundtrack for Tomorrowland in Shanghai? If you view soundtracks as a different experience due to being an accompanying voice to the film, how do you possibly approach creating a score for such a diverse multimedia experience?

This is a huge question (and thank you for the kind words). This was at the time I did it, the biggest project I’d ever undertaken. I spent about 3 months drawing boundary rings on graph paper of the park blue prints for musical zones and how they would interact.

This “interaction” piece was the hardest piece. Fans of mine know I’m famously hiding Easter eggs in anything and everything since my first album (people find them all the time). In this Disney score, one of the primary Easter eggs (and it took that boundary planning I mentioned above) was creating new pieces of music if you physically stand at certain overlap points.

I timed by distance and speed of sound — rhythmic offsets and made these boundary pieces in the same or harmonically related keys. So there are pieces where the rhythm is offset by a perfect 16th note and one is major and the other related minor. If you stand in such and such EXACT physical location, those 2 pieces of music make an entirely new piece of music. Like a ghost image.

So many people have wanted that music released and I’ve explained this and they’re like “Oh thanks BT now I need to go to Shanghai”. Sorry not sorry lol. It’s INCREDIBLE to experience it there (and that park is amazing). Really great question too because it’s a big part of the inspiration for these living “instillation” pieces of art and music on the blockchain. Once I experienced creating something that changes by context of how the end user interacts with it — I was just hooked. I’d imagine this will be the focus of my life’s work after this ton of bricks epiphany.

You’ve always been a zealous advocate for the laptop being recognized as a primary voice instrument. Digital renderers in the visual art world, fabricators who sculpt with CNC, or countless other artists forging a new path probably sympathize with the struggle of getting peers in their community to accept technology as an instrument to be utilized for artistic expression.

Why do you think there has always been so much resistance to recognizing digital tools as legitimate parts of any artists’ creative process?

I am really enjoying this, these questions are fantastic. So I think it’s difficult in the same way it was sacrilegious [at the] the innovation of the piano klavier. It was outrage! An instrument with a new tuning you could play in all keys? Velocity??? Off with their heads! Things that disrupt the expected in the arts are often viewed as “cheating” or created by some kind of other form of similar invalidation. The laptop is the new paint brush.

Little humble brag here, I approached Berklee School of Music (where I went to music college) and proposed the laptop be made a principal instrument. I was laughed at to start, and after years of petitioning, they finally did it. Laptop can be your principle instrument as a Berklee student. I’m really proud of that. It is as valid of a tool of artistic expression as any other instrument ever invented– more so in many ways.

“The laptop is the new paint brush.”

As someone who grew up playing saxophone, I have to admit I had some complex emotions the first time I heard a unique, generative solo in the style of Charlie Parker.

As someone with an early education in music, does that piano player inside ever feel a little threatened by how far our tools have come?

I feel you here, and would like to personally apologize for what sounds like a traumatic experience.

This brings up a great point because controlled randomness or psuedo-random events — to have planned, artistic outcomes, is a massive multi-variable artistic equation. A moving target if you will.

It’s such a big conversation and the elephant in the room is artificial intelligence. Without digressing into a full wormhole, I have been experimenting with and developing in the AI space over the last 4 years. Everything from recursive neural networks, CNN’s, audio feature set identification and all these creative neural networks’ applications. It’s hard to give a simple answer here but peering behind the curtain of what is already possible, we have a tremendous responsibility to protect the intellectual property rights of artists (both living and no longer with us).

artists should have ownership of the sum total of their artistic decisions– not just their music.”

There are lots of sneaky engineers using copyrighted existing works for their training sets, and it’s very hard to prove it when a training set is crossbred over multiple artists in a similar genre. A passion project of mine is [to] create a bill that is passed into law that protects the artist as a training set. I want every single artist (and artist estate) to be able to create a t(sne) representation of their entire body of work and mint it on the blockchain.

If they choose to license it or sell it, that is their prerogative, but artists should have ownership of the sum total of their artistic decisions– not just their music. Thank you for coming to my TED talk.

Along the same lines of pushing the limits of conventional ideas of instrumentation, we’ve got to talk about The Orbs. You’re minting 3,333 NFTs on the Ethereum blockchain and each will be an entirely unique generative audio-visual experience. They will never repeat and offer reactive visual art with an infinitely improvised musical score.

This is some groundbreaking stuff. So I guess to start… where did this idea come from?

Deep, deep nerd alert– think nerd spelunking. So… my early teachers (at a very young age — talking 8–9 years old) exposed me to first composers like Bartok and then the serialism (12 tone row composition), and finally as a young teenager I was picking apart the works of composers like Penderecki (aleatoric composers) that introduced the concept of controlled randomization into their works. Jump forward to Berklee I was studying Cage, Xenakis and early founding fathers of electro-acoustic music.

the more vectors or parameters you play with, the more complex it becomes to make something that introduces randomization but has an element of aesthetic beauty.”

Through all this study and from a VERY early age, I’ve been riveted by what we’ve now come to call generative composition, forced or controlled pseudo-randomization etc. As a hysterical aside, when I hear people saying generative music and it’s 3x .Wav files of a drum loop that swap out, my palms get sweaty.

So, this concept of making an array of possibilities; the more vectors or parameters you play with, the more complex it becomes to make something that introduces randomization but has an element of aesthetic beauty or let’s say “desired outcome”. In this case, that was the goal (and PS: nothing diminutive about angry or aggressive /cacophonous /discordant art or music– I love these things for the right expressive purpose).

At any rate, it’s been a long form life goal to create a generative engine to make a collection of artistic works that have, I guess, my musical “DNA” in them but could potentially even surprise me!

This was an incredibly hard finish line to cross as we are dealing with everything here from surface topographies, fragment and vertex shaders, overlay effects, ray marching, audio interactivity (an absolute wormhole of beautify and possibility I’ve just begun to explore), temporal domain audio DSP, key, mode, style, structure, form, color palettes (side note, the color palettes for the orbs took me about 3 months of picking and testing complimentary hexadecimal colors). It was a MASSIVE array of variables and so making a generative engine that makes something musical and visually enticing was nothing short of a miracle.

The audio component is built in my native programming language CSound and the visual component primarily in three.js. It’s a nice time here to thank my team Steven Yi and Pedro Sodre for helping me realize some of the most complex of these ideas.

Above everything, I hope The Orbs is something that feels deeply personal, nuanced, beautiful and inspiring to everyone that owns one. While making this project I have had single Orbs open for sometimes 2–3 days and because they never ever loop. They are an absolutely mesmerizing experience. It’s my great hope that The Orbs fill Gala gamers and art collectors with the same spirit of awe, wonder and magic they give me personally. There really is a bit of magic in here. Many of them, as I mentioned above, have surprised even me.

Each Orb will endlessly improvise and have a unique musical personality. Was your goal to give them each a unique voice and tone, or to try to get a reflection of a piece of your own artistic vision in each?

Absolutely. This project wasn’t done until it felt like each was as unique as a
snowflake or a fingerprint.

The tempo, mode, key, pacing, instrumentation is unique across the collection. Some of the hardest things to solve were things like, for the piano family melodic instruments; “How do I get this to sound like me, noodling on a piano making a score cue”. Hours were spent breaking down how I’d phrase a melody and or voice chords. For example, the piano melodic instruments share the same hand designed sequencer.

It first picks 3–5 random notes within the array of root-key/mode and then makes sure that phrase follows the following mechanics. First note short jump (a major second or less) second note (also short jump — ascending or descending), next is a forced long jump (perfect 4th to a minor 6th). It’s insane. Then there is a random intermittent hold and the phrase is repeated with chords filling out upper and lower voices, each using a common pivot tone. It’s insane truly.

Finally each phrase decelerando and decrescendo– as a human (me in this case) would play it. It’s kind of like wind chimes with a fixed set of notes in a nice breeze, where every once in a while someone comes and takes away a note and give you a new possibility. This is how it never loops.

it’s very complex to plan for things it’s hard to imagine.”

When creating a generative piece like The Orbs, how does your artistic approach differ from a more linear composition?

It’s just more complex because a composition is SO controlled comparatively. You make decisions (artistically), you execute them, you’re done. Algorithmic composition you are planning (as much as possible) for all states of a hierarchical tree of possibility from your decisions (structured as an array of ideas not a single idea) and the desired aesthetic outcome from any possible collision of all these vectors of possibility. That is a very nerdy way of saying, it’s very complex to plan for things it’s hard to imagine. It’s also one of the most fun and rewarding things I’ve ever made in my entire life.

BT: The Prototype

With projects like ‘Metaversal’ or your upcoming Orbs release, you’ve been one of the biggest names in music helping to shape the blockchain and NFT landscape. What’s the most exciting aspect of blockchain technology to you– personally and professionally?

The Blockchain, Web 3, Blockchain gaming and NFT’s are the most exciting things to happen in digital media full stop. Ever. We are living and building through the disruptive time in the arts in hundreds of years. Get excited.

I’m investing in this community because I believe it is absolutely– full stop– the future we want to live in. Web 3, play to earn games, NFTs and the like are innovative and new way to connect with my fans, creators, gamers and listeners. These technologies are completely and totally democratizing art.

This is nothing short of a creative renaissance where on a daily basis we are permanently expanding the creative canvas of the possible. We’re living in the Golden Age of the creator. And not just the creator but the community. Here together we stand finally on a level playing field and build and create together.

“The Blockchain, Web 3, Blockchain gaming and NFT’s are the most exciting things to happen in digital media full stop.”

I take my role really seriously here. Together as a community we are creating and ideating on possibilities for the next generations of creators. It’s also the most welcoming, loving, supportive, close-knit community I’ve ever seen in my life. Together we are literally building the future.

Looking back now, you have a long record of foundational ideas to support artist ownership throughout all of music culture. How do you think your bold efforts to bring the world of NFTs and decentralized ownership into the same space as music have been informed by your career as a composer?

I’m always in a position of advocacy for artists and the arts. Speaking of which, programming falls into. Programming (imho) is the modern equivalent of or highest expression of prose and poetry.

Artists have been deeply undervalued historically. Musicians in particular. The middle men have gaslit generations of artists into believing a million streams of their music is worth less than, in many cases, a couple hundred dollars.

Many legacy musicians believe this to be their value and have been depressed, struggling, scrambling and doing work they don’t enjoy or they feel they have to just to survive. Many A list musicians do not make a living wage and live hand to mouth. The disintermediation of the middle man remedies this problem instantaneously.

“Artists have been deeply undervalued historically. Musicians in particular.”

Without a scarcity mindset because you pay 20% to a manager, 15% to and agent 5% to an attorney 5% to a business manager and that’s out of an 87/13 royalty split (real life that is a thing) and then have to pay tax after! A musician is afforded the opportunity not only to create beauty for beauty’s sake but also be rewarded for it and better than that, to reinvest in a circular economy that lifts and rewards others in the same fashion for both creating or playing.

It is both existential threat to legacy institutions and the creative and fair minded “healing” the music, art, game — you name it, industries so desperately need. I really get going when this subject comes up! In short, blockchain art, music and games– by empowering creators and participants– will make the world a more beautiful looking, fun and wonderful sounding place.

Here at Gala Games, we talk a lot about empowerment and ownership through play. Music is play on so many levels though, and artists like you work hard to craft unique experiences for people to interact with.

We’ve already seen from ‘Metaversal’ that you’re not only taking audio/visual NFT to the next level, but also adding gamified elements so that listeners not only have verifiable ownership, but also can take an active part in interacting with your art. Personally, I’m also incredibly excited that Orbs will interact independently with titles throughout the Gala Games ecosystem.

How else do you think that NFT technology will create new ways for art to be appreciated and engaged with in the future?

Without saying too much, some of my next works will involve wearable devices that allow an end user to effectuate change in a visual/sound work that they “want” but could not communicate with words or even game playing mechanics. Little alpha there 🙂

Berklee School of Music describes you as ‘The Prototype of the 21st century Musician.’ Where do you see the music industry in 10 years for artists? For fans?

Completely and totally decentralized– where artists and communities support one another in circular economic structures. A fair and more beautiful, rewarding place for all.

If you’re the prototype, what defines the next level of musician and composer?

The next generation is one that is completely crypto-native: codes and composes, questions everything and can build anything. They will open source and create at a pace so rapid, it will be hard for them to keep up with themselves.

“We are creating the world we want to live in.”

How transformative do you think that the idea of decentralized music can be across the entire music industry for artists?

Profound. It will unshackle generations of legacy artists and free all the new ones to just make epic things of profound significance and impact. We are creating the world we want to live in.

Thank you for this amazing interview. I thoroughly enjoyed it.


You can check out more about BT’s latest projects, breakthroughs and insights at

The Orbs drop on February 13th and 14th with a limited supply of only 3333 in the fully generative Orb NFTs in the series.

Learn more in the BLOG HERE, and be sure to connect your wallet at to be ready for the limited time sale.

Make sure to stop by to learn more about BT’s latest collaboration with us here at Gala Games!