Friends of Hoa, chapter 2: Audio Team
Updated: Jul 16, 2021
This week’s blogpost is something we have meant to do for a long time, and now that the last stages of Hoa are wrapping up, here we are ⭐️🎉
Meet Johannes Johansson, Lauri Koivisto and Simon Evig, the incredible team behind Hoa’s signature music and sounds. Remember, you heard their names here first! ;)
In this little interview, we had them answering the most anticipated questions - you’ll get to know the team and hear all about the process, from ideation to orchestration to incredible live recording experience and beyond. Let’s go!
MEET: JOHANNES JOHANSSON (AKMIGONE) - HOA'S COMPOSER AND PIANIST
Johannes is an amazing young Swedish composer, and a true wizard with the piano. Bubbly and creative, he inspires us everyday not only with his incredible talent and dedication but also his heartening positive energy and an astonishing amount of musical output.
Hello! Could you tell us a bit about yourself and how you started the journey?
Hello! Or tjenare as we say in Sweden. I’m Johannes Johansson, more known as ”Akmigone” online. When I was a kid the amazing music of Halo inspired me to start playing piano, and here I am!
How did it all begin with Hoa? Could you share about your experience of working on this project?
A long time ago, in a Tweet far far away. I was introduced to a very cute looking game called Hoa. The more I saw of it, the more I fell in love with it! I noticed the team had a composing competition, the winner getting the opportunity to compose the soundtrack for Hoa. I entered, and two days of nonstop composing later I submitted my work and somehow I actually got the composer spot!? So many amazing memories have been created thanks to that, and it still feels unreal to this date! Since then I have been working on composing the music for Hoa, but I sure didn’t do it alone! Soon the audio team grew, and together with Simon and Lauri we have all really put our hearts into the soundtrack, which I hope you can hear in the music
How did you go about composing for Hoa?
When composing for Hoa, I always thought ”how can the music strengthen that?”. How can music make a beautiful environment feel even more beautiful? A joyful creature even more joyful? How can the music help tell the story of Hoa?
Even when sketching the first notes for a piece on piano, it's very important for me that those notes feel like they belong in the world of Hoa.
What makes the music and audio of Hoa special?
Me, Lauri and Simon have such a big passion for Hoa. With music we want to make the world feel even more alive, the journey even more emotional and the gameplay even more fun. What makes the music and everything else in Hoa special, is that it's all made by a team loving what they do. I absolutely love the team spirit, and it's always so much fun brainstorming ideas and just joking around haha! It also feels amazing being included in a team where everyone has such a big passion for their work.
MEET: LAURI KOIVISTO - Orchestration & Sound Designer
We came to know Lauri during the audition, and despite not ending up as our composer, he checked in on us from time to time, and had been helping Johannes with orchestration of his pieces. We were already familiar with Lauri's work and knew how much he cared about Hoa, that when the need for someone to help with music orchestration & sound effects arose, we knew it had to be him.
Here are some not-so-boring facts about Lauri: Composer/orchestrator/sound designer from Finland. Worked on lots of animations and theater plays. Currently taking private lessons from Norman Ludwin (Jurassic World, Inside Out, Star Trek Into Darkness etc.). “Lover of open-world games, hater of open worlds because you tend to keep finding yourself picking up flowers and fishing although you should be doing the missions...or taking care of your kids in real life.”
How did you join the project? What was your journey with Hoa like?
I orchestrated Johannes’ pieces before joining Hoa. I also did the sound design for the game, did the sheet music and was responsible for the recording session. The team behind Hoa is super professional and really easy to work with. It is a skill for people who don’t work in the music field to express their musical thoughts so clearly!
How would you describe the process of making Hoa's music?
Mine and Johannes’ workflow was that he would send me a piano sketch of the piece and we would then start to think of the structure and the whole feel of the piece. We would go back and forth and then I would start adding the orchestral elements on top of that. Hoa’s music is really calming just like the graphics are but towards the end when the story starts to unfold you start to hear some grittiness as well.
Most exciting/memorable thing from the project?
I must say the recording session. We recorded the string orchestra in Budapest and all the woodwinds were played by Josh Plotner. It’s always chilling to hear live players play your music.
Could you share with us another work of yours that you're proud about?
MEET: SIMON EVIG - Sound Engineer
Simon is the one who brought everything together and put a final “magic” touch on the music, which took so much more skill and work than us non-professionals could imagine. Calm, resourceful, and systematic, he is the one that completes the awesome audio team of Hoa.
Hi Simon! Could you introduce yourself briefly to our internet friends?
Hey, I'm Simon Evig from Örebro, Sweden. I'm a freelance music producer and audio engineer working with everything from radio-pop/hiphop to folk, to apocalyptic psytrance, but in this case, a beautiful orchestral suite.
I recently graduated with a bachelor's degree in songwriting and music production from Örebro University and am now looking to work with music full time.
How did you come to join Hoa? How would you describe your role in the project and what was the experience like?
I studied high-school with Johannes (the composer), so when the project needed an audio engineer and mixer he reached out to me. My main job was mixing, editing, and recording. I also did some consulting and other minor tasks.
I was in the middle of my bachelors degree when I joined the team and nowhere near a finished audio engineer, so this project became somewhat of a rite of passage for me. Movie Scores and video game music have always been close to my heart so this project was really a dream come true.
This was without a doubt the most challenging work in my career at that time, and I'm super grateful to the rest of the team for bringing me on board and trusting me to deliver the sonical footprint of the HOA universe.
Seeing and hearing how the project evolved from start to finish was an incredible journey. At first the plan was to just use midi for all the tracks (computer generated instruments), but as time went on we replaced more and more midi with actual instruments and eventually stood there with a beautiful Steinway grand piano and an entire freaking string orchestra. It's such an honor and privilege to work with those kinds of resources.
Creating a beautiful and fitting atmospheric space was my main focus. I wanted the soundstage to feel both natural and otherworldly/magical at the same time. The team gave me a lot of wiggle room and trusted my artistic vision, which was both comforting and scary, but at the end of the day I think it turned out great
Sounds like you had a lot of good memories :)
The most memorable part was definitely when me and Johannes were recording the grand piano up in a studio in Stockholm. We stupidly only booked 2 days to record all 17 tracks so we had to haul ass. We barely slept and when we were finished we had to drive 3 hours in the middle of the night to get home. Fortunately, Johannes fingers, and my sanity survived the trip
Something interesting we might want to check out?
Me and my best friends from high-school got a band!!! In which Johannes might be the pianist. Check us out on Spotify!
Q. And now two questions to ask everyone, first of all, where can we find you and your other projects online?
My video portfolio
My website (under construction at time of writing)
Q: One word to describe the game?
Johannes: DefinetelyWorthBuying 🤩
Lauri: Refreshing 🌱
Simon: I'd say magical ✨