Astro’s Playroom Composer Shares How That GPU Love Song Became Such A Bop

Astro’s Playroom Composer Shares How That GPU Love Song Became Such A Bop
Is this heaven...? (Screenshot: Asobi Team / Sony Interactive Entertainment / Kotaku)
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PlayStation 5 pack-in Astro’s Playroom is full of amazing tracks, but the standout is most definitely its ode to the console’s powerful graphics processing unit (“GPU” to friends). In celebration of the game’s official soundtrack coming out on March 12, composer Kenneth C. M. Young recently shared behind-the-scenes details about the process of bringing his catchy, GPU-focused song to life.

“I’m Your GPU” was actually the first track Young composed for Astro’s Playroom due to the stage it appears in, GPU Jungle, being the furthest along gameplay-wise when he joined the project. Naturally, the song started out relatively barebone, but after a few attempts, Young settled on a distinctive sound with basic lyrics that evoked the feeling of a love song. In this blog, he provided an early take on his concept:

“Before I’d even started working on the game, I had been thinking about personifying the PlayStation 5 console by giving it a voice,” Young explained. “This tapped into the idea that perhaps you’ve always known PS5 or somehow encountered it before, as if it were your true love. But I had been saving this idea for the CPU Plaza area as it felt like the most appropriate spot. But now that I was starting again on the music for the GPU Jungle, I saw an opportunity to introduce this concept to the team.”

When it came to the actual words, Young found himself walking a tightrope between wanting to include actual technical terminology as a nod to the talented engineers that worked on the PlayStation 5 while not alienating folks who might not be able to connect with more obscure jargon. Around this time, he recorded a version of the song with lyrics closer to the final version, featuring his own voice before any editing had been done to make him sound more robotic:

Since it was the first track, Young said “I’m Your GPU” had to “bear the burden” for the entire project as the game’s musical direction came into focus. This meant lots of iteration and feedback from the folks at Sony and Astro’s Playroom developer Asobi Team.

“You learn something from every little misstep and, if you persevere, each of them leads to something that clicks,” Young said of the composing process. “Rinse, repeat. Then at some point you realise it’s baked! Composers have a tendency to discuss work through the lens of the finished product, but our ideas are rarely, if ever, born fully formed. Music direction is arrived at through a journey.”

More work-in-progress versions of this track can be found over on the PlayStation Blog.

Previous GPU Appreciation:

Astro’s Playroom Made Me Love My PS5’s GPU

Welcome to Morning Music, Kotaku’s daily hangout for folks who love video games and the cool-arse sounds they make. Today I’m here to discuss the music in Astro’s Playroom, which might be one of the best video game soundtracks of 2020.

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