FoxTail: Behind The Music With Vlad Plotnikov


Image: FoxTail

FoxTail is a point and click game available on Steam. A drawing motivation from the old pixel experience from the 1990's. FoxTail makes an air and staggering world without utilizing complex current innovations.

FoxTail story starts about an adorable, youthful fox named Leah who goes on an excursion to discover a solution for her grandma. Along her extraordinary excursion she investigates backwoods, bogs and surrenders, gets to know different animals and encourages them in their requirements. 


Image: FoxTail

Intricate and variable errands: the universe of FoxTail triggers player's creative mind and offers a chance to tackle issues in various, yet equivalent in multifaceted nature ways. A beguiling story, repeating the comfortable cadence outdated experiences, the story is as yet brilliant and noteworthy, yet never exhausting. Characters and their accounts: each character in the game has his own life, where the player should partake, somehow.

The principle champion, Leah the fox, is magnetic, entertaining and crafty, as any fox should be. She will have a long and troublesome excursion: through the mazes of mines, mountains, swamps and perilous timberland around evening time, overcoming her own feelings of trepidation and helping the individuals who meet her in transit.


Image: FoxTail

Interview with Vlad Plotnikov

Vlad Plotnikov is a the music composer for FoxTail. He is also an audio producer, and co-founder of the VP Production audio agency. Vlad has been creating audio for more than eight years now, and the last four of them mostly focus on composing music for various game projects. Apart from that, since 2019, he works on sonic branding together with his team. Vlad also has some side music projects, including post-rock/shoegaze band Total-Empty.


Image: FoxTail

As a game composer, are you a gamer yourself?

"I wouldn't call myself an avid gamer, but I like video games. When I was a kid, I caught the days of Sega Mega Drive, and that's when my love for gaming started to develop. Later, the era of Playstation 1 reinforced it. I still try to follow some AAA titles and exciting indie projects. Unfortunately, I lack time for everything I would like to try out. Being a game composer has definitely changed the way I play games, though. Now I pay even more attention to what, how, and where sounds in the game. I analyze the in-game audio experience and all the studios' marketing activities that involve audio. Well, I try to make my gaming time as productive as possible. Sometimes I even manage to succeed in that."

What was your musical vision for 'FoxTail'?

"First of all, FoxTail has a very emotional story that influenced me. I had to convey these emotions as well as strengthen them. I had to compose something that would immerse the player in the journey of a young fox Leah. My main goal was to translate FoxTali's world into music.

That's why the title theme Spread Your Wings And Fly has the essence of the whole game in it. Although I can't tell you what exactly it is because it will be a huge spoiler. But you can hear hints of this melody in different parts of the game, and it is for a particular reason. This track is also the audio DNA of the whole game. It defines how everything else should sound. Moreover, each character has its own motive, melody, and even specific instruments. It all helps to create a coherent soundtrack through all the chapters.

The second thing that defined my music approach is the game's visuals. FoxTail is a pixel style game, but I didn't want to do chiptune or similar to the soundtracks' old pixel games. Together with a developer, we decided to tone down the orchestral instruments' liveliness to harmonize everything with how the game looks. I think we did a pretty good job."


Image: FoxTail

Were there any specific type of sounds that you were going for in your music compositions?

"In my work, I often use various live instruments and manually record specific sounds. All these bring uniqueness and vividness to my music, and it is interesting to collect all of them. I also adore adding somewhat atmospheric and even a bit of post-rock motifs on an electric guitar in my compositions. I think it pairs perfectly with electronic and orchestral pieces. None of this was done in the case of the FoxTail soundtrack, though. Yes, in some tracks, you can hear interesting sounds that I recorded myself, but mostly the music was composed on virtual instruments. And yes, I'm a little bit sad that my favorite post-rock guitars don't fit in there."

What helps you the most when it comes to finding the right atmosphere and sound concepts for a soundtrack?

"I always base my audio concept on the game's narrative. I analyze its plot, characters, and their relationships, locations, and events. Also, I pay attention to concept arts and other visuals. It all helps me to develop ideas and find melodies that express what happens on the screen in the best way. Oh, and I make sure I study up the game's target audience and the market. Such things help a lot in creating unique audio that will enhance the overall gaming experience."


Image: FoxTail

Were you given any reference songs from the game director for 'FoxTail'?

"I recall that we talked about Frank Klepacki's works because the Legend of Kyrandia game inspires foxTail creators. And Frank Klepacki was the composer of that game. Initially, we planned to do something similar, but then we changed our minds and moved towards a completely new and original concept. I think I was mainly inspired by Joe Hisaishi's Path of the Wind, the main theme of My Neighbor Totoro, when I composed FoxTail's title theme. I can't say that they are similar, but he definitely had a positive influence on me. That's because I am a fan of Hisaishi's work and his sense of music amazes me."

What was your experience like working with the developers at Gingertips Game Studio?

"We have found a common language quite quickly and communicated very well, even outside of working questions. For example, our agency's brand manager and the game's narrative designer are always discussing gardening. Since the team is small and everybody knows each other personally, we quickly understood one another with half a word. Of course, we have arguments, but we solve them efficiently and always in favor of our common cause. I am thrilled with luck that I met these people and started to work with them on such a wonderful project."


Image: FoxTail

Do you work with other musicians for the recordings of your compositions, or do you perform the entire piece yourself?

"Currently, I do all my soundtracks alone. I play guitars (acoustic, electric, and bass) and piano, work with virtual instruments, do mixing and mastering. But I really want to involve other professionals in this creative process. I believe that it will bring more dimension to music as it adds another perspective. I know this from the experience of my post-rock band Total-Empty. At different times I have played with many musicians. It often happens that other people can propose a brilliant idea that I, for some reason, did not see. In the future, I want to collaborate with talented vocalists and string instrumentalists."

VP Production talked about the challenges you've faced when working on FoxTail, and that when you first started working on the project, there was already music. What are your thoughts in seeing that shift of change in the audience gravitating more towards acceptance for new music?

"Yes, it is true. When I was invited to compose a soundtrack for FoxTail, the game already had good music from the previous composer, and the audience liked it. Therefore, it was challenging for me. When the developer replaced old tracks with the ones I composed, we received a lot of positive feedback, but there were also disappointed people. And I think it is totally normal. However, with each new chapter of the game, there were fewer and fewer people like that. And I felt that we are doing everything right. When I read numerous reviews from players about how they like the soundtrack and what it means to them, I feel pure joy. It's crucial for me that they have a quality gaming experience."


Image: FoxTail

Creating a touch on orchestral music for FoxTail, do you see yourself doing more music in the future that would include full orchestral scores in the gaming industry?

"Absolutely! FoxTail uses only some of the orchestral instruments: strings, percussions, and woodwinds. It doesn't sound like classical orchestral compositions, but that was the idea. However, there are projects and tracks in my portfolio for which I've used the full orchestra, and I'm sure there will be even more in the future. At least, I highly anticipate it!"

Can you provide us with any detail or comment on what we can expect in FoxTail Chapter Four?

"Oh, it will be a very atmospheric chapter. The player will follow Leah deep down into the moles' mines. Together, they will meet new characters, face new challenges, and solve some tricky puzzles in the laboratory (and beyond it). Perhaps Leah will finally find the Foxtail to create the cure for her grandmother… but there is no certainty."

Watch FoxTail's Chapter 3 Game Trailer:


Vlad Plotnikov

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FoxTail

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