Grant Kirkhope

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Grant Kirkhope
Birth name Grant Kirkhope
Born (1962-07-10) 10 July 1962 (age 52)
Edinburgh, Scotland, UK
Genres Video games
Occupation(s) Composer
Instruments Keyboards, guitar, trumpet
Years active 1995–present
Associated acts Rare Ltd.

Grant Kirkhope (born 10 July 1962) is a British BAFTA and IFMCA nominated composer, known for writing the soundtracks to Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning, GoldenEye 007, Banjo-Kazooie, Banjo-Tooie, Donkey Kong 64, Perfect Dark, Grabbed by the Ghoulies, Viva Piñata, Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts, Viva Piñata: Trouble in Paradise, CityVille 2, the remake of Castle of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse, and Civilization: Beyond Earth.

Early life and education[edit]

Kirkhope was brought up in Knaresborough, North Yorkshire and attended King James's School (like his fellow trumpet player and good friend, Simply Red's Tim Kellett). Kirkhope played in various bands after leaving the Royal Northern College of Music, including Zoot and the Roots along with the saxophonist, Snake Davis. Kirkhope also spent many years as part of "the Big Bad Horns" which were part of UK rock band Little Angels. At the age of 33 he was employed by Rare. Before joining Rare, in October 1995, he played for two bands called Syar and Maineeaxe where he played guitar, and already knew Robin Beanland, another Rare composer. Kirkhope's music featuring an electric guitar is played on an Ernie Ball/Musicman EVH given to him by Eddie Van Halen. Kirkhope's skills on guitar can be heard on Killer Instinct Gold, Perfect Dark, Star Fox Adventures or Grabbed by the Ghoulies.


When Kirkhope joined Rare, due to being the "new boy", he was assigned to convert the music of Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy's Kong Quest for Donkey Kong Land 2, he finished the conversion in December of the same year. He was later asked by Graeme Norgate to finish composing the music for GoldenEye 007 so that Norgate could focus on Blast Corps. Norgate taught Kirkhope how to get music and sound effects into the Nintendo 64. His work on the game eventually reached Tim Stamper and Gregg Mayles, who reassigned him to compose for Project Dream with David Wise, who left the project shortly after to work on Diddy Kong Racing.[1]

On 14 July 2008, Kirkhope stated in his Myspace blog that he was resigning from Rare. He joined THQ studio Big Huge Games, as audio director.[2]

Big Huge Games was acquired by 38 Studios in May 2009, the company founded by Curt Schilling. Kirkhope went on to compose both the music and sound effects for Big Huge Games's million selling role-playing game Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning, which was released in February 2012.[3]

On 24 May 2012, 38 Studios announced that it would be laying-off its entire staff, including Kirkhope and the employees of Big Huge Games, due to the effects of the financial downturn.[4]

In June 2012, Grant Kirkhope played at several festivals with fellow members of the reunited band Little Angels. In 24 July, Kirkhope announced that he had composed music for the Zynga video game CityVille 2 with an announced release date of October.[5][6]

In August 2012, he moved to Los Angeles to further pursue his composing career.

On 25 March 2013, Grant appeared as a guest on web series Game Grumps, becoming the first (and thus far the only) guest on the show. He was interviewed by the show's hosts Jon Jafari and Arin Hanson while playing through several of the games he composed, including Banjo-Kazooie, GoldenEye and Donkey Kong 64.[7] Also in March, Kirkhope's score for Viva Piñata was voted into the Hall of Fame of Classic FM, as the fourth highest new entry at 174.[8]

In June 2013 Kirkhope was signed to the prestigious The Gorfaine/Schwartz Agency, Inc. in Los Angeles.

In the 2014 Classic FM Hall of Fame, Viva Piñata rose to number 54,[9] while Kirkhope's score for Banjo Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts entered the chart at number 50.[10] Also Kirkhope's score for Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning entered the chart at number 75.[11]

At EGX Rezzed 2015, it was confirmed by the development team at Playtonic Games that Kirkhope will be involved with producing the soundtrack for their new 3D platforming video game, known currently as Project Ukulele. He will be working alongside fellow composers David Wise and Steve Burke.



Title Year System Notes
Killer Instinct 2/Gold 1996 Arcade, Nintendo 64 Live guitar and trumpet
Donkey Kong Land 2 1996 Game Boy Conversion of David Wise's Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy's Kong Quest soundtrack
GoldenEye 007 1997 Nintendo 64 with Graeme Norgate and Robin Beanland
Project Dream Canceled SNES, Nintendo 64 Revamped into Banjo-Kazooie
Banjo-Kazooie 1998 Nintendo 64
Donkey Kong 64[13] 1999 Nintendo 64
Banjo-Tooie 2000 Nintendo 64
Perfect Dark 2000 Nintendo 64 With David Clynick and Graeme Norgate[14]
Star Fox Adventures 2002 GameCube Live guitar
Grabbed by the Ghoulies 2003 Xbox
Viva Piñata 2006 Xbox 360, Windows With Steve Burke
Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts 2008 Xbox 360 With Robin Beanland and David Clynick
Viva Piñata: Trouble in Paradise 2008 Xbox 360
Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning 2012 Xbox 360, Windows, PlayStation 3 With Mark Cromer
Fart Cat! 2012 iOS
CityVille 2 2012 Zynga, Facebook
Desktop Dungeons 2013 Windows, OS X With Danny Baranowsky
Castle of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse 2013 Windows, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 Remastering of original game's soundtrack by Shigenori Kamiya,
along with original compositions.
Puzzle Charms 2014 Zynga, Facebook
Yaiba: Ninja Gaiden Z[15] 2014 Xbox 360, PlayStation 3
Civilization: Beyond Earth 2014 Windows With Geoff Knorr, Michael Curran and Griffin Cohen
The Enchanted Cave 2 2014 Mobile
Hex Heroes[16] 2015 Wii U, Linux, OS X, Windows
Lobodestroyo 2015 Multiple Platforms With Cooper Goodwin
A Hat in Time TBA Windows, OS X With Pascal Michael Stiefel
Project Ukulele TBA Windows, OS X With David Wise and Steve Burke

He also voiced several characters in the games he worked on, such as Mumbo Jumbo, Bottles, Jamjars and the Jinjos in the Banjo-Kazooie series, and Donkey Kong in Donkey Kong 64.[17][18][19]


  1. ^ "Grant Kirkhope.Dream Music Compositions". Retrieved 13 May 2013. 
  2. ^ [1][dead link]
  3. ^ "Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning launching February 7, 2012". Joystiq. 16 August 2011. Retrieved 16 August 2011. 
  4. ^ "38 Studios Lays Off Entire Staff – IGN". 24 May 2012. Retrieved 13 May 2013. 
  5. ^ "I'm still here …". 24 July 2012. Retrieved 13 May 2013. 
  6. ^ "La ……". 18 August 2012. Retrieved 13 May 2013. 
  7. ^
  8. ^ "Hall of Fame | Classic FM". Retrieved 13 May 2013. 
  9. ^ Classic FM Hall of Fame 2014: Nos 60–51. Accessed 21 April 2014
  10. ^ Classic FM Hall of Fame 2014: Banjo Kazooie. Accessed 21 April 2014
  11. ^ [2]
  12. ^ "Game Music :: Video Game Music News". Retrieved 13 May 2013. 
  13. ^ "Donkey Kong 64 Video Game Music Compositions". Grant Kirkhope. Archived from the original on 18 September 2010. Retrieved 18 September 2010. 
  14. ^ "Perfect Dark Dual CD Soundtrack". 
  15. ^ "Podcasts – Grant Kirkhope". Muscle Tower. 30 December 2012. Retrieved 13 May 2013. 
  16. ^ Schulenberg, Thomas (30 March 2014). "Hex Heroes is a five-player real-time strategy game for Wii U". Joystiq. Retrieved 18 April 2014. 
  17. ^ "Grant Kirkhope. Video Game Composer, Banjo Kazooie Video Games Music Compositions". Retrieved 13 May 2013. 
  18. ^ "Grant Kirkhope. Video Game Composer. Donkey Kong 64 video game music compositions". Retrieved 13 May 2013. 
  19. ^ "Grant Kirkhope Interview Part 2 – DK Rap featured". Nintendo 14 September 2012. Retrieved 13 May 2013. 

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