Kenneth Young (Scottish composer)
|Genres||Video Game Music|
|Occupation(s)||Composer, musician, sound designer, audio director, writer|
|Instruments||Fiddle, Guitar, Nyckelharpa, Cello, Viola, Mandolin, Concertina, Ukulele|
Kenneth Young, also known as Kenneth C. M. Young or Kenny Young, is a Scottish freelance audio director, composer, sound designer and writer. He is best known for his award winning work as the Head of Audio at video game developer Media Molecule, including the games LittleBigPlanet, LittleBigPlanet 2, Tearaway and Tearaway Unfolded.
Early life and education
Young was born in Edinburgh, Scotland, and had a strong musical upbringing, learning the violin from the age of six, but chose not to pursue performance as a career and instead went on to study an undergraduate degree in Music Technology at The University of Edinburgh. That course introduced him to working creatively with sound and he went on to gain an MA in Sound Design at Bournemouth University for which he received a distinction.
Young began his professional career in 2004 working as a junior sound designer in the centralised audio department of Sony London Studio. Here, he worked on a broad range of different gaming experiences and hardware platforms, from action-adventure games such as The Getaway: Black Monday and Heavenly Sword to more family-friendly and innovative titles such as EyeToy: Kinetic. He has described this period as "an apprenticeship" and a "baptism by fire" which stood him in good stead for his future game audio work.
LittleBigPlanet's audio aesthetic: minimal, playful yet endlessly customizable building blocks of sound and music that support, underpin and emphasize the playfulness inherent in the game's unique art direction, character design and game design structure. Rather than seamlessly flowing together, the varied pieces of music work together much like the patchwork evident in the game's visual assets, nowhere is this aesthetic more evident than in the many user created online levels. Again, a difficult game to imagine working without the many unique aspects to its audio direction.— Rob Bridgett, Game Audio Culture, p. 44
The audio experience in LittleBigPlanet was very well received, garnering an exceptional eight GANG award nominations in 2009, more than any other game that year, and four academy nominations. Young and fellow composer Mat Clark won the GANG awards for Best Original Instrumental (for 'The Gardens') and Best Interactive Score.
For LittleBigPlanet 2, Young built upon the eclecticism of the original's soundtrack by working with six other composers, the results of which achieved a nomination in 2012 for Outstanding Achievement in Original Music Composition from the Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences.
Tearaway's folk-infused soundtrack received a 2014 British Academy Video Games Award nomination for Original Music and is notable for its hand-made aesthetic, being written and performed entirely by Young and co-composer Brian D'Oliveira. Kotaku's Kirk Hamilton considered it one of the best video game soundtracks of 2013, writing "It's jarring to hear out-of-tune instruments in a video game; we've become so accustomed to pitch-perfect digital performances that any hint of humanity is startling. I'd like to be startled like this more often".
On 27 February 2015, Young announced that he was leaving Media Molecule to pursue a freelance career.
The official videogame soundtrack album for Tearaway was released alongside the game as a pre-order bonus on 22 November 2013. The album was later made available to the public via the PlayStation Network.
The official videogame soundtrack album for WonderWorlds was released on 11 December 2017.
Young started the website gamesound.org in 2005 "as a useful resource for those who work in, aspire to work in, or wish to learn more about game sound". Most of his own writing featured on the site is focussed on the subject of the use of voice in games. He has twice won the GANG Best Game Audio Article Publication or Broadcast award for his articles The Use of Voice in Portal 2 (2012) and The Mix in The Last of Us (2015).
He has also written for designingsound.org, and contributed a chapter to the book Production Pipeline Fundamentals for Film and Games, edited by Renee Dunlop, entitled The Game Audio Pipeline.
Awards and nominations
|2018||Nominated||HMMA||Original Song - Video Game||Astro Bot Rescue Mission|
|Nominated||GANG||Best Music for an Indie Game||WonderWorlds|
|2017||Nominated||GANG||Best Interactive Score||Tethered|
|Nominated||GANG||Best Game Audio Article Publication or Broadcast||The VR Soundscape of Secret Sorcery's Tethered|
|2016||Nominated||GANG||Music of the Year||Tearaway Unfolded|
|Nominated||TIGA||Best Audio Design||Tearaway Unfolded|
|2015||Won||GANG||Best Game Audio Article Publication or Broadcast||The Mix In 'The Last of Us'|
|Won||GANG||Best Handheld Audio||Tearaway|
|Nominated||SXSW||Excellence in Musical Score||Tearaway|
|Nominated||Golden Joysticks||Best Audio||Tearaway|
|Nominated||GMAs||Outstanding Achievement: In-Game Music||Tearaway|
|Nominated||GMAs||Best Soundtrack: Western||Tearaway|
|Won||IGN||Best PS Vita Sound||Tearaway|
|Won||The Vita Lounge||Best Soundtrack||Tearaway|
|2012||Nominated||AIAS||Outstanding Achievement in Original Music Composition||LittleBigPlanet 2|
|Nominated||GANG||Best Use of Licensed Music||LittleBigPlanet 2|
|Nominated||GDC||Best Audio||LittleBigPlanet 2|
|Won||GMAs||Outstanding Achievement: Licensed Music||LittleBigPlanet 2|
|Nominated||NAVGTR||Original Light Mix Score, Franchise||LittleBigPlanet 2|
|Won||GANG||Best Game Audio Article Publication or Broadcast||The Use of Voice in Portal 2|
|Nominated||BAFTA||Use of Audio||LittleBigPlanet|
|Nominated||AIAS||Outstanding Achievement in Sound Design||LittleBigPlanet|
|Nominated||AIAS||Outstanding Achievement in Soundtrack||LittleBigPlanet|
|Won||AIAS||Outstanding Achievement in Character Performance||LittleBigPlanet|
|Won||GANG||Best Interactive Score||LittleBigPlanet|
|Won||GANG||Best Original Instrumental||LittleBigPlanet (for 'The Gardens', tied with 'Main Theme' from Africa)|
|Nominated||GANG||Audio of the Year||LittleBigPlanet|
|Nominated||GANG||Music of the Year||LittleBigPlanet|
|Nominated||GANG||Sound Design of the Year||LittleBigPlanet|
|Nominated||GANG||Best Original Vocal: Choral||LittleBigPlanet|
|Nominated||GANG||Best Use of Licensed Music||LittleBigPlanet|
|Nominated||TEC Awards||Outstanding Creative Achievement in Interactive Entertainment Sound Production||LittleBigPlanet|
|Nominated||Spike VGAs||Best Original Score||LittleBigPlanet|
|Nominated||Spike VGAs||Best Soundtrack||LittleBigPlanet|
- Burnard, Pamela (2012). "The Practice of Diverse Compositional Creativites". In Collins, David (Ed.) The Act of Musical Composition: Studies in the Creative Process, p. 241, Ashgate Publishing Limited, Farnham, England. ISBN 9781409434252.
- "Official website biography", gamesound.org, retrieved 4 November 2014.
- Burnard, Pamela (2012). "Musical Creativities In Practice" p. 188, Oxford University Press, Oxford, England. ISBN 9780199583942.
- "Audio Interviewing Audio: Tomoya Kishi and Kenneth Young", designingsound.org, retrieved 5 November 2014.
- Kenneth Young (V) IMDB profile, imdb.com, retrieved 5 November 2014.
- Burnard, Pamela (2012). "Musical Creativities In Practice" p. 189-190, Oxford University Press, Oxford, England. ISBN 9780199583942.
- Bridgett, Rob (2013). "Game Audio Culture" p. 44, Blurb.com
- "LittleBigPlanet snags eight nominations in GANG audio awards", joystiq.com, retrieved 4 November 2014.
- "BAFTA Games Awards 2009", awards.bafta.org, retrieved 4 November 2014.
- "AIAS 2009 Awards LittleBigPlanet Details", interactive.org, retrieved 4 November 2014.
- "DC 2009: G.A.N.G. AWARDS, THE “WOW, IT’S BRIGHT UP HERE.” DRINKING GAME.", originalsoundversion.com, retrieved 4 November 2014.
- "The Music of LittleBigPlanet 2", mediamolecule.com, retrieved 6 November 2014.
- "AIAS 2012 Awards Category Details", interactive.org, retrieved 4 November 2014.
- "BAFTA Games Awards 2014", awards.bafta.org, retrieved 4 November 2014.
- "Behind The Music of Tearaway", thevitalounge.net, retrieved 6 November 2014.
- "The Best Video Game Music Of 2013", kotaku.com, retrieved 4 November 2014.
- "Tearaway Unfolded looks to be a summer release", destructoid.com, retrieved 3 October 2015.
- "Tearaway pre-order bonus includes soundtrack, exclusive skins and more", polygon.com, retrieved 4 November 2014.
- "Tearaway Soundtrack Available Today", blog.us.playstation.com, retrieved 4 November 2014.
- "Tearaway® Unfolded Soundtrack", https://store.playstation.com, retrieved 3 October 2015.
- "Tearaway® Unfolded (Original Soundtrack)", https://itunes.apple.com, retrieved 27 October 2015.
- "Tethered (Original Soundtrack)", https://store.playstation.com, retrieved 8 March 2017.
- "Tethered - Original Soundtrack", steampowered.com, retrieved 8 March 2017.
- "WonderWorlds (Original Soundtrack)", https://itunes.apple.com, retrieved 11 December 2017.
- "Gamesound.org Articles by Kenneth Young", gamesound.org, retrieved 6 November 2014.
- "10th Annual GANG Awards", audiogang.org, retrieved 4 November 2014.
- "GANG Awards 2014 Final Winners", http://www.audiogang.org, retrieved 3 October 2015.
- "The Sound of Tearaway", designingsound.org, retrieved 6 November 2014.
- "Production Pipeline Fundamentals for Film and Games - Editor and Contributor Information", http://documents.routledge-interactive.s3.amazonaws.com, retrieved 3 October 2015.
- "Complete list of 2018 HMMA Music In Visual Media Nominations", hmmawards.com, retrieved 18 October 2018.
- "G.A.N.G. 2017 Finalists", audiogang.org, retrieved 20 February 2018.
- "15th Annual G.A.N.G. Award Nominees", audiogang.org, retrieved 8 March 2017.
- "Finalists for the 14th annual Game Audio Network Guild Awards Announced", audiogang.org, retrieved 25 March 2016.
- "TIGA 2016 Awards Categories' Shortlists", tiga.org, retrieved 11 November 2016.
- "GANG AWARDS 2014 FINAL WINNERS", audiogang.org, retrieved 8 June 2015.
- "Games In 2014", bafta.org, retrieved 8 March 2017.
- "GANG AWARDS 2013 FINAL WINNERS", audiogang.org, retrieved 4 November 2014.
- "14th Annual Game Developers Choice Awards", gamechoiceawards.com, retrieved 4 November 2014.
- "2014 SXSW Gaming Awards Finalists", sxsw.com, retrieved 4 November 2014.
- "Golden Joysticks 2014 voting begins" Archived 10 January 2015 at WebCite, computerandvideogames.com, retrieved 4 November 2014.
- "Annual Game Music Awards 2013", vgmonline.net, retrieved 4 November 2014.
- "Best PS Vita Sound", ign.com, retrieved 4 November 2014.
- "The Best of the Vita: Year Two", thevitalounge.net, retrieved 4 November 2014.
- "2012 AWARDS CATEGORY DETAILS", interactive.org, retrieved 8 March 2017.
- "12th Annual Game Developers Choice Awards", gamechoiceawards.com, retrieved 4 November 2014.
- "Annual Game Music Awards 2011 Winners", vgmonline.net, retrieved 4 November 2014.
- "NAVGTR 2011 Awards", http://navgtr.org, retrieved 1 June 2016.
- "Voices of Sackboy", behindthevoiceactors.com, retrieved 5 November 2014.
- "9th Annual Game Developers Choice Awards", gamechoiceawards.com, retrieved 4 November 2014.
- "2009 Nominees for Outstanding Creative Achievement", tecawards.org, retrieved 15 March 2015.
- "Presenting the 2008 Spike Video Game Award nominees" Archived 20 November 2012 at WebCite, joystiq.com, retrieved 4 November 2014.