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Paul Anthony Romero – The Interview

Daniel Aleksander Krause | 21-04-2022 r.


On February 25th 2020, two special concerts took place in the Lutosławski Studio in Warsaw. Fans of the Heroes of Might and Magic video games series could listen to their favorite soundtracks played by the marvellous Heroes Orchestra along with the composer himself, Paul Anthony Romero. The next day, two of our editors, Daniel Krause and Dominik Chomiczewski, had the highest pleasure to meet the artist and ask him a few questions. You can read the interview below.

Daniel Krause: Paul Anthony Romero is with us. It’s such an honor to meet you, thank you for coming!

Paul Anthony Romero: Oh, thank you.

DK: How did you like yesterday’s evening? You’ve had two concerts with this young orchestra, there was a lot of your fans and members of the Heroes fan community. What are your feelings about it?

PAR: It was incredible in many different ways just because of how the orchestra got started. It’s just so organic… I don’t even know how to describe it – when people get together and they want to play music that you did for a computer game. The funny thing is that when I started doing music for computer games, I never thought anybody would listen to it, because it’s just going to be the background sound for gameplay. So for me it was like painting a wall to the backdrop of a painting or something. It never occurred to me that people would actually really listen. And then over the years that people wanted to get together and they learned the music on their own and they formed an orchestra. You would never even think that would happen. So it was fantastic to play with an orchestra that just sort of came out of people’s imaginations because of some video games. I can’t really describe it. I think that it’s like… if you’re a painter and you paint a painting and then one day a group of people make this painting come true in real life and they want you to come over and jump inside the painting and be in the painting with them as they make it happen on stage. That’s how it felt, like you have a musical comparison to that. I loved it. It was an incredible and miraculous experience.

DK: We could really see your enthusiasm. You looked really excited with every piece you played…

PAR: I was! One of the great things about it is that a lot of the arrangements – it’s their version! It’s how they hear the music and how they see it and how they want it to be. So I wasn’t at the rehearsals saying “No, that doesn’t really sound like the original”, because that was not my job to do that. The originals are already there. We did the originals a long time ago. Now this is a new generation and a new, almost fresh interpretation of how they want the music to be. So I just go along with it. I want it to be new and fresh and I want it to be their experience, so I was happy to be a part of their experience. People often ask me “What do you want to do? Is there anything you want to tell the conductor, do you want to make it more like the original?” No, not at all. I’m here to participate in his vision of my music.

Dominik Chomiczewski: Do you have a favorite performance by the Heroes Orchestra?

PAR: It’s actually not even when I’m playing on. I love Chaos and Nature.

DK: Nature is also my favourite.

DC: Mine too.

PAR: Yes, I like that one because I have a lot of memories. When we made the original recording, there was a lot of problems with it. We had a Bulgarian choir in Los Angeles recordings the female parts. These were all American women who speak Bulgarian. The language was not Bulgarian, but we needed their sound, how they make sound. So we recorded them in Los Angeles and by accident we did the wrong speed of the recording. It made their voices much higher sounding, it made the women sound like children. But that wasn’t intentional. And we couldn’t go backwards because we couldn’t afford to bring the choir back in and re-record it. We found that out after the recording was over, when we were doing editing shifts… [laughs] We had to change everything to suit this faster speed and that’s why it had that weird sound… That moment when they bend their voices – originally that wasn’t the choir! That was me in the studio behind the keyboard. That little dip was this finger. [laughs] To hear them last night duplicate that sound was really fantastic and so powerful.

DK: That’s interesting. I was pretty sure that was a children’s choir!

PAR: No, no… it was a mistake. [laughs]

DK: It’s not the first time when you’re visiting Poland. You have been performing in Wrocław and you’ve also had a tour in Russia. It seems like you’ve got some sort of a connection to Eastern Europe. What are your feelings about it?

PAR: I don’t know. You know, it’s that I don’t know why it happened that way. The games were more popular in Eastern Europe and I don’t really know why? But if people want to hear the music again and I can come up, I’ll play anywhere I like. I love to play music. If somebody asks me to play in Japan, I go to Japan as possible. So I don’t have any limitation as long as there are people who want to hear it.

I think a long time ago it was never on my agenda to promote my music as concert music. It was never anything that I even tried to do. It kept coming to me as people would say “Can you come and play your Heroes music as a piano concert?” I went to Hungary, to Budapest, and I did a little concert for some Hungarians. And then from that little concert, I think I realized “Oh, this actually might be nice for a concert experience”. They put that concert on Youtube and I think that heard it. These people in Russia, Neoclassica, heard it and then it started – “Could you come to Poland? Could you come to Russia? We’d like to try to make your music come alive. Can you give us the notations for the orchestra to play?” And I had to refuse, as I don’t have the orchestrations because we didn’t do it that way. I did it on a keyboard, I played all the parts. So in Russia they said “we’re gonna hire somebody to orchestrate and just come and play with it”. The same thing in Poland. That’s what happened. [laughs] And now in different countries I have different versions of the same music. There’s with their own Symphony of Heroes, there I have the Heroes Orchestra with their vision and then in Russia there’s Neoclassica. It’s interesting.

DK: Most of the music in the games was created with a computer. Have you ever thought about rerecording it with a live orchestra and choir?

PAR: Now we’re thinking about it. I grew up as a classical composer, but writing music for games is different – everything is like two or three minutes? It’s very, very short. I always thought that if I wrote a big work for orchestra, it would not be a computer game piece. It would be more like a symphony. Now I think there’s a couple of orchestras who would like to rerecord the soundtrack. We have to figure that out, whether it would be my own orchestrations and I’m trying to duplicate the original or I make a whole new version of it in a much larger symphonic way. – they have their own version of my music, but it’s their interpretation. So yes, I guess one day I would have to do my own interpretation of my music.

DK: I think you’ve had some plans to compose a Heroes Symphony?

PAR: Oh yeah. I was doing it then. And then they did it before me. [laughs]

DK: So the fans are faster. [laughs]

PAR: Yeah, the fans are faster. [laughs] So then I started working on my other projects. Now that that there are more possibilities of doing that, probably we’ll go back to finish it. It’s hard sometimes, you know, when you don’t necessarily want to keep going backwards. I mean I love it, the performances are great, but if I’m going to put a huge amount of work in, maybe I want to do something that’s different and new? I have other things that I am working on, it’s just a question of where your head is? I started doing the first Heroes when I was 30. And I was like 36 when I was doing Heroes III. Now I’m 54. What do I want – to keep doing stuff that I did in my 30s or do I want to do something that goes more into the… I don’t know. This is the artistic question. [laughs] That’s why it’s nice that there are other people who are doing some of this for me so I can just come in and perform and listen. And it’s great. So I’ll see if I can do a better version than anybody else or maybe this is already good.

DC: In childhood you were a multi-award pianist and a child prodigy. Do you think that your early years influenced your current compositions?

PAR: Oh yeah. Totally! I started playing piano when I was three. I just taught myself. Whenever I heard whatever sounds I like, I was just able to duplicate it. The first sounds I liked were Chopin. I listened to his magical music, it was so beautiful to me. You know, my parents are Mexican and they were always listening to Mexican music. They had a stereo and one day they were just listening to the radio and a Chopin Nocturne came on. So when I heard this music, which is so different and so exotic, so beautiful… I was like “wow, what is that sound?” And I would hear it and try to play it on the piano. Then listen to it again and play once again.

From listening to the music by Chopin and Liszt I was able to figure out physically how to make this sound. It was the physical process of listening to something. Your hands learn how to duplicate that – it’s like learning a language with your hands. I wasn’t listening to rock 'n’ roll, so I’m not doing Elton John in my head. I can’t even play Elton John, I don’t know how to do it. My hands were just sort of naturally developed with 19th century European music. So because of learning how to duplicate the romantic composers, like Chopin, Rachmaninoff or Liszt, my hands were able to have their own physical choreography for this kind of musical language. When I sit down and I want to improvise music, my hands naturally make romantic music in the style of Chopin – that’s what they’re physically used to. Now if somebody says, “Oh, can you compose music in the style of Prokofiev or Mussorgsky or Haendel?” – it’s easy because I don’t even have to think about it. My fingers just know where to go. Then all I got to do is notate it. So that’s how my early years of playing the piano and being able to play the repertoire of Bach, Scarlatti, Rachmaninoff, Schubert and Tchaikovsky influenced me. That’s also something that gaming gave me… it’s a fun career because it’s not like I write in one style of music. I have to write what’s necessary for the project.

DK: Where did the idea to illustrate the Tower with a waltz come from?

PAR: The waltz is directly inspired by Rachmaninoff’s Symphonic Dances 2nd movement and Oscar Hammerstein’s Cinderella song called The Sweetest Sounds. I love the Rachmaninoff orchestrations, the woodwinds spiraling upwards towards heaven, around the dark Russian melody. Rachmaninoff’s music is so haunting to me that I wanted more of it and this was a great opportunity to write a Russian-inspired waltz similar to his. The rising woodwinds remind me of the wind blowing around a very tall tower, like invisible ribbons. The melody of the Tower was inspired by one of my favorite records as a child: Barbra Streisand… And Other Musical Instruments. I loved Barbara’s voice as a kid, and I listened to her sing every day. Her voice had an emotional thrill that I have always tried to capture as a composer and pianist.

DC: Apart from Chopin, do you sometimes listen to other Polish composers?

PAR: Actually… I did a concert of Lutosławski. I’m not familiar with a lot of Polish composers, unfortunately. I mean everybody knows Paderewski – he was so popular he became the prime minister. Is there a movie about that?

DK: No, I don’t think so.

PAR: That would be a great movie about a pianist who become a prime minister. He was great. Today that would be very unusual, right? It’s just not the normal way of thinking. That would be a beautiful movie. [laughs] He’s a legend, right?

DC: He also spent his last years in the US.

PAR: Yeah. He was like the new Franz Liszt. There were women who would faint when they saw him and his long, beautiful hair and his mustache. It’s interesting – his physical beauty, his piano playing and then becoming the prime minister. It’s an amazing career. That’s a life. I would love to see a movie about that.

DK: Well, unfortunately we don’t make movies, but we do like the idea!

Speaking about Polish composers, some techniques that you used in the Necropolis theme from the third Heroes sound a little bit similar to Wojciech Kilar’s Bram Stoker’s Dracula.

PAR: Oh, yes! Well, actually, it is a violin part from a great violin concerto, I think the Brahms’s Concerto. This is a very famous thing that romantic composers use for violin performance. Many composers used that. I loved it from before Bram Stoker’s soundtrack, because when I was in music school, I had to play the piano for a lot of violinists. I remember this from playing the accompaniment for Tchaikovsky, Wieniawski, Brahms… so many violin concertos have this particular sound. Then I heard Bram Stoker’s Dracula… I love that soundtrack very, very much and I listened to it a lot. The minute you hear at the beginning of the movie… tadada! And then over and over again… [laughs]

DK: There was a live performance of that music at the Film Music Festival in Cracow.

PAR: Oh really? I love that. I love the look of the movie. I always watch that movie over and over again – just even parts of it. They’re like paintings.

DK: Yeah. Speaking about the Necropolis once again – you’re obviously referring to the famous Dies Irae chant. You also use that in the main theme from Heroes V and in the Academy Theme from Heroes VII. Where did the idea to use it come from?

PAR: When I was a little kid, I loved Totentanz by Franz Liszt. He used that. And then Mozart used it. Also Rachmaninoff used it in the Isle of the Dead – one of the greatest works I heard when I was a kid. I grew up Catholic, too… The sound of it… I love it. It just sounds. Even if you don’t know what it is, the sound of that melody is very intriguing. For almost a thousand years, humans sort of naturally liked that tune, composers like it. It’s like when you hear Fur Elise or the Moonlight Sonata – everybody likes it. I don’t know why. There is something about the simplicity – it connects humans. That’s why I always wanted to use that.

DC: Rachmaninoff seems to be one of your favourite composers. Did he inspire you to use that theme?

PAR: Yeah. Especially hearing it in his and Brahms’s music. When I was a little kid, whatever people I loved were doing – I wanted to do that. There was an American singer named Liza Minnelli. She was a great pop and movie star. She always wore sequins on her clothes, because she would sweat a lot. This way when you’re sweating, it doesn’t look wet. Now when I do a tour, sometimes I’ll wear a jacket. It’s all secret because I’m really working hard, but I’m sweating. And it doesn’t show. [laughs] So it is a good trick. Another thing – when I was a little kid, I went to classical piano concerts. Nobody spoke. People – they just go up and they play. Nobody talks to the audience. And I loved it when I saw pop stars when they would speak about the songs to the audience. So now when I want to go on tour, I try to talk to the audience so they understand why I’m playing this music, what’s the story behind it. I like to connect verbally, not just to play the music. I saw that growing up – that’s too boring. I don’t even know what they’re playing. I don’t know why they’re playing. Somebody could be great on stage and you like the music, but you don’t know why they think it’s great. That’s what I would want to know – why, from a million pieces of music they can play, they’re playing that one? Like last night, it was interesting to see why this orchestra chose these particular pieces – because those are the ones that they like for specific reasons.

DK: Many memories…

PAR: Yeah. Everybody’s different, everybody has a different feeling about things.

DK: As a pianist, do you have a favorite performer?

PAR: Yeah. My favorite pianist was Vladimir Horowitz. His sound is very specific. I don’t know why it’s so specific, but it’s exact. Nobody can mistake his sound. There are 10 billion pianists, pianos are probably the most recorded instrument in the world. But everybody knows that sound. Why does that man make such an individual sound? I don’t know why that is. That’s interesting. Otherwise, there’s all this other pianists – you don’t know who it is. They all sound the same. But then there’s one that sounds so unique and so different.

DK: Most modern composers use computers to compose music, whereas more “oldschool” artists like John Williams and Ennio Morricone still prefer paper and pencil. What’s your approach to composing?

PAR: I do paper and pencil. I don’t even use electronic notation. I actually have to notate it, because it gives you an extra moment to really think about what you’re doing. You know, those little details that can make a big difference on the expression of a melody. I always find that little extra time makes a big difference. Mozart and all these other composers, they wrote tons and tons of music and it’s all hand notated. So it doesn’t mean that it’s going to slow down the process. It’s just a different way. Just when you see the flow of the notes, you can actually see how your body naturally wants the phrase to go. I can see even the way I did the lines – it actually has a curve to it. You can’t do that on electronic notation. You won’t actually see the physicality of the music coming through your fingers on the notation.

DK: Howard Shore said that for him writing the music on paper is a very visual experience.

PAR: It is, it is. It’s almost like painting. You know, sometimes I go with graphology when you can see how somebody signs a name. You can see a lot of their personality, of what they’re like in the real life. Do they go to the left, do they go to the right? Do they do a line under their signature? Is it big or small? [laughs]

DK: Absolutely. Going back to Heroes – one of the revolutionary things about the music was that in the second game you introduced opera voices, which was quite unusual for video games. For example in City of Sorceress you combine a mezzo-soprano with bagpipes, which is also a pretty exotic combination. What was the idea behind that and behind using opera voices in general?

PAR: I have a lot of friends who are musicians and I thought I can get them for free or at least I don’t have to pay them very much. Most of the orchestrations were going to be electronic, but I wanted to have live sounds. So I got my friends to do it. I got Brock as a saxophonist, I got my friends who are singers and my friend who’s a flutist… it really was based on friends. Actually at the time I didn’t have any tenor friends. That’s why there’s no tenor. I only had a baritone, a bass and a mezzo soprano friend. So it wasn’t out of a minding, it was more like „Hey, do you want to be a part of this?”

With City of Sorceress… Rob King who’s my producer would say „Just think of the image of the highlands in Scotland. It’s on the top of the cliff, very simple greenery. What would be out there and what’s the sound of a very large open space that’s green?” So I thought that bagpipes and some voices would be nice. He always gives me the emotional image or feeling and I just go with it.

DK: The vocal parts in the Heroes series have become pretty famous! You’ve used many different inspirations for the lyrics – for example in Heroes II they contain sentences from Nietzsche and the Bible. How do you prepare or choose the lyrics for the singers?

PAR: Lyrics can come from any and every source. I try to start with my own heroes, like Mozart, Brahms, or Britney Spears. I first ask myself many questions before the search for lyrics begin: „What are my icons lyrics and how do they get lyrics? What is the feeling or story I am trying to convey? What language would be appropriate for this project? How unusual or exotic will the producers allow me?” So once I can answer the basic inner questions, I can begin the search for lyrics in every way. A few years ago I did an installation of the Heroes games (Might & Magic VII: Heroes). I chose the ancient Celtic language of Gaulish and I was able to find poetry and phrases that matched exactly the feeling of the music that I wanted.

DK: When creating the style of Heroes, you started with baroque inspirations, then you went for a more romantic sound. In the fourth game, you’ve started introducing more ethnic and folk sounds. What was the process of choosing the path of this evolution?

PAR: In the first one I was asked by Rob King… He is a rock and roll singer and he produces rock music. He got the job as audio director for New World and he said to me „Oh, we’re doing a game called Heroes of Might and Magic, it has castles and stuff like that and we need music that sounds old”. He doesn’t know how to write old music, so he just asked me if I can try something. I came in with a little keyboard and we were trying to decide what style we should use. I mean, what does „old” mean? We were listening to some medieval music, but it was too simple. Then we had an idea to use music like Tchaikovsky, but it was too heavy. So we were just trying different styles until we came across some Haendel and The Seasons by Vivaldi. And that was good, that was perfect. We only had like 50 sounds on the computer because we had very little technology. So we had a little harpsichord sound on the computers, some bad violins, some woodwinds and timpanis. But yeah, I could use those sounds and do a baroque score. And we did it – he put me in a room and I had a whole week to do the music. That’s how we started.

It was baroque music for the first thing. In the second game Rob said that we need a little different sound. So maybe no more harpsichord, maybe put piano and then we’ll have some singers and bagpipes to make it more exotic. And then when Heroes III came along, we got more technology, more sound banks, more samples. That’s why we could have went a little more romantic, more… Rachmaninovian. Rachmaninoff and the 19th century romantic composers were a big inspiration for Heroes III, because we had the capability of the sound to do that. So as we had more technology with the sounds of instruments, that’s how the evolution happened. What was interesting was for me that I thought the music gets better. I love Heroes VII and I know some people don’t like the game, but for me the music is the best. That’s my perspective because it’s more cinematic – I can make it much more epic and more detailed. But a lot of people who like Heroes I… they don’t like that. „What happened to the music? It used to be so simple and I could hear the melody, now it’s too much like a movie.” My goal was to make it more like a movie because all I’m thinking about is myself. I want the sound to be better and more epic. But they’re thinking about more of the game itself. It was an interesting realization.

DK: I think it’s also the sentimental value.

PAR: Yes, it is. „I wanted it to be like this, it was much nicer like this before”. I could see, you know, that maybe I needed to be „more”, but it’s not necessarily other people’s need. They want it to be more simple.

DK: All of the games contain some very rhythmic, heavily ethnic, almost dance-like action cues. Where did the idea for them come from?

PAR: Rob King, my producer on the Heroes soundtracks, creates many of the rhythmic tracks. He will change the moods within the track and the tempo. He knows the vibe that is appropriate for the part of the game that requires more than orchestrations. Once he is finished with the rhythmic track, I will compose and orchestrate music that will fit with the rhythms and officially every type of rhythm can work. Afro, Latin, Celtic, Roman, Irish, Aboriginal….

Not related, I had an Aztec percussionist create a track for us with authentic Aztec water-filled drums. I told him the BPM that I wanted, and he then recorded about 3 minutes straight of Aztec rhythms. We recorded him and after listening to his creation for about 2 weeks, I was able to compose and orchestrate music with full orchestra and choir laid right on top of his beautiful rhythms.

DK: You’ve also written some movie scores. Another game music composer, Inon Zur, said that he prefers games over movies, because they give him more artistic freedom. What do you think about that?

PAR: Oh, yeah. I don’t think it’s harder, but it’s different. I know a lot of people who ask me how to do computer games. Music is so different. Each piece of music has to be complete. And regarding the way the game plays, this music has got to kind of match in a way with the next piece, so when you jump back and forth, the sounds joins… But in a movie, it’s not like that. You can get one melody and it can stop and start and disappear and it never has to come back again. To me a movie is sort of like a conversation with somebody. You don’t keep going back to the same conversation. A game is more like buying a CD where you’re going to listen to this every day and each little song has its own little universe. It’s a completely different technique. Completely. Computer game music is more satisfying to me too because each piece of music has to have a beginning, a middle and an end. Even though it is small as it is, it has to be completely finished.

DK: Starting from Heroes IV, you started experimenting with ethnic sounds. You’ve covered a lot of different styles, like Asian, Arabic, Celtic and many other sounds. How did you prepare to for that? Did you use any source materials?

PAR: We’ve got a very good friend from Armenia. Every time we go to his house, we always listen to Armenian music. They give me the music that they brought from Armenia and ask me to play the piano while they’re singing and playing the violin. So just by going to this friend’s house all the time, I was exposed to a lot of this beautiful Armenian music, which has a lot of Eastern influence. Because of that, I got this Armenian sound in my head and I started using it in my music. When we did Heroes V: Tribes of the East I thought that I’m going to actually try to make it sound specifically Armenian by using duduks and some other instruments. But it wasn’t because of some preparation – I was exposed to it so I went more with that.

The Stronghold tune from Heroes V is inspired by the great Peruvian singer Ima Sumac. Sylvan theme from Heroes V was directly inspired by one of my childhood favorite movies called King Kong. I loved the scene where the natives are offering Jessica Lange to King Kong. The dance music was very riveting to me. And then in Heroes VI there is a thing called Sanctuary, which is an island full of snakes like from a Chinese fantasy. So I used violins, but Chinese violins. Chinese violins have a very specific sound. For that I used the influence of an Italian composer, Puccini – he did Madame Butterfly and Turandot. So it wasn’t even really Chinese music, it was an Italian version of Asian music, both Japanese and Chinese.

In other cases… sometimes when you buy a sound library, it might include maybe a thousand different instruments. And you just go one by one and you listen to them for a whole day and you feel what sounds good. I like one singer from a tribe in Vietnam and we use his voice on things on a European sounding soundtrack, just because I remembered that sound would go well with this. It’s similar to decorating the house. For example you go to India, you buy some beautiful things and they would look good in a French house. Not because it makes it more French or Indian, but just because that little detail kind of completes it. That’s what I like to do. I like to pick and choose from different things I’m exposed to. Whether it’s friendships or sound libraries, you kind of keep a memory of all the possibilities of sound.

DK: What is the best music you think you wrote?

PAR: My personal favorite soundtrack from Heroes would be both Heroes V and VII. I must say that when I was working on the Heroes V soundtracks, it became emotionally heavy for me because the music is darker than I usually go. I wanted a new experience with a darker, heavier feeling. And I remember at nighttime, when I would come home from the studio, I could not shake the darkness of the music. I felt like an emotional state was in place, which works while I am on the project, and helps me to create the richer, darker and heavier melodies and orchestrations. But when I came home at night, I wanted to return to my usual happy personality, but it was impossible, until the entire project was finished. It felt like a ring of Saturn was wrapped around my heart and soul, but was released once the recordings were finished. Now when I listen to the complete Heroes V soundtracks, I am happy with the results, and I am proud of this music, but probably don’t want to get back into that „state” of darker creations.

Heroes VII was opposite for me. I felt just joy during that process. I loved the languages, working with fans, Karin Mushegain, and the varieties of styles that I explored. Outside of Heroes, I loved recording the theme for Neverwinter Nights II. We recorded it twice. First in Los Angeles, and then again in Prague with the Philharmonic… I prefer the Los Angeles recording.

DC: Music for Might and Magic is quite different from the Heroes series. It’s a little bit less melodic and more atmospheric, with emphasis on electronic samples and beats. Did you intend to create a different sound for this series?

PAR: Might and Magic soundtracks were purposely more minimal and modern than the Heroes scores. Rob King wanted the music to be more ethereal, empty and modern. I even tried to sneak in a modality of jazz progressions to give the music a hypnotic and less theatrical feeling.

DK: What are you planning for the nearest future?

PAR: I’m finishing a new musical I’ve been working on. It’s called Gods and Mortals. We’re on our third revision of it. It’s a two hour long show with like twelve characters… My goal is to have it in New York City on Broadway. We’re finishing up a new version of it with my writer and best friend, Todd Stroik. So I’m going to Russia for a few weeks in May and June for another tour and then I’ll spend the rest of the summer and hopefully the fall on this musical. Apart from that, my management company in Russia wants to start expanding our Heroes tours to other countries like China. They only focus on Heroes III, so my plan is to try to broaden that tour – include something from Heroes II or Heroes IV just to get an idea of what people are wanting to listen to. I try to be aware of the people coming to my show – what do they want to hear? I also got to become a better dancer. We’re finishing remodeling our house in California. We’ve been remodeling there for almost four years now, but it’s almost finished. It’s almost been rebuilt. So we have a 1957 house, mid-century house by a Brazilian designer. We’re trying to make it look like it was when it was brand new, but much more modern, using better technology and better materials. I think we’re doing some of more games, too. Rob King is finishing up contracts for some new video games, but I don’t know what the names are. And then… whatever life brings. I just want to do more music and just be happy and healthy. [laughs]

DK: Sure! [laughs] Would you like to come back to Poland?

PAR: Yes, I really would! I think I might be coming back in October for the Symphony of Heroes. They’re going to be playing that this year. And I think Rob King is coming for the first time! I think he’s going to be part of a symposium.

DK: Oh, wow! You’re known for your big enthusiasm for your fans and their community. You’ve even invited some of them to collaborate. Could you tell us a little bit more about your relations with fans?

PAR: I receive many letters, recordings, videos from fans of Heroes of Might and Magic. Some of the fans are very accomplished musicians and they can play my own music better than me! So I had the idea that I should try and share a composing or recording experience with them. I asked my friend Stamatis from Greece, to compose few short melodic motives and I would select my favorite and incorporate it into Heroes VII soundtrack. I named the tune after him: Stamatus Infernus. I also asked Magda Urbanska, the Polish violinist, to record a few violin solos for Heroes VII soundtrack, because she was a childhood fan of this series. I believe in working, making and sharing music with my friends. It’s not only a great connection between me and them as musicians, but we share the love of the Heroes franchise together. It bonds us in many ways. I love the feedback from Heroes fans and I hope our relationship continues for many years.

DK: That’s our last question. Is there something you’d like to say to your fans?

PAR: Well, thank you. Thank you so much for listening. You know, honestly when I was a little kid writing music, the best thing that could ever happen to me is that people would listen. If my mom and dad listened – that would make me happy. And then my aunts and uncles would come over and listen to my music and that would also make me happy. When I was in college, my teacher liked the music and I was happy. Then in my 20s, when I finished college… I couldn’t get a job. I didn’t get active – I was a cook, I worked in construction, I sold items for IBM… I did everything except music because I couldn’t get anybody to listen to my music. Zero, nothing. So when I was 30, I thought „Oh my God, I’m never going to have music in my life again”. I thought it disappeared from my life, because you can’t just go out and make people listen to you. I wanted to, but nothing would happen. And finally Rob came and called me „Hey, do you want to make some music and we will pay you $400?” And sure, I wanted to make $400. [laughs] I thought it was a one time job. And that was 24-25 years ago. That little phone call made a big difference in my life. So I never assume that people are going to listen to my music because I know what it’s like when nobody does. That’s why I really, really appreciate the fact that people actually like my music. It’s really, really nice. And I get asked all the time how do I get people to listen to my music? But I don’t know! That’s a golden question. The best thing a composer can ask for is to have people listen. So thank you. Thank you for listening.

DK: And that’s an amazing story. Thank you very much, Paul, for this fascinating conversation!

DC: And I also thank you.

PAR: Thank you for your terrific questions. I enjoyed answering as best as I could.

From left to right: Paul Anthony Romero, Daniel Krause, Brock H. Summers, Dominik Chomiczewski.

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