Jamal Green’s love for music stems right back to his childhood …

… Where he would run around the school playground humming the soundtrack to whatever popular film was playing at the cinema at the time rather than acting out scenes like most kids. A further love for games led Jamal to start asking mobile games companies to feature his music, and over time his credit list has grown to include the likes of Equilinox (2018), Yuso (2018), Skelattack (2020), Sizeable (2021) and the film Aberdeen (2019). His most recent soundtrack was for TOEM (2021), which won a BAFTA for Debut Game in 2022.

We spoke to Jamal about making this year’s final 20 BAFTA Breakthrough list …

Jamal Green – Composer | Photo credit: Sophia Spring

Please introduce yourself …

Hi, I’m Jamal Green – a composer and songwriter working primarily in films, TV and games.

Why and how did you get involved in TOEM?

I discovered TOEM on twitter and immediately fell in love with its unique aesthetic. My work is so often inspired by visuals and TOEM stood out to me in a way that no other game had in a long time.

Tell us about the team you worked with – who was imperative to making your life easier whilst working on TOEM?

I was one of two composers who were tasked with writing almost all of the music for TOEM. I was almost entirely inspired by the work my friend and collaborator Joost Kraaijenbrink (Launchable Socks) was writing simultaneously. When he would share something with myself and the team it encouraged me to push beyond what I thought I could achieve.

The development team allowed Joost and I to share ideas for both the music and the game itself – I’ve never felt such an integral part of a team and this shows in the music. We were able to weave music into TOEM in a way that makes it feel like part of the story and the world rather than it being tacked on at the last minute. Our amazing team, made up of Niklas Mikkelsen, Lucas Gulbo, Tom Jerbo and Elias Albrecht, did the art and programming and thought music was just as important.

Music and sound design became the essence of the world of TOEM and the two melded together on the soundtrack release as TOEM’s incredible sound designers Viktor Eidhagen and Marcus Nilssom (Rumsklang) created intermission tracks combining the two for the official soundtrack album.

What does TOEM mean to you personally/career?

I feel like picking a favourite project is like picking a favourite child so I shouldn’t say it’s my favourite … But if I had a favourite TOEM would be it. The experience of making TOEM was the best collaborative experience I’ve ever had and that will be hard to beat. We won the award for Best Debut Game at the BAFTA’s earlier this year and as TOEM programmer and Something We Made co-founder Niklas Mikkelsen put it “You only have one shot at winning Debut Game” so that acknowledgement feels really rewarding.

Tell us a memorable moment from idea to final edit?

Some of the most memorable parts of writing music for TOEM was populating the world with little themes to support characters and moments to make them more memorable. I ended up writing music for a catwalk, the theme tune for a troop of scouts and a spooky, theremin driven melody for charming ghosts that are dotted around the world. I’ve had so many comments and lovely messages from fans of TOEM who say these moments are their favourite and that they love the music for them. There’s nothing more gratifying than that.

Share a skill-defining moment working on this project …

TOEM was really my first foray into playing and recording instruments like guitar and ukulele on a score. I picked up an acoustic guitar to challenge myself and to ensure I was doing absolutely everything I could to get the music sounding as good as I could and now It’s just a natural part of my process. It has elevated my music!

What does being a BAFTA Breakthrough finalist mean to you?

Being selected as a Breakthrough is an absolute honour. To have been selected alongside a bunch of unimaginably talented and driven people is incredible. I was raised in a small town in Suffolk where people were often confused when they’d ask me what I wanted to do with my life and I’d say I wanted to be a composer. There wasn’t really anybody who shared the same experiences as me, writing music for films and games and being completely obsessed by it all. Just to be surrounded by people who love what they do and have dedicated their lives to their crafts is inspiring.

How are you hoping it will support your career?

I hope through this experience I can form relationships with other Breakthroughs this year that evolve into meaningful collaborations that push me into trying the unexpected.

What’s next?

My aim this year was to diversify my work as much as possible and explore different ways of writing and releasing music. This led me to writing an album that is set to be released by Platoon next year with many other singles to be released too. I also have opportunities lined up writing for TV and film which is exciting!

Where can we watch / find your latest work?

Almost all of my latest work can be found on Spotify and Apple Music.

Read the rest of the BAFTA Breakthrough 2022 interviews here.


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