HEAR PAUL MCCARTNEY'S VOICEMAIL TO DESTINY COMPOSER
BY CASSIDEE MOSER
25 MAR 2016
When you’re as accomplished a composer as Marty O’Donnell, getting an international rock icon like Paul McCartney to sign on to help in composing the soundtrack to your game is just a product of luck and solid connections.
In an interview with IGN Unfiltered, O’Donnell explained the process of how the ex-Beatle became involved. When speaking with an associate one day, O’Donnell was asked who he would ideally want to work with as Bungie prepared to start work on the Destiny score. McCartney’s name was floated, which he remembers seeming impossible.
"For years at our studio, [Marty and his co-writer Mike] would tell our receptionist to hold all our calls – unless it's Spielberg,” O’Donnell recalls. “That was the funny thing to say. We might have said 'Hold all our calls unless it's McCartney,’ but that would be like, sacrilegious. We would never use a Beatle as a joke. That was so out of reach."
According to O’Donnell’s contact, McCartney looked like “he was interested in the fact that he was getting a whole new fan base based on video games.”
For the sake of trying, O’Donnell encouraged his contact to reach out to McCartney’s people and was later surprised to learn the former Beatle was willing to meet with him.
“Two weeks later, I was flying to LA to have a 20-minute meeting with Paul McCartney,” O’Donnell remembers. “I was ridiculously nervous.”
Despite the nerves, O’Donnell was greeted by McCartney and told he would be given a 20-minute meeting to present him with details surrounding the Destiny score and composition.
“We sat down, we talked, he had his bagel and tea, and I started showing him like, 'Here's how music in games works, here's some stuff,'” he says. “And then, he started asking me questions, and we talked about music, and we started talking about kids and grandchildren, and two hours went by.”
O’Donnell jokingly related the experience to a “good first date,” feeling reassured and telling himself “maybe something will come of this.”
“And...sure enough, yeah, he almost immediately wanted to start working on music, and we started trading music back and forth,” he said.
Not long after, McCartney left a voicemail on O’Donnell’s phone. The only time it has ever happened, claims O’Donnell, because the composer took all of McCartney’s later calls regardless of the time.
The hardest part of working with McCartney, says O’Donnell, was overcoming his own Beatles fanaticism and focusing on the project at large.
"[Collaborating on the score] was a big, risky thing. When you're talking about creative collaboration, you don't just put people in a room and then magic happens. You don't know if it's going to work,” O’Donnell says. For the two years the duo worked together, the process was largely one of McCartney recording his ideas and O’Donnell and his team integrating them into the score.
“It took some effort and different meetings and different studios, and combining music together and working together to really get to that point where we felt like we were comfortable with each other,” O’Donnell says fondly.
Of course, their collaboration would be cut short upon O’Donnell’s abrupt departure from Bungie in 2014. To learn more about O’Donnell’s work on Halo and the controversy surrounding his dismissal, listen to the latest episode of IGN Unfiltered. And don't miss our month-long coverage of O'Donnell's new game, Golem.
Paul McCartney with Halo composer Marty O'Donnell.