Assassin’s Creed Valhalla: Dawn of Ragnarök (Stephanie Economou) Wins First-Ever Grammy Award for Video Game Music

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Image: Ubisoft

Composer Stephanie Economou has made history with her soundtrack for Assassin’s Creed Valhalla: Dawn of Ragnarök, taking home the first-ever Grammy Award for video game music during last night’s 65th Annual Grammy Awards. Other nominees included Bear McCreary (Call of Duty: Vanguard) and Richard Jacques (Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy), but Economou’s music for Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla’s third DLC, which released in March 2022 to serve as the biggest expansion in the Assassin’s Creed series to date, evidently impressed more voting members, with favorites that include a main theme that was created in collaboration with Vikings composer Einar Selvik. Economou was also responsible for the soundtrack for The Siege of Paris, the second expansion to Assassin’s Creed Valhalla that invites players to raid one of Francia’s chief cities.

Best Score Soundtrack for Video Games and Other Interactive Media

  • Old World: Christopher Tin, composer
  • Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy: Richard Jacques, composer
  • Call of Duty: Vanguard: Bear McCreary, composer
  • Assassin’s Creed Valhalla: Dawn of Ragnarök: Stephanie Economou, composer (won)
  • Aliens: Fireteam Elite: Austin Wintory, composer

From a Ubisoft post:

Economou is a composer and violinist based in Los Angeles, with extended experience in film and television scoring that extends from drama to action to comedy. Her work includes Netflix series Jupiter’s Legacy and Lionsgate/Starz series Step Up High Water, and alongside Golden Globe-nominated composer Harry Gregson-Williams, she composed additional music on scores such as Disney’s Mulan, Ridley Scott’s Oscar-nominated film The Martian, and many others.

She also serves as a resident board member for the Alliance for Women Film Composers, and was the first and only woman nominated in the new Grammy category. Ubisoft News spoke with Economou to learn more about the importance of the Best Score Soundtrack for Video Games category, and how she came to compose the award-winning score for Assassin’s Creed Valhalla: Dawn of Ragnarök.

You’re a winner for the first-ever videogames category at the Grammys! What do you think the significance of this new category is?

Stephanie Economou: The Video Game Music category is extremely significant and well overdue! I think having a category dedicated solely to games and interactive media soundtracks serves as validation that we are collectively influencing the musical landscape and meaningfully connecting with audiences everywhere.

How have you seen the attitude towards videogame scores shift in your industry? Where do you hope to see it evolve further?

SE: I’ve seen so many colleagues and friends celebrating the depth of immersion and scope of narrative in videogames. I think there’s a common understanding that game music has been the new frontier for creative innovation for a long time. The music gets to be alive, ever-evolving, and transformative. It’s such a visceral experience for the player and offers an exciting space to create music. I hope we continue to see developers push the boundaries of how we as an audience experience storytelling, which in turn will propel the musical possibilities in new and unexpected directions.

The score for Assassin’s Creed Valhalla’s Siege of Paris expansion was your first foray into games. What drew you to compose for this industry? What makes it different than composing for film and TV?

SE: I’m lucky that Ubisoft considered me in the first place! Even though I had worked in film and television for many years, I was totally new to the video game world when they hired me on Assassin’s Creed Valhalla: The Siege of Paris. They really took a chance on me, and I’m indebted to them for creating opportunities for newer voices to come into the fold. I myself grew up playing videogames (Halo and Max Payne being two of my favorites), so I had always hoped I could be invited in. To this day, whenever I hear the theme for Halo, it instantly conjures up a powerful feeling in my gut; a sense of thrilling exploration and curiosity. That’s what game music does. It gives us this cosmically indescribable emotional response that simply doesn’t exist in other forms of media. Now, having a couple of game scores under my belt, I strive to transport the players to these vivid worlds in that same way. I want them to feel like they are the character they’re embodying. I want them to feel their intuition, their struggles, and their victories. It’s a powerful responsibility and a hugely special privilege.

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Tsing Mui
News poster at The FPS Review.

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