SAE London student Karis Taylor talks about her passion for game audio on The Johana Riquier Show

06 Apr 2021

Keen to stress that Audio is about so much more than music, SAE London student Karis Taylor took some time to tell us about the work she’s been doing as part of the Audio Production course. Having recently appeared as a guest on The Johana Riquier Show where she spoke about game audio implementation, we wanted to learn more about what drew Karis to this area of the creative industry. 

Did you always want to study Audio? What inspired you to come to SAE?

Yeah, I’ve always been interested in music since I was a child. My dad played guitar and we had various instruments knocking around so I was always making noise. My dad used to repair and sell old computers and gave me one with a very old version of Cubase when I was about 13 and that is when the passion for music technology really lifted off. I haven’t looked back since to be fair. I applied to SAE in 2008 after college where I studied Music technology but it took till 2019 for me to finally take a step back into education. Not quite sure why I never ended up going in 2008, I think I was just keen to come out of education and work whilst finding opportunities to work within the industry as a backing vocalist and session musician.

You recently appeared as a guest on The Johana Riquier Show where you spoke about your passion for game audio. How did you realise your passion for this area of the Audio industry?

This was a completely random yet pleasant opportunity meeting Johana — I actually came to realise my passion for sound for media through module AUD5100 here at SAE. I’d always been interested as I had worked on a couple of projects in the past (composition, boom operating, sound mixing & voice-over work) with a production company I am a part of called Boxing Zebra, and Jamie’s lesson filled in all the gaps to my knowledge — not to mention the project for that module being one I enjoyed conceptualising, not just creating.

What have you been doing at SAE as part of the Game Audio module with Dr Jamie Stonehouse, and what have you enjoyed about this module?

We’ve worked on so much in this module all of which have been exciting and quite mind-blowing. We’ve looked at how to create adaptive music using software such as FMOD as well as working on our own game using the template ‘Viking Village’ within the Unity engine. We’re working on creating a narrative and world using middleware FMOD, as well as showcasing clever implementation techniques through the use of triggers. It’s definitely got my brain thinking about audio in a different way, as it’s such a different way to work. I love the idea of creating a narrative using audio and as I’m already a fan of games and having learnt the mechanics of how we propagate sound in them, makes it even more fun.

Are there any other aspects of the Audio Production course that you have particularly enjoyed, and why?

Yeah, AUD5100: Sound for Media is definitely up there as my favourite module. Learning more about the language and approach to sound for film as well as the use of diegetic and non-diegetic sound and how you can interplay the two, as well as learning how music can be leading and to create suspense you can remove it entirely (just to name a couple of points). I enjoyed this module because I was able to approach this in the form of a creative project trialling all these tools and techniques.

What does being a womxn in audio mean to you?

Literally just that, a womxn in audio. It shouldn’t be a factor really, the same as race and sexual orientation. I think we should all just be judged on our talents and not on familiarity. 

The games industry is not renowned for diversity, although there are strides being made to change this thanks to organisations like POC in Play, who SAE interviewed in 2019. How do you feel about the diversity of the games industry, and what do you think education providers like SAE can do to improve access for underrepresented groups?

This issue isn’t exclusive to this industry, but across the board but I’m so happy to see companies such as POC in Play create a space to make change as well as so many others in music and film also. I definitely feel lack of diversity is an issue otherwise organisations such as POC in Play wouldn’t need to exist. On saying that I have seen more conversation around inclusion and diversity from game industry vets, so is something people in the industry are actively trying to find solutions to. As put by Adam in the above interview; educators such as SAE can continue to lobby for opportunities for students and really actively work with organisations such as POC in Play and make its students aware of these efforts.

What are your ambitions for your career after graduating?

I really want to get into the world of sound for media. I’d ideally like to work within a games studio so I can have the whole 360 view of experience within what is a new industry for me. I have plans to complete my masters in the near future but I’m keen to work on some cool game titles and learn new skills alongside this.

What advice would you give to younger students thinking about pursuing a career in the audio industry?

I think it’s easy to look at audio from just the perspective of music, but this course has taught me that it’s a lot more. The beauty about studying audio production is the scope you have to use these skills whether it be engineering in the studio or for a live event, creating and designing your own plugins or learning how to work on sound for films and games. It gives you a clearer idea of where you can take these skills as well as having a great opportunity to create a decent portfolio of work by the end of the course to get into the industry you choose.

Connect with Karis on LinkedIn