Interview: Five Minutes with Pedro Bromfman

Prolific composer and producer Pedro Bromfman has recently scored the soundtrack for Far Cry® 6 – the highly anticipated action-adventure first-person shooter video game from Ubisoft. The soundtrack is rooted in traditional Latin American and Caribbean music, while encompassing contemporary sounds, elements and techniques. 

Born and raised in Rio de Janeiro, Pedro Bromfman is currently based in California. He has a myriad of impressive compositions under his belt, including scores for  MGM’s RoboCop, (starring Gary Oldman, Michael Keaton and Samuel L. JacksonNetflix and Nat Geo.

We caught up with him ahead of the release of Far Cry® 6  Complete Music (Original Game Soundtrack) which will be hitting the airwaves on October 21st. Here he offers some deep insight into his approach, production, and inspiration:

Set the tone for us. Why the arts?

My mother was passionate about music, she always said she wanted to be a singer. She passed away when I was 10 and I asked for a guitar my following birthday. I took music very seriously from a very young age. It certainly kept us connected even though she was no longer with us.

How much does your Brazillian heritage impact your music production style?

All of my musical experiences are sources of inspiration to pull from for my projects. Obviously growing up in Brazil and studying Brazilian music from a young age influenced the composer I grew up to be. From the nylon string guitar, my first instrument, present throughout the Far Cry 6 score, to the rich harmonies and intricate rhythms that have become part of my signature. 

Tell us about the methods and approach that you take to film scoring

It’s a very collaborative medium. I’m not just composing music for myself so it always starts with understanding the story and characters and having conversations with the creative voice(s) behind the project. In film, it’s usually the director. From there I try and come up with a conceptual idea of what the music should be and the instrumentation for the score. After that, I lock myself in the studio until I’m happy to share what I have with the team.

Which comes first when you’re producing – the sound or the idea?

It depends on the project. I usually start with a concept and try to represent it musically. What does the film/TV show or video game I’m working on need in terms of music. Instrumentation is also key early on, it can be determined by budget constraints, or just from conversations with the director, how small or big do they need/want their score to sound? From there, if we determine we want a melodic score I usually work on character themes, if it’s more of an ambient score, I begin exploring and experimenting with sounds in the studio.

Does your material feature any collaborations?

It’s usually a deep collaboration with the different creative teams. Bouncing ideas back and forth, getting as much information about the story and characters as possible. Then I go off on my own and start creating the music. I’ve also worked closely with Juan Carlos Enriquez, he has been my right-hand man in the studio for several years now.

What’s on your current playlist?

I’m with music in the studio all day long. I usually listen to podcasts or audiobooks when I’m done working. Having said that I’ve been listening to Jackson Browne a lot lately. “Late For The Sky” is one of my favourite albums a the moment.

Tell us about the chemistry you have with your fans on stage.

I hardly ever perform live nowadays. I did a concert with my music from Narcos a couple of years back and that was a great experience. I hope to do more of those in the future.

What techniques do you experiment with to get your original sound?

I usually do several experimental recording sessions early on in the process. I bring to the studio instruments I can barely play or that I’ve never played before and go on a sound exploration. After that, we edit my favourite parts and create Kontakt instruments out of those. That way I have a set of original software instruments for each new show I’m working on. It’s an interesting way of finding the sound for a new project.

Take us through a day in the recording studio.

I’m usually trying to keep up with the enormous amount of music we have to deliver for visual projects. I know I have to create a specific number of minutes a week to complete the movie or game within the deadline. After so many years working with music for images, I’ve learned how to sit down and come up with a track, an idea, a theme. You learn inspiration is perspiration, put in the time, trust your craft and you’ll have a few minutes of music to play to the director at the end of each day.

Was there a specific moment in your life where you thought, “this is what I want to do”?

I’ve never planned to be a media composer. My collection of experiences led me here, it really wasn’t planned. However, once I started, I knew I had found my niche. I have played and studied everything from Big band jazz to heavy metal, Classical composition and orchestration to Caribbean music and it really allows me to be fluent in several different styles, which is great when working with films and video games.

What do you keep close by while you’re playing a set?

A nylon string guitar, that was my first instrument and still the one I gravitate towards.

Any emerging artists on your radar?

I always keep an eye on up and coming composers and what original voices are out there. Juan Carlos Enriquez, my right hand man, is quite talented and he’s venturing out on his own doing his first TV show for Peacock.

What gets your creative juices flowing?

Original stories, great acting, passionate filmmakers/developers, the challenge of coming up with fresh and original sounding music for a project. I also love seeing great instrumentalists perform, whether classical music or jazz, a good concert always makes me want to head straight to the studio.

Take us through your collection of gear, tech or software that accompanies your creative expression.

Each project brings a brand new palette, that’s what I love about what I do. I always use Logic and the plugins and software instruments I love, Izotope, Soundtoys, Kontakt, Spitfire Audio, etc… Besides that I have a cool collection of instruments from all over the world and some beautiful vintage guitars.

Any side projects you’re working on?

I have a few things bubbling with Netflix, I can’t discuss them at the moment but a lot of cool projects coming up in the near future.

How have you refined your craft since you entered the industry?

I have almost 20 years of experience creating music for visual media. I’ve worked on everything from commercials, trailers, documentaries, indie films, studio movies, cable TV, streaming shows, podcasts and finally video games. The years of experience writing for images is priceless.

What did you enjoy most about creating the official soundtrack for Far Cry 6?

It’s been a long process, I’ve been with Far Cry 6 for over two years and have created over three hours of music for the game. My job from the beginning flowed so smoothly, the team has been fantastic! Eduardo Vaisman, the audio director behind Far Cry 6 has been so supportive and protective of my process and my music in general. I had so much creative freedom and never had to listen to other reference tracks, which working with visuals is unheard of. I really had a blank slate to create for and freedom to explore.

You’ve mentioned having a great fondness for both ‘Viva Clara’ and ‘We Are Lions’. Are there any other tracks you feel fans should look out for?

El Presidente showcases the theme that I composed for Anton Castillo, a cello melody played in the lower register of the instrument. This short melody appears throughout Far Cry 6 when we’re with Anton. It illustrates the dark, brooding temperament of El Presidente (the president). Also Libertad, which came about as a theme for Yara’s revolution. We needed a powerful melody, full of beauty and longing like the island itself, that could also encompass the grit, darkness and pain of a bloody war. 

Break down the news for us: what can we expect from you this year?

I’m very proud of the music I created for Far Cry 6. The first album is out as is the game but we have a couple more releases coming up, including a double vinyl that will be released this winter.

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