Help me pick cool music for my spy game!

I’m working on an indie spy game called SpyParty that is still in the pretty early stages, but one thing it’s missing is a cool musical soundtrack. Music adds a lot to any experience, obviously, and it’s really time for me to add some to the prototype, even if it’s temporary, just to set the mood. It’s a glaring enough omission that one playtester got out his iPhone and played a Miles Davis song on it while he played. :)

The game takes place at a fancy cocktail party, think “the ambassador’s mansion” or similar. The gameplay is pretty tense, and is about behavior and subtlety, so too action-y would be bad. You can find more descriptions of the gameplay on the site, along with some (ugly) screenshots.

The art direction for the game is distinctly “early gameplay prototype” right now, but eventually it will be stylized and polished. Think The Incredibles or TF2, or something in that vague direction. I don’t want it to be too “sixties” like Austin Powers; it should be somewhat timeless.

Random notes:

Jazz is an obvious choice for timelessness, but it needs to be not too “solo oriented” jazz, or it’s distracting.
Awesome, but too upbeat & solo-y for the game:

Surfy, “spy-fi” music might be a bit cliched, but could be cool if it was mellow. This is interesting, but probably too surf and too hectic:

This is kind of interesting in the middle for a modern twist, but probably too far in that direction:


All ideas and pointers would be greatly appreciated!


Pipe in music from the SomaFM Secret Agent channel.

Ha! I can’t always count on internet when testing, but I’ll definitely check it out for ideas.


The Miles Davis is okay, but too in your face for ambient music. The other two sound like your are performing your hit at a porn shoot.

I think you need something very clam and serene, music to study a scene by.

ps. Im excited to play this game!

I have used (with permission) the" pickings were slim" from these guys for a just for fun project.

They were easy to work with and the easy listening side of this jazz made it non-obtrusive.

If not them, in general is a great place to find unknown musicians to work with. Just make sure to check the rights and don’t assume anything. There used to be a good copyleft archive of music but I can’t find it now.

A couple of thoughts:

  1. Forget trying to license “actual” jazz from classic performers. The entities who control that licensing typically want two arms and three legs for commercial use. If you want jazz, you’re going to have to go the route chet suggests and look for less-expensive jazz created for multimedia projects.

  2. Vocals: in or out, or depends?

  3. One suggestion that may not work: a probably kind-of defunct St. Louis band called The Civil-Tones put out three albums on the now-on-life support Chicago label Pravda. They’re an instrumental band, and their sound was an amalgam of Jimmy Smith jazz, Booker T. & The Mg’s soul, with a lot of Henry Mancini layered over the top. It may be too Austin Powers for what you’re looking for, but this is a group of fellows who’d be pretty easy to talk into licensing their music. Here’s the Civil Tones Emusic page. Give “Gin Soaked Olive”, “Mole”, “Checkmate” and “Skid” from the Vodka And Peroxide album a shot, and maybe also “Jug R Not” from the Rotisserie Twist album, and maybe “Wings For Wanda” from Soul Bucket

One other suggestion: if vox are ok, check out the latest Postmarks album. Some of the songs are too James Bond Action Secret Agent to work, but tunes like “Thorn In Your Side” (listen to it here), the instrumental “Theme From ‘Memoirs’”, and maybe something like “In Too Deep” would work. Dunno.

The first thing that popped into my mind when reading this, was the tango from True Lies.

So, tango. But not too wild, more along the lines of “Tango Dun Na Noob” from The Sims 3 (listenhere). This link should give you an idea of my level of expertise on the subject.

Jazz of the variety that you hear when a voiceover says “The moment I walked into the nightclub, I knew this dame was gonna be trouble,” in a Bogart-y voice. Slow, heavy (baritone) saxophone with minimal backup.

Listen to the Naked Lunch soundtrack.

My first thought is the music from Evil Genius.

How can you do without the “Spy Hunter” theme, i.e. the theme to Peter Gunn?

The Peter Gunn Theme doesn’t really fit the atmosphere he says he’s going for.

I know a couple up-and-coming jazz musicians with plenty of professionally-recorded original material they’d probably love to have in an indie video game. Would you be willing to work with someone like that? I’m no agent or whatever, but I think it’d be a fantastic collaboration. Here’s a sample.

Thanks, I’ve been stuck on that for the last half hour now.


That’s nothing… I’ve been listening to their audio streams for the last ten years. :P has a lot of cool production music, some of which is in the “acid jazz” genre and might be very appropriate. You can listen to entire songs there.

This was mentioned in some music thread here, The Postmarks - No One Said This Would be Easy

I want to second Evil Genius. It was the first thing I thought of when I thought about music for the game.

If you are going for the Cold War vibe don’t forget to throw the occasional Russian Army Choir in there.
If things end up more Bourne than Bond… Overseer perhaps? or maybe Chrystal Method or Cirrus

Yeah. An old Chinese choral version of the Internationale is pretty good, forgot where I got it from, but it’s accessible out there someplace, probably PD.