Welcome to Night City, the world created by Cyberpunk 2077 where looks are everything—and so are the sounds that enrapture it. To fully transport gamers into the neo futuristic realm of this action adventure, developer CD Projekt Red called on a series of music producers and artists to help build a forward-thinking sonic landscape that adds to the game’s dystopian mindtrip. The short list includes the promising up-and-comer Le Destroy.
Le Destroy’s sturdy contributions include the dark dance gem “Pain,” the glitzy electronic rager “Violence” and the industrial pop tease “Kill Kill,” two of which have been used in various advance promos that have been viewed by millions of followers within the Cyberpunk 2077 community. “Kill Kill” also appears on the anticipated Radio Volume 1 of the game’s soundtrack, existing in the same great company as respected artists Run The Jewels and SOPHIE; the subsequent Volume 2 also features Grimes and HEALTH.
Under the Le Destroy nom de plume is Kristina Olson, an Austin-based artist and producer who—with her electric blue hair and space-age costuming—could just as well be a character in Cyberpunk 2077. To that point, game producers gave each of the soundtrack artists pseudonyms to exist within the all-encompassing universe. Le Destroy is both The Bait and The Red Glare, appropriate monikers for the way she immediately draws you in with her head-turning studio creations that range from aggressively haunting industrial to passionate punk anthems to dancey electronic rock that fit well within the underground nebulous of fantasy worlds.
“Before I was even part of the project, I remember seeing a trailer for Cyberpunk 2077 and thought I have to get a song in that game,” says Olson who had the goal etched out on the whiteboard in her studio for two years and later serendipitously received a call from music supervisors for the game who summoned her contributions. “It’s amazing it all came together in the way it did. The game is right up my alley. I love sci-fi and the cyberpunk genre, and find that my music lends itself best to dystopian futures. When I write, I visualize these other worlds, and just like gaming, I don’t ever want my music to be one-dimensional.”
Le Destroy is in fact a multi-faceted project, and Olson relies on a community to bring it to life including skilled collaborators within the worlds of film, makeup and special effects and illustration that add to the overall creative direction. “I like building bridges between different communities and bringing people together,” she says.
In the studio, though, Olson works solo, armed with a minimal set up of synths, guitars, drum machines, Pro-Tools, and Ableton. For mixing and engineering, she teams up with former Nine Inch Nails collaborator (and recent Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee) Danny Lohner to help polish the creations into a finished product that is both crunchy and ethereal, and always informed by Olson’s thoughts on consumerism, feminism, body autonomy and technology’s overthrow (a suite that drew the attention of Russia’s Pussy Riot when they needed an opener for would-have-been 2020 tour dates in Texas). Olson’s viewpoints have been inspired by her global studies, culminating in a post collegiate degree in earth science from the University of California San Diego—as well as an undying fascination with the unknown.
“That is what drives me,” Olson says, referring back to her unchartered experience working on the Cyberpunk 2077 soundtrack, a coming out party for Le Destroy before a full-length album is released next year. “It’s been an amazing learning experience. I was working around the clock and doing so really pushed me to experiment and make decisions quicker by moving through ideas faster. I look forward to doing more work within the communities of video game music and film as it plays to my visual nature. It’s thrilling to be part of such a big cultural moment and I’m excited to see where it goes from here.”