HomeHairstyleIn the spotlight: Nomi Bontegard, singer and game developer Star Stable
In the spotlight: Nomi Bontegard, singer and game developer Star Stable
December 20, 2022
Interview with Suzanne Ashton
Here we interview Nomi Bontegard, one of the biggest talents behind the biggest horseback riding adventure video game for teens, Star Stable.
Hailing from Axvall in Sweden, Nomi Bontegard was discovered by Star Stable Music label, part of Star Stable Entertainment (which has over 25 million registered users in 180 countries), where she works as a 3D game artist and animator. design and create resources for the game.
In early December 2022, Nomi performed at the Sweden International Horse Show in front of an audience of 14,000, the biggest performance of her career to date.
In this interview, Nomi explains what it’s like to perform in front of such a large audience, including her preparation and more about the performance itself. Nomi later dives into his life as a Star Stable, talks about the dynamics of the game, and opens up about his own interests in horses.
You performed at the Sweden International Horse Show, can you tell us a bit more about the performance and how it went?
It was an amazing experience! As a teenager, I dreamed of riding in the great arenas of horse shows, and during the performance, this dream came true. I was able to ride a 13 year old gray PRE stallion called Aragorn. He looked like a fairy tale horse with his long white mane. There were 14,000 people in the crowd so I was a little nervous as I had never performed on such a big stage before. The crowd was so amazing; every time I bowed, I received huge applause in return!
How did you feel before the show? Were you nervous, and is that something you usually do?
I’m not used to playing in front of such a large audience. The nervousness came and went randomly depending on what I was thinking. When I thought about what would go right, I wasn’t nervous, but when I started thinking about what could go wrong, I got nervous.
How did you prepare, what songs did you perform and what was your favorite?
I was in Spain for 10 days and came back just in time for rehearsals at Friends Arena. Before my vacation, I also went to the office to rehearse my body language. I prepared by relaxing and disconnecting a bit. But then, when I returned to Sweden in the snow chaos, I was fully charged and ready to ride. I sang the songs in the car on the way to the stables; I met the makeup artist and the stylist and prepared the outfit. I got to know the horse I was going to ride on when entering the show.
I sang “Ride With Us” and my favorite song “Fire”.
How did your musical career start?
I have been singing since I was very young because of my parents, who are very interested in music. We used to sing at home, so it was an interest that stayed with me from the very beginning. When I was 13 I started working with different music studios and it just kept going.
Who or what are your musical influences?
Great artists like Christina Aguilera, Mariah Carey and Ariana Grande. But also bands like Faun and Big Money (a small Swedish band that my dad played in the car). I particularly like their song “Snowman”.
What part of the performance did you like the most and why?
Entrance, of course. Riding a beautiful stallion to the South Hoof Penisula soundtrack, which is one of my favorite Star Stable soundtracks.
Where do you plan to take your musical career in the future?
I work with Star Stable’s music label and I hope this collaboration will develop further. We had a band in the Eurovision Song Contest last year, so maybe that could be a possibility for me one day. I also want to make the music more continuous and find more collaborations with musicians who want the same thing. I also want to record Christmas songs and other ballads that I have and collaborate with people who can play classical instruments. The songs are very dreamy, magical and timeless, and the world deserves to hear them.
You are currently working as a 3D artist and game animator modeling, designing and creating assets for Star Stable, can you tell us a bit more about that?
Working with game development is so much fun! It comes naturally to me to create horses and creatures in a computer that can be part of a large open world. This sometimes comes with technical challenges and I’m always learning new ways to improve my workflow. My goal with horses is to make them as personal and individual as possible. The animations are inspired by real horses, not only the way they move, but also how they yawn, blink, and show different emotions with their body language. We study the behavior of horses a lot to make them feel as much like real horses as possible.
My life is surrounded by horses, from the moment I wake up watching digital horses all day until the afternoon I go out with my very own horse, Runestone – a young Irish cob.
How did your career/opportunity with Star Stable come about?
When II was little, my favorite game was Star Stable, and when I discovered that the studio was from Sweden, I had the idea that maybe I could work there one day! Working with games sounded good. So I went to a game development school in Stockholm for many years. I fought hard, fell asleep on the school bench and was there almost 24/7 learning all the software and combining my creative veins with technical software like Maya and zbrush.
What are your outside interests in riding?
I’ve been around horses since I was growing up. Our house was surrounded by stables, so I couldn’t help but interact more closely with them. My family wasn’t so into horses, so having my own horse was my life goal since I was little. And finally, after being hired by Star Stable, I was able to save enough money to buy my first horse. I named him Runestone after my favorite horse in the game. My goals with him are to have an adventure horse to go for rides in the woods. I do figure training, rewards based training and western riding mixed with all-around. But the main focus is trick training and western at the moment. So we’ll see! It depends on what Runie thinks will be the most fun in the end.
How do you think Star Stable fits into future goals?
I think it fits in well. As my life revolves around animals, horses and creativity, it’s a perfect mix.
What is your favorite Star Stable musical track and is there a meaning behind it?
My song, Fire. There’s a lot of meaning behind it; it’s a song about anxiety, doubting yourself but trying to fight for your dreams. The song is a lullaby/folk/pop song about a little girl and a troll walking through a land of fire. The troll is a metaphor for something old, wise and ancient, almost like an old soul. While the child represents the younger version of yourself, your inner fragile child. Together they struggle through fire to achieve their dreams.
How do you think the characters fit into equality? Are there any other changes coming based on player feedback?
The characters will be completely updated, and we have a whole team working just on this project. We are constantly collecting and reviewing player feedback. It is very important and valuable to us. We want everyone to be able to play the game and feel represented. Anyone can play the game, and with a wide variety of hairstyles and body shapes coming, character creation will be much more versatile than it has ever been in Star Stable.
My daughter, an avid player of the game, says her favorite horse is the Star Stable Arabian; what is yours and why?
Oh that’s so much fun! I did the Arabian horse among others. My horses so far have been the Jorvik Wild horse, and his foals the Gotland pony, Heidrun, The Arabian, The American Paint horse, Appaloosa, The Haflinger and now the new Tennessee Walker. My favorite of these is still the Jorvik Wild, he was the first horse I did for SSO so he will always have a special place on the favorites list, but it was also so much fun to create a breed which did not exist in real life. The horse got a lot of extra work on facial expressions with a new facial rig.
If you were talking to someone who had never played the game before, how would you describe it to them?
Star Stable is an open-world adventure game full of missions where you can ride your own horses, play with friends, and live your own equestrian dream. The world has its own spirit in a way, it has magic, dark powers, kindness, horses and other cute animals. Everything I would ask for in a game.
Do you play the game yourself?
I played every day. I’ve been doing hacks in the woods with my club or taken in-game riding lessons. And sometimes I still take my own Irish Cob Runie for a hack inside the game or give it to him digital carrots. So I don’t play as often as I used to, but it’s good to play sometimes to see what players want and stay connected to the product you’re developing.