The Interview with Mr. Go Shiina (NBGI)
Part 1

日本語版 (In Japanese)

Who is Go Shiina?

In 2008, somewhere in Yokohama City,
we had a chance to talk with Mr. Go Shiina from Namco Bandai Games Inc.,
the composer who has created many impressive VGM pieces.

As his music, we could experience his unique personality.

Now, here is Mr. Go Shiina introducing a couple of titles he has worked on ...

- Interviewers: Yusuke Kimura and Kahori Ezaki(CocoeBiz., L.L.C.)
Shiina
(S)
So, shall we toast?
AllA toast!
S(Drinking a glass of sudachi juice; sudachi is a kind of citrus fruit) This is quite real-ish...
Ezaki
(E)
What do you mean? (laughs)
SIt has the real taste of sudachi. It's, uh, very sudachi-ish!
EHaha, what a weird word , each words are funny (laughs).
SYou think?
EYeah, it's great. Are you like this at work?
SAt work... yeah, about the same.
ESo this really is how you are.
Cna from Tales of Legendia
Mr. Shiina playing piano at the bar from "Tales of Legendia", (C)NBGI
Kimura
(K)
Is this character you, Mr. Shiina?
SOh, yes. But I didn't recognize those words for a moment, so... I was surprised. I guess I might say things like that. Ah, the good old days... when my hair was red.
KSo you really were the model for this character, both visually and verbally.
Cna from Tales of Legendia (C)NBGI
SYes...that motion's really crazy... you see it?
KLike this. (swinging passionately)
SYeah! ... It's awfully embarrassing! (laughs)
EWhy does he swing like that?
SMaybe being a narcissist?
All(laughs)
KBy the way, I see your name as both "Go Shiina" and "Masaru Shiina".
SI actually use "Go", because "Masaru" is rather difficult to pronounce for non-Japanese speakers.
KYour real name is "Masaru", but you use "Go" in your works.
SYes, basically.
KIt's difficult to read your name written in kanji("豪") as "Masaru" even for a Japanese, isn't it?
SI agree. I think no one else has that name with that kanji.

EYou've worked as a composer for Namco (Namco Bandai Games Inc. at present) for a long time.
SYes, from the beginning. I feel like Namco taught me how to compose.
KCan you tell us about your early time at Namco?
SWell, it's been said that they adopted my personality.
KYour personality?
SYes, not my skills (laughs).
All(laughs)
SI had two coworkers that were hired at the same time as I was on the sound team whose skills were adopted, but in my case, they took my personality.
KThey actually said that?
SYes, they said "We adopted your personality". And then they said "But hiring on personality hasn't worked out, so we're not going to do it anymore."
All(laughs)
SBut anyway, when I was looking for a job, Namco treated me quite well.
KI heard you had a rough time finding a job.
SIndeed, I was rejected by 46 companies.
EOh no, 46 companies? Were they all related to music?
SNah. There was a jewelry company, a finance company, a fast food company, and so on. At that time, there wasn't an aptitude test for choosing a career. So, the staff at the placement office in my university advised me to just interview at several major companies.
KMajor companies in diverse types of business.
SRight. I tried for companies I knew. My plan was, I'd learn how they made and sold their products, and figure out my vocation from there.
EJobs were very tight at that time.
SYes, I'd visit about 3 companies a day. And company presentations would usually run long, so I'd be late for my next appointment. That was when I learned it was actually possible to get holes in your shoes from walking too much.
EYou really did?
SYup, I really got holes in my leather shoes. The worst thing was, I had to cancel a trip I'd planned with some friends in June. I wasted a lot of money on that, and my friends were hesitant to give me a souvenir because they thought I might not want it. They wound up giving me a souvenir on the day of graduation.
EThose are good friends.
SI think so... but I couldn't imagine it would take me so long to find a job. I was almost crying!
EWas that when you visited Namco?
SI thought "It's over!" around September or October, when only game companies were still recruiting...(laughs)
EOh, I see...(laughs) But you wound up at a great place.
KI can't picture this from seeing you now. I thought you'd settled on working in music from the start.
SReally? Oh, I dyed my hair black, and wore the tight suit and the suffocating tie while I did my job hunting. When I think back on it now though, it was an interesting time.
EBut it was a terrible time, wasn't it?
SIt was desperate. I couldn't figure out what was wrong with me. Then I thought I blew the interview at Namco. The first interview I had, with the sound staff, was quite fun and encouraging, but in the interview with the executives, they said "You don't read newspapers, do you?"
EOuch! I've heard that's one of the stereotypes of job interviewers.
SI thought it was over, and at the Kamata station afterwards, I broke down. It was a rainy day - I bought some cookies and ate them while crying, and an old woman gave me a handkerchief... I remember it all very well. I didn't imagine that I'd passed the interview.
EYou could say your suffering gave birth to your masterpieces.
SBut around me, many of my colleagues aimed to be game creators and were employed without much trouble.

EMr. Shiina, you come from the "Pac-Man" generation of gamers, right?
SActually I rarely played them. Just played in my friends' houses occasionally.
ESo you weren't a gamer?
SNot at all. So when I was interviewed by Namco, one of the people there told me that if I was asked what Namco game I liked most, I should answer with a certain title. And then I was asked that, so I replied "I like Soul Edge". (laughs)
All(laughs)
SI'd have been sunk if they'd asked me what I liked about it (laughs).
KHad you played it?
SBarely (laughs). I'd just seen people playing it. When I went to arcades, I only played medal games or Whack-a-mole. Or Print Club sticker machines.
EPrint Club isn't a game! (laughs)
S(laughs) So it wasn't til after I started working at Namco that I found videogames interesting.
EWow.
SYeah, that's incredible!
KWhat video games do you especially like?
SAs far as games by our company, I like the games I worked on, but that's probably because I have so many memories invested in them.
K"Mr. Driller" is very exciting.
SThank you...(laughs) I like games all gamers can enjoy, because I'm not very good at them. For example, I like RPGs because they don't require much technique to finish. ...Oh yeah, I'm playing "Gundam Musou" a lot now. I really enjoy slashing enemies one after another.
EYou like simple games, don't you?
SI think that simplicity is important. By the way, are other composers able to choose their favorite video games?
EIt depends on whether they were always heavy gamers, or whether they were only interested in music before getting into the game industry.
SBut I was neither a heavy gamer nor a dedicated musician... so am I strange? (laughs)
EHm, you're a "new type" aren't you? (laughs)
S"New type"? (laughs) It'd be cool if I were a character in Gundam!
ESo, you weren't a gamer before, but...
SNow I'm a gamer. But the long-time gamers are better than me, of course. They beat me to the ground when I play them. (laughs)
KI understand... (laughs)
SAnd recently, I've been playing a lot of old-school games so I'm able to talk about them at the office.
ENamco has a lot of great retro classics...
S"Xevious" and games like that.
E"Mappy" too.
SMappy's tough! I tried playing it again after a long time.
EI love its music.
SI agree, that music was fantastic!

Taiko No Tatsujin (Taiko Drum Master)

"Taiko No Tatsujin (Taiko Drum Master)" is an arcade rhythm game.
Players use a Japanese taiko drum controller to play a song.
Its high playablity makes it popular especially in Japan and ported to many platforms.

Taiko no TatsujinTaiko no TatsujinTaiko no Tatsujin
Taiko no Tatsujin
The recent "Taiko" for Nintendo DS, (C)2000-2008 NBGI
KYou wrote some tracks for the "Taiko No Tatsujin (Taiko Drum Master)" series.
SYes, I wrote the opening theme for the first PlayStation 2 release, sung by Ms. Yoko Takahashi.
Sample : "Nijiiro, Yumeiro, Taikoiro (Rainbow colors, Dream Colors, Taiko Colors)" from Taiko no Tatsujin
ECan you also drum this song in the game?
SSure. This one's really difficult to play.
Sample : "Fuu-un! Bachio Sensei" from Taiko no Tatsujin
SWhen I was invited to the orchestral concert in Australia (The Eminence Symphony Orchestra in Australia performed game music, including his pieces, for a concert in 2007), I found a "Taiko" machine at an arcade and played this song.
KYou also arranged some classical pieces... I think this Mendelssohn's Wedding March is really fun.
Sample : "Wedding March" from Taiko no Tatsujin (Composed by Felix Mendelssohn)
SI sang in this track.
EWow, really?
KWhich part did you sing?
STenor, the higher male voice. (listening to the song) ...This recording was interesting! These singers were all employees of Namco. What a crazy song! (laughs)
ECrazy, huh? (laughs)

Mr. Driller

This puzzle game series is also ported to many platforms.
Cute characters and Mr. Shiina's pieces gave players some unique impressions.

Mr. Driller
Mr. Driller Mr. Driller
(From left) "Mr. Driller Drill Spirits" for Nintendo DS,
"Mr. Driller Drill Land" for Nintendo GameCube (released only in Japan) (C)NBGI
SWhen we were developing the first "Mr. Driller", I was told my tracks weren't appropriate for a puzzle game. If our producer hadn't given them his OK, they never would have been heard.
EWhen you think of puzzle game music, dinky, cutesy tunes usually come to mind.
KI was surprised that the song "Boku no->Chikyu, Bokura no Chikyu" was used during gameplay, even though it was a vocal piece.
Sample : "Boku no->Chikyu, Bokura no Chikyu (My World, Our World)" from Mr. Driller Drill Land
SThis is a song you hear while digging in the game.
EIt's great. It's really unlike the music you hear in most puzzle games.
SThank you. Puzzle games always have a cutesy image.
KI read an interview you gave at the time of the first "Mr. Driller", where you said "The best way to support visual images in a game is to utilize sounds which contrast with them."
SI agree with him. (laughs)
EYou have a solid policy!
SI watched the movie "Shuto Shoushitu (Tokyo Blackout)" in my childhood. In that movie, Tokyo was covered in a mysterious cloud and the lifeline was broken. There was a scene where a plane shot an electromagnetic wave towards the cloud. Aggressive action pieces are usually used in such scenes, but a beautiful ballad was played in that scene, and I felt my mind was taken away.
E...like emptiness.
SThe feeling I had when I heard the intro to that ballad made a deep impression on me. I was only in elementary school at the time, but still...
EWow, you could feel it at that age?
SYes, I can't forget that impression. I want to cause emotions like that with my music.
Mr. Driller
EThe soundtrack of "Mr. Driller" is very popular overseas. I've gotten many comments about how good the music is.
SI'm glad to hear that. I've always wondered how people in other countries like my work. I wished I could ask them.
EWe'll ask as many people as we can.
SThank you.
EI heard that it's hard for composers employed by companies to get public feedback.
SYeah, I can't.
EDon't you get fan mail?
SI don't (laughs). Honestly, not even from Japanese fans. So I have to search on the internet, but I'm not good at it.
KYou might get depressed if after all your effort, all you find is criticism.
SThat's true. I'd be depressed the whole day (laughs).
KBut as far as I've read, a lot of people like your work.
SObjectivity is important. I don't know how it is for other composers, but I feel like the music I write is so tied into the affairs and news happening around me at the time, that I can't judge it without those contexts. I'll remember, for example, "Oh, I got dumped by my girlfriend when I wrote this track".
KSure.
SWhat I'm most concerned about is how foreigners responded to the songs I wrote in a foreign language, since we mainly target Japanese players.
KThose songs were performed by native speakers, weren't they?
SYeah, but... I worry.
EFinding a good liason is the problem. For example, when you say "I am", native speakers will just pronounce it "I'm". But Japanese music tends to ask for very clear pronunciation, so you wind up with a situation where even though the speaker is native, the result sounds unnatural.
SAh, I see!
EThe flow of the language for Japanese, English, French, etc. is all different. You've got to match that flow to the melody the best way possible.
SI think they don't match up too often... (laughs)
KSo we should play an English song here, and get some feedback on it.
SSure, I'd like to see some responses.
KHow about "Days" from Mr. Driller?
SThis track is from "Mr. Driller Drill Land".
Sample : "DAYS" from Mr. Driller Drill Land
SWe had a difficult time with this song! I was told the placement of the words - the correspondence between the words and the notes - was awkward.
KThat seems like a tough problem.
EBut it sounds natural to me.
SReally? Oh by the way, when we recorded this song, one of the female singers looked unwell. I asked if she was okay, or if she needed anything, and she said "KFC please?" (laughs) So our staff went out to Kentucky Fried Chicken. As soon as she ate, she got a lot better. I thought she was so cute! (laughs)
EShe was so honest. (laughs) Those kinds of funny episodes might only happen when we work with foreign people. I don't think Japanese singers ever ask for KFC.
SThey'll ask for water, but this KFC thing was pretty memorable.
EHow many singers were there at that time?
SFour singers in all.
EOnly four? Sounds more people involved.
STwo male and two female singers, and I augmented the vocals later on computer. I also used a few Japanese voices to thicken the chorus slightly. I even put my voice in. I used human-wave tactics for this.
KI heard you wrote the words for this song.
SYes, but I didn't write them in English!
KSo you wrote the original and someone else translated it into English. I just figured you wrote it in English.
EAren't you good at English?
SNot at all! I was completely lost when I went abroad on business. I went out at night by myself, and people were coming up to me, saying "5 dollars please" and stuff.
EDangerous, huh? (laughs)
SI borrowed this awesome new red Mustang convertible, but it was quite dangerous at night! (laughs)
EWhere was this, the US?
SLos Angeles. Despite that, I think it's the best place to live. The food was delicious there.
Mr. Driller
Sample : "Masala Race" from Mr. Driller series
SThis violin sound is fake. I used a new sound module at the time called the "virtual acoustic" synthesizer. I'm a bit of a synth geek.
Mr. Driller
Sample : "Susume! Driller (Go Forth! Driller)" from Mr. Driller series
SI was very impressed by Ms. Mitsuko Horie's performance. We did a rehearsal, then only had to record it once.
KShe's very well known as a singer for anime, isn't she?
SYes. ...I sang this chorus part here, "Dig a chance!". I hadn't intended to be in the final song, I just recorded my voice as a temp track, but they wanted to use it (laughs).
Mr. Driller
Sample : "epunam" from Mr. Driller series
KThe song "epunam" was written in an artificial language you made up, wasn't it?
SYeah. It's fun making up languages. It makes the music sound very exotic.
KI heard the lyrics in this song still weren't ready on the day of recording, so you wrote them at a restaurant near Yokohama station.
SYes, I did that at Fujiya in a big rush.
KI also heard you wrote the lyrics while looking over the menu at Fujiya.
SI read the menu backwards and made the word "epunam" by joining letters together.
EHow weird!
SSo for example, "strawberry cream parfait" became "efpu..." something.
KBut I can't figure out what foods became which words.
SOf course!
KYou meant to make them obscure?
SYes, and to flow well.
KIn other words, to make them easy to sing?
SYeah. Actually, I intended to write this song in Esperanto at first.
KIf a real language is used, listeners might be able to pick out errors.
SRight, and it has to be checked carefully when it's released overseas.
KVideo game songs are often written in Latin or Esperanto, but they're supervised by experts.
SWell, mine is some kind of quasi-language. Not Latin, but... Fujiya-nese. (laughs)
Mr. Driller
Sample : "Puchi" from Mr. Driller series
KThis song is really fun.
SMy nephew sang this.
KOh, not Ms. Horie (who played Puchi)?
SNope. He was about 10 years old, it was before his voice changed yet.
ESo this is a valuable recorded document (laughs). So that made you to chose the singer this time, then?
SYes.
EI see. That must have been enjoyable.
SBy the way, I don't think I've mentioned this... there's a track with a Sutra song in Drill Land.
Sample : "Minami e Mukatte (Facing to the South)" from Mr. Driller Drill Land
SThis song was performed by a real Buddhist priest, from the temple in Kita-Kamakura (built in the 13th century).
EWere you particular about getting a real priest?
SYeah, it had to be the real thing. The style in which the Sutras are sung can't be imitated.
Mr. Driller
Sample : "Balance" from Mr. Driller series
KIs that an electric violin?
SYes. it's quite difficult... The violinist who played it, Mr. NAOTO, released his own albums from a major record company after this. The recording was an ordeal. He said "This is the hardest piece I've ever played." (laughs)
KI love this piece.
SThank you. Basically, I put every note played on paper, even the ad-libbed sounding parts, so the score for it was a mess.
Mr. Driller
KSpeaking of violins, you've also done string arrangements for rock bands. I associate your name with strings.
SBut strings performers' faces darken when they see my scores (laughs). When I walk into the studio, the atmosphere changes.
All(laughs)
SThey don't sit down. They usually sight-read, and even looking at the score from a distance, they can see how dense it is from the mass of notes (laughs).
EI see.
SThey seem to recoil as soon as they see it.
EThey're hoping they didn't see it right... (laughs)
SYes. (laughs) There's extreme tension in the studio. They seem to feel they only have 3 chances to get it right.
KAfter three times, they'll lose their ability to focus.
SRight.
KYour songs also seem to be difficult to sing.
SI think so. Ms. Yoko Takahashi told me "I usually only need to record two takes..".
EOoh.
S"...but I had to do more for this song than I've ever done."
All(laughs)
SIt's not that the notes are too high, but that the melody jumps around so much. I think it's very difficult.
KI was impressed by the melody of "Tonari ni..."
Sample : "Tonari ni... (In an Instant...)" from THE IDOLM@STER MASTER ARTIST 07 Azusa Miura
SThis singer did a good job. She's a voice actress, actually.
KAnd what's more, she acted the character in the game, in addition to singing as her. It must have been tough.
EI agree. She had to sing in the character's voice.
SSure. But she (Ms. Chiaki Takahashi) was quite modest, and studied hard.
KStudied?
SWell, practiced.
KOh, you gave her the score to rehearse.
SYes. I understand she practices very hard, and she certainly did for the recording of this song. Usually, singers only listen to the song a few times, or even just listen to it for the first time in the train on the way to the studio.
ESo she's a real professional.
SYeah, and what's really amazing is that singing isn't her main occupation.
KHer singing doesn't sound like a typical voice actress.
SDefinitely.

About Mr. Shiina in detail

SI don't like e-mail. Sometimes I'm afraid of communicating by text. You often can't tell if something's a joke or not just by the words alone. I think writers have a tough job in this respect.
EHm, you're right. There are times when text can't convey the proper emotion of speech.
SBut I like that you can put smileys on cellphone messages, so I usually do that.
EDo you surf the internet?
SUm, well if they can be used as a source of information. For example, I look up cooking recipes.
EDo you like to cook?
SSometimes...well, I cook, but I don't clean the kitchen. I'm sure women would hate me (laughs).
ENot really, they'd probably be happy that you even cook at all. Do songs come to you while you're cooking?
Swell, there may be a connection between cooking and music. When I use an exotic spice I've never heard of before, the scent can inspire me to come up with an exotic theme. But I always overrate these "cooking" songs. It might sound great to me at the time, but when I listen to it the next day, I realize it's no good (laughs). The good pieces are the ones I compose in peace and quiet.
Mr. Driller
SOnce, I wanted to be a doctor.
EOh really?
SI went to Dokkyo Junior High School, where I could study German, but... I couldn't hack it. (laughs)
All(laughs)
EBut why did you want to be a doctor?
SI watched this TV drama on NHK (the public broadcaster in Japan) a long time ago about an Emergency Medical Technician. He was always overworked and never recognized for his efforts, but to me, he was like Superman. It really affected me
EThat's interesting.
SBut I couldn't get used to dissecting bodies.
EThat's understandable!
SMany of my old classmates are doctors. At the alumni parties, they have no problem eating meat, even tongues, while saying stufflike, "I did two operations today." I couldn't believe it! (laughs)
EYou can't eat after hearing that. (laughs)
SYeah, exactly. But they said you get used to it.
All(laughs)
EBy the way, I think there is some connection between music and doctors. A doctor I know also performs as a musician.
SReally?
EMusic resembles the body in some aspects... well, maybe not. (laughs)
SThey say a violin is like a woman's body. ...I guess a lot of musicians are perverts, maybe.
All(laughs)
SAnd they have extraordinary...well, wide interests.
EAfterall, emotion is the most important element in creating music, isn't it?
SExactly. I can't say this in the office, but it's like the feeling when you make love.
EMucisians often say so.
SI agree with them. The way you feel when hearing music is the same as when anything makes a deep impression on you. Maybe there are composers who are more dispassionate about it than I am... (laughs)
EI think the music you create is emotional, rather than mechanical.
SWell, I'm not very good with machines. I like them, but it's hard for me to get my head around them. I like seeing computers lined up and working, but I'm not good at messing around with them. I struggle with them to make my music.
EComputers allow you to get very detailed with your sounds. It's hard to make something as complicated as a Mozart score with just your imagination.
SSame as food, I like to have many kinds of foods in front of me, but not because I like to eat a lot. The hardest thing is... when you've got a dish with one piece of food left on it, and everyone wants it...that fragile atmosphere...
ESomething like, no one can touch it, right? (laughs)
SThat feeling and music are kinda similar.
EDo you mean similar to having that last piece on the plate?
SYeah... I don't know how to say it... It's like, I think it's good to not completely finish what I want to make, but to try to leave a space so that it won't be completed... I think my music may be too thick and condensed.
KSo... you don't leave any space then? (laughs)
S(laughs) I think I must leave some space. You can tell a singer to try not to sing with 100% emotion, but sing with 80%. So there'll be a struggle to keep that 20% down. It's the same thing for composing music.
EThat's deep.
SYou might feel like something's missing, but if you add just one more thing, you'll upset the balance. That feeling makes me hate myself.
EThere's a conflict between just one more, and no more.
SAnd for instance, I feel saved if a girl takes that last piece of food on the plate. When it comes to composing music, that same feeling of rescue comes from just letting a piece go. Leave it alone, work on something else...then come back to it later.
ELike you said before, you might think a piece is perfect right after you finish it, but when you listen to it again the next day, you reconsider.
SYeah, I guess we're all narcissists when we create. (laughs)
EWell, you have to be narcissistic to make good music.
SAnd... when I return to my normal mode, I struggle again (laughs)
Mr. Driller
EYour works are quite diverse: some are orchestral, some are fusion, some are rock.
SAm I allowed to agree? (laughs)
EPlease go ahead. (laughs)
SWell, I can write in any genre, as long as I'm motivated.
EWhat genre are you strongest in?
SHmm... did other composers answer that?
EThey said they have some favorite genres that they enjoy writing in.
SI like Ayu-chan(Ayumi Hamasaki)'s songs.
EReally! That's surprising.
SHer songs are cheerful so I play them loudly in my car. I think I'm different from other composers.
KI'm sure some of them listen to her too.
SI see...
KWell, he's not a game composer, but Marty Friedman (former member of Megadeth) is a big fan of Hamasaki.
SI was in a Megadeth cover band!
EDid You play "Hunger 18" and stuff?
SI didn't choose the songs, so I don't remember... Anyway, Megadeth was really popular back then. But no one came to hear us (laughs).
EThere were some enthusiasts though.
SMegadeth was just fun for us to play, but not for the audience to listen to. So we stopped playing them.
EThen you chose Metallica?
SNo, we stayed away from those kinds of songs and went with Japanese pop, because that could get an audience. They were difficult to play though.
EWere they?
SYeah. Jpop is mostly computer sequenced, but we had to play them live. Megadeth songs are pretty repetitive, so they're not difficult to play. Except for the hellish drum parts.
All(laughs)
SMy strong and weak points are... when I write a song, the time it takes me depends on whether I know the singer's natural voice. The genre doesn't matter...
ESo you have no weak points.
SWell, I can be weak and strong in every genre, you see. ...But while composing, I consider myself a specialist of the genre, of course! (laughs)
All(laughs)
SBut what's irritating is when my computer can't manage all the tracks. For example, when I'm editing a track with a lot of voice samples, the computer will sometimes freeze up and crash. So I get pissed off. "Oh come on, it freezed again!?"
EIt's a problem with the tools.
SYes, the performance of computers isn't always enough for what I want to make.
EIs it different when you use live instruments?
SVery different. Actually, I like a mixture of real instruments and synthesizers.
EAh I see. I've heard there's a big difference between writing vocal songs and instrumental tracks?
SWhen I compose a track I sing it out loud... well, not the fast passages (laughs). So at first, they're not so different for me.
KSo you sing along even when you're writing an instrumental track?
SIt's the easiest way for me.
Mr. Driller
EWhat do you do on holidays?
SI don't want to stay home, so I'll go out to cafes, even if I've got no one to go with. I'm afraid to get into the habit of staying home, because it's so easy to fall into the trap of watching TV and eating pizza all day.
KAh, I see.
SThe reason I go outside on my days off is I get refreshed.
EI guess artists need new sources of stimulation.
SI think so. I wind up overhearing conversations, like between lovers. I can learn a lot from that.
EI hear writers do that a lot.
SIt's really important. Everyone has their own view of love, and maybe mine's bizarre, so hearing other people's conversations gives me a sense of ordinary views. And makes me feel younger (laughs).
EHearing real stories is probably more interesting than watching TV shows.
SI like going to cafes for that. The atmosphere is different in bars. All the alcohol makes people weird (laughs).
EOh yeah (laughs).
SI think music is the same. The Japanese sense of beauty comes from a mixture of shyness and other elements. I like that sense of shy awkwardness between young lovers in cafes.
EI've always had this stereotype that composers stay indoors to work and don't listen to other music even on their days off, so hearing about this is quite... refreshing.
SThat's a relief. I thought you'd say its quite weird. (laughs)
All(Laughs)
EOh yeah? Maybe so (laughs).
KThat'd be embarrassing. (laughs) By the way, you said you write lyrics for your songs out in public, but what about music?
SI have written music while out too. I bring my laptop with me.
EI see. That connects with the story of how you wrote the words for "epunam" at a Fujiya restaurant.
SI think the way children talk is also interesting. There's a Starbucks near my house that kids are often at, because there's a Toys R' Us next to it. One time, a little kid I didn't know came up to me and said "Hey, isn't my dad cool?" (laughs) I love the unexpected things kids say.
EIn the office, it's just adults.
SMost of my coworkers are the same generation as me, so I understand them implicitly. But to understand other generations, I have to hear how they talk.
EIt's great that you have such a curious mind.
SHere's something I heard in Yokohama recently... You know the US presidential candidate Obama?
EYes.
S...I couldn't tell if this was a joke or not, but I heard this person ask "Was Obama born in Obama (a city in Japan)?" (laughs)
All(laughs)
SAnd what was funnier, the women next to them were shaking, trying to hold their laughter in.
EI see. (laughs) The atmosphere changed.
SEveryone stopped talking and listened to them. (laughs) "But he doesn't look Japanese at all!" "Half Japanese?" "He looks like the son of Chie Ayado(a Japanese jazz singer), doesn't he?"... (laughs)
KI've heard Obama city roots for Mr. Obama, but it's really not their concern, huh (laughs).
SI guess they heard the news a bit and made up a story around it. It was interesting... sorry, I guess we strayed away from music.
KNo problem, that was funny.

And what's next...

KSadly, "Mr. Driller Sound Tracks" is now out of print.
SIndeed. Although "Mr. Driller" was recently released on the download store for Xbox 360. (Also for PlayStation Store, WiiWare and DSiWare in Japan)
KI also love the tracks in "Mr. Driller Drill Land".
SThank you. I want to release them as a soundtrack.
KThat'd be great!
SThe performances on Drill Land were fantastic.
KEven though there's no CD, at least we have the music player in the game. But some tracks aren't in it.
SYeah, I omitted some tracks, same as my soundtracks.
KFor "Tales of Legendia", you included the unreleased tracks in the voice drama album that came out afterwards, due to all the requests.
SFor "Legendia", I omitted about 40 tracks from the original soundtrack.
EDo you usually do that?
SI think of what makes for the best album. For me, there are two types of composition. Some tracks can stand alone as musical pieces, and some only work when you hear them in the game.
KYou divide them up.
SYeah. Sometimes I have to take out the mid-range frequencies of tracks so they don't clash with the voices of the characters in the game, but then they sound too thin when listened to on their own. They sound as if you're playing only the very top and bottom notes of a piano.
KSo, is that why some tracks in the "Tales of Legendia Original Soundtrack" sound different from how they do in-game?
SYeah. I restored some parts which I'd removed from the tracks in the game.
EYou improve them for the soundtracks.
SYes, but it often annoys the fans.
KI guess it's a choice between quality and completeness. They're incompatible with each other.
SIt's so difficult!

We continued talking about "Tales of Legendia", so please wait for the next update.
Your feedback, comments and question to Mr. Shiina via email "composers@cocoebiz.com"
will be appreciated. Thank you!


Report by CocoeBiz., L.L.C. Translated by Yusuke Kimura and James McCawley.
Contents may not be reproduced or published without the permission of CocoeBiz., L.L.C.
We would like to thank for Mr. Shiina and Mr. Okubo of Namco Bandai Games Inc. to have this special interview with us.

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