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Interview with Noriyuki Iwadare (RocketBaby - October 1999)

The following interview was carried out by RocketBaby.net, a sadly defunct site that once interviewed numerous game composers. Square Enix Music Online is hosting the interview to avoid it being lost forever. The translation was by Chialphy Ethrin.

RocketBaby: At what age did you become interested in composing music?

Noriyuki Iwadare: I liked music from the time of childhood. As a junior high student I started to compose for the first time adding music to various kinds of poetry, and later I used a guitar and piano to create original music. People liked my music so I was able to continue on to university where I began to use synthesizers and computers. I became very interested in using these machines and began doing multitrack recording, and it became very important to make electronic music.

RocketBaby: Who are your influences?

Noriyuki Iwadare: In particular I do not have a single influence. But I like any kind of music.

RocketBaby: Grandia for the Saturn is an epic game. How did you achieve such a high quality of sound? Did the programmers have to steal any of your sound memory?

Noriyuki Iwadare: Grandia is a splendid game. A system of "ADX" reproduces the sound of an orchestra fully, therefore I am able to compose without being limited to the abilities of the game machine. I am able to make any kind of music.

RocketBaby: The PlayStation version of Grandia has just been released in Japan and United States has the music been rearranged?

Noriyuki Iwadare: Grandia of the PlayStation is same as the Saturn.

RocketBaby: Tell us your views on the differences between the sound architectures of the Sega Saturn and Sony PlayStation?

Noriyuki Iwadare: Both PlayStation and Saturn are functional, and there isn't a great difference when building the music system for each important game.

RocketBaby: For "Vent", you took the robust themes of Grandia and arranged them into a jazzy supper club sound. Can you tell us how this arranged album was conceived?

Noriyuki Iwadare: I produced "Vent" with concept of "an album which I would want to hear Sunday morning." The small ensemble of players let us play music that made us feel warm; it was different from the music of the magnificent game.

RocketBaby: How long did you work on Vent?

Noriyuki Iwadare: We had a production period of roughly one month? It was production only with a sheet of music.

RocketBaby: Are you scoring Grandia II? If so how will it be different form the first game?

Noriyuki Iwadare: Yes. Naturally the story from Grandia II is different from Grandia. But "the heart to have an adventure" has not changed. I used the orchestra and synthesizer to magnify the excellent game images and this will not change in the second game.

RocketBaby: Will the sound architecture of the Dreamcast allow using acoustic instruments for Grandia II?

Noriyuki Iwadare: It is good. I hope that I create a better sound than before.

RocketBaby: What are your thoughts on the three next generation consoles?

Noriyuki Iwadare: I heartily welcome a new model of a machine that will allow me to detonate new musical ideas that I can explore on a gaming console.

RocketBaby: Do you listen to video game music, and who are your favorites?

Noriyuki Iwadare: Unfortunately I don't hear much game music. But some of my favorite composers are Kenichi Ookuma, Motoaki Takenouchi (Shining Wisdom), and Hayato Matsuo (Front Mission 3). They are my friends.

RocketBaby: When not working what are your hobbies?

Noriyuki Iwadare: I go to bed when free.

RocketBaby: Do you play videogames? Which ones?

Noriyuki Iwadare: The influence of my son is strong in my home, and the games of Nintendo 64 change all day. Super Mario 64 is a game I play well.

RocketBaby: What kind of music do you listen to?

Noriyuki Iwadare: I hear various kinds of music from classical music to pop music. I listen to lots of folk music.

RocketBaby: Do you compose any other genres of music? What types?

Noriyuki Iwadare: I compose background music of television, radio, dance and stage musicals. I composed music for a show at Tokyo Disneyland.

RocketBaby: In the USA Lunar: Silver Star Story Complete was released with a bonus music CD. How did you approach rearranging the music?

Noriyuki Iwadare: I did this project with the "this arrangement will probably be sold with the game" in mind. Unfortunately, I cannot release a music CD on my own. Sorry, but this question was rather difficult for me to answer. The truth is, when I listened to this CD, I felt as though I could do an arrangement that would convey more expression than the original. This CD had arrangements from the original Lunar: The Silver Star as well as the new Lunar: Silver Star Story. Working with those tracks was very nostalgic.

RocketBaby: Were the arrangements done just for the US version of the game?

Noriyuki Iwadare: Yes, the arrangements were done for the US version. I supervised the production of the arranged CD.

RocketBaby: How was it working with Working Designs?

Noriyuki Iwadare: The Working Designs staff members came to Japan to conduct interviews and me the impression that Working Designs is a company full of very enthusiastic people. It's rare for Japanese companies to include interviews in the users manual. "An American company that truly cares about it's users" I mused. I wanted to really do this project right.

RocketBaby: Do you perform your music live?

Noriyuki Iwadare: I very much hope to do a concert soon.

RocketBaby: What do you think the quality of the whole video game industry?

Noriyuki Iwadare: The video game industry is very young and only has a little history yet. I think that it is the media which I and you will make from now on. Let's try hard.

RocketBaby: What is the future of video game music?

Noriyuki Iwadare: In Japan a lot of young men seem to want to become composers of game music. Now a lot of talent will begin to make new music, and I believe that "the newest music" is game music.

RocketBaby: Do you have any advice for young men an women who want to become game composers?

Noriyuki Iwadare: Be sure you have an understanding of the feelings and experiences of game players. Read a lot of books to keep your imagination fertile. Watch a lot of movies to see how music and images can work together to convey an emotion. Listen to all kinds of music and increase your knowledge of the field. Composing is not for people who give up easily — one must work hard — and take pride in their work.

RocketBaby: Thank you for you time is there anything you would like to tell your fans?

Noriyuki Iwadare: I knew that there are fans who heard my music in America. I am very glad. Music is world's common language. I will make music to be good from now on. Thank you very much.