Interview originally posted on Anime News Network.
What got you into being a composer?
I was originally in a band with five girls. It was just a big girls’ band. I wasn’t really planning on becoming a professional musician, I just happened to be performing in a band. I was working in a company as a programmer at the time, and back then, my music was just a hobby. Gradually, my workload increased to the point that I didn’t have enough time. My job tasks were increasing, and I just didn’t have enough time for my job, when at the same time I was trying to juggle a music career. My music career was getting very intense, so I eventually reached the point where I had to choose one or the other to make an accomplishment. Then, when I was really thinking about having to choose one or the other, I was offered a CD deal. That was basically the reason why I became a professional musician.
A lot of your songs have a European style. What have been influences on your music?
Style… yeah, maybe European or Asian. In my younger days, I loved to listen to every kind of music. What you call world music, pop, rock, techno, classical, opera… within myself, I didn’t really distinguish between the different genres. So, when I’m making my music, I don’t really feel awkward about mixing African music, local music, Japanese, or British music.
So you like to play with different styles and make something new with it?
No, actually, I don’t want to make something new. I just want to make something good, whether it’s new or old. For me, there’s no difference if I frequently use a style non-stop, because everything is the same for me. If it’s good, I’ll use it. I don’t really see genres. For me, it’s either good music or bad music, basically. It’s very simple.
When you’re asked to create a soundtrack for an anime series, how influenced are you by the visual look of the series? Do you start with a strong visual appearance of the show, or do you make the music based on what the directors and producers are telling you?
Oh, both. When I start music for an animation, I usually can’t get the actual moving pictures yet. I may get some sketches, some visual images, a memo from the director about what kind of music he wants, like to use some mysterious notes… that kind of thing. Once I get those sketches or pictures, I can start imagining what he is looking for. I want to be able to get a certain articulate concept set in order to make a composition, so I look for similar concepts or storylines from other books. I love books, so once I have other books and have read through them, and get an idea or concept for myself, than I start to make my music.
What do you think about the exposure your music is getting in North America? Are you surprised with how popular it is?
I was surprised. I didn’t know how many people would listen to it. I’m very glad, because I’m a composer, and I want more and more people to listen to my music. If they love my music, it’s my pleasure, so simply, I’m very glad.
Do you enjoy performing live?
Live? Mainly, I’m not a live performance player. I like to retire within my house and compose, but yes, I love to do live concerts.
Interacting with the crowd?
I don’t think I’m a good communicator, but I love it because back with my band, I used to do many live shows. But then, our communicator was our vocalist. She was a good speaker, and she spoke a lot, and while I was just simply playing the piano in the background.
Is that something that’s become different now that you’re the focus?
Well, a few years ago, Anime Expo… it was my first time doing a solo live in the United States. Really, in Japan too, so it started from the United States.
Can you tell us about your Fiction CD that you debuted? What were your feelings when you created this CD? Did you have experience doing solo projects beforehand?
It was a new experience for me. Most of the songs were from the soundtracks of Noir, Aquarian Age, and .hack//SIGN, while some were songs that were new for me. It was simply so fun to make. Around those years, I was doing mainly soundtracks. I love to make soundtracks, but usually, I’ll be asked to make a soundtrack for something that’s to be released to video or something, so I always basically get homework to create music. But with the CD, everything was my order. I could create from scratch, so it was very interesting and enjoyable for me. A good part of the CD is, even if you know .hack music or something, you know it’s the same music, but it’s sung by an American singer. Because of that new arrangement, I could create it from scratch again. So the arrangements and music and recording were totally new. So song-wise, you would be familiar with it, but composition-wise, it was basically new. That’s what was unique about that release, and that’s what I really enjoyed.
What do you find more difficult? Creating music for a series, or creating the original music?
Well, it’s the same. Same difficulty, same fun. No difference, really.
Well, we’re very much looking forward to any of your new releases! Thank you very much for this interview!
Thank you very much!