From the Geneon translated release of MADLAX O.S.T. liner notes. Yuki Kajiura talks about her work on the MADLAX soundtrack with music producer Keiichi Nozaki, and promotional director Shiho Miyai. As I transcribed this I kept all spelling/grammar errors intact. (Note: Yuuka “Minami” refers to Nanri)
YUKI KAJIURA INTERVIEW
With K. Nozaki and S. Miyai
Start of Project
Miyai: How many projects have you worked with Director Mashimo?
Kajiura: This is the fourth one.
Miyai: When was it decided that Miss Kajiura would be the one to do the music?
Nozaki: At about the midway point of the planning stage. Usually, content and story become little stagnated during this period. However, both Director Mashimo and Produce Kitayama had probably already decided on Yuki Kajiura to do the music.
Kajiura: I feel really honored. I always enjoy working with Mr. Mashimo. He is very unique, and always shows such amazing creativity taht serves as a stimulus for me. Thus, I get excited for the preliminary meetings.
Miyai: What do you mean, “amazing creativity?” Are you referring to the legendary music menu?
Kajiura: Indeed (smile). The music menu itself is always quite unconventional, and Mr. Mashimo’s words of explanation are always interesting. Especially since he often lines up contradictory words. Such challenges increase my confidence instead of causing my frustration. I then start pondering on what to do with these words… it is at this point where I start composing. I feel that this thrill has formed into a habit for me (smile).
From “NOIR” to “.hack” to “MADLAX”
Kajiura: At first, I was told to create music that I like. This is teh same rough guideline I had received for previous projects.
Nozaki: A good way of describing this is a hands-off policy (smile). Although this project is not a sequel, I had certain unspoken expectations about the sound. I believe I gave her this directional advice.
Kajiura: That’s right. Also as a first request, I was asked to deliver the music for the daily lives of the two main characters, Madlax and Margaret, as it takes place in different areas. Having to deal with two different worlds was almost like “Aquarian Age”, but I concentrated more on the creation of music for the locations that connect the two worlds in which these two main characters live. Of course I used more sound variations since the locations, backgrounds and personal characteristics of the main characters are so different.
Any pressure from the previous projects?
Kajiura: I feel a certain amount of pressure on whatever project I work on. Even though my music is only played as a background for the project, it still provides an effect to the film. I wasn’t feeling any extra pressure because the film was Mr. Mashimo’s, but then I always feel pressure (smile). Since this was my fourth project, there was some easiness within the pressure.
Nozaki: That is an important criterion. From my point of view, Miss Kajiura constantly tries new approaches and experiments within the range of a trusting relationship between film creators and herself. Even when I told her, “you can do as you please,” she doesn’t overdo it. I can sense our unspoken mutual understanding on subtle matters such as “maybe we shall do this much” or “it’ll be good to do that much.”
Kajiura: I work on the project with these intentions in mind, but at the same time I do keep the easiness and pressure within.
Nozaki: I also noticed a big improvement on her work when I listened to an incomplete piece of her music. Although we had only given her a theme but not the image description of the piece, the music was already good. This must be the result of our combinations.
Kajiura: If there is just a single line written down, I can play around with it in my mind. It doesn’t cause me any pain because there were no descriptions (smile). In an animation project, I think it’s fairly easy to get a certain degree of the project’s direction by looking at the music menu. It’s a fun process to think about how to make an accent with the same type of music. For instance, “fear” and “being frightened,” they are both in the same category, however in the soundtrack they are not.
Nozaki: There aren’t any simple term in a Director’s order.
All: (burst out laughing)
Miyai: I feel that Miss Kajiura’s music has increased its density. In other words, it is proably because of the trusting relationship established between the staffs who have developed a mature relationship over the multiple projects… It must be a word of aesthetic value that the director does not need to explain himself more than necessary.
Nozaki: I see.
Kajiura: Maybe so. I occasionally felt that the music I created for MADLAX was a little inconsiderate. There aren’t many pieces that are perfect just for a particular scene. It means a piece of music can be used anywhere, and there are only a few that could be the one and only music piece for a specific scene.
Is this a soundtrack for two anime?
Nozaki: I could understand the two different areas that Madlax and Margaret live, but wasn’t it difficult for you to compose for such a concept as the alternating story for each episode?
Kajiura: Actually, the script by Mr. Kuroda was really interesting. Therefore, it wasn’t like a chopped-up story; instead, I proceeded to read it like it was all one continuous story. It was like a single thread that goes throughout the story, so I didn’t think it was as abrupt as the others have said.
Miyai: How did you go about its creation?
Kajiura: First of all, I worked on the Asian type. Moreover, I completed the entire Asian world and I completely sunk into the Asian color before I moved to next stage. As far as each character’s sentimental music, there was no way to do a dramatic piece. So it was easier to consider these as location music to make their foundation. Well, I’m sure there are many ways to use them in the music direction (smile).
Nozaki: That is also the point to enjoy as the Mashimo magic (smile).
Miyai: I suppose Margaret is the Western world, so is there any point that you consciously paid attention to?
Kajiura: Although I believed that the basic feeling could be common within Madlax, I entirely excluded Madlax’s instrumental impressions or Asian color. Not to have them intermingled was the key point.
Pre-production was done in a skyscraper
Miyai: You stayed in the hotel for the music creation, correct?
Kajiura: I came to the realization that I’ve been working in the same environment since I st arted composing. It was my first time to change location to do my work, so it was a fresh sensation for me. I realized I could compose different types of music just by changing locations. It was a place with a beautiful nightscape, so I crafted a few songs on my first day there while staring out at the night view through a big window. It is sort of casual, and it’s my favorite.
Miyai: If you don’t mind, could you tell me which one?
Kajiura: This time around it would be “the day, too far.” It is a piano song and I incorporated sounds inspired by the outside scenery as I was looking out from the window. I think I could express some additional atmosphere such as an airy feel. I discovered that the even the sound of just touching a piano, <pororon>, could make a picture by itself, so I basically let it flow along with the atmospheric senses of the song. My general tendency in writing music is to cram sounds into the melody, but I was little different this time.
Nozaki: didn’t you feel like you’d been cornered? Although it was our suggestion to have you work in the hotel room, I wouldn’t want it for myself (smile).
Kajiura: Since I had added some new equipment, I enjoyed it.
Nozaki: Now I feel a little relieved after hearing that. When you hear that a musician is going to work in a hotel room, it might sound luxurious, but in reality the recording studios in Japan are very expensive. If we have the composer work in a studio and then she gets stuck on an idea and then if she says, “let’s get together tomorrow again,” that would cost us far more than a week’s stay in a hotel… (smile).
Miyai: You welcomed me so much when I visited you, so I thought no one had visited you for a while (smile).
Kajiura: That’s right. Ah~ there is a visitor!!! (smile). I watned to talk to someone.
Miyai: I wonder if the reason why your compositions this time have more composure than usual is due to the environmental effect.
Kajiura: Instead of creating a climax (mountain peak) by stuffing sounds together, I purposely created gaps to create mountain peaks from the valley. I also managed to see where I should leave it to the engineer instead of over doing it myself.
Nozaki: I guess you couldn’t have come up with such sounds if you were looking at the horizon in Hokaido or at the sea in Okinawa.
Kajiura: I think so. In that sense, the tempo that evolved from the scenery of a jumbled town was a good thing. The hotel room where I stayed this time was located on the 30th floor, and the scenery from the window looked unreal or in other words, like a foreign dimension. I really enjoy this type of view.
Nozaki: The accounting personnel of company asked me, “What is it that Mr. Nozaki is doing at the hotel?”
All: (Burst out laughing)
Vocalist, Yuuka Minami is…
Kajiura: I thought it would be interesting to unify the image through a voice. Instead of making each opening and ending song to be independent, the voice from the opening and endign songs gets played as a BGM to contribute to the unification of the philosophy of the music. Although there are songs that I wrote for Miss Yuuka Minami’s voice, there were also songs that her voice would be good for after the fact. It was fun to inlay the same voice into so many areas.
Miyai: Her voice is blended in naturally as a chorus, although it is a big feature in “nowhere” (smile).
Kajiura: I usually get blown away by Mr. Mashimo’s projects after seeing the first episode (smile). Once again, I got blown away.
Nozaki: She once stopped and re-started with a solo violin (smile). I personally think that since Miss Nanri appears as a vocalist in this project, she didn’t dare to appear as voice actor.
The best part in this soundtrack
Miyai: Well, I would finally like to hear your overall impression.
Kajiura: Since there are themes for each character on the first CD, I’d hope that audiences will enjoy the musical sense of the main characters. Both the melody and the arrangements are simpler than usual. In that sense, I suppose this CD is more straightforward than the others. I used fewer petty tricks and instead placed melodies into spaces, so the motif of the project may be delivered to the audiences as simply as the music itself. I myself really enjoyed the film so please look forward to the upcoming music that I will write.