Interview originally posted on RocketBaby.
Born: August 6, 1965 Tokyo, Japan Education: University Favorite Drink: Tea Favorite Food: Japanese foods, ethnic foods Favorite Book: "The Hotel New Hampshire" by John Irving Favorite Music: Opera, Classical, Techno, Pop Favorite Movies: Simple movies Studio Gear: PowerMac G4/533MHz (384M) and many instruments Sound Tools: ProTools, Digital Performer Web site: Feels Like Heaven (J)
RocketBaby: At what age did you become interested in music?
Yuki Kajiura (YK): I was completely influenced by my father. He loved opera and classical style songs, so I was forced to accompany his songs on the piano since the age of seven.
The first song I composed was for my grand mother, when I was (probably) seven years old and I had to go to West Germany because of my parent’s transfer. The title was ”Thank you, Good-bye”. The song’s score still remains. Since then I rarely made compositions till my late teens.
RB: How did you get the job for Noir?
YK: The director Koichi Mashita invited me to join in. I worked with him on the animation of “Eat-man”.
RB: Noir has a unique sound, how did you select the musical styles used?
YK: There is no specific reason. For me, it’s strange that there is a tacit understanding that BGM has no song (only in Japan?), so I made the BGMs of Noir very naturally. I did not want to disturb the story line.
I think I was considerably inspired by the director Koichi Mashita. He was very good at stirring up my imagination. His order for making music was very abstract and interesting. He didn’t talk such the way of speaking as “like that music”, instead, he spoke like “with a feeling of falling beyond the universe.” I felt that he expressed his wishes about the music with it’s breadth and scale, rather than It’s quality. The director offered me a challenge with words, and I accepted it with music. That was the way of the creation.
As a composer, what attracted me to Noir was simply that it was the work with very few restrictions. I set out to compose the music my way and I was able to complete the music my way. It seemed like that creators of pictures and music had each other’s own way, and after that mixed them up.
RB: How Long did you work on Noir and what is your favorite tune?
YK: About half a year, but almost all of the music was finished in the first month. I’m not sure because I have not counted, maybe I wrote sixty or seventy music cues if you include the short sounds.
Let me see, if forced to decide the best one, it is “Canta Per Me”. There are rare opportunities to release the music of such atmosphere, so during the work on Noir I carried out what I had always wanted.
Memory of the work… pretty desperate, because there was not enough time. It was like I had literally ransacked all of my stock for creation.
RB: Like “Canta Per Me” “Indio” is one of most impressive tunes. What emotion did you put into that music?
YK: In fact, I wrote “Indio” long ago, when I was young. I got the impression from Noir that the youth of the girls were very specific. “Indio” was the work of my youth, and maybe I could never write it, especially its lyrics, if I was not young, Because I decided that the “youth” of the music including its immatureness matched the girls’ atmosphere, I dared to use “Indio” in Noir.
RB: What inspires your music?
YK: Various things…pictures, especially books, I think. Soundless media gives me the imagination of sounds. But sometimes a conversation with someone inspires me. It’s really various.
RB: Why do you create music?
YK: That is a endless question for me. At the end of my teens, when I started making music for real, I thought seriously “music, or die”. Everyone has the instinct of self expression, right? As a scheme of self expression, I had decided that creating music was more suitable for me than drawing, writing, or speaking.
But the motivation changes naturally as I age or I write music as my works. Basically there is a simple reason that I love music anytime, and I’m sure there are desires or frustrations that the music I create tomorrow may convey something to someone more than that of today. But recently I often have to write more music over my desire of creation, so sometimes the motivation tends to be ambiguous in my mind.
I can’t create music without the feeling of love for music, so always I’m making effort to keep the love for music in any situation. It comes to be all of my energy.
RB: Please explain what type of music See Saw is?
YK: When See-Saw was an amateur band, it consisted of six women. Our vocalist left See-saw, and we scouted around for a new one. At such time Chiaki, who was a younger sister of our drummer in those days, came to see the session at the studio, and casually I asked her to sing a song. And then I found she had the ideal voice I wished, so I persuaded her to join us although she never had an experience of band activity.
See-saw’s concept is “Do the favorite thing when we want to do it”. It’s A very easygoing musical unit for me. Basically See-saw aims to perform pop music. Since the early days I like impressive melody, so we hope to write songs comfortable for us, melodies move us deeply, with two of us.
RB: Please share your experiences on the following games:
It was very interesting, because it was my first work of game music and I was interested in video games.
Funk a Step I & II:
I love musicals, and I have intensity of thought for stage work. It was the work with which my dream had come true. Some tunes of the work are my favorites even now.
I worked with some of my favorite musicians. We joined to create a lavish production. It was very impressive work for me.
“Boogiepop” is a very interesting novel. Actually I started writing tunes and I couldn’t stop to empathize with each of the characters, but out of all of them I seemed to feel particular empathy with Kei Niitoki. I like Kei’s theme as a piano tune, and Echoes’ tune is also one my favorite.
“I think regardless of its sales or popularity, a music composer and those who listens are always facing each other one-on-one.”
-Yuki Kajiura 2002
Even now I love the comics of EATMAN very much, as well as the animation. I think it an honor and I was truly happy to create music for the works I love.
In the work I wrote Italian songs for the first time. There were few tunes, but I enjoyed writing very much.
Shin Kimagure Orange Road:
A producer who is my acquaintance introduced me. The producer approves of me since I was in See-Saw and called on me to get involved. Since it was a little a while ago, I can’t remember how many tunes I wrote. It may be double number of tracks included on the sound tracks. I rarely prefer such a love story of Jack and Jill like that, so I worked with fairly fresh sense.
Blood the Last Vampire (PSX2):
I didn’t refer to movies music. I remember that I thought the game had a horrorific and quiet atmosphere and wrote the tunes which didn’t stand out but focused on the atmosphere and mentality. I like its quiet and nostalgic atmosphere all over the game. I had the background that I had worked on the music of “Double Cast”, which was one of the same series of “Yaru-dora”, so I got involved with the project.
RB: What are your strengths and weaknesses as a composer?
YK: My weakness is…I have to study music all the time, because I was very late to get down to music than other composers. Maybe my knowledge and experience are far less than that of the composers of same generation.
What is my strength? If I have one, it is my selfish mind. I’m selfish, or rather, because of lack of experience, I can create only the music I’m interested in. It may be related to the character of my music, but conversely it’s my weakness of “one pattern”, since I can’t create any music I’m not interested in now.
RB: Do you admire any other game or anime composers? Who and Why?
YK: Restricted to game or anime composers, I have to say no. But of course it doesn’t mean that there are no composers to admire. Wherever in any category of media, stage, game, anime or songs, I admire the person who create the their own music at any time.
RB: What is your process for creating music? In what kind of environment do you create your music?
YK: Mainly I write tunes in my room with piano, but if I hit on a melody when I’m walking, I write it as a score. Though there are many ways to create music, I value the first phrase that comes into my mind (usually it is a melody, sometimes a rhythm or like a riff of synthesizer), and regard the arrangement as a decoration which emphasizes the phrase I want to express. I make arrangement in the way as above, maybe a matter of course.
RB: What is your most treasured memory creating music?
YK: After all, I think that listening to music is a personal experience. I think regardless of its sales or popularity, a music composer and those who listens are always facing each other one-on-one. So I’m most pleased to have a message about my music from an individual person. Impressions given to me when I was an amateur and to my works now are treasured memories better than anything else.
RB: What advice would you give to those who want to create music?
YK: Advice..? It’s difficult for me. I don’t have much experience yet, but I’ve got involved with the world of music, largely as a result of my luck. God only knows when we have what kind of opportunity. I think there are quite a few windows of opportunity in our lives. It is most important that no matter what kind of music, even if you feel the work uninteresting, you should keep creating your own music to which you feel proud. I think so.
RB: Any final thoughts?
YK: If my tunes I have created with my emotion evoke some kind of emotion from those who listen, that is my sincere pleasure. My daily life of creating music is so happy to me. I wish sincerely that my music which is born of my happy life brings some happiness to all of you. Thank you very much for enjoying the music of Yuki Kajiura.
Translation by Tetsushi Naito
A big thank you to Ms. Kajiura for taking the time to chat. Special thanks to Tetsushi!