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Interview with Yoshitaka Hirota (RocketBaby - January 2002)

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.

RocketBaby: How did you become interested in music?

Yoshitaka Hirota: I heard the acoustic guitar, which my brother played when I was young. He played covers of Carpenters' and Beatles' songs. When I was ten years old, my first musical composition was made assembling with an electronic toy and changing the resistance of voltage. Five years later, I remade the music in the band Bondage. The piece was called "Johnny's Gun" and was hardcore punk.

RocketBaby: How did you get involved in the game business?

Yoshitaka Hirota: When I was poor a long time ago, I was contacted by a friend and started making the sound effects for Final Fantasy VI.

RocketBaby: How did you get the job for Shadow Hearts?

Yoshitaka Hirota: Producers were brainwashed because they heard my past work.

RocketBaby: What were your influences while making Shadow Hearts?

Yoshitaka Hirota: Self-satisfaction, isn't it? I could compose my music freely.

RocketBaby: What was your process for creating Shadow Hearts' music?

Yoshitaka Hirota: I read the scenario, think, watch artistic material, and, of course, play with my cat Kuro. When music comes to my mind that fits, I hold it while playing with my tortoise Pochi. I give myself a feeling of strain and sense of incongruity so that my composition may fit a scene. After that I record a performance and Masaharu Iwata does data conversion while I play with my pets. Hidenori Suzuki created a splendid, graceful, wild program called "Digital Sound Elements" for PlayStation 2. He is a genius programmer. He enabled the composer's imaginative power to be realized to the maximum extent. He is indispensable to my work.

RocketBaby: How was it working with Yasunori Mitsuda?

Yoshitaka Hirota: I talked with him like an idiot while drinking a beer together. When we made wonderful music, we taught each other by telephone. When we were boiled down to composition, we would drink beer together. I enjoyed his interesting music very much. I would specify the atmosphere Mr. Mitsuda should compose for. As I felt vexed, I also wrote a lot of melodies.

RocketBaby: How did you meet Mr. Mitsuda?

Yoshitaka Hirota: I met Mitsuda at the school for music composition twelve years ago. As we disliked the crowd of rushes and traffic jams, we went to school at 6 AM and played together. I think Mitsuda-san is the composer of a new era.

RocketBaby: You also worked with Masaharu Iwata on Shadow Hearts?

Yoshitaka Hirota: Since Mr. Iwata lived in the neighborhood, he came to take the data of the music I made. He is a gentle, talented, and wonderful man. I always have long conversations with him like an idiot.

RocketBaby: What are some of your favorite tunes from Shadow Hearts?

Yoshitaka Hirota: "Belt Conveyors for Killers" is my favorite melody. It is popular with everybody. The best melody is "Sign of Him (The Creation of God)". What I wanted to express by Shadow Hearts was settled most beautifully.

RocketBaby: The cues for the Shadow Hearts' soundtrack have some very colorful titles. Who named the tracks?

Yoshitaka Hirota: James H Woan is a mystery man; he is called the boss of the Mafia and is the lyricist of the ending theme Shadow Hearts. He is the key person in the work which I am making now.

RocketBaby: Why do you create music?

Yoshitaka Hirota: The mission. I am music. Every day inspires me.

RocketBaby: What are your strengths and weaknesses as a compose?

Yoshitaka Hirota: I will always be Yoshitaka Hirota.

RocketBaby: Who is your favorite game music composer?

Yoshitaka Hirota: I like all people with strong personalities, because we can enjoy playing together.

RocketBaby: Please tell us about creating the music for the Biohazard drama discs?

Yoshitaka Hirota: Working in the studio was crazy. I made the best melody called "They are Already Dead." I sang and Mitsuda arranged it... The chorus part which he made was very cool! We wrote a lot of beautiful and strange melodies. We mixed it without sleeping.

RocketBaby: What is your fondest memory working in the game business?

Yoshitaka Hirota: I get to meet a lot of crazy people.

RocketBaby: What advice would you give to those who want to create game music?

Yoshitaka Hirota: Let's listen carefully without thinking twice.

RocketBaby: Any final thoughts?

Yoshitaka Hirota: I have begun making a new RPG. The next game has very eccentric contents and is created by crazy people. We demand a good sense and high level of various technologies for the sound manufacture. Therefore, a top staff team is gathered. We are making it in order to please everybody who is waiting for the work. I will also continue recording solo works through the most stimulating method. I will make a live recording, an art work, and the music of a game. I will investigate my own music more. I'm looking forward to meeting your readers some day.