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Interview with Shunsuke Tsuchiya (October 2010)

Shunsuke Tsuchiya is a young composer who has worked at Yasunori Mitsuda's music production company Procyon Studio since 2008. During his time at the company, he has taken major roles on Luminous Arc 2, Luminous Arc 3, Sands of Destruction, and Arc Rise Fantasia, focusing primarily on acoustic and orchestral music.

Following our meeting at Symphonic Fantasies, Shunsuke Tsuchiya agreed with SEMO to conduct his first interview to date. In the resultant discussion, he discusses his background, early works, and reasons for joining Procyon Studio. He subsequently discusses how he approached each of his works to date in some detail, particularly focusing on his composing, manipulation, and production roles on the 'Arc' series.

Interview Credits

Interview Subject: Shunsuke Tsuchiya
Interviewer: Chris Greening
Editor: Chris Greening
Translation & Localisation: Shota Nakama, Marc Friedman
Coordination: Yoshie Miyajima

Interview Content

Chris: Shunsuke Tsuchiya, it is a pleasure to talk to you again after we met in Cologne. Could you discuss your background and influences as a musician? What led you to join Yasunori Mitsuda's Procyon Studio?

Shunsuke Tsuchiya: Thank you so much for the interview! I started composing when I was about 16 or 17. Around that time composition software came out for the PlayStation, and I would show off original compositions to my friends. My primary influence was Joe Hisashi-san; as I heard his heartfelt melodies, I knew that I wanted to follow in his footsteps! To that end, I exerted myself every single day. Procyon Studio would allow me to compose freely, so when I had the chance to join, I didn't hesitate and I went to Yasunori Mitsuda-san's webpage, applied for the position of composer, and I got in. It was fate.

Shunsuke Tsuchiya, Maki Kirioka, Don Kotowski, Junya Kuroda

Chris: Before joining Procyon Studio, you were involved in a number of independent contributions. Did you enjoy contributing to the original album Yuunagi alongside Azusa Chiba?

Shunsuke Tsuchiya: To my recollection, the original album Yuunagi was the first time I received compensation for composing. Together with Azusa Chiba-san, who now belongs to Basiscape, and two other composers, we formed a Quartet. That was my first attempt at merchandise. Through the concept of the album, the various seasons, and the marketing, we were able to create and give life to an album whose intent was to portray the coming together of our unique individualities. And this project served as an excellent incentive to get us started.

Chris: Another independent album you published was Hajimete. Could you tell us more about the origins of this title? What was it like to compose vocal music for the project?

Shunsuke Tsuchiya: Yes, Hajimete is an album containing theme songs that I composed for a doujin game. It was my first time composing a vocal piece and it was difficult, but also a good experience. To this day it's a song that I can't forget.

Chris: At Procyon Studio, you made your debut composing ten pieces for Luminous Arc 2. What was it like integrating into this multi-composer project? How did you develop such a colourful orchestration style for the score?

Shunsuke Tsuchiya: Luminous Arc 2 featured many famous composers, so it was both a meaningful and tense job. I wanted to create dignified songs that were also rich in color, so I aimed for a modernistic, chordal approach. Finally, I arrived at the proper quality of sound. I was influenced by more modern composers such as Gustav Holst. I groped for a straight style, along with researching the more free style of that era, and went with that approach.

Chris: Since then, you took the lead composing role on Luminous Arc 3. How does your music on this title compare with the predecessor?

Shunsuke Tsuchiya: The style is the biggest difference between the two titles. For Luminous Arc 3, I went with a more straightforward approach in the melodies. My starting point was much simpler this time around. I piled up many tracks, and began to cut the unneeded ones away and abridged others, in an effort to transform my music.

Luminous Arc 2

Chris: Though Maki Kirioka handled the opening vocal theme for Luminous Arc 3 you were responsible for the actual instrumental main theme for the game, introduced in "Chance Meeting".

Shunsuke Tsuchiya: I wanted to change the main theme this time, so I replaced piano with strings as the main instrument. Since the main theme is featured in various arrangements throughout, I searched for something recognizable. I was also responsible for the ending vocal theme, "The Reflections in These Eyes".

Chris: You also composed the related game Arc Rise Fantasia for the Wii. What were your contributions to this large project? Were they mostly orchestral or rock-based?

Shunsuke Tsuchiya: I was in charge of the music for Arc Rise Fantasia, along with Mitsuda-san and Harada-san. The rock music you mentioned is most probably that of Harada-san. I was in charge of the main battle music, utilizing orchestra and choral work. The music that Mitsuda-san and Harada-san created added to the energy of my own, but it was also the biggest and toughest work of mine to date. The huge marketing campaign added to the pressure, but in the end, it remains an extraordinarily meaningful experience for me.

Chris: Away from the Arc series, you've also participated in smaller projects such as Minna no Theater Wii. Could you discuss your experiences on these titles?

Shunsuke Tsuchiya: For Minna no Theater Wii, I created a nice, relaxed brand of music. It's my preferred style of music, so the project was a perfect match for me. This project required calm, gentle music, different than the type one would seek from an RPG. It was also the first time I had to convert music for the Wii's hardware, providing for me a strong experience. For reference, I also worked on Infinite Loop alongside Kazumi Mitome.

Chris: During your time at Procyon Studio, you've also worked extensively as a sound manipulator. What are the challenges of manipulating the music of Luminous Arc for the DS?

Shunsuke Tsuchiya: For Luminous Arc 2 and Luminous Arc 3, the songs that I composed were manipulated by me. For Luminous Arc 2 I was still unfamiliar with the DS hardware, so there was lots of fumbling around until I was able to start. In comparison, with regards to Luminous Arc 3, due to my prior experience, I was able to get many more sounds as I wanted them. By the time the deadline rolled around, I had completed everything more satisfactorily.

Arc Rise Fantasia

Chris: Finally, it was announced that you have composed new music for the overseas version of World Destruction, renamed Sands of Destruction. Why was this necessary and what do you think your new music offers to the score?

Shunsuke Tsuchiya: For the overseas version of World Destruction, I worked on a new song for the opening movie. For sales overseas, the piece had to be made anew. Indeed, the differentiation of that main theme allows the game to have a complete world view. The changing of the opening music gives this version a unique impression from the Japanese one, and I hope everyone will enjoy it.

Chris: Thank you very much for talking to us today, Shunsuke Tsuchiya. Is there anything else you would like to say to your fans around the world?

Shunsuke Tsuchiya: Hello all, it is Shunsuke Tsuchiya. Thank you very much for your continued support! I'm going to work day and night to continue to try to create music that will reach the heart. I'm happy to know that so many warm eyes are watching me. Finally, I feel honored to be afforded the chance to send such a message. Really, thank you very much! I hope, sometime, somewhere, to be able to meet everyone again!

Many thanks to Yoshie Miyajima and Yasunori Mitsuda for coordinating this interview. Thank you to for Shota Nakama and Marc Friedman for their respective translations of the questions and answers to this interview.