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An Audience With: Akira Yamaoka, composer Silent Hill, Shadows of…

19 Apr 2012  by   Paul Younger

During a recent publicity tour for upcoming XBLA/PSN title Black Knight Sword we were lucky enough to sit down with the game’s composer, Akira Yamaoka.
Yamaoka is perhaps most famous for his work on the Silent Hill series (games and films), but for us he deserve equal (perhaps more) respect for the music he has created for Suda 51 games such as Shadows of the Damned, No More Heroes and the upcoming Lollipop Chainsaw.
Enjoy a brief glimpse into the life of one of gaming’s finest musicians.
IncGamers: Does the music you’ve made for Black Knight Sword differ from other soundtracks you’ve worked on?
AY: I could talk about this all day. But making music for Black Knight Sword is similar to making music for the theatre, at least that’s how I look at it. It’s like the player is the audience, only this audience is controlling what happens on the stage.
Just like in theatre the band/orchestra reacts to what’s going in on the stage. So I create music for the game that reacts to what the characters are doing in the game, how they move and if they talk. So, in a sense, the players are also in control of the music which is something I’m very aware of what I’m writing for Black Knight Sword.
IG: How long does it take for you to create a piece of music, from conception to final recording?
Akira Yamaoka: Making music is a bit of a crazy process for me. I can certainly write one song a day, so give me ten days and I’ll write you ten songs.
IG: Have you found that different types of music appeal to Eastern and Western audiences?
AY: Actually, I’ve been thinking about my videogame music on an international level since I first started working on Silent Hill. The Japanese press probably wouldn’t be happy to hear me saying this, but I very consciously make music that will appeal to a non-Japanese audience.
In fact, the music that I’m influenced by isn’t actually Japanese. I mainly enjoy European music, so I have a lot to owe to that. Therefore, I’m not even sure if I know enough about Japanese to actually make something that a Japanese audience would enjoy.
Within videogames themselves I particularly enjoy the work of Woody Jackson, composer on Red Dead Redemption. We’ve become friends over the years and I really like his music, he’s a great composer.
IG: You’ve done a lot of work with Suda 51, what is it that attracts you to his work?
AY: He’s a character, he’s crazy [laughs]. But there’s a lot that I really respect about him and his vision and ability when it comes to creating interesting and unique games. If you’ve played his games then you’ll that they’re crazy… he’s as crazy as that.
Actually, though, deep down he’s quite a serious person. Which might be hard to believe [laughs].
IG: I heard that your favourite game is No More Heroes, why is that?
AY: That was then, my favourite game changes all the time. No More Heroes definitely used to be one of my favourites, but it changes constantly. Right now I’d say my favourite game is Skyrim.

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