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Exclusive: Meet the Kingdom Hearts 3D sound team

4:00 PM on 07.26.2012 // Audun Sorlie
  @AkumuAudi

[Editor's note: Hailing from Norway, Audun Sorlie is not only passionate about game music as an editor on OSV and writer for various magazines around the world, but he's also a big Kingdom Hearts fan. To commemorate the release upcoming of Dream Drop Distance, he's been in touch with the game's three composers about the project. Join us in checking out what they had to say.]

For over ten years, the Kingdom Hearts franchise has filled players with a diversity of emotions, combining characters from Square Enix's roster with the vibrant and dynamic worlds of Disney and providing one of the most popular adventures to be experienced in the last decade. It is especially through the games' soundtracks and Yoko Shimomura’s sensitive yet bold melodies that Kingdom Hearts finds a place in millions of hearts around the world.

Over the course of years, Shimomura was joined by Square Enix's Takeharu Ishimoto and Tsuyoshi Sekito. The three of them took time to chat with us and share their memories, their feelings on the music, and their experience of working with Nintendo 3DS hardware for the first time in the series to celebrate the upcoming Dream Drop Distance.



Yoko Shimomura (studio midiplex)

Role: Composer
Selected Past Works: Street Fighter II, Parasite Eve, Legend of Mana, Radiant Historia, Kingdom Hearts

On ten years of Kingdom Hearts and the vital role her music has played

I am delighted to hear my music has been vital to the success of the series. These ten years flew by very quickly. Kingdom Hearts has allowed me to experience lots of moments both sweet and bittersweet. Despite the different circumstances, I was always involved with Kingdom Hearts one way or another during these ten years. Kingdom Hearts means a lot to me and it is a huge part of my life.

On reuniting with composers Tsuyoshi Sekito and Takeharu Ishimoto

Perhaps the director chooses which songs work best for each of us. But sometimes I can be selfish and request if I can work on specific songs (laughs)

On the challenge faced when creating new songs versus referring back to fan favorites

I put a lot of care into keeping the overall image consistent, even if the song’s arrangement changed drastically. So when working on the song, if I felt something was not right I started all over without hesitation (laughs). I always try to put myself in the players’ shoes and try to be mindful of how people would want to hear past songs.

On the impact of the Nintendo 3DS hardware on her approach and compositions

The 3DS hardware is truly brilliant. In the past for Nintendo handheld games I’ve always used the internal sound source to compose. This time, I was able to use a streaming source which enabled me to compose music in a higher quality, which I am very happy about. I didn’t particularly change the way I used sound in the game at this time, but I think it will be a good idea to pursue trying out new types of BGM in the future.

On her favorite pieces from the Dream Drop Distance soundtrack

I hope you’ll forgive me for saying this, but I have a difficult time answering this type of question. For me, all songs are like my children, and it’s hard for me to pick just one song and talk about it. Sorry.



Tsuyoshi Sekito (Square Enix)

Role: Composer
Selected Past Works: Chrono Trigger (PlayStation), The Last Remnant, performer in The Black Mages and many Square Enix releases

On ten years of Kingdom Hearts and his experiences with the series

I worked on some of the songs for Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep and Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance. I am happy to hear that this year marks the ten-year anniversary of the Kingdom Hearts series and at the same time I recognize how widely the series has been supported by fans around the world. I would be honored if given the chance to work on the series again, and I would like to engage in the project with this great responsibility in mind.

On being reunited with composers Yoko Shimomura and Takeharu Ishimoto

With regards to delegating work, I didn’t have any meetings with Shimomura-san. Primarily, decisions were made during my meetings with the team. In these meetings, depending on the situation, I also discussed things like “Do I write new songs?,” “Should I do any music arrangements?,” and “Will it be better to have additional songs?,” etc.

On the impact of the Nintendo 3DS hardware on his approach and compositions

Including 3D visual effects, there was so much expressive power that it was difficult for me to believe it was for a handheld game device. As such, I also tried to create songs with a fair amount of scale sensitivity. In this particular project, this is especially true of colorful and speedy songs for Dream Eater battles and Dive Mode. I feel that I was able to better emphasize a larger scale of the world without worrying about the the small game screen on the portable device. So far, there have been no unforeseen challenges (laughs).

On his favorite pieces from the Dream Drop Distance soundtrack

Since I am emotionally attached to all the songs, it’s difficult to choose one song … but if I had to choose one, I’d say I enjoyed ”Ice-hot Lobster” the most in the beginning. Now with the game released, after listening to all the songs, “Majestic Wings” is one of my favorites. When listening to it individually it sounds simple, but after listening to a series of several other songs it sounds more free and bold and it gives me energy (laughs).



Takeharu Ishimoto (Square Enix)
Role: Composer
Selected Past Works: The World Ends With You, Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII, Dissidia series, Kingdom hearts: Birth by Sleep

On ten years of Kingdom Hearts and his experiences with the series

When you say it’s ten years, I realize time flies. The Kingdom Hearts series has played a big role in my personal growth since I’ve been involved with it, even before I started working on the music composition for the series.

On being reunited with composers Yoko Shimomura and Tsuyoshi Sekito

The project team sent both Sekito-san and me a list of songs ahead of time. When I saw TRON on the list, I told them I would work on it. As for THE WORLD ENDS WITH YOU, it’s not like we could’ve had Sekito-san work on it, so I’ve gone ahead and handled it myself.

On his arrangements of the three tracks from The World Ends With You

It wasn’t that I tried to fit them into the Kingdom Hearts sound. They’re pop songs to begin with, so I figured I would arrange in a way that’s right for everyone.

On the impact of the Nintendo 3DS hardware on her approach and compositions

I actually didn’t really think about it (laughs).

On his favorite piece from the Dream Drop Distance soundtrack

I would say “TWISTER.”

__

You can read our review of the Dream Drop Distance soundtrack here and purchase it from CD Japan




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Audun Sorlie, Contributor
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A Norwegian journalist and published author, specializing in video game music and salami. Having lived in Brazil, United States, and Europe, he has been featured in many magazines around the worl... more   |   staff directory

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