Saturday, 18 May 2013

Exclusive Interview: Power up with MiYAMO and こなぐすり!

"It's a small world after all", that's how I felt when my childhood friend Mo told me the main composer for his upcoming open-world action-RPG-metroidvania A.N.N.E was going to be MiYAMO from doujin circle こなぐすり. Mostly known for his stylish pop and trance Touhou arranges, this piano virtuoso has also pumped out some world-famous denpa tunes in the past few years. As you're about to find out, he's far from done! Along with his musicals upbringings and contributions to A.N.N.E, we'll discuss the past, present and future of こなぐすり... get ready for some exclusive news and groundbreaking revelations!

- Please introduce yourself and tell us about your evolution as a musician, from early days to recent developments. Which kind of instruments and software tools have you learned over the years?

When I was a child I was learning the piano. I played compositions on the classic piano of course, but in addition to that I also made arrangements in my own way, and thought of my own melodies and played them. That's when I started composing. When I was in high school, the band I was in at the time was a great failure. So I came to the conclusion that it was time to make my own music. I had a desire to make music for video games so I started to develop a deep interest in "computer music".

The first tool I ever used was "音楽ツクール かなでーる" on the Super Famicom, released back in 1996 by ASCII Corporation. After that, I worked desperately at a part time job to finally buy a handy sequencer called the Yamaha QY70. It was my first experience with MIDI tracks and I was so touched by the sound quality that I can remember that moment even now. At that time, I was completely invested in making game-like music. I arranged music from games I liked such as Final Fantasy and Chrono Trigger. After I graduated from high school, I entered a music technical school. I studied things like musical roots and the technical side of making computer music.

After I graduated, I entered a music studio as a pupil. From there I studied musical theory from the basics all over again, as well as studied the piano and solfeggio. After two years of being a pupil, I wrote background music for some bishōjo games. After about one year of that, I left the studio and entered the real world doing freelance work. This is when I started to get popular among gamers.

At that time I wasn’t yet exactly well established in the Touhou community, I was basically just playing around with sounds doing the best I could. I wasn’t really fully immersing myself, but I think my first big exposure was probably IOSYS's 「魔理沙は大変なものを盗んでいきました」. I don’t know if it was logical as far as denpa goes or only natural, but it rode a sketchy line between music and casual dance tracks. This was a big shock to me and I remember it even now. I moved to a city called Hamamatsu in Shizuoka Prefecture. I participated in jazz sessions day and night on a street popular for jazz in Hamamatsu.

But, I was still fascinated by the Touhou genre and I feel it was at this time that I wanted to try and fully invest myself in that world. And, from that investment is what you see me as today. Now Conagusuri exists, right? *laughs*

- Why did you decide to become a full-time Touhou arranger as well as start the doujin circle Conagusuri in 2005, as opposed to contributing to existing circles?

The story is a little rough (haha), but I broke up with the girl I was seeing at the time. I lost all connection with the people I knew through her as well as friends I've had for a long time. I became a very lonely person. I became nothing, despairing in life. I remember playing online games all the time. That was the worst year of my life.

In that same year, a friend I met online said "Let's start a music circle with my friends!" Even though it was just a club, no one other than myself had any music experience, you could have called them all beginners, I think. Honestly, I asked myself why someone as myself who wholeheartedly did music for so long would work with a group of amateurs. But at that time I had lost touch with music and I think amateurs was just what I needed!

I had lost touch with music which was more important to me than anything else, and even an opportunity such as this was a chance at music. That’s what I thought. Could we really make a CD together, me and these beginners? That was our challenge. I rethought music and decided to teach them while doing the music club. The result was Conagusuri. Presently, there are no other members left from the original group, but everyone is independent in their own way, starting their own groups. I am really rooting for them, even now.

- Like many people, I became aware of こなぐすり in 2009 thanks to the hyperactive hit 「チルミルチルノ」 and the thousands of related MAD. In the past 8 years, what would you say were the most defining and critical moments of Conagusuri's evolution?

For the first four years of Conagusuri, there were no vocals, just instrumental tracks and we were pretty much an unknown entity. We still managed to make CDs but we wanted to take it a step further and have our music heard by many people. The members that we had up until then and myself wanted to demonstrate our special abilities by making new music.

In the Touhou music scene at the time, IOSYS's 「チルノのパーフェクトさんすう教室」 was riding in the top spot, it was the beginning of a golden age for denpa music. Wouldn’t it be good if Conagusuri started making denpa songs? I had that feeling and it gradually got stronger, we tried our best and the song that we came up with was 「チルミルチルノ」. If even a few more people listened to us as a result, I would have counted it as a success. That’s the feeling that I went in with, but I couldn’t have anticipated what would have become of it. It got over 3,000 hits in an hour on Nico Nico Douga and we were getting offers to do concerts; you could say it was the precise peak of Conagusuri.

The reality is that it came with a lot of pressure. After 「チルミルチルノ」 we fought the pressure and continued to make music. Gradually, we began to lose sight of our direction of making music – we didn't know what we should make, we dabbled in many genres. We began to stray and it went on for a long time.

From there, after about 3 years of worrying, we finally came to a conclusion. This is as far as we've come as a circle making product, but a circle is itself a product. We believed we had one more chance. I can't talk about all of the details now, but after a long time Conagusuri will be having its last run this summer. The reborn Conagusuri will start this winter! We haven’t released this news in Japan yet (haha) Please look forward to the new Conagusuri this winter!

- As far as your arrangements go, most of them sound sharp and stylish (桜∞friendship) while others are completely silly and ridiculous (唐傘奮闘記!~ラクトフェリンの果てへ~). How do you determine which style you will go for?

Thank you very much! When I go with denpa songs, it's because I want to make everyone laugh with music! As for sharp songs, these are probably where I shine most as an arranger. They have the power to move your heart emotionally, a feeling I am trying to convey. (lol) That’s all there is to it.

But combining a lot of genres into one CD is a source of confusion for the audience. That's what we've come to learn. Denpa music and sharp music are both very important to me. These compare favorably and can co-exist on a CD -- from now on Conagusuri plans to develop this concept further. Definitely, please look forward to the new powered-up Conagusuri!

- Among denpa song fans, 「三つ目が悟る ~これが私のドキュメント~」 is certainly considered a tour-de-force thanks to its complex, multi-layered instrumentation and of course perfect vocals from Lady Nanahira. Please tell us about your intentions and creative process for this song.

Wow, that's a very difficult question! This denpa song mixes together components from a lot of various musical genres. Depending on who you ask, denpa is known as a joke genre. Well, I think that a genre that has roots in humor can be completely funny, which is certainly what I went for with this piece. This song is saturated with pieces of classic, techno, folk, and trance.

For classic - in the song’s introduction, during Lady Satori's melody, there is a Beethoven-like phrase and you can hear Satori's dissatisfaction as an irrational feeling background music plays. For techno – there is Satori's dumb rap – it's dumb but, we present it in a way that seems cool. Verse two is all phrases used commonly in folk songs. Here, with the 70's and 80's style cute Japanese folk song sounds, you could say the Japanese otaku falls in love with a girl. Falls in love! That's the nuance the music has anyway (haha) a little gross I guess. So that's why, the background voice is a completely disgusting male otaku chorus. The sound engineers were really grossed out when mixing the track. (haha)

For trance, it becomes a feel-good denpa sound. The packaging of a denpa song is just as much a part of the representation of denpa songs themselves. The balance arranges, and we can make something called a MiYAMO denpa song. In relation to the lyrics, if jokes were not linked to the song, it couldn’t become good denpa. Also, Nanahira-san is such a powerful vocalist, I really think she is a musical genius. I don’t know a girl that could be more of a blessing to denpa music.

- How were you introduced to GamesByMo and the A.N.N.E project? Why did you decide to go ahead and sign up as main composer for this upcoming game?

I became acquainted with Mo through my friend PEPO of PEPOSOFT. He listened to my music, which had a deep impression on him and I was told he wanted me to write music for A.N.N.E. I loved videogame music from the beginning and doing that sort of job was my number one goal. So, "please leave it to me" was my answer. From the start, my computer music was inspired by the likes of Final Fantasy's Nobuo Uematsu (植松伸夫), Romancing Saga's Kenji Ito (伊藤賢治), Ridge Racer's Shinji Hosoe (細江慎治), and PuyoPuyo's Katsumi Tanaka (田中勝己).

I wanted to try and make that kind of game music myself someday – that was my dream all through school. Through Mo, that dream might finally be fulfilled, so that’s why I joined A.N.N.E, my dream big project. It's truly an honor to be the main composer.

- A.N.N.E is a title which pays hommage to old-school gaming all the while incorporating modern gameplay. How does that particular setting influence your compositions?

There's a fair share of songs that I've made from being influenced by older game music. But let me just say that I am not just imitating past masterpieces. A.N.N.E is an old-school game on a modern gaming system – it's an RPG with a strong action component, but if the music is just like an action game then it will end up being an imitation. For example, Megaman's background music was basically similar to Final Fantasy's battle theme songs, right? You can still produce new material that is imitated or at least similar to old games.

Of course, using music intended for an RPG game in a plain action game is boring, and it would sound off as you are playing the game. And RPG music needs to sound appropriate during the battle scenes. So I think it's essential that it sounds not only new but also nostalgic.

To put it in North American terms, we created movie-like music and (with great effort) combined Japanese and Canadian styles. I had to think [as a Japanese person] how the Japanese style would fit into a North American game – various sources of influence came up, and isn't that how interesting new material is made? From that goal, we also added popular J-Pop themes and styles as well.

- Similarly to rearranging Touhou theme songs, do you draw inspiration from specific videogames when composing the A.N.N.E soundtrack, or do you aim for a brand new concept? Either way, which videogames and artists have influenced you the most over the years?

In regards to Touhou Arrange, depending on the situation, there are various artists that have influenced me, but lately I think Yoko Kanno (菅野よう子), Yasutaka Nakata (中田ヤスタカ), Tetsuya Komuro (小室哲也) and as far as Denpa music – IOSYS. I mix those with my own music. I don't consider it just copying, though. In order to learn how to compose music, the first thing you do is high quality reproductions. Once I've perfectly mastered the source materials, I am able to make my own works from these influential sources.

In regards to A.N.N.E's soundtrack, it is most influenced by Final Fantasy, I'd say. Not just the Final Fantasy from the Famicom era, but also 12 and 13, the recent ones, they also influenced the sound a lot. Music has to be easy on the ears and a pleasure to listen to! Even though it draws influence from modern games, I made sure to mix the A.N.N.E theme song with nostalgic Famicom sounds!

- I noticed that a physical soundtrack CD is not on the list of rewards for the A.N.N.E kickstarter. Do you plan to release a CD in the future, perhaps with remixed or arranged versions?

I was just having this conversation with a friend who makes a lot of dance tracks and I believe he is going to be releasing remix albums in the future, I was only just talking to him about this yesterday (haha). As of now we are not officially planning anything, but the possibility exists. I really would like to make an original soundtrack CD. It makes for a good souvenir of the game music.

For example, when I hear music from a game that I used to play a long time ago, I remember what kind of life I was living back then, what I was doing in school back and so on; it can be fun to reminisce, but it can also be sad at times, so many feelings can come back. In other words, of course you remember the game scenes, but more than that, you think about the "you" that used to play that game as well. It's like music has a photographic memory. For that reason, I think having a soundtrack is a key item. I want to make a soundtrack CD so that I can always remember the time I spent playing A.N.N.E.

- Thank you for your time, I'm sure you're very busy working on the A.N.N.E soundtrack and new こなぐすり projects. We're very excited for this upcoming game and really look forward to your compositions! Any parting words for your newfound and longtime fans?

Thank you very much! In regards to A.N.N.E, from here on out with Mo, I want to make many emotional tracks. Actually, I don't know a whole lot about the game yet, but I am really looking forward to it! I wonder just what will happen, it's a title I'm anticipating. Conagusuri is releasing a new Touhou arrange CD 「7-RAGES」 on May 26th. We also plan to make a Denpa CD for the first time in a while at this summer's Comic Market!

Conagusuri has been through a lot up until now, but since we plan to be born into a new Conagusuri this winter, please look forward to it, everyone! ^^


初めて使ったツールは、スーパーファミコンソフト(スーパーニンテンドウソフト)の音楽ツクールかなでーる という、アスキーから出てた、スーパーファミコン用シーケンスソフトです。
その1年後くらいにスタジオを辞め、フリーランスとして同人音楽の世界に入りました。 東方妖々夢が発表され、ゲーマー達の間で人気になったのもこのころでした。
電波ソングの常識を覆したロジカルなのか、ただの天然なのかわからない微妙なラインの歌に、軽快なダンストラック。 これは当時の私に大きな衝撃を与えたことを今でも覚えています。


当時付き合っていた彼女と別れたとき、私はその彼女に音楽で繋がっていた人たちを全てを奪われてしまい、また古くからの友人も奪われてしまい、孤独の身となってしまっていました。 何も亡くなった私は、人生に絶望し、ネットゲームに1年くらい明け暮れていたのを覚えています。それは私の生涯の中で最もダメな1年でした。
そんな中、ネットで知り合った友人が、「僕の友達の何人かと一緒に、同人音楽サークルやろうよ!」と声をかけてきました。 ただ、音楽サークルといっても、僕以外は音楽をやったことがなく、入門者という言葉が等しく当てはまる感じでした。
私にとって、何よりも大切だった音楽というものを失った身にである以上、こんなキッカケでも、音楽のキッカケだ。 そう思いました。


こなぐすりを初めて4年、ボーカル曲ではなくインスト曲を、これといったテーマもなくただ作り続けていたこなぐすりは、未だ無名の存在でした。 CDを作るということの挑戦は4年間成功し続けていたわけですが、そろそろ次のステップである、作ったCDを多くの方に聴いていただく、という目標に切り替える時期だとおもいました。

あなたの音楽はたいてい、シャープで スタイルがいい(桜∞friendship)、だが完全におかしくひょうきんな曲もある(唐傘奮闘記!~ラクトフェリンの果てへ~)。どのようにスタイルを選んでいるのです?


電波のファンにとって「三つ目が悟る ~これが私のドキュメント~」は重層な計装、さらにななひらさんの完璧なボーカルを加え、名演とされます。この曲の創造的プロセスについて少し教えてください。

クラシックでは、曲の導入部分の少女さとりのメロディの所で、ベートーベンの曲のような悲壮感漂うフレーズを、少女さとりの不満げながらも理不尽な気分のBGMとして取り入れ、テクノでは、さとりのおバカなラップを、バカだけどかっこよく表現するために使ってます。Bメロ部分ではフォークソングでよく使うフレーズをいれてますねw これは、70年代、80年代のジャパニーズフォークソングをかわいい音でやると、いわゆる日本のヲタクが女の子に萌え!萌え!といっているような音のニュアンスになるんです(笑 ちょっと気持ち悪い感じですねw だから、後ろの声も、徹底的に気持ち悪い男性ヲタクコーラスをいれました(笑


Moさんと知り合ったキッカケは、PEPOSOFTのPEPOさんという方と僕が友達だったからです。PEPOさんの紹介で、Moさんと知り合い、僕の曲を聴いてもらったところ、Moさんからものすごく感銘を頂き、ANNEの音楽を書いてほしいと伝えられました。元々ゲーム音楽が大好きだったし、そういう仕事をするのが1つの目標でもあったので、是非やらせてくださいと返答いたしました。 もともと僕がコンピューターミュージックを始めたのは、ファイナルファンタジーの植松伸夫や、ロマンシングサガの伊藤賢治、リッジレーサーの細江慎治、ぷよぷよの田中勝己など、多くのゲームミュージシャンが奏でる魅力あふれる世界観に魅了されたからです。
いつか自分もあんなふうにゲーム音楽を作ってみたい、そんな夢が中学生のころからあったんです。 それが、Moさんによって現実のものになるのですから、僕にとってANNEというプロジェクトは、自分の夢をかなえるビックプロジェクトでもあるのです。


例えば、ロックマン(メガマン)のBGMが重厚なファイナルファンタジーの戦闘シーンの曲だったろどうでしょう? 親しんだゲーム、そして親しみのある音楽であっても、組み合わせによっては、新しい演出や斬新な表現がまだまだできるんです。


ANNEの音楽に関しては、やはりファイナルファンタジーのゲーム音楽の影響はとても大きいです。また、スーパーファミコン時代のファイナルファンタジーにだけ執着するのではなく、ファイナルファンタジー12や13等、最近のファイナルファンタジーの影響も受けてます。 今の表現という部分では、近代ゲーム音楽という要素も表現として必要ですし、なにより耳に馴染みやすい音だから、聴いていて気持ちよいんです^^ そして今風のゲーム音楽から影響を受けても、ANNEの一環したテーマである、ファミコンサウンドをMIXするという点において、昔懐かしいサウンドに変われるので、今風のゲームサウンドが世界観を壊すということはあまりありませんね。(笑


僕の周りには、ダンストラックを作る友人がたくさんいますので、REMIXアルバムをやってみたいなんて話がつい昨日あがったばかりです(笑 正式にまだ企画として立ち上げたわけではありませんが、そういった可能性は十分にあります。 また、オリジナルサウンドトラックのCDは是非、作りたいと思ってます。ゲーム音楽にも思い出ってありますよね。
例えば、昔遊んだゲーム音楽を聴くと、当時どういう生活をしていたとか、当時学校であったいろいろなこととか、楽しかった記憶、悲しかった記憶、色々とよみがえってきますよね。 つまり、思い出すものがゲームシーンももちろんですが、それ以外にも、その当時ゲームをプレイしていた自分の環境までもが、脳裏によみがえってくるはずです。音楽って心のフォトメモリーみたいなものだと思います。


ANNEに関しては、これからMoさんとたくさんの充実した仕事をして、よりエモーショナルな作品を作っていきたいと思っています。僕自身実は、まだANNEの多くを知らないのですが、だからこそワクワクしますね! いったい何が出来上がるのか、僕も楽しみな作品です^^
皆さんも叫んでください!w ファーーーーイを全世界共通言語にしたいです!w

1 comment:

mandichan said...

Such an in depth interview! Great!