interview by Bob Rork

Interview conducted by Bob Rork. copyrighted by Bob Rork.

Interview

Bob Rork (BR): First of all, I'd like to say Omedetto Gozaimasu (Congratulations)! Your FF7 soundtrack recently reached number 3 on the Japanese music charts. You must be very proud of that accomplishment. With the amazing success of the soundtrack in Japan, I believe that it would do well in America also. Are there any talks or plans to sell it in America after the game is released?
Nobuo Uematsu (NU): We are talking about it now. We are planning to sell it in States and Europe but I am not sure yet.

BR: That's very good news. Speaking of the Final Fantasy 7 soundtrack (which by the way I think is superb), I would like to ask about the final boss's music. I'm sure you know what I'm talking about. It's the only song that actually contains voices. I am very curious as to what language the singers are speaking. I don't believe it is Japanese nor English. It seems to me that this song must be recorded with Redbook audio, otherwise the voices would not be possible. Am I correct?
NU: It is Latin. That chorus was real. We recorded it in the studio but the background music was supplied by the sound chips. Please ask me no more about it. We created it by using our SQUARE magic.

BR: No prob Nob.... :) It is no secret that you are the man responsible for giving Square the reputation of great music, especially the Final Fantasy series. Right now Square is putting out more games than ever before and you can't possibly write the music for all of them :) Who are the other talented musicians working for Squar
NU: There are 10 composers working at SQUARE.

Nobuo Uematsu (FF series)
Kenji Ito (SAGA series)
Yuki Kikuta (Secret of Mana)
Yasunori Mitsuda (Chrono Trigger, xenogear)
Yoko Shimomura (Front Mission)
Noriko Matsueda (Front Mission)
Junya Nakano (FFX)
Masashi Hamauzu(FFX)
Yasuhiro Kawakami
Ryuji Sasai

BR: Your decision to make the music for FF7 as synthesized MIDI was somewhat surprising to many people considering that many games on CD use REDBOOK. Do you prefer using Sony's sound chips rather than recording a live orchestra?
NU: My poor English makes it difficult to explain. Of course, I prefer better sound [quality] but recorded sound needs time to read, sound chips don't. Music changes more quickly and smoothly. I don't want every players to feel stress, so I chose sound chips. Do you understand what I mean?

BR: I understand only too well Nobuo, we have all been the victim of horrible loading time at some point. We americans have very short attention spans so we thank you for thinking of us! :) JOKE! I'd have to say that my favorite song in FF7 is Cid's Theme. What are your 3 favorite songs in Final Fantasy 7?
NU: Very difficult question. It is hard for me to choose only 3. But anyway I will tell you.

Disc2 01: Overworld Theme
Disc3 01: Desert Canyon
Disc3 19: Aerith's Theme

BR: In a recent interview with Gamefan magazine (Volume 5 issue 7 July 1997), you said you were unable to work on FF8 because of a secret project. Does this mean you are unable to work on it now or that you will not be working on FF8 at all? A Final Fantasy without your music would not be the same in my opinion. Are you currently able to speak of this "secret project"?
NU: I think that inteviewer misunderstood what I was saying. Maybe I will join FF8 project.

BR: Ya HOOOO!!! Are you planning on doing any other solo albums that aren't related to Final Fantasy (i.e. Phantasmagoria)???
NU: Sometime in the future because I don't have enough time to make it now. I am producing a CD called "Omnibus" now. 10 game music composers (from various companies) will join it and we compose music based on "NAGOMI" it means something like "CALM". It will be released in the end of this year.

BR: Again I feel compelled to say "Ya HOOOOOOO!" I seem to remember reading in a interview with you a long time ago, you said that you were thinking about leaving Square because you did not want to write video game music your whole life.. Whether or not that was true, it appears you are sticking with Square. Are you happy with where you are in the music industry or do you still wish to move on to bigger things such as motion picture soundtracks or solo albums?
NU: Did I say so?! Really... I didn't know that (or I just forgot I said that?). Now I am really happy to be here in SQUARE and I am enjoying composing music.

BR: Well I could be wrong, it's been known to happen :) Out of your entire career, which game has been the most fun for you to compose for? Why?
NU: FF7. Because it was the hardest work for me. I challenged some new ideas and I made it.

BR: And a swell job you did! What instruments do you play, and how long have you played them?
NU: There are so many musical instruments in my house that I can't write them down all here! Mainly I play keyboards and guitars. But I have never learned [formally taught] how to play them. I began to play them by myself at 11,12 years old. I am learning Irish fiddle from a Canadian fiddler now.

BR: What do you think about your compositions having such a great popularity among players around the world
NU: Please tell same thing to my parents. They must feel happy more than I do.

BR: LOL! Okay, I'll do that :) Are you planning on making an arranged version of FF7 songs?
NU: I will release a CD (with some selections from FF7), and it contains 3 arranged versions played by a real orchestra.

BR: One more time "Ya HOOOOOOO!" What project(s) are you working on now or will you be working on in the near future??
NU: These days, I am devoted to make that CD (Omnibus) above mentioned.

BR: How long did it take you to score FF7 from start to finish?? Were you given enough time to make it as good as you desired (not that it ain't good mind ya!)?
NU: It took about 8 months. I wanted at least 1 year.

BR: What were your musical influences as a child/young man? Did you always want to be a composer or just an instumentalist?
NU: 70's music is my basement. Ummm do you mean "foundation"?? They always inspire me for new ideas. For example...

Elton John
Mike Oldfield
Emerson,Lake & Palmer
Vangelis
and many many more...

I also like traditional music all over the world. Especially Irish music. It's my most favorite music these past several years.

BR: In your opinion what is the best composition that you have written to date??
NU: I am always trying to do my best. So you decide it, please.

BR: Ok I shall decide your greatest composition... Um this is harder than it seems but I choose.... The Ending to my Favorite Game: Fainaru Fantaji IV!!!! It is sort of a medley of the best songs in the game. When you have to write a piece of music, do you use your keyboard to come up with new ideas or can you just think of music in your head and transpose it directly to sheet music?
NU: I am using my keyboards or some other instrument. I am not a genius who can write music note directly to sheet music.

BR: Well I think you are a genius! And I tell that to your parents also! Do you listen to any kind of American Music?
NU: Yes, so many. When you see my CD rack (there are over 2000 CDs!), you will know how much I love American music. Do you know the country rock(?) band called "The Ranch"? It is my most favorite album this month.

BR: Nope, never heard of them but if you like them, they must be good. Do you ever play the games that you write music for?
NU: I played everything.

BR: Nobuo, thank you for your time once again. You are very kind.
NU: Thank you very much for a most pleasant interview. Please give my best regards to FF fans in States.