Game Music

Interview with Masatoshi Nakamura, An Extra Hyper Game Music Fan

October 1, 2008 | | 2 Comments Share thison Facebook Interview with Masatoshi Nakamura, An Extra Hyper Game Music Fanon Twitter

What’s sure to be one of the coolest game concerts of the year is right around the corner, coming in the form of EXTRA – HYPER GAME MUSIC EVENT on October 13, 2008 in Tokyo, Japan.  The show was announced last month, and will feature performances by Yasunori Mitsuda, Yuzo Koshiro, and Hirokazu “Hip” Tanaka just to name a few. I’ve already talked to many game music fans who are as jealous as I am that this awesome event is only going on in Japan.

We’ve actually had the pleasure of speaking with Masatoshi Nakamura, a producer at 5pb Records who was responsible for starting the EXTRA event last year. In this exclusive interview, Nakamura discusses how he came up with plans for the event, what his thoughts are about composers performing their music live in front of their fans, and even how he came up with the super-energetic title of the event. Lastly, he tell us that he hopes to bring the event overseas.

Do you agree that the EXTRA – HYPER GAME MUSIC EVENT is a great idea? Would you travel across the United States to attend a show if they were to put one on over here?

Read the interview after the jump.

OSV: Hello Nakamura-san. Congratulations on the announcement of EXTRA – HYPER GAME MUSIC EVENT 2008. Please tell us how you came to start this event last year in 2007. How did you come to organize this event and gather all these composers together under one roof?
Nakamura: Thank you! I love club events very much and played as a DJ around 1995. I played game music in the clubs but I always wanted to enjoy DJ performances by the composers themselves. In 2000, I worked as a guide of game music at All About Japan. And in 2002, I organized a game music club event called “LEGEND” in Azabu-Jyuban Tokyo, Japan. It was highly successful. After the event, I thought I wanted to organize an event like “LEGEND” again. Then I started working at 5pb and got a chance to do “EXTRA.” “LEGEND” in 2002 was the starting point for me to gather composers in this manner.

OSV: I’ve always been curious about the name, “EXTRA – HYPER MUSIC EVENT.” How did you come up with this title? It appears to be very energetic!
Nakamura: I had considered the name deeply. As a name after “LEGEND,” it needed to be “game-ish” because the event relates to game music. I thought about it for over half a year, all through the morning, evening and the nights… I thought more deeply about it than you can imagine. I picked over 100 words at least.

EXTRA= “EXciting Time” Realizes All

The EXTRA concert has this meaning also. I like the feeling of the word “HYPER,” and I use this word to make the event something special. “GAME MUSIC EVENT” allows people to easily understand what EXTRA is. I put a lot of effort into deciding this name. It’s my pleasure to answer this question.

OSV: As a label manager, you’ve focused mostly on CD releases over the years. How important is it for these composers to get out in front of fans and perform in your opinion?
Nakamura: When I start planning a CD release, I focus on events from the begging. I think live performance in front of fans is necessary for composers. It inspires a composer’s imagination. They can also gain fans in this way. Last year, SEGA’s band “H.” had an autograph session at a CD selling booth. In a similar way, I want to set up fan service and organize an event which people can enjoy.

OSV: The venue you’ve selected, the Studio Coast, seats close to 2,400 fans. While this is a large venue in Tokyo, the fact that EXTRA is such a large and popular event centered around the Tokyo Game Show, do you feel this is enough? Have you considered expanding the event to a bigger venue so even more fans can enjoy the show?
Nakamura: Of course I should do a bigger venue, but last year under 2,400 people came to the event. And actually, I couldn’t even book a bigger venue. I have a dream to do EXTRA overseas. I need a lot of help if I am to do this.

OSV: The KORG DS-10 performance looks like it’s going to be a lot of fun. What are your thoughts regarding the software? In the US and around the world, people are currently using the old Gameboy hardware to perform chip music for fans, so I’m curious what you think about the potential of projects like KORG DS-10 in starting a new underground scene.
Nakamura: The DS-10 is making history and looks like great software, but I haven’t tried it yet. I know a lot about chiptunes, which have more than a 10 year history. But it’s more important that there be an appearance of a composer who can use the DS-10 very well and be a “DS-10 MASTER.” If there isn’t a composer like that, the DS-10 will not realize its full potential, I think. For example, in the mid 90’s, there was Hardfloor who revived the TB-303 as a great instrument though no one used the synth then. Like this, the DS-10 has unlimited potential I think. In the chiptune scene, Hirokazu “Hip” Tanaka is considered a God who knows every detail of the Famicom’s sound generator. Because there is an artist like him, we want to aspire to him and write music like him. Composers like him are the center of EXTRA.

OSV: What can you tell us about the EXTRA – HYPER MUSIC EVENT Live Volume 2 and the DVD release that were planned for this year? Will they still be coming, or are they stuck in copyright issues? Are you planning CD releases for EXTRA 2008?
Nakamura: I’m sorry for delayed release of EXTRA Live CD Volume 2 and the DVD. We are still in the process of improving the quality. There isn’t a relationship between copyright issues and the delayed release. While we don’t currently have plans to release an EXTRA 2008 CD right now, that doesn’t mean it won’t happen.

OSV: You’ve gathered an impressive list of game music composers from Japan, but are there any composers that you’d like to see at future EXTRA events?
Nakamura: As for game music composers, I’d like to do an event with Dragon Quest’s Kouichi Sugiyama and Super Mario’s Koji Kondo etc.. I would also like to upgrade a composer’s music quality by arranging their music or collaborating in other ways.

OSV: You’ve been running the Famison 8-bit Project on 5pb for quite some time, so I take it you are a fan of chip music/8-bit music. Please tell us in your own words why this kind of music is meaningful, and why you think it’s important to keep it active through releasing albums on 5pb.
Nakamura: The reason why I’m interested in and love 8-bit music is that I’m a part of the Famicom generation, and it’s my favourite tone, which is a similar feeling that all of you share I think. So I don’t need to talk about the details of it. One of the reasons I released the Famison 8-BIT series is I’d like fans to listen to the tracks by genius creators like KPLECRAFT, quad(luvtrax), and Uraken etc.. Their beautiful tones and commitment to melody are some of the best.

That’s why Famison 8-BIT is the title which the albums are released under. Chiptunes and any other style of music, the interests of the tunes are dependent upon what tone the creators use and how they work on the track. I like the tracks KPLECRAFT, quad(luvtrax) and Uraken make and just want to please the fans. I respect composers and think they are the most important not only in terms of music, but also for events and any other projects.

OSV: You’ve released albums from artists like Yuzo Koshiro, Hitoshi Sakimoto, and Shoji Meguro on 5pb. Do you have any plans to expand this roster to include more artists, and what are your thoughts on the state of game music today?
Nakamura: Of course, I want to add to the lineup. I think there is nothing to talk about as far as the state of game music today. What I’m always thinking is how to deliver a great composer’s tracks to the fans and what the fans would like to hear instead of the state of game music.

OSV: Tell us your predictions for the EXTRA – HYPER GAME MUSIC EVENT moving forward. Will we continue to see the annual event? How do you suspect it will grow in the coming years?
Nakamura: I want to continue EXTRA as a yearly event. I don’t know what will happen in the future, but I want to make an event that the composers and fans can enjoy with new surprises and discoveries. I would like to ask your continuous help and support. Many thanks to all of you.

[Special thanks to Uraken for translating]

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