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Mitsuto Suzuki Explores His Inner Neurovision and Solo Works (Interview)

Mitsuto Suzuki Explores His Inner Neurovision and Solo Works (Interview)

April 12, 2012 | | 3 Comments Share thison Facebook Mitsuto Suzuki Explores His Inner Neurovision and Solo Works (Interview)on Twitter

If you don’t know what Neurovision is, you need to find out! In our OSVOSTOTY 2009 awards, I noted that it was my favorite album of the year, but at the time we unfortunately did not have an ‘other’ category, so it was relegated to an honorable mention. In a nutshell, Neurovision is Square Enix composer and synthesizer operator Mitsuto Suzuki’s second solo album released on iTunes in 2009. It features dreamy soundscapes, catchy pop-inspired melodies, and some great production values.

We were able to dedicate an entire interview session with Mitsuto Suzuki to this amazing album, and there were certainly more than a few surprises regarding his inspiration and what he has planned next.

If you’re a fan of Mitsuto Suzuki and his solo works, you need to hit the jump!

First, something that nobody knew: In My Own Backyard (his first solo album) and Neurovision are actually a part of a trilogy. The albums each have their own theme as well as the trilogy having an overarching theme which Suzuki claims the album covers allude to (he didn’t want to explain this theme outright as he’d rather the listener discover it for themselves).

The third album in the trilogy should tie everything together for those of you, like me, who have no idea what this theme might be. With sheep appearing on both album covers thus far, maybe it’s about a planet populated by sheep? Perhaps Suzuki is borrowing from Xenogears in saying that we’re all sheep following the all-powerful shepherds of the world? We’ll have to wait and see.

Interestingly, Suzuki doesn’t have a planned release date for the third album in the trilogy. He’s working, as always, in his free time, and doesn’t know what he’ll do when he’s completed the trilogy. I asked if he’d try something drastically different, to which he responded, “Probably not.” I followed by asking if this could turn into a seven-album saga, to which he laughed and said, “That probably won’t happen either.”

I did try to plant the idea in his head that he should pursue putting his solo works out on vinyl. I got an, “I’d like to see that.”

I took the opportunity to share with Suzuki the fact that I was listening to the title track, “Neurovision,” when I read the news that Michael Jackson had died. I noted that as an artist, he probably realized that he has no control over what memories people will associate his music with, and asked his thoughts on this particular instance. He had this to say:

“That’s very surprising, but I totally understand. When I was young, I think back on my favorite songs and remember a time from my past. So the music and visuals you experienced from that time combine and are preserved together.”

I also asked Suzuki about a lot of the singing that’s featured on Neurovision. Apparently Suzuki has always loved singing, but only recently started doing a lot of it for his solo albums. He notes that when you hire a singer to work on your music, you always end up micro-managing them, asking them to sing longer, louder, or differently, and that it’s actually a lot faster and easier to do it himself. In terms of being self-conscious about his singing voice, he doesn’t have a lot of reservations because he can always edit it afterwards, and the music in the lyrics on these songs are heavily edited.

Suzuki provided a pretty stunning performance during his panel last year at GDC using an internal sound editing/creation tool called Cyan. I was impressed by how proficient he was at creating and manipulating sounds in what appeared to be a tool he used for work rather than composition, and as it turns out, this is what he uses in most of his live performances, which he does quite often. He does live sets at clubs, streaming together different songs and recomposing them, although he laughed and noted he avoided the vocal songs when I asked if he provided live vocals as well.

In terms of specific tracks, let’s jump into Mitsuto Suzuki’s thoughts:

Track 1 – “Neurovision”

“This track is about going to the beach during summer. It’s not terribly deep [Laughs]. Actually, there’s a band I like called Telex, and one of their central members passed away when I was writing this album, so there are a lot of connected memories and messages regarding that. The name Neurovision is actually a Telex track title, so I borrowed it from them.

This is also the most meaningful track to me on the album because I’d always been looking for an opportunity to compose a track like this, and how it all came together is why I like it best.”

Track 7 – “Something”

“I intended this track to have a strong 1980s sound. The music from that time is definitely a big inspiration for me. It’s kind of my own interpretation of that sound. The track doesn’t have a particular meaning.”

Track 8 – “Realize”

“The rest of the album is very dreamy, but there needs to be a little poison in the mix. I needed to inject a little something different. I really like drum ‘n’ bass and electronic music, as it’s the music I mainly used to write, so I used that as the inspiration for this track. There was a similar track on In My Own Backyard that appeared roughly in the same order on the first album.”

Track 9 – “Recall”

“The call and response phrases in this song are actually my voice, modified with the computer. I used this computerized vocal style in this track compared to a more natural style found elsewhere on the album because it fit the track better.”

Regarding In My Own Backyard

If I had to choose a favorite from the first album, it’d be “Spirits.” The first album had a lot of experimental tracks on it, and I wanted more of a pop influence on Neurovision.

After asking these detailed questions about his music, I quickly discovered that Suzuki follows his imagination when writing music and doesn’t put a whole lot of deep meaning into the little decisions he makes about his tracks. I had to apologize because I felt as though I was trying to pry into his personal expressions when it turned out he hadn’t even thought about why he had chosen this vocal style or genre for a given track.

I gave Suzuki the chance to describe his music to somebody who missed out on In My Own Backyard and Neurovision. He had this to say:

“This isn’t something that I think personally, but people tell me that my music helps them sleep. They say it’s healing music. I’m not really trying to go a healing or soothing sound, but that seems to be the conclusion.

More than anything, I think this is music that is unobtrusive and doesn’t get in the way of what you’re doing. It’s great for a walk or at home. It’s easy to listen to. That doesn’t mean there aren’t a lot of details, but there’s a depth to the music. It has the ability to change the atmosphere of wherever you are. So that’s why I think it’d be great for people to listen to it.”

So, did you miss out on In My Own Backyard or Neurovision? Feel free to check out our reviews, hit up Square Enix’s websites for each album (complete with ‘making of’ videos), and stream samples from iTunes to get an idea. They will change your world!

Already a fan of Mitsuto Suzuki’s solo works? Tell us what tracks are your favorite and what your hopes are for the third album. Any thoughts as to what the album trilogy’s theme may be?

[Special thanks to Jennifer Phan-Poulson for translating and Emi Spicer for the photo]

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