We at OSV have done a formal interview with Masashi Hamauzu, composer for Final Fantasy XIII and many other wonderful games, in the past. This time, I (Patrick) had a few minutes to do a more informal chat with Hamauzu-san. This interview took place mere minutes before the start of the Distant Worlds / VGO show in Boston.
In my haste to speak with Hamauzu-san, I failed to nab a photo of him, or of us. Hence, all I have to show you is the front of my “Piano Pieces SF 2” with his signature on it. Sorry about that.
In the following interview, we speak at length about his new duo IMERUAT (Hamauzu + Mina), working as a freelance composer, relationship with Square Enix, music-writing preferences, and more. Check it out after the jump!
OSV: Will IMERUAT’s debut album “Black Ocean” be marketed as a Japan-only release, or in North America and internationally as well?
Hamauzu: I am not quite sure, yet. We plan to release the digital version in all regions, but the CD version … well, we’re trying.
OSV: What about a live IMERUAT concert in North America?
Hamauzu: That is something I’d certainly like to do! My priority for the near future is to work, as a unit, with Mina on IMERUAT; so, we’re looking for opportunities in the US.
OSV: For people who have beaten Final Fantasy XIII-2, the ending suggests future titles in the XIII universe. Given the recurring themes used in XIII-2 from XIII, has there been any talk between you and Square Enix in working, as a freelancer, on more XIII-related titles?
Hamauzu: If they offered me such an opportunity, I’d be happy to! As of today, nothing along these lines have been discussed.
OSV: Among your work with Square Enix, do you own the rights to any of it so that you could promote it, or does it all belong to Square Enix?
Hamauzu: Yes, it all belongs to Square Enix.
OSV: So, is that the purpose of creating MONOMUSIK, so that you could hold the rights to your music?
Hamauzu: Well, yes. Traditionally, game companies would hold the rights to the music. I created MONOMUSIK, in part, so that I could hold the rights to my music. Again, right now, I’m focused on my work with Mina on IMERUAT, but as I take on game music projects in the future, it is my goal and intention to hold the copyrights to all the music I write.
The reason why I want to hold on to my music is this: the game’s publisher will promote their top-selling titles, which is partially why the concert we’re attending right now (Distant Worlds) is happening, and I’m here because of Final Fantasy XIII. But for lesser-known projects [like SaGa Frontier II or Sigma Harmonics], the company would not promote a live concert. And even if I wanted to hold a concert, I would likely be unable to because these plans do not align with the company’s promotional plans. So, with MONOMUSIK, I will be able to promote my own music and create a stronger connection with the fans who enjoy the music.
OSV: What is your primary method of composing: pen and paper, computer, piano, something else?
Hamauzu: Sometimes I use a piano, but usually I write by sitting in front of a computer with a MIDI keyboard.
OSV: Is there a specific time of day that you like to compose?
Hamauzu: No, time doesn’t matter. I write music any time of the day.
OSV: Many composers experience burnout — physical illness and fatigue — after a major project. Did you feel this way when you finished writing the music for Final Fantasy XIII? What about other projects?
Hamauzu: Experiencing burnout, it has varied for me from one project or another. As for Final Fantasy XIII, I felt very happy when I finished the composition! I had a lot of energy as a result.
OSV: Given your connection with the country of Germany (born in Germany, wrote and recorded “Vielen Dank” there), have you thought about performing concerts there, or spending more time there to write music?
Hamauzu: Yes, I was in Germany about six years ago to work on Vielen Dank. I frequently have a desire to return; perhaps it is my affinity with the country of my birth, or the culture of the country, but I think I would be inspired if I spent more time there.
However, I feel that way about many places I go. I felt that way about Poland, and I will feel that way about Boston once I leave.
OSV: Thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us.
Hamauzu: Thank you!Tags: Black Ocean, Boston, Distant Worlds, IMERUAT, Interviews, Masashi Hamauzu, Mina, MONOMUSIK, Q&A, VGO