Interview with Shibata Tetsuya

12/11/2015 2015-11-12 00:01:00 JaME Author: Silverfaye Translator: M.Denno, yuri_xh

Interview with Shibata Tetsuya

Video game composer Shibata Tetsuya, the man behind the soundtracks of Devil May Cry, Monster Hunter, and Resident Evil: Outbreak, speaks to JaME about his career.

© Shibata Tetsuya. All rights reserved.
Video game music composer Shibata Tetsuya, well-known for composing music for titles such as Auto Modellista, Resident Evil: Outbreak, Monster Hunter and Devil May Cry, speaks to JaME about his career.

As some of our readers may not be familiar with your work, can you give us a brief introduction of yourself?

Shibata Tetsuya: My name is Shibata Tetsuya. I began working at Capcom as the lead music composer after graduating university, and composed music for titles such as Auto Modellista, Resident Evil: Outbreak, Monster Hunter, Devil May Cry, and so on. After retiring from Capcom in 2009, I established my own company called Unique Note together with fellow Capcom composer Yoshino Aoki. We now work on music together for numerous games and anime series.

Who are your musical influences?

Shibata Tetsuya: Originally I loved classical music, and I listened to a lot of music from composers like Schubert and Bizet. I put together a band when I was in high school, where we were very familiar with Led Zeppelin, Aerosmith, Guns N’ Roses, and many other rock bands. I was very much influenced by jazz music when I was in university, by artists like Oscar Peterson and Makoto Ozone.

Where do you usually get your inspiration from? What do you do if you suffer from a lack of inspiration?

Shibata Tetsuya: I think more so than getting inspiration, I am composing as a result of the influence I've received from composers that I have listened to. I think listening to a variety of music genres has brought out my own style. That’s not to say that I'm no longer inspired; I constantly listen to new music and I am able to input new sounds because of that.

What is it about video game music that attracts you so much?

Shibata Tetsuya: It is how the music flows when a player is interacting with the game. In other words, when they are playing a game, the music will flow depending on their playstyle and the current situation within the game. We video game composers make our music by hypothesising how we want a player to feel during that moment.

Are you much of a gamer yourself?

Shibata Tetsuya: I played a lot of games on my NES and SNES when I was at school. However, I can’t say that I am much of a gamer nowadays.

What's your favourite video game soundtrack of all time?

Shibata Tetsuya: I really love the music in Super Mario and The Legend of Zelda. The music from Super Mario is the music I am most familiar with, while the music in Zelda expresses the circumstances within the game so it really sticks with you.

You've worked on many songs throughout your career. What's the first thought that comes to mind when you look back at your early works?

Shibata Tetsuya: Due to the hardware limitations, I used to make simple music with basic sounds. It was very challenging. It is different now, however, as I desire different skills to the ones back then.

Of all the music tracks you've worked on for Monster Hunter, Resident Evil and Devil May Cry, which ones are your favourite?

Shibata Tetsuya: I have fond memories of them all, but the Devil May Cry series has left the biggest impression on me as I was in charge of composition. I also went to see the voice recording in LA and while listening to the style of speech and tension of how sentences were said in each scene, I was thinking, “What kind of music should I make?”

Is there any piece you've worked on but are not satisfied with the way it turned out?

Shibata Tetsuya: I wouldn't say I wasn't satisfied with pieces I've worked on, but for one particular game I was asked to compose music with a certain genre, and all the time I was thinking, “But this genre would work better.” However, I compose whatever is desired with all of my strength, so I can’t say that I am dissatisfied.

Is there any style or type of music that you find particularly difficult to compose?

Shibata Tetsuya: Nothing in particular. I think I must have heard everything, whatever genre of music it may be, and I am constantly researching new styles.

It's been a few years since you left Capcom to set up Unique Note. How has the journey been so far?

Shibata Tetsuya: There have been a number of difficulties since establishing the company. Firstly, there was throwing away what was a stable life and accepting the risk of starting from square-one. There was also the issue of acquiring new clients by myself who weren't affiliated with Capcom. I've finally been able to gather people from various other companies that I'd hoped for, but it was truly difficult to start out. I had a lot of hardships working as a company employee where I could not experience things, but with my own strength, and particularly because I've been able to use the strength of my partners to overcome things, I think I have been able to grow.

Have you ever regretted your decision to leave Capcom?

Shibata Tetsuya: Not at all. I've been able to move forward on a new path, and because of that, things I was unable to experience at Capcom have started to pile up. Good times and bad times are dependent on myself and I'm glad to have been challenged.

What projects have you been working on recently?

Shibata Tetsuya: I have recently been working on music for games such as Monster Hunter Online – Tencent and the mobile game Mercstoria.

Can you tell us about a funny incident that you encountered while on the job?

Shibata Tetsuya: It happened when I had to travel from Tokyo to San Francisco for some work. After looking at the face of the person in front of me many times while I was at the airport, I realized it was one of my American acquaintances who lives in LA. He was in transit on his way back from a job in China and was travelling via Japan on a San Francisco-bound plane. He was on his way to LA, and I couldn't believe that we were travelling on the same plane. It made me think the world really is a small place. I also had a valuable experience on Réunion1 where I stayed for two weeks. I gave a lecture on game production.

1 Réunion is an island in the Indian Ocean governed by France.

What's a day off like for you, if you ever get one?

Shibata Tetsuya: I rarely take days off throughout the year. When I think “I’ll rest today”, I’ll usually have a day off, but because I am doing my job everyday, I think I work more than 350 days a year. At most, I’ll sleep if I have caught a cold. (laughs)

Any plans to release a compilation of your works in either CD or digital format?

Shibata Tetsuya: I'm actually planning to release my work at some point soon. It won’t be game music, but I plan to release my own original work.

Any words of advice to people hoping to enter the video game music industry?

Shibata Tetsuya: Listen to every genre of music. Even if you have a favourite genre or a particular genre you feel is your strong point, there's an extremely large number of factors desired of music composers. Even though they’re the least desired, I think rock and orchestral music are indispensable.

What can we expect from you in the future?

Shibata Tetsuya: Firstly, I will be continuing with my work on the various games and so on that I am currently composing for. Also, you can expect to see my original work released soon.

Please leave a message for JaME readers.

Shibata Tetsuya: Game music is made up of various genres. Through each period of trending game music, there is a lot you can listen to, so please make sure to have fun and enjoy everything!

JaME would like to thank Shibata Tetsuya for this interview opportunity.

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Interview with Shibata Tetsuya

Video game composer Shibata Tetsuya, the man behind the soundtracks of Devil May Cry, Monster Hunter, and Resident Evil: Outbreak, speaks to JaME about his career.