of Birth: February, 11
Place of Birth: Tokyo, Japan
Education: Nihon University
Favorite Food: Japanese, Sushi
Favorite Drink: Compari, Sake
Favorite Movies: 5th Element, La Femme Nakita
Favorite Video game: Role playing games, Poporocrois
Hobbies: Movies, games
Crackers(PSX), Crime Crackers 2(PSX), Rurouni Kenshin RPG(PSX),
Ruroni Kenshin Fighting Game(PSX), Tenchu(PSX) and Tenchu 2(PSX)
Credits: Rurouni Kenshin(TV series)
Celebrity, Fender Mustang, Jerry Jones Sitar, Gibson Les Paul
Special, Fender Telecaster, Synthesizer Driver/Roland GK-2A,
V.Guitar System/Roland VG-8, The Ultimate guitar Direct Box/
POD LINE6 Winds, Wind Midi Controller/Yamaha WX5, Virtual Acoustic
Tone Generator/Yamaha VL70-m, Condenser Mic/CAD Equitek E-200,
Dynamic Mic/Shure SM58, Dynamic Open Air Headphones, Sennheiser
HD565 Ovation Master Recorder, Dual Digital Audio Tape Deck/Tascam
DA-302 CD&CD-ROM, Sampling CD & CD-ROM Library.
DX7, MO Player/Olympus 230MO TURBO BLACK, Sampler/Kurzweil K2VX,
Ensoniq Fizmo, Korg T2EX, Macintosh PowerBook2400c/180, Sequencer
/Steinberg CUBASE VST4.0, MD Deck/SONY MDS-PC1
did you first become interested in music?
Asakura: When I was a young
boy. I wanna be cool. (laughter)
wanted to be cool?
did you start writing music?
is funny (continues laughing) I am an only child and when I
was twelve years old I wrote a song about having no brothers
or sisters. (laughter)
you sing a few bars?
you a formally trained musician?
I was in a local rock bands. I debut with my band when I was
twenty-five or twenty-six. After being in a band and debuting
professionally, when I was about 30 I became the pupil of a
music master. I learned music theory and that is when I became
Crackers for the Playstation was the first game you composed
did you get the job for Crime Crackers?
person by the name of Mr. Nagasaki from Sony Computer Entertainment,
this is before any one knew what Playstation was, nobody knew
how big it was going to be. Mr. Nagasaki and I used to work
together and he said Sony is making this new game machine and
they need music for the first game on the platform. He came
to see me in the studio with the second Playstation machine
ever built. I didn't know how it would turn out, but just knowing
Mr. Nagasaki, by doing movie soundtracks with him put me in
to the spirit. Because you recall Playstation came out of the
blue against Nintendo, which had all of the market(in Japan),
and since Sony has Sony Music, the computer people did not
want to put out an inferior product, especially the music.
Music is a very important part of this platform and game. The
music quality was very import to them, which is another reason
why I was sold on the project.
also did Crime Crackers 2. What did you do differently?
a timing factor I was working on the Rurouni Kenshin TV series
and the Rurouni Kenshin games(RPG and fighting games) at the
same time. For Crime Crackers 2 I tried to stay with the same
themes as the first games, but I also wanted to keep the sound
different from Rorouni Kenshin.
was the music stored?
Crackers was both SPU (PS/X sound processor unit) and XA (directly
output from CD-Rom), 50/50. It depends on how much space the
game uses on the disc. The Rurouni Kenshin fighting game did
not use a lot of space so it was SPU. From a musicians standpoint,
XA is much more fun.
did you get the jobs for the Rurouni Kenshin TV series and games?
I got the Rurouni Kenshin jobs, first came the TV show and
because it was popular they decided to make two games, an RPG
and a fighting game, which they obviously asked me to do the
music as well. In TV animation and the gaming area, up until
about five years ago used to have a lot of cheap sounding music,
but Mr. Shirakawa at the Rurouni Kenshin company wanted the
vocals to stand out more, the songs to stand out more. So instead
of using a composer who was used to the cheap stuff, he hired
me to do the TV show, which was a gradual transition to the
you have any specific memory of working on the Rurouni Kenshin
Rurouni Kenshin TV show ran for about a year and a half. I
worked on it for about 2 years, which 4 soundtrack albums were
released for the show. During the production of the 4 Rurouni
Kenshin soundtrack, the Tenchu 1 job was on top of my head.
I thought I would die of not having enough work and deadlines.
are your favorite Rurouni Kenshin soundtracks?
like CDs1 and 4.
inspires your music?
vision and what I want to achieve with my music is to introduce
not just traditional Japanese music, but a Pan-Asian sound. It
is not just Chinese, Japanese, or all the way to Turkey. Islamic
Turkey is considered Asia on a grand scale. Obviously drawing
from influences of all these territories, I would like to introduce
the world to the new sounds of Asia. As inspiration I actually
go to these countries...I just came back from Turkey where I
got inspiration. I also watch alot of films to get inspiration
for my music, but behind that view of trying to use and get inspired
by Asia as a whole I do things that draw me to it. On this trip
to Turkey, as I was getting off the plane I realized how Japan,
although it seems very Asian, is bombarded with western influences,
in music and media. In going to places like Islamic Turkey I
would hear different musical chords and harmonic minors. It hit
home in a big way just how everything is different musically
and culturally and how westernized Japan has become. Because
Japan is inundated with so much western influence, sometimes
something that is lacking from a musical standpoint is something
that is different in music, and by using Islamic melodies and
Islamic harmonic chords and also obviously putting it together
with my Japaneseness into the music is something I think that
is totally different and really hits the soul. And like the main
title of this(picks up Tenchu 1 soundtrack), because I wanted
it to be different but also with emotion... I think pure emotion
has to come from outside of your every day life. I didn't want
the lyrics to be Japanese or English. My wife, Sumie Ayusawa,
brought an idea to the table of using the Hausa language. The
language for Tenchu 1 & 2's opening theme are Hausa language.
did you choose the Hausa language?
thought about and talked about it a long time. It was necessary
to have a mysterious yet nice sound. One day, my Wife found Hausa
language. The Hausa language is very romantic & mysterious and
has a good sound. The Hausa language is used during the pilgrimage
from West Africa to Mecca. My wife worked very hard to study
the Hausa language as there are only to dictionaries of Hausa
in Japan. It took her along time to write the lyrics when she
could not speak the language.
are your musical influences?
I can't really think, because on this music(holds up Tenchu 1
CD) who inspired me, It's not a specific artist, but my travels.
I am a vocalist (sings male vocals on opening themes of Tenchu
1 & 2) so I love artists like Otis Redding and Daryl Hall. In
Japan song writing and soundtracks are totally different, But
I am lucky to do both.
are the differences between the music for Tenchu 1 and 2?
2 has more of a Japanese sound to it. I personally don't like
when a piece of music sounds like it came from a specific place.
Because of the nature of the game the producers wanted more
are your strengths and weaknesses as a composer?
feel my strengths, as I said before, are what I want to achieve
with my music and the Pan-Asian sound. Not a sound that is related
to one country or culture. Some people mix Japanese elements
or Islamic elements but not a lot use the whole Pan-Asian spectrum,
and that's what I want to keep doing. I also feel my music fits
certain things, I guess this could be called a strength or a
weakness, certain genres, obviously like Tenchu or something
like Luc Besson's Fifth Element, futuristic. But there also many
genres and films that my music does not fit. So that is I guess
a weakness, but from a vision standpoint that is what I want
to keep on doing.
us about your work with Vocalists?
Kurosawa, COCO, Babe ETC.
is totally different between a sound track project and a vocalist
project. When doing a sound track you are working with a number
of musicians, and from a musical standpoint you are all at
the same level. Working with a vocalist, especially a female
vocalist, there needs to be a lot more nurturing of the artist.
The atmosphere is almost nurturing them to grow for the song
and so it is sometimes more nerve-wracking than doing soundtracks.
you choose the vocalists you produce or do they come to you?
both ways. A lot of them already have recording contracts and
the record companies contact me. But, the newer ones who don't
have a contract that want to get somewhere seek me out. When
that happens I look at their future potential as an artist.
you have a favorite singer?
Hikaru Nishida as an overall talent.
advice for would be composers and producers?
in your talent and believing in the love of your music is what
I live by. I have been in bands, have been in the spotlight,
have been dropped from a label and at sometimes been homeless.
(laughs) I went through all of that, and now I live the life
of a composer for music and TV. What supported me through the
hard times was, as I said, believing in myself and my love
for the music. Thats what I would tell anyone. It is a hard
career with a lot of competition.
does your wife influence your music?
she writes the words and lyrics I get inspired from her knowledge
of literature. I get inspired musically by what she writes.
My wife is a big influence on my work.
don't know what the future will bring, some of it good, some
of it bad, I don't know, but basically my philosophy is that
I want to leave the world some of the melodies in my head.
That is my vision of myself. I want to keep going as long as
would like to thank Mr. Asakura and his wife for their time.
Special thanks to Archie Meguro for interpreting, Mayumi Emori
and Akira Sudo.
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