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Atsushi Fukai
Atsushi Fukai

Born: Feb. 25, 1975 Ashikaga, Japan
Hamilton College (Clinton, NY)
Favorite Drink:
Florida Orange Juice
Favorite Food:
Korean Barbecue
Favorite TV Show:
Mystery Science Theather 3000
Favorite Music:
Game Music
Favorite Movie:
Back to the Future

As an added bonus this month we speak to Mr. Fukai, a composer waiting to breakout and make a name for himself in the world of game music. You may know Mr. Fukai form his collection of CD's based on famous game music. Mr. Fukai is currently in production on an undisclosed game. We wish him all the best.

Official website:
Mushi Net
(J/E) arranged and original Mp3 samples.
E-Mail: midi@mushi.net
Mr. Fukai's article on game music.
Purchase Mr. Fukai's Music @ Risingsun

Primary hardware: Power Macintosh, PowerBook, Roland SoundCanvas/JV MIDI tone generators, Digidesign digital audio interface and an 8-channnel mixer.

Primary software: Digidesign Pro Tools and Opcode Musicshop.

RocketBaby: At what age did you become interested in music? What was your first instrument?

Atsushi Fukai: I was interested in music since before I can remember. They say I started taking violin lessons when I was 3, although I don't recall much about that period.

RB: At what age did you start writing music?

AF: I started writing computer music at the age of 19.

RB: What are your previous credits?

AF: Mostly private productions for the moment. Miscellaneous background music and jingle productions for corporate clients, self-motivated projects where most of which are publicized at my website (http://mushi.net/).

RB: How did you end up going to college in NY? How was your experience there? What did you like best and least about USA?

AF: My parents suggested an option to schools in the US when I was 12. I took the opportunity and have attended boarding schools starting at 6th grade. It was certainly tough in the beginning to throw myself out alone in a foreign country without someone who understood my native language around, but my young age helped to quickly adjust myself to the environment, of course with the help of my great new friends. As a young student, long vacations were certainly among the things I liked the best about the US. One of the things that disappointed me was the unavailability of game music CDs due to lack of recognition toward game music as an established genre.

RB: How did you get involved with game music?

AF: I became particularly interested in game music in the mid-80's, when I was struck by the creativity and craftsmanship of game music composers at the time to persent quality music under severely limited hardware sound support, such as famicom/NES's 3 PSG+1 noise polyphony environment. Ever since, I was amazed at how the artists expanded their creativity with evolving sound environments.

We are going to Mushi.net
click image to hear mp3 samples

RB: What are some positive aspects working as a musician in Japan?

AF: Abundant technical and inspirational resources and high competition

RB: What are some Negatives?

AF: Relative difficulty in promoting myself without aid of an established partner/sponsor.

RB: How is promoting yourself difficult?

AF: Although companies are open to new talent, many, mostly larger companies, seem to have a tendency to place more value on trends over individual creativity or specialty. It is also a cultural trait that those with personal connections with people at the core of the industry are far more advantageous than those without, in terms of finding opportunities to debut on a mainstream platform.

RB: When did you come up with idea for creating music to imaginary game sequels?

AF: I came up with the idea when I was about a year into studying MIDI sequencing. I wanted to do more than just to arrange existing music, and it was an approach that allowed me to experiment with acquired techniques and musical ideas, while effectively drawing public attention to my activities. Of course, sharing my passion toward game music through such activities with people who share similar interests was very exciting.

RB: How long do you work on each of the "sequel" projects?

AF: These projects are usually self-motivated, so I basically work on them when I have time. Hence the amount of time that takes to complete a project may vary anywhere from a month to a year. When I was in the right mood, I could finish a few tunes in a day, whereas when I was not, it has taken a couple of days to write a single tune.

We are going to Mushi.net
click image to hear mp3 samples

RB: What do the original composers and companies think of your "sequel" projects?

AF: One of them has expressed unofficial mental support for my project. I have also received encouragements from some individuals who were involved in productions related to the original work.

RB: What are your favorite genres to compose for?

AF: If you are asking about musical genre, then anything I am in mood for at the time, really. If I feel expressive, I might go with a symphonic piece, and if I feel like rocking, I might go with fusion or heavy metal, and so on. In terms of game genre, I believe I am equally ready to write music for anything.

RB: Who are your influences?

AF: Joe Hisaishi, Ryo Yonemitsu, Falcom JDK/Yuzo Koshiro, Konami Kukeiha Club, Kouhei Tanaka, etc.

RB: What are the advantages and disadvantages of working in MIDI?

AF: I find the flexibility and universality of the data format to be extremely advantageous. The fact that MIDI files are text-based makes them light in volume and highly compressable, hence very convenient to transfer over networks. On the other hand, all that is convenient about MIDI also facilitates misusage. MIDIs are easy to pirate, modify and distribute against original author's intentions.

RB: How do you think the Internet will affect music, especially music for games?

AF: The medium allows greater flexibility for the users to choose or customize gaming environments according to one's musical perferences. The internet also provides global opportunity to reference musical resources that are otherwise likely to be confined to a certain national/cultural regions.

Lets go to Mushi.net
click image to hear mp3 samples

RB: How do you get yourself in the mood to write music?

AF: The mood has its own mind, and I just hope that it arrives at proper timing. Playing games or watching films with imagination-provoking settings can often help, though not a very time-efficient approach.

RB: What are your hobbies and why?

AF: I like entomology, so I enjoy collecting insects. I am captivated by the variety of forms and habits of insects. Arranging existing game music is what triggered my composition life. It is fun to expand familiar tunes with my own taste, and of course it is a good technical practice. Recently I began taking interest in internet auctions. It provides not only opportunities to trade items that are otherwise difficult or impossible to find (like old game soundtrack CDs), but also chances to interact and exchange information with more people with common interests.

RB: Do you play games? Which ones?

AF: Well sure. It's hard to narrow down on a few representative titles, but I like shooter and action games. Of course I prefer ones with good music. Lately, I am shifting my attention to older games, from late 80's and early 90's. I think that it has to do with my impression that current trend of video games is losing focus of what makes a game high quality in its own genre of artistic entertainment. The same can be said about game music.

RB: Any advice for young composers?

AF: Explore as much variety of music as possible, and seek your own philosophy for your creations' purposes. If you like or dislike particular musical styles, try to find out why and let that answer be a guide to establish your unique creative mind.

RB: Will you be working on any of the major platforms?

AF: Actually I already am working on one. Unfortunately I am not supposed to disclose any information on it. And yes, I am constantly awaiting offers from game companies to write music for any platform.

Off to Mushi.net
click image to hear mp3 samples

RocketBaby would like to thank Mr. Fukai for taking time to answer our questions.

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