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Hiroki Kikuta
Hiroki Kikuta

Born: 1962, Aichi Prefecture, Japan
Kansai University Osaka from 1981 to 1984- studied science of religion, cultural anthropology and philosophy.
Favorite Drink:
I love Coke, 7 up and Starbucks coffee, because I don't take alcohol.
Favorite Food:
Prawn, lobster, crab, oyster, Chinese cuisine, Italian cuisine and Korean BBQ
Favorite Music:
My most favorite CD is VOICES (Roger Eno 1985 EG Records), it always cures me.
Favorite Movie:
The Shining (Stanley Kubrick 1980), The Right Stuff (Philip Kaufman 1983), Pat Garett and Billy the Kid (Sam Peckinpah 1973), Godzilla (Ishiro Honda 1954), Leningrad Cowboys Go America (Aki Kaurismaki 1989), The Killing Fields (Roland Joffe 1984), Seven Samurais (Akira Kurosawa 1954), Topio Stin Omichli (Theo Angelopoulos 1988), La Cite Des Enfants Perdus (Jean Pierre Jeunet 1995), Seven Chances (Buster Keaton 1925).
Favorite TV: South Park, ER, CBS documentary, Super Bowl, Tour de France, ESPN X games
Sound Tools:
Macintosh Power-PC/E-magic Notator Logic Audio/AKAI S-3000XL/Lexicon PCM-80/Lexicon PCM-90

Official website:
Angel's Fear

1990 Freelance
The Adventure of Robin Hood
(TV Animation) Music Composer
The Legend of Snow White
(TV Animation) Music Composer

1991-1998 SQUARE inc. (JAPAN) Manager

Romancing Saga
Sound Effect Designer
Seiken Densetu 2
(Secret of Mana) Music Composer/Sound Director
Seiken Densetu 3
Music Composer/Sound Director
Music Composer/Sound Director/Sound Producer

1998-1999 SACNOTH co.,LTD (JAPAN) CEO

Producer/Director/Scenario Writer/Music Composer

Seiken Densetu 2
(Original Soundtrack) NTT Publishing PSCN 5030
Secret of Mana
(Arrange Version of Seiken Densetsu 2 and 3) NTT Publishing PSCN 5031
Seiken Densetu 3
(Original Soundtrack) NTT Publishing PSCN 5026
(Original Soundtrack) Digicube SSCX 10017
The Music of Koudelka
(Image Soundtrack Single CD not for sale)
(Original Soundtrack) Scitron PCCB 00396 read our review

RocketBaby: At what age did you become interested in music?

Hiroki Kikuta: When I was ten years old, I met up with the music of Emerson, Lake & Palmer. I had never heard such marvelous music before. It was quite an impact for me. A few months later I heard that Keith Emerson was using a particular instrument called MOOG synthesizer.

RB: At what age did you start writing music?

HK: When I was twelve years old, the Folk blues movement came over to Japan from America. I studied Acoustic Guitar and started to create an original song immediately. I wanted to be a singer/ songwriter... if I wasn't a terrible singer. Actually, Digital equipment opened up my potential as a music composer. Without a musical sequencer, I can't create any complicated tunes. When I first acquired a YAMAHA SY-77 synthesizer/sequencer, I felt as if I got a ticket to a different world.

RB: Why did you start Sacnoth?

HK: I had held many original ideas about video games and visual expression for a long time. The most important purpose is to create an entertainment. When I was searching for a way to achieve my dream, I met a dominant business advisor. He introduced me to the chairman of SNK. I told him about many pitfalls that every existing RPG had. I thought those were lacking a comprehensive insight and a integrative interpretation. It is a structural defect of game production. To resolve the problem, it is necessary to get the picture of each element of game creation at the same time. I have an ability to do that. I established a company SACNOTH and took up my position as CEO in order to produce a new horror RPG project, Koudelka. But unfortunately... Though I conceived a grand scheme to realize an innovative game system and visual expression, many old staffs from SQUARE were not able to accept real change without hesitation. I say that the person who will have no change is already dead. After termination of Koudelka project, I retired as CEO of SACNOTH. It was my choice.

RB: As a composer how should music effect the game? As a developer how should the music effect the game?

HK: A music composer wants to create a good tune with utter simplicity. But if you want to create a good game as a developer, it is not enough. Because good music does not necessarily fit a good game. The most important problem is adjustment of each of the elements. If the visual element exactly synchronizes with the musical element, a dramatic effect will be generated.. And I take it for granted that everybody wants to hear a good melody in the end.

RB: What were your influences for Koudelka?

HK: In the first instance, I designed all concepts and fundamental settings of the Koudelka's world. I gathered various graphic and text materials in London and Wales. I did character design, map design, event design, scenario writing, direction of computer graphics movie, direction of motion capture... I got involved with all of the integral parts of Koudelka except battle and game system. Especially, I had no influence in battle section. I still have a great regret. I wish I could have designed it. And a quick digression, I consulted many movies and books for Koudelka. A most impressive movie is The Name of the Rose (Jean Jacques Annaud 1986). I also read the original book which was written by Umberto Eco. It is a definitely masterpiece. If you want to know some origins of Koudelka's world, you may read Carnacki the Ghost Finder written by William Hope Hodgson and The Case of Charles Dexter Ward written by Howard Phillips Lovecraft. Many fantasy novels by Lord Dunsany (His his full name and title is Edward John Moreton Drax Plunkett 18th Lord Dunsany) are also important. If you want to know about visual origin of Koudelka, see photographs created by Bob Carlos Clarke and Jan Saudek and Holly Warburton. Those are extremely exciting works.

RB: How did you manage to write, direct and compose the music for Koudelka?

HK: Writing a scenario. Directing a CG movie. Composing a BGM. Each of those is no more than a single face of game creation. When I imagined the world of Koudelka, I figure graphic elements and story elements and sound elements all at once. Because, those are mingled with each other organically. So I think that It is rather easy to manage multiple affairs.

RB: What was the easiest aspect of working on Koudelka? What was the hardest?

HK: The easiest aspect is music composing. Because I can create a music by my lonesome. It makes me free and I feel comfort. Hardest aspect is behind-the-scenes maneuvering of power game in company organization. I am so tired to do that. Let's get something straight, I am not a buccaneer but rather a creator. All aspects about creation are really pleasant for me.

RB: Why do you make music? Why do you make games?

HK: Music composing is a natural behavior for me. Like breathing. I usually conceive a good melody and a harmony without suffering. So I have no reason to make music. I think that it is my vocation. Meanwhile, creating video game is not my vocation. It is my wish. I want to produce high quality entertainment in the future. When I write a story and a plot, I usually suffer by myself. Though it is very hard and thorny, I feel maximum accomplishment.

RB: What inspires your melodies?

HK: Many great works of famous composers and musicians inspire me. If I must respect only one person or group as a music composer(s), I will take Pink Floyd.

RB: What are your hobbies and why?

HK: Good question. Riding bicycles is my hobby. I also love my yellow Peugeot MTB made in France. I also have some fun playing with my cat. She is extremely pretty.

RB: When did you begin working at Square?

HK: I began work at Square in 1991. I was twenty seven years old. In those days, the production studio of Square was placed in Akasaka Tokyo. It was small and homey, different from now. I remember that Nobuo Uematsu and Kenji Ito interviewed me in their office. We talked about progressive rock music and famous guitar player Allan Holdsworth with each other. I created sound effects for Romancing Saga at the start of my career. A few of graphic staff worked with me to design a lot of novelty sounds. We worked hard in night and day.

RB: How much freedom did you have making music at Square?

HK: In a sense, I had perfect freedom. Because, the planning staff of Square put none of the assignments relevant to the menu of music work and schedule in my hand. Nobody explained to me about game detail which they were producing. I had to think and imagine what kind of music was needed for our game project. Changeover,changeover, and more changeover of specifications. It was difficult to foresee the final image of it. But I did.

RB: What is favorite game that you worked on at Square and why?

HK: May be Seiken Densetsu 2 (Secret of Mana). I think that it was a pretty good game except for the big BUG. The multi player system was extremely fresh and delightful. In the aspect of music, I was fully challenged in regard to sound expression using 8 voice PCM system of SNES hardware. Please see and hear the opening sequence of Seiken Densetsu 2. It is so simple but so lyrical, isn't it? I am really proud of my visual direction and music composition.

RB: Did Nobuo Uematsu influence your work?

HK: I think there is no influence from Nobuo Uematsu. I have never taken any lessons about composing game music. The style and the melody of my music are totally conceived by myself. Just the same, every staff composer at Square were free from influence of somebody else. Originality and personality were cheerished in our studio. It was the policy of Nobuo Uematsu.

RB: What are the best and worst memories that you have of Square?

HK: Hmmm... Best memory... it seems a trip to MANA island of Fiji republic. After a production of the game Secret of Mana, I and my friend decided to visit an island placed in South Pacific Ocean. We played skin diving everyday and watched some corals. Those were extremely beautiful. It looks like a blue heaven. I will never forget the view of the sunset from Mana's beaches. It is one of my treasures. By the way... Worst memory is a dissolution of the game team in which I was supposed to participate. I wanted to propose an innovative game system using music and sound effects.

RB: Who is your favorite Square composer and why?

HK: I recommend Jin Sakimoto (Hitoshi Sakimoto). His works are extremely dense.

RB: One of our favorite soundtracks of yours is Soukaigi. The sound quality and styles are some the best for a game.

HK: Soukaigi has many characters of sound. I designed it with different complex styles. House music meets real performance, fusion meets folk choirÖÖ It was an adventure for me. To tell you the truth, the style of music does not a matter. I don't dwell upon it. Though I put a high value on counterpoint it does not bind me. It is only a method. In the case of Soukaigi, I was mainly influenced by East European pops like Varttina.

RB: Why did you leave Square?

HK: I wanted to direct not only musical expression but also visual expression. And of course, I wanted to write a fine scenario which is different from existing one. I had felt a big complaint against those juvenile works. But unfortunately, I couldn't get a chance to take a part in those kind of production works in Square. I suffered terribly for a long time. After all is said, I left Square and established new company Sacnoth to achieve my idea.

RB: Do you perform your music live?

HK: If I have a chance to do that, I wish to play my music as a live performance. I didn't make an attempt to do that in Japan yet. Do you want to hear my music in front of your eyes, ya?

RB: Who would you like to make music with?

HK: Jin (Hitoshi) Sakimoto. Because, I could not collaborate with him on composing game music when we were hired together by Square. I respect him. Except for game music composer, I want to collaborate with Allan Holdsworth, a fusion guitar player. His music is a miracle.

RB: How do you think game music compares to other genres of music?

HK: I think that is similar to movie soundtracks. It is important to synchronize the music with visual element. It has an expressive purpose. If you want to create a game music, don't forget to construct it as an emotional device.

RB: How will the next generation consoles allow you to express yourself as composer and game designer?

HK: I feel a strong attraction to X-box and Game Cube. A big visual capability makes me hot. I have many ideas to display fascinating characters using real time computer graphics. They will sing and dance and talk with real emotion. Don't you want to play the Musical RPG on Network? I want to play it.

RB: What would your advice be to people who:

A. People who want to create game music.

HK: Listen to as much music as you can. Don't confine yourself to your room. The genre of music is meaningless. If you want to find your treasure, you must challenge the common practice at any one time.

B. People who want to create games.

HK: Video games are not art. They are an entertainment. You must amuse your audience first instead of amusing yourself. I am always conscious of the feeling to accommodate someone with a fun service. Can you create a lot of gimmicks for the player? If you work so hard and push yourself enough, the day will come to collaborate in some way with me for sure. Let's think of a next game together.

RB: What is in the future for Hiroki Kikuta?

HK: I will be involved in some new game projects that are not directed by me. I will be a technical advisor. I will create computer graphics and sounds. But soon, I hope to form my studio and develop my own game project. So now I am looking for new investors around the globe.

RocketBaby would like to thank Mr. Kikuta for chatting with us.



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