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Riow Arai
Riow Arai

Date of Birth: 1969
Place of Birth:
Tokyo, Japan
Favorite Food:
Has a lot of preferences for foods. Usually smokes, but never drinks or takes drugs.
Favorite Music:
Listens to almost any kind of music except what is too hard.
Sound Tools:
Apple Power Macintosh7 600/200 (+CPUaccelerator G3/366) OS7.6.1 224M
Korg 1212I/O
Sony MDS-JE700
Sony DTC-57ES
Yamaha ProMix01
MOTU DigitalPerformer2.7.1
Macromedia SoundEdit16
Bias Peak
Seinberg Recycle!
MOTU MidiExpress
Korg T3EX(o)
Roland SC-88(x)
E-mu UltraProteus(x)
Clavia NordRack(x)
Roland SH-101(o)
Akai S3000XL
E-mu SP1200
Ensoniq ASR-10R

Web address: Web_Site_Again Japanese     English

E-mail: riow@venus.dti.ne.jp

Listen to MP3 samples @ web_site _again

Hear Mr Arai recorded live @ the Beta Lounge's Digital Convenience Sessions #2 (Real Player required).

Again (FrogmanRecords)
Circuit'72 (Soup-disk/silverstone)
Mind Edit (Soup-disk)
Mind Syndicate (Soup-disk/vinyl LP)
From The Bedroom to The Whole Universe (compilation from Frogman Records)
Out of Perspective (sampler from Soup-disk)
"Sonic Drive" from Sega Touring Car Championship (Marvelaous Entertainment inc.)
Front Mission Alternative (Square Soft/Digicube)
"Electric Blue" (RiowArai mix) from Kitchen Works by Andrei Zueff (Frogman Records)
"After Image" (opera mix)' "After Image" (rain-shower mix) from Nobukazu Takemura (Childisc)

This months interview is with the techno/funk/ambient composer of Squaresoft's Front Mission Alternative. This 30 year old self taught musician was born in Tokyo and started composing music in his bedroom studio during his junior high school years we he got a synthesizer. In 1994 he sent a demo tape Japan's frogman records and released his first CD in 1996. In 1997 he contributed the track "Sonic Drive" to Sega Touring Car.

RocketBaby: How did start your music career?

Riow Arai: In junior high school, I got a synthesizer and started to make music in my bedroom studio.

RB: How did you get the job for Front Mission Alternative?

RA: The director of FMA wanted to use a composer out of the company, then a staff member who was my friend offered me the job. Because I wasn't on the staff of Squaresoft, I tried to make music which was different from any conventional game music. Indeed, FMA project director wanted me to do so.

RB: How much did the FMA development team influence your work?

RA: Musically they set me free, so there were no problems. But there was a consensus that it would be techno sound.

RB: How much did corporate Squaresoft influence your work?

RA: I felt very good at work, because they gave me enough money and didn't make any complaints about my work.

RB: Was there anything you wanted to experiment with, but couldn't?

RA: In the Playstation's system, there are two ways to play music: on one hand music is totally converted, and the other hand the sound modulator is programmed in PS. In the case of FMA we used the latter, so what I could express with music was very limited. For example, sounds were very cheap and there weren't enough effects. So, it was very experimental for me to make music with that system.

FMA CD CoverRap a de Lic CDFMA Proc disc

RB: How long did you work on FMA, and at what point in the development cycle did you start?

RA: It took me about a half a year to make the music for FMA. I took part in FMA project at the start, but what I was involved in was only music. FMA development team were responsible for the total sound system operation including sound effects.

RB: Will you be working with Squaresoft in the future?

RA: If they make me an offer and set down a good condition, I'll work for them.

RB: When composing what influences your music?

RA: Anything around me, anything I feel. Also, Yellow Magic Orchestra.

RB: How would you describe for us your non-game music?

RA: To put it simply, it can be categorized as techno. And there are so many elements such as drum'n'bass, triphop, hiphop, ambient, and so on. But, however, it is different from all of them. I can't put my music into words, so I just want you to listen to it. I have already released three original albums. Please refer to Web_Site_Again (www.venus.dti.ne.jp/~riow/) in detail. I also want to make soundtracks for movies or anything else.

RB: Is there a different thought process for your game music and non-game music?

RA: In the case of game music, contents of the music have to be related to that of the game. When I made the music for FMA, there were systematical limits such as the number of sounds. On the other hand, in the case of my original albums, I am basically free except fitting music into the color of the label in some degree.

RB: How did you come to work on Sega Touring Car?

RA: As well as FMA, they wanted to use musicians outside of Sega, so an acquaintance of mine informed me of this project.

RB: Was there a specific style the team at Sega were looking for? Was Sonic Drive something you already composed or was it original for the game?

RA: They hoped the music would be exciting for driving and fit the racing game. The track was original for the game. I made three tracks and they took "Sonic Drive." The other two songs were used for FMA, because I thought they shouldn't be wasted (STC was an year before FMA).

Sega Touring Car CD Cover

RB: How Sega and Squaresoft differ in their attitudes about music?

RA: I didn't feel so good when I worked with Sega, because they made many demands on me. On the other hand, Squaresoft depended on me and there were no demands. I composed almost of FMA without seeing any picture and selected tracks for each scene myself.

RB: Do you play games?

RA: I seldom play video games. I have nothing to say about them, except I don't like RPG's.

RB: What is next for you?

RA: Now I have a plan for a game, but I cannot tell you about that yet. In August (1999), my new original album will be released in Japan. Later it will be also distributed in America. Please refer to Web_Site_Again(www.venus.dti.ne.jp/~riow/) for details.

RB: What do you think of the next-generation of game consoles and their sound design?

RA: As game consoles develop, we can do more in the system, so I want to try new possibilities as well as I can.

Riow Arai

RB: What is the future of game music?

RA: I think a game does not always need music. We should have a choice to have music or not have music. As well as movies, we need to make an experiment.

RB: Do you have a favorite game composer?

RA: No.

RB: Anything you would like to add?

HY: I'm not a game composer but an artist, so I want you to listen to my original albums as well. When I make other works, please try them too. And please give me a job.

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


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