Interview with Akira Yamaoka

GR: We were quite happy to hear your music in the Silent Hill movie, but what are your thoughts? Were they implemented well, or were there songs not used that you feel would have been more fitting?

AY: I was so happy, too. The director, Mr. Christophe Gans, always asked for my opinions. He always asked for my suggestions for the music, too.

There were many songs that we wanted to use, but we could not use because they just did not fit the scenes or timing. But I think the songs were implemented well.

GR: If we had to choose a favorite track from the series, we're torn between "Theme of Laura" and "Sickness Unto Foolish Death." Do you have a strong preference for any particular track?

AY: I agree with you 100%. I love both of the songs. I also love the first one, "Silent Hill." I have a special place in my heart for the first one.

Above: "Theme of Laura," the intro to Silent Hill 2

GR: You're most known for Silent Hill, but you've produced music for many games over the years - Sparkster and DDR, for example. Has your personal process for generating new music changed in that time?

AY: My personal process for generating new music hasn't changed at all. I always try to keep myself at both ends. Normally, the creators have their own styles and create things with the styles. But I am a creator and also a producer. I create dark, stoic sounds like the Silent Hill music, but I also make more major, popular pop sounds. I want to have the both sides in me. Creating such totally different sounds is my personality and uniqueness.

GR: Is it hard to bounce from the moody, gritty Silent Hill world to environments like DDR and beatmania? Is it like a whole other state of mind for those projects?

AY: Not the same state of mind. When I work on Silent Hill, I keep myself somewhat calm. If I get hyper, it will be difficult to create the stoic sounds.

If I continue to be in the dark mood like Silent Hill, I might get depressed, but I get other projects like DDR or BEATMANIA at a right timing. It's a good balance.

GR: This one's digging deep, but hopefully we can put this fan question to rest. Your Wikipedia page claims you had a role in the music of Jerry Boy/SmartBall for the Super Famicom/SNES. Is this true, and if so, can you recall what you contributed? We ask because one of the GamesRadar editors is a curiously strong fan of the game and your music, so tying them together would be quite a treat.

AY: It's a long time ago. :) Once I was a freelance game creator. Jerry Boy was an experimental game at the time. We were trying different things to see what we can do with the hardware, Super Famicom. I remember I was struggling with programming for the hardware everyday. It wasn't easy to create music like today. I had to repeat trial and error with the very, very limited memory.

I just happened to take the Jerry Boy project because I was asked to work on the sound through a friend of mine. I am impressed that he knows about Jerry Boy! Not many people know about it. :)

Above: SNES lost classic Smartball/Jerry Boy

GR: Finally, what are you listening to these days? Any new standout bands that have caught your eyes and ears?

AY: I have been listening to the Nine Inch Nails' new album a lot.

Special thanks to Yamaoka-san for answering our questions and to Konami for the speedy translation. We'll have more on Silent Hill: Homecoming as it becomes available.

Apr 23, 2008