Interview with Akira Yamaoka (DDRSpot)
Date published: 2004.08.04
It's not everyday we, the staff of DDRSpot, get a chance to meet up with some of Konami's upper-echelon talent. Somehow, lightning has managed to strike twice, as we recently caught up once again with the multi-talented "Sound Killer", Akira Yamaoka, producer of the upcoming horror game, Silent Hill 4: The Room. "Sound Killer?", you ask? Read on!
DDRSpot: What is the biggest challenge you face when making a sequel to the Silent Hill series? Is it hard to come up with new ideas?
Akira Yamaoka: The hardest part is continuing the series without losing that special touch and adding new things for the users to enjoy. Coming up with a new system, but yet keeping elements of the old is an ongoing challenge when making games. Finding this type of balance is hard. Ideas don't always come to mind easily. The phrase: "Feel pain to accomplish something" is what I always experience.
DDRSpot: In creating Silent Hill 4: The Room, what influences did you draw from for the presentation or storyline of the game? For that matter, what genres and styles influence the series, as a whole?
Yamaoka: For starters, we use references from modern American horror authors such as Steven King and David Lynch. Also, there's a taste of some other stuff such as "Dawn of the Dead", as seen with the zombies. However, Silent Hill is not about the monsters themselves, but rather, it is a look into the human psyche how it deals with anger, sorrow, and human relationships. Of course, this is pointing to the series as a whole.
DDRSpot: Since there's a Silent Hill movie in the works, what are your opinions on it? Is this movie based on a particular version of Silent Hill?
Yamaoka: Yes, a movie is being made. Unfortunately, I do not know many details about it. I am very happy to see a Silent Hill movie in the works, personally.
DDRSpot: Coming from someone who produces such scary games, we've got to know: What scares you the most?
Yamaoka: I would have to say human beings. Looking at the news these days, don't you think humans are scary?
DDRSpot: We'd concur on that one! – Switching gears to Bemani... Being that you were the force behind such tracks like "In My Eyes" and "Rislim", what is the meaning behind the names, "reiwo" and "ric"?
Yamaoka: "riewo" and "ric" are the nicknames for the singers. There is really no reason why I chose those names. I just thought it would be better if i used those girls' names.
DDRSpot: Anime and video game soundtracks have been seeling very well lately. What are your opinions on that? How do you feel seeing your music on a CD?
Yamaoka: I am very thankful about this and there's nothing better then knowing that a user appreciates my work. However, I am disappointed at the fact that game music is looked at as "game music" and nothing more. There's a side of me that wishes game music can be enjoyed as mainstream music, rather than just within a game.
DDRSpot: Although DDR is primarily known as a music game, it has gained a new wave of popularity as a tool for exercise and weight loss. How do you feel about that mentality? Does this diminish the original intentions of DDR being a music game?
Yamaoka: In all honesty, I would prefer DDR to be recognized as a music game, first and foremost. If people treat it as a diet game, I feel that they are not appreciating the musicianship or treat it as an afterthought.
DDRSpot: So what types of instruments and tools do you use in your studio these days?
Yamaoka: I love to collect vintage synthesizers, so I do carry some of those. However, I mainly use what's listed below:
Mainly LOGIC PRO6 with PLUG-IN, NATIVE INSTRUMENT PRO-5, NATIVE INSTRUMENT FM-7, impOSCar, and Mini Moog V.
Hardware: ROLAND MKS-80, ROLAND JD-800, KORG PROPHECY, OBERHEIM OB-MX, MEMORY MOOG, PROPHET-5, ENSONIQ VFX, AKAI VX-600.
DDRSpot: We are aware of the Beatmania Secret live and Pop 'n' Music artist live concerts that occur in Japan sometimes. Recently, we had a Final Fantasy concert in U.S. Is there a chance of another concert anytime soon? Could there perhaps be a possibility of a US concert?
Yamaoka: I have received lots of requests about this, especially out of Japan. However, it is very hard to do one, mostly due to time. I am very interested in doing one, so there is a possibility.
DDRSpot: What current projects are you working on right now?
Yamaoka: I am coming up with something big right now, so stay tuned with Konami! I am also working on music for Beatmania IIDX. Another thing... I am also composing music for a BEMANI lineup I never made songs for, so wish me luck!
DDRSpot: You've got our best wishes! Now, there have been many Bemani artist CD releases lately, such as BeforU, Kosaka Riyu, Des-row, and Annetaimaji Ska Bakuduen. Where's your CD?
Yamaoka: I am very interested in releasing an album. I plan to do this once I get more songs worked up.
DDRSpot: Tell us more about the "De Vol" project that produced "Dancer" and it's memorable video from Beatmania IIDX 8th Style. Is that something we might see again in Bemani in the future? What inspired that crazy video?
Yamaoka: De Vol project was strictly for DANCER only. The guy hitting the drums is a friend of mine who I band with. Our band name is Wedding Death. *laughs* – This band first started when we both decided to play (celebrate) my friend's wedding. It's probably normal to play ballad or popular songs at a time like this (wedding celebration), but we decided to do things differently with a huge amp and Death Metal band (Wedding Death). Since then, we have had some few live shows. We haven't done any in a while, but I plan to do some more in the future.
DDRSpot: Finally, tell about those wicked business cards that you've made for yourself. Where'd you get those made? A smoke acrylic plastic business card is just awesome!
Yamaoka: Well, as a creator, I thought I had to have something cool like that. *laughs* – For Silent Hill 4, I made two buisness cards. One as a Silent Hill 4 Sound Producer and the other one as a Sound Killer.
DDRSpot: Once again, we thank you for your time. And as always at the end, do you have a message to the legions of Silent Hill and Bemani fans?
Yamaoka: Please stay tuned for our next Silent Hill title in the works. The next one will be very different and interesting. Please sit tight for more news in the future! Hearing voices from fans across the sea is a big encouragement for me and I believe that this is a very valuable time for me, as a creator. Thank you for taking interest in my works!