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Shoji Meguro in Studio
Shoji Meguro

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RocketBaby: How did you start making game music?

Shoji Meguro : When I graduated graduate school, my parents told me that I should have a stable job. I wanted to have a job as a composer. So I thought about what kind of musical jobs are good, and were I can get a stable salary. I choose the job of game music and I joined Atlus.

RB: How long have you worked for Atlus? What was the first game you worked on?

SM: I have worked at Atlus for five years, and my first game was Persona.

RB: How many games do you work on per year?

SM: I work on one game every two years.

RB: What are the positives and negatives about being a staff composer?

SM: The positives --- I can make a stable living as a staff composer. I don't have to manage the business by myself. Also, they can do big projects even if they don't have great abilities as a composer. ( Is it me?!) The negatives --- I can't get my royalty.

RB: How long did you work on Maken X? How much music did you write? How much freedom did you have? What influenced your music?

SM: I worked on Maken X for a year and half. The period of composing music was about 6 months to 1 year. During this time I composed about 40 tunes. I wanted to have much more discretion. Regarding the restriction of the hardware, it was hard. Because I can compose by using the internal sound source, but I could use 400KB capacity per 1 tune. If I compose with the former form, there were more freedom. There were some instructions (genre and mood of music) from my boss, my director and my producer. So I try not to get any influence from others.

RB: How closely do you work with the other Atlus composers?

SM: Regarding Maken X, I composed most of the music. After I got some instructions, they let me work freely. I did not work so closely with other composers, but during the work, I would meet ( for vain talk) about the game with the other composer.

RB: Any specific memories about working on Maken X?

SM: I had a hard time with 3D sickness. When they made the US version of Maken X , they recorded the English dialogue in the US I had a very good experience there.

RB: Why do you make music?

SM: I want to make an impression upon the audience (it's a joke). To tell you the truth, I just want to rock!

RB: How do you create your melodies?

SM: I wait until God comes down to me.

RB: How long did you work on Persona? What were your influences for the music? How much music did you write?

SM: I worked on Persona for about one year. Since I started work immediately (correctly, before I entered the company), I had no time to take it easy. I just managed lots of work which were prepared for me rather than getting influence or inspiration from something. They let me overwork. I composed ten to twenty percent of the music.

RB: Any specific memories about working on Persona?

SM: I could not go home for two months. But it's all right, because when I came back home, I found the last place Giants ( Japanese baseball team) had won their division.

RB: Who are your influences and why?

SM: Actually I think I got a lot of influence from the Japanese fusion group, "The Square". It's surprising. When I was a junior high school student, I was grown up musically. I used to listen to The Square a lot. I don't think that my melodies and chord progressions are similar to them, but my musical characteristics are good, smooth linked tunes.This part may be influenced from The Square. (" The Square" just broke up while I wrote about this interview.) Since I'm easily influenced by various music, I try not to listen to the music carefully. I just listen to the mood of the piece.

RB: What are the positives and negatives about creating music in Japan?

SM: The positives--- When Japanese sound companies begin to sell their new tools, I can get them right away. The negatives--- It takes a long time for foreign sound tools to arrive at their agency. When working in a foreign country it is very enjoyable and I get excited about the cultural differences. I compose at the place where I feel calm. You know, I wait until God comes down to me. For me it's better to work in Japan.

RB: You have composed music for many platforms. Which is your favorite and why?

SM: My favorite platform is the latest model available. If I use newer models, the range I can work with will be much bigger. When I make a tune with 200KB or 300KB, it's hard to get satisfaction about my ideas. In our company which has RPG development, we make most of the sounds by using the internal sound source. The newer console models have more sound ram, which will increase the volume of music which is played by the stream. What I'm working now is a great project which uses a lot of the stream reproduction. They are the parts which I had not been satisfied with before, because there were the restrictions of the previous platforms. I hope you enjoy it!

RB: Please tell us about your work on Devil Summoner Soul Hackers?

SM: I composed fifty tunes and had less discretion than Maken X. The capacity of sound ram was much less. (100KB per tune)

RB: Any specific memories about working on Devil Summoner Soul Hackers?

SM: I don't remember about it at all. My psychiatrist often says that when people have terrible experiences or abuse, they seal their own memories...(It's a joke)

RB: What is your favorite work that you have composed?

SM: It's the ending tune (jazz type) of Maken X. I hope you enjoy my next work!

RB: Who is your favorite Atlus composer?

SM: Mr.Kurokawa. I like his jazz type music.

RB: Who would you most like to make music with?

SM: Diana Leaves. She sings the ending tune of Maken X with her jazzy and soulful voice. She is so great!

RB: What does your music tell us about you?

SM: In the property of the game music, I can't express my music freely. For instance normal musicians say,"Listen to the soul of Rock!". When I compose, I always care about this. I try not to destroy the world view of the game. I try to think that music is a part of the background and throw away my ego as much as possible. I hope the users can feel the emotional parts which I have felt: anger and sorrow from the pictures or the scenarios.

Shoji Meguro still in studio

RB: Who is your favorite overall game composer?

SM: Sorry. I don't know about game composers very well. The tunes of the Sega Saturn version of Sega Rally are cool!

RB: Any advice for people who want to compose music?

SM: I can't tell about it haughtily. I think it's good not to use the fake techniques.(Ex. using functions of automatic composing or easy break beats) If you cultivate your ability of composing steadily. You will become a good composer.

Translated by Yuko Takahashi.

RocketBaby would like to thank Mr. Meguro for taking time to chat with us. Special thanks to Atlus and Kaoru Murakami (Atlus).

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