Your strong background in music has always heavily influenced your games. If you were to create a full-music album that had nothing to do with games, would the experience of gaming influence you in return? Like creating audience interaction with the music, or something as concrete as the tools you used, influenced by PCM sounds or the limitations of WonderSwan. What about games do you think might influence your music?
MM: One very important thing is that, in any case, I have to keep my style. The games give me very broad new ideas about something, but about my music, I have some style of my own. It isn't influenced from any kind of interactive environment or experience. I will keep my style.
Still, I love to play my own tracks, forgetting about any kind of games. But of course if I play something -- suddenly a game or a relationship with interaction comes into my head, but I try making it independent from the interactive experience.
When I was 18, I was so influenced by various kinds of Western music, in the late '70s. This kind of experience still makes me feel fresh, and want to make something.
A lot of game composers now have to create songs to certain specifications and they can't show their style at all. They may have one, but maybe some of them can't even develop their own style because they're just doing, "Okay, you do this now." I wonder if you have any kind of advice about how to keep their style?
MM: Yeah, you just have to be a musician. If a musician doesn't make their own music, they're not a musician. I really want to say musicians should not be only at the game company.
Quit them and make your own performance or your own CD-R or something, and appeal to the audience. This is a very big mission that every musician has to have.
I think that this is one area where Japan is much better than the US. I feel like a lot more game musicians in Japan try to do performance. Even if they're performing game music, they'll remix it and they'll do it differently. For example, the Square Enix guys who play in The Black Mages.
I have a very good friend who went to school for composition and he makes game music, but he never gets to make his own music. I keep saying, "You should really make something for yourself, or for me, or something." And he always feels like it's so hard to get motivated to do something.
MM: Yup, I really understand that. Finding their own missions, by themselves, is a very difficult thing. And also, music is much more... If I listen to an old record, like from the '70s, that includes a very good songs for the time.
And now maybe a few of the tracks are not interesting, but at that time the record was bought from the market and disappeared. So musicians can release another record.
But now if you put your own track onto your iPod, they can't die. This is a very big problem for musicians. I mean, if you put the soundtracks composed by some musician into your iPod, [they'll last forever].
So that this track can disappear from the world. In the past the music had its own lifetime, but now music has lost the lifetime cycle. This is a very scary thing for me.
It could potentially be good as well, for the listener.
MM: Oh yeah, that's true.
Your game Vib-Ribbon used physical CDs to generate the game levels, but things have changed now that music has become digital, and the same thing is happening with games. If all games were to go digital in the future, how might this influence you? Do you think it's important to have a physical presence, or are you enjoying the transition? Do you think it might impact the game world the same way it has the audio world?
MM: I think we can't force the games to go digital this early. Of course that environment requires a new scheme. I'm really worrying about games going indie. I really understand that some really unique people can make the indie games and they have the opportunity to publish to the public -- that is very fantastic.
But from the customer's side, sometimes they can't catch on to a certain game title. Of course, the iPhone is a very simple example. I'm very curious about what kind of things happen in the coming years for the iPhone, for example.