Noriyuki Iwadare Interview @ Japan Expo USA
Hosting its inaugural anime convention in the United States, Japan Expo USA treated its convention attendees to a number of high-profile Guests of Honor ranging from the video game industry legends to infamous mangaka from Japan. We had a special opportunity to sit down with Ace Attorney series and Lunar: the Silver Star Story composer Noriyuki Iwadare while he was here to perform a few concerts with his band in front of his many adoring fans. Find out what inspired the man's brilliant musical career and a little bit about his upcoming soundtrack for Ace Attorney 5: Dual Destinies, soon to be released in English later this year!
T-ONO: Please introduce yourself for our readers.
Iwadare: I am Noriyuki Iwadare and I am a Japanese video game music composer.
T-ONO: You have been consistently composing music for many popular video games since 1990, what drives you to compose music for so many different genres of games?
Iwadare: Honestly, I am not picky about music, as I actually appreciate all genres; in addition to movies and animation. So when it comes to compose music, what's most important is for the audience to feel what I'm feeling, but also the situation (or event) that's occurring in front of them. I want them to be driven or motivated to complete that task.
T-ONO: How old were you when you decided that you wanted to be a musician and were there any particular bands or composers that inspired you?
Iwadare: When I was little, I used to play the piano. When I went to elementary school I was in a brass band. In high school, I started to write my own music. Even though I went to a musical university, I always knew that I wanted to write my own compositions. At that time I wasn't really a composer, but then I started writing my own music. My inspiration probably comes from my childhood when I used to listen to a lot of classical music like Brahms and Beethoven.
T-ONO: You've composed music for a lot of different mediums, including visual novels with Wind: a Breath of Heart and the Ace Attorney series to Tokyo Disney events, is there a huge difference in the creative process when writing a composition for an event as opposed to a video game?
Iwadare: There's no real change in mentality when composing for live events as opposed to video games. It's just small technical or professional differences between doing something for a live event and doing something for a video game. For a live event, like Tokyo Disneyland for example, I need to raise the tension of the audience and they need to be given the spirit of the parade. It also needs to be very Disney-like. In those terms, I tailor my music to those needs.
For visual novels, I try to setup the music within the framework of the title or the background from the official scripts and go from there. Within the scripts themselves there are often notations that call for different types of music like sadness. So I try to compose the best fit for them.
T-ONO: With Ace Attorney 5 coming out soon, how do you personally feel the music has evolved since the inception of the series in 2001?
Iwadare: For Ace Attorney 5, I was finally given the power to compose my own music and could write the music as I wanted it to be. Since the art style for Ace Attorney 5 is a little bit sharper and realistic, I thought about putting more orchestrated music into it rather than synthesized electronic compositions like 3 and 4. The new hardware has definitely given me more freedom to compose since the hardware has the ability to store more "real" music.
T-ONO: In every Ace Attorney game, there seems to be an evolution of the "OBJECTION!" theme that makes it unique from the previous games; however, in Ace Attorney 5: Dual Destinies, "OBJECTION! 2013" borrows its motif from "OBJECTION! 2004." How did it feel to return to a theme that you wrote almost ten years ago?
Iwadare: This was actually all CAPCOM's decision. There's been a general progression or evolution of the "OBJECTION!" theme since 2001. [hums a chord of the objection 2001/2013 motifs]
There's always been a consistent set of notes to it. For Ace Attorney 5, I was originally thinking of changing it; however, CAPCOM liked the version from [Ace Attorney] 3 and suggested to please stick to it.
In Layton vs. Ace Attorney, the OBJECTION theme was the same as [Ace Attorney] 1. So maybe CAPCOM wanted to differentiate between the two themes.
Iwadare: I had nothing to do with those mixes. The Takarazuka Revue, as you know they've performed a musical for the Ace Attorney series as well; as recent as last month I believe. I also had no part in that; however, I've seen them (live) and they're really fun.
T-ONO: For Japan Expo, fans had a chance to vote on what songs you should play at your upcoming/you played at your concert. Was this your idea or Japan Expo's?
Iwadare: It was actually my band's idea. Even though I know the Ace Attorney games are renown in America, I wasn't sure what other games were released in America. I also wanted to know what the fans wanted to listen to as I wasn't sure what songs I should put on this list. Even two years ago, we had a concert in Japan and had a poll for fans to see what songs they wanted to put in. When I compared the two lists together, they were very different. There was actually a lot more Ace Attorney requests in America, so the band was like we need to put in more Ace Attorney into our concert.
T-ONO: Are you excited to perform here in the United States?
Iwadare: I'm very excited.
T-ONO: If there is one take-home message for your fans who are watching your concert, what would it be?
Iwadare: When I perform, I am always having fun and so I want my audience to have fun too.
T-ONO: Do you have any special messages that you would like to say to your fans who couldn't make it?
Iwadare: This is my first time in America. However, if you want me to come to your hometown convention please call us. We'll try to make it there if our schedule permits. However, if you can't make it here we will also be having a concert on September 25th in Japan. Thank you very much!
Interpreter: Yusuke Osada
Interviewer: Jason Young
Photographer: Roger Lee