Game Music Live – SEGA Sound Unit [H.]

Takjenoubu Mitsuyoshi + Hidenori Shoji 655

As part of our series on Japanese game music bands, allow me to introduce Takenobu Mitsuyoshi, speaking on behalf of all of SEGA Sound Unit [H.]. As one of the longest-running game music bands, they are largely responsible for the arcade SEGA sound so many of us grew up with. If you’d like to see SEGA Sound Unit [H.] perform in the West, let them know in the comments section below!

Please introduce yourselves.

We’re a group of composers called SEGA Sound Unit [H.], part of the sound department at SEGA. Over the course of a long time at SEGA, S.S.T. Band and B-univ merged to become [H.]. Among other things, we’ve performed live game-related events, including arranged versions of songs from soundtrack CDs, and in November 2011 we had our 10th anniversary. We’re working towards furthering the game music scene.

SEGA Sound Unit [H.] feat. Jun Senoue 655

How did you meet?

Myself, Hiroshi Kawaguchi, and Mitsuharu Fukuyama were all sound creators at SEGA, so that formed the backbone of our first activities together. The band was formed, with the three of us as the original line-up. Our guitarist, Hidenori Shoji, later approached me from a different department at SEGA, bringing up the subject of performing live with [H.]. We have known our drummer, Eisei Kudo, since he was a child as he’s the son of one of my classmates (senpai) from college music club. When he was a first year student in junior high school, I saw him play drums at a concert in Saitama prefecture. After showing a DVD of his playing to the rest of the band, and confirming that we’d be able to play well together, he’s been the drummer of [H.] ever since.

What was your first project together?

Before we became [H.], Hiro, Fukuyama, and I performed an event for Crackin’ DJ Part 2 at Joypolis in Tokyo. We played that game’s music there live for the first time. The first time Shoji played with us was at the AOU arcade game expo in 2005. According to him he was told, “Newcomers shouldn’t stand out! Shouldn’t stand out!” [laughs] The first time Kudo played with us was in 2008 at an event called EXTRA.

SEGA Sound Unit [H.] Mitsuharu Fukuyama 655

Why is game music important to you?

It’s the fact that in the memories of the kids who grew up listening to the songs, sound effects, vocals, and sound design I’ve created there can be a deep impression of feelings of enjoyment forever, even long after I’ve died. As well, Shoji is in the generation that “grew up with game music,” and that had a big effect on his life. I think that’s another reason.

What’s the difference between game music and other forms of music?

I think generally, of course, it’s the interactivity. Music or images alone don’t change along with a person’s feelings. Incorporating the player as much as possible, and then having the mood change very radically is something I think is very different that can’t be done in any other genre. Also, I think another piece you could raise as being special to game music is that there are many different genres of games, and by that same token there are also many different types and varieties of music.

SEGA Sound Unit [H.] Eisei Kudo 655

What’s your favourite part of performing live?

The communication with the audience and the feeling of the bond with us… there’s a lot of nervousness and tension among the band! [laughs] Also, while usually there’s a lot of composing happening alone at computers, at [H.] rehearsals new ideas come up from members, and there’s a special enjoyment in the process of recreating these songs in order to be played live.

Would you like to perform overseas live if you had the chance?

I want to! [laughs] Please have Ready Up plan and sponsor a live event for the UK! Transportation and lodging included, of course! [laughs]

SEGA Sound Unit [H.] Hiroshi Kawaguchi 655

How has game music changed over the past 25 years?

To sum it up, I think you could maybe say that the technology has continually improved to the point that right now the tools are good enough that even if you don’t understand the programs very well you can still do sound work. To that end, the boundaries between what the music industry is putting out and what we’re putting out are vanishing, and I think we’re in an age where quality and originality are what’s being demanded.

Japan Game Music Festival 2013 Setlist

Final Take Off (After Burner)
Fly High (Mushiking: King of the Beetles)
Receive You (Yakuza)
Ignite Infinity feat. Takenobu Mitsuyoshi (Phantasy Star Portable 2 Infinity)
The Sky Continuing Towards the Future (Victory Goal ’96)
After Burner Remix 2005 (After Burner Climax)

SEGA Sound Unit [H.] Takenobu Mitsuyoshi 1 655

Visit SEGA Sound Unit [H.]’s official site and follow Takenobu Mitsuyoshi on Twitter!

Thanks to John Rozewicki for translating and Inagaki-san for photos and organising the interview.

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