If you have ever picked up a copy of Final Fantasy I through ad infinitum, then surely, you know the name Nobuo Uematsu. And if you don’t, and you claim to be a fan of the Final Fantasy series, then I’m calling you out. Because at this point, there’s no sense in trying to explain the greatness of a man who has brought so many gamers (and people, worldwide) musical joy and euphoria.
Uematsu-san is the Japanese composer behind nearly all of the music heard throughout the Final Fantasy series (As well as in Kingdom Hearts). He recently paid the UCLA campus a visit to promote his newest band, Earthbound Papas and their newest CD, Dancing Dad, giving me the opportunity to interview one of the biggest names in the video game industry and getting some personal insight on Earthbound Papas.
The event itself included a few, chosen members of UCLA’s talented Video Game Orchestra and Choir, who would be performing various pieces from Final Fantasy games for Uematsu-san and the members of Earthbound Papas in an open, Meet-and-Greet signing open to the public, hosted by UCLA student, Meagan Yip and Shion of Babel Entertainment.
With the assistance of fellow Uematsu fan–as well as my UCLA liaison–first-year student Ricky Rowland (Featured above with Uematsu-san and sporting a shirt from another Uematsu-event), we conducted the interview, as well enjoyed as the concert that followed afterwards.
The event took place at UCLA’s Moore Hall, where Uematsu-san’s entourage had their table set up where fans could purchase CD’s, posters, and other memorabilia to be signed and autographed later during the event.
Among many of the people who made this a success was Uematsu-san’s translator, Brandon McInnis, who, during both the interview and the duration of the Meet and Greet, was happy to translate many fan questions for Uematsu and the Earthbound Papas from Japanese into English and vice-versa.
Suffice to say, the auditorium was packed to the brim:
And now, without further ado, the Jace Hall Show exclusive interview with Nobuo Uematsu:
Jacqueline Cottrell: What was your inspiration to create the Earthbound Papas?
Nobuo Uematsu: Well, originally, we weren’t the Earthbound Papas, we were the Black Mages. We did some shows, including one in Las Vegas with the Orchestra, but as you know, we couldn’t continue on as the Black Mges for various reasons. For certain members, it just didn’t work with their schedules. We had to replace some members to continue on as Earthbound Papas.
JC: Why the name, “Earthbound Papas”?
NU: (Uematsu laughs)
JC: You must get this question a lot.
NU: Let me ask you, what do you personally think of when you hear the name, “Earthbound Papas”? What’s the first thing that comes to your mind?”
JC: “(Laughs) The video game “Earthbound”.”
JC: “And I think there was a band that had an album called “Earthbound” as well, wasn’t there?”
NU: That’s right. There’s a rock band called “King Crimson” that has an album called “Earthbound”. (Laughs) I had that and I thought, why don’t I go with that? But, the name “Earthbound” by itself is strong and sharp–and everyone in the band are old men. (More laughter).
JC: “Can you tell me more about the band, as well as it’s endeavors; past, present, and future?”
NU: “Before, as the Black Mages, we had a setup of drums, keyboards, guitars, and base, obviously. It was five people total. But what’s different about Earthbound Papas is that we’ve added four vocalists; two male and two female, and that’s one of the stark contrasts in between Black Mages and Earthbound Papas. It’s the same concept as before–we’re taking my music and we’re…”rockifying” it. At the same time, we’re also creating brand new tracks for Earthbound Papas that the world has never even heard of before. But, at this point, we don’t have enough experience with Earthbound Papas yet–so, as far as your question about our goals and our futures, we’d like to increase the number of shows we do, as well as our experience.”
JC: “No, I fully understand. Well, that leads into my next question: How is your work with Earthbound Papas different or similiar to your work with Distant Worlds?”
NU: “(Laughs) Well, aside from the obvious (it’s rock music versus orchestral), the biggest difference I can think of off the top of my head is that people stand when they listen to Earthbound Papas, and they sit down when they watch Distance Worlds. It’s an entirely different setting.”
JC: “I know, I saw the one in Chicago and it was one of the most amazing experiences of my life.”
NU: (Laughs again) “Thank you very much.”
JC: “As far as songs that you haven’t covered yet in the past (Either with the Black Mages or Distant Worlds), which songs would you like to perform in the future as Earthbound Papas?”
NU: “Ahh, let’s see…(laughs) God, there’s so many. (Thinks)…”
JC: “Uh-oh, have I stumped the great composer?”
NU: “No, no! (Laughs again) This is great! I’ve never been asked this before and there’s so many songs I’d like to do. So, there’s a song called “For Those Who Fight” which appears in Advent Children. Have you seen it?”
JC: “I have!”
NU: “Yeah, it’s that song that plays in the background during the fight scene in the church where Tifa’s fighting–the “ta-ta-ta-ta”. I want to make a rock-version of that for Earthbound Papas.”(Note: The song in question is this one—)
NU: I also want to make a rock version of the songs from Super Smash Brothers as well.
NU: (Laughs) I thought, how cool would it be to make a rock version of Smash Brothers and add in vocals to it. So, those are just a few of the ones I’d like to have Earthbound Papas perform.”
JC: “Do you feel as though your work through Distant Worlds, Final Fantasy, and the Earthbound Papas is changing the world of music as you see it?”
NU: (Pause) Ah…wait, let me stop and think about this one. (Laughs again) Ah…I’ve only thought of things that I want to do. I ask myself, “What do I want to do? What do I want to do?”. I can’t go out into the world thinking, “Okay, I’m going to do something that makes everyone happy”. You know? No, instead, I can only think of things that make me happy and hope that what I create will influence others.”
JC: Great, I have a couple of more questions and then we’re done–and these are just for fun and my own curiosity.”
NU: “(Laughs) Go for it.”
JC: “Okay. Out of all of the songs you’ve composed for Final Fantasy, as well as your other works including Kingdom Hearts and other series you’ve worked on, who would you say is your favorite character?”
NU: Um….let’s see…there really are so many, since I’ve worked on so many, but I’d definitely have to say that my favorite is “To Zanarkand” from Final Fantasy X is my favorite.”
JC: That was honestly the first Final Fantasy game I’d ever played, so I agree (Laughs). Okay, last question. I want to end this on a great note, so I’ll ask the one question I’ve always wondered:
If you had to compose a symphony for yourself, revolving around your life, and the work you’ve done, what do you think it would sound like?
NU: (Laughs)/(Pauses a long time)…
JC: I love to make people think.NU: (Laughs again, continues thinking) It definitely wouldn’t be orchestra–I think rock would work a lot better. It would probably be something simple; like a piano solo, I think.” ——— There are so few meetings and moments in our lives that leave indelible marks upon us as human beings–Sitting down and talking face-to-face with the Godfather of all video game music definitely ranks highest on my list of those meetings and moments. I’d like to thank Uematsu-san, his managers, his entourage, and of course, The Jace Hall Show, for allowing me a few moments to sit and talk with him, as well as all of the students responsible for hosting Uematsu-san and The Earthbound Papas.
“The true mission of the violin is to imitate the accents of the human voice, a noble mission that has earned for the violin the glory of being called the king of instruments” - Charles-Auguste de Beriot
There are some who believe that the violin is the most difficult instrument to play; move your finger a centimeter off the mark and you’re playing an entirely different note. Bend your elbow too much (or not enough) and the bow will slide off the strings and give nails on a chalkboard a run for its money.
But it’s more than the degree of difficulty that draws people to the violin: the violin continues to be a literal bridge between music and so many art forms that inspire our decisions and provide us an escape.
In the video game community, the violin has added longevity and helped us to re-imagine our favorite gaming moments. Taylor Davis (YouTube: ViolinTay) has channeled her passion and love for video games into the violin, to the tune of 23 million views and 160,000 subscribers.
I found out in our my INTERVIEW with Taylor that she started playing the violin in elementary school and assumed it would just be something to keep in her life as an escape or hobby as she pursued a possible business career. But the ability to connect video games with the violin has allowed her to become a full-time musician, a person who doesn’t always need a controller to enjoy gaming.
Naturally I had a number of questions to ask her — here’s our EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW with Taylor Davis: Continue reading “How Taylor Davis’ Violin Is Capturing The Gaming World” »
The last time we featured Buckner and Garcia was in the Jace Hall Show’s rendition of “Pac Man Fever” Pac Man redux. For those of you who aren’t privy, the song “Pac Man Fever” set a precedent for video game inspired music, becoming the first song inspired by a video game to crack the Billboard top 10, in 1982. The Buckner & Garcia band was also the group behind the title song for Disney’s “Wreck-it-Ralph.”
Fast forward to today, where Jerry Buckner and the team over at Caffeinated Games have created “Cafeteria Food Riot”, a fun game you can take anywhere that puts you right in the middle of a food fight. Jerry Buckner told us: Continue reading ““Pac Man Fever” Creators Have Created a Video Game Bonus: You Get To Start a Food Fight” »
Boston’s Powerglove is an exception to the rule that “instrumental bands can’t be successful”– with albums like Total Pwnage, Metal Kombat, and Saturday Morning Apocalypse, the boys have managed to take instrumentals and make them relevant again. How? By making tracks like “Dr. Wily’s Theme” from Mega Man 2 into full-fledged sonic assaults, or turning music from Sonic the Hedgehog 2 into a swell little metal ditty called “So Sexy Robotnik.”
For Powerglove, sexy and video game music go hand in hand. We sat down with bass guitarist Nick Avila to talk about video game music and the band’s plans for the future.
JHS: What inspired you to get your start as an all-instrumental band?
Nick Avila (Powerglove): The four of us had been been in a melodic death metal band together in 2002 and in 2004 Powerglove was started as a side project. We just ended up having more fun with Powerglove than we were having with our old band. Continue reading “How Classic Video Games Helped One of the World’s Biggest Metal Bands, POWERGLOVE, Make It To The Top” »
In the world of video game composing, fewer are more revered and beloved than Jason Graves, he of both Blazing Angels 2 and Star Trek: Legacy soundtrack fame. The guy paid his dues studying under such legends as Elmer Bernstein and Jerry Goldsmith before hitting the big time with his score for the Dead Space franchise.
Most recently, it’s Graves’ Tomb Raider score that’s earning him accolades both amongst professionals fans alike, particularly for his complete re-imagining of the theme (as well as his diverse musical talents in composing it). Continue reading “Exclusive: Tomb Raider, Dead Space Composer Jason Graves Explains The Secrets To a Great Gaming Soundtrack” »
There’s no one out there we’d rather talk to about the carnage of Call of Duty (and guns, and video games in general) than Chris Barnes — lead vocalist for Six Feet Under, and former singer for one of the most revered/infamous American metal bands of all time, Cannibal Corpse.
It’s his music that’s consistently made the hit lists of everyone from Bob Dole to the PMRC (Parents Music Resource Council), much in the same fashion games like Call of Duty are still a favorite target for so many politicians and news outlets in this post-Columbine/post-Newtown world. Barnes goes back a long way with gaming, and this past week we got a chance to talk with him about a few things — particularly the media attack on music and games that’s still in fashion after so many years.
JHS: You’re a huge Call of Duty guy…any other first person shooters you’re feeling as of late?
Just Black Ops. I’m not really into Modern Warfare or anything — Black Ops is pretty much all I play. It’s been consuming my life for the past year or so, pretty much (laughs). Continue reading “EXCLUSIVE: Talking Call of Duty, Violence, and Video Games With SIX FEET UNDER / CANNIBAL CORPSE Frontman Chris Barnes” »
One might think being signed to the world’s biggest metal label is pretty much a straight ticket to greatness. Yet ask Denver, Colorado quintet Allegaeon (pronounced ‘ahleejun’) and you’ll find a band that’s had to work their asses off to get where they are. Combine the faithful tour stereotypes – a rigorous, back-breaking tour schedule, complete with broken-down tour van and the occasional bitter crowd – with an incessant attempt to push technical/genre limits (8-string guitars, songs about science, mechs, and anthropology, crazy time signatures), and you’re only getting half of the equation.
We sat down with one the guitarists, Greg Burgess, to shed light on what it’s like being on one of the genre’s rising stars.
JHS: First off: I know a few of you guys are fairly active gamers. What have you been playing lately?
Greg Burgess: The whole Gears of War franchise still blows me away, I’m still playing those quite often. Assassin’s Creed series is pretty awesome, starting on that now. I know Ez (Ezra, singer) has been playing FarCry 3. Continue reading “Making The Label: Exclusive Interview with ALLEGAEON, Metal’s Nerdiest (and Hardest-Working) New Band” »
Atlanta’s self-proclaimed ‘party-friendly rap group’, Mighty High Coup has been experiencing something of a boon this past year. In 2010, their breakthrough song ’808 Track’, done with famed electronic musician Bassnectar, garnered over a million views on YouTube, — and most recently, their duet with Caspa broke through the Top 50 on the Dubstep charts.
And a lot like Bassnectar, MHC has made it their mission to make their live shows more than just a purely musical event. Featuring lots of
great asses Boom Girls, ‘circus-esque’ shows and live interactive art performances by celebrated artists like King Gorilla, the MHC has worked to make their shows a fully interactive event. We recently sat down with the group at the Jace Hall offices to discuss collaborations, choosing booty, and plans for the future. Continue reading “Atlanta’s ‘Party Friendly Rap Group’, Mighty High Coup, Tells Us How To Mix Booty With Bass” »
Their newest video, “Halo 4 (John 1:17)”, is a tribute to Master Chief’s ongoing battle against the Covenant, with a special focus on the franchise’s storied mythology.
The song is actually the full history of Master Chief from the first game (Halo: Combat Evolved) through the books and up to the events before Halo 4 when Master Chief tries to escape in the ship “Forward Unto Dawn.”