Naofumi Hataya on Sonic the Hedgehog CD Original Soundtrack:
We have the efforts of Sonic Generations Sound Producer Senoue in the event known as Sonic’s 20th anniversary and the soundtrack of a nostalgic title has been up for sale! I want to try to look back on those days while recalling them idly.
At that time, from Genesis that could only use FM6ch (the replacement of PCM1ch), PSG3 sound, and Noise to SEGA CD that could use CD-DA, the degree of freedom of the sound production largely extended. SEGA took this opportunity, spent the budget properly, and decided to aim at a higher place in order to make not the game music so far but quality things same as music CD. As all of you know, there was a trend in which we appointed Mr. Nakamura of Dreams Come True in Sonic the Hedgehog and Sonic the Hedgehog 2 of Genesis, and as for the opening and ending themes of Sonic CD, it had been decided that we got help from the music production company Being, which was the most powerful in the music industry at that time. (Being is where B’z and others belong to.)
With the arrangement of Being, the vocal was by the artist Ms. Keiko Utoku originally affiliated with Mi-Ke. For the lyrics and rap, we were able to request Mr. Casey Rankin who had been active in the rock band Shogun. It’s especially deeply impressive that Mr. Casey was a very openhearted person. He brought two black friends to the recording. It was so enjoyable to record tentative songs along with them, and furthermore, we were absorbed experiencing the professional scene of the frontline music industry. In addition to the opening and ending themes, I also performed a part of the recording and mixdown of compositions inside the game in Being’s pre-production room, and I learned the job procedures of music industry.
Although the quality of the opening and ending themes was done aloft, the path all the way to here was not smooth. The music production of SEGA’s top title Sonic was not that lenient.
The director of Sonic CD is Mr. Naoto Ohshima, who is also Sonic’s creator. He is a passionate person and a concept demon, too. This job started from when I made the theme songs … but it was a crushing failure even though I submitted some demos with Masafumi Ogata (the music of this game was a collaboration with him) in the beginning. The concept demon was not lenient. I do not remember at all that the communication existed in what kind of expressions concretely at that time. However, the impression made with “perhaps about this kind of impression” was probably ended up being conveyed. I remember that strong concept was demanded and that I was forced to redo it. Come to think of it, this Sonic CD might be the beginning that I have come to be able to highly regard how I would form a concept in doing my job later on.
Setting up a strategy meeting with Ogata, the one that became the concept motive was the way Sonic was adopted in the United Kingdom. In the club culture, the character Sonic became slipmats that DJs used and was a being that seemed to turn into the covers of fashion magazines. Just then, it was the first half of 90’s, the time when club music started to infiltrate into Japan’s general public as well. It had also already become the closest music to us who were making desktop music. Through the technique called sampling, the much-heard techno and house music were full of various ideas. Thus it turned out that we tried to make the music of Sonic CD with club music (techno and house music in a broad sense meaning).
Naturally, there was a necessity in connection with the game, too. We had “time warp” in one of the game’s keywords. By altering the past, the future will change. The good future and the bad future. The mechanical and bad future invaded by Eggman. The uninvaded, nature-reserved good future. (It is also an era where the words like “ecology” were popular.) It was easy to capture the ideas for the approach of the sampling music in the settings as well.
Presenting the demo of the theme songs again was from me, who was in charge of the ending theme. It was the prerequisite known as vocal songs, so I tried to present the vocal part of the demo with voice sampling. In order to produce the funkiness, there is also something that I wanted to let them hear the grooviness of the song. That accomplished the role that provides the characteristic in the atmosphere which the entire demo carried. For the rest, when I explained the whole concept along with the background, Director Ohshima was fully convinced. Thereupon, I proceeded at last.
There was nothing like Twitter, bulletin boards, and others like now and it was an era where the reviews of the released games were not passed along at all, but regardless of inside and outside the company, we received praises that the music was good. At the same time of being surprised, I actually felt the result of the production. My bonus assessment was good, too. (Laughs) It is not “What one likes, one will do well,” but I was absorbed when producing them, and my life of producing new music at day and of moving to the external studio recording at night did not turn into suffering at all, either. I had loaded the memory of the sampler to the maximum as well, and what’s more, I had always worked out the ideas in my mind.
It turned out that we could use CD-DA with the game media becoming CD-ROM and we intended to know weeeeell the opinions of the pros and cons which that matter caused in game music, but as a part of the production, so long as the restriction disappeared, all were the games of ideas without making good reasons no matter how they were accepted, and it became an experience to seriously feel how important the concept design was.
There is no mistake that Sonic CD was also an extremely important title in my history. If the people who listen to this CD would listen while recalling the respective memories and era’s sceneries of 20 years ago, they might come exactly! (What would they be?)
Bubble … (looking into the distance)