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Live Q & A with Yoko Shimomura

From Kingdom Hearts Database
Live Q & A with Yoko Shimomura
Yoko Shimomura interview slide.png

Earlier today, Kingdom Hearts series composer Yoko Shimomura sat down for an interview about the upcoming Kingdom Hearts - III, II.8, Unchained χ & Union χ (Cross) - Original Soundtrack. The interview can be read below.:

Interviewer:"So Shimomura-san, there have been multiple Kingdom Hearts soundtrack CDs in the past, but this is the first one has been released simultaneously, and amazingly, worldwide simultaneously. Shimomura, may we have a word on this occasion?
Shimomura:"Yes I'm very honored from this instant, I'm very happy that people--fans-- all over the world can listen to my music, and I hope that a lot fans can listen to my music."

Interviewer:"In this section, we'd like to feature questions sent in advance from fans from our Dearly Beloved Kingdom Hearts fans. And we'll have Shimomura-san answer them live. We'd like to thank everyone who sent in the questions. Thank you very much. Shall we start?"
Shimomura [in English]:"Yes O.K."

Interviewer:"The first question: Was there a moment when you decided you wanted to pursue making music for games?"
Shimomura:"Yes. Um.. simply speaking... I had love for music ever since I was small, but at the same time [games] became one of my biggest hobbies. So that's why I thought music, and game[s]--a job which could do both--yes, a game music composer. That is why I think this is my perfect job for me.

Interviewer:"Second question: What musicians, past or present, inspire you, or inspired you and why?"
Shimomura:"I have many composers who I dearly love, but number one would be Chopin, and Rachmaninoff. Um, people who have listened to my music probably can see the influence gotten from the both composers.

Interviewer:"Third question: If you could only play one song of yours for someone who had never heard of Kingdom Hearts, what song would it be, and why?"
Shimomura:"Um, it's really hard for me to chose one, but if I must, it would be the title song Dearly Beloved. It is a title song and also it has been a song that has been with the game since the very beginning. Um, so I think it's one of the iconic song. That's why I would choose Dearly Beloved.

Interviewer:"Next question: You've been working on the series for almost 20 years, Shimomura-san! How has this experience influenced you as a composer?"
Shimomura:"Um, with this, working on this title, uh, Kingdom Hearts, um, I know that many fans um like this game, and like my music. And a lot of [you], your cheers, your voices, your comments, really cheer me up. At times in my personal life I have hardships to overcome, but always your voices help me to cheer myself up. And it really motivates me to proceed forward. So I'd like to express my deepest gratitude to all [of] my fans who love my music."
Interviewer:"Such wonderful comments, thank you very much."
Shimomura [in English]:"Thank you very much."

Interviewer:"Next question: Who is your favorite Kingdom Hearts character?"
Shimomura:"So I have to choose... again. So if I have to choose my favorite character, as I've been saying from [my interviews in the early stages] it would be Riku, but I do love all the characters."

Interviewer:"Next question: Dearly Beloved is one of the most important pieces in the entire series. When you are tasked with composing for a new game, how do you come back to this theme and give it with a new approach each time? The latest example being from Melody of Memory."
Shimomura:"So um, I always think what to do for each and every version--each and every game--and so I try to think fresh, and new. For example, for [Kingdom Hearts II|II], I would have this image, or for [Kingdom Hearts III], I would have this image. So I would have my own personal image, I will build my image first. Then, next I would clear out my mind, and try to cultivate within me all the images of the game I'm working on, and to let it all out. That is what I do.
Interviewer:"It is really wonderful, way to make music."
Shimomura:"Thank you very much."

Interviewer:"Next question: I'd like to ask which battle soundtrack was your favorite to compose and why? I always get excited when I hear battle music as well!"
Shimomura:"So I have to choose... again. It's really hard for me to choose the best battle song, because I have put all my emotions into all the songs. But, if I had to choose one, it would be Xion's, Vector to the Heavens. This is because a lot of fans like this battle song, and a lot of fans say that this is their favorite song. People tell me that it really moves their heart and it really makes them cry. So I'm really happy that all my fans think that way, and because it's my fan's favorite I am gonna have to with Vector to the Heavens. It's really important, the fan's voices are really important." [In English:] "Thank you"

Interviewer:"Next question: How did you manage to create new themes for existing Disney worlds that already have iconic soundtracks? Was it not difficult to create new themes that differ from the original movie soundtrack?"
Shimomura:"Yes, the fact is, I have been a big fan of Disney music, and the world of Disney ever since I was small. So I adored Disney music from when I was small. And even the new movies--the new Disney atmosphere and the world--, I do adore them. But, the problem is that if I listen to the music too much, it'll be very similar, I will get too much influence from the music itself. So as I said with Dearly Beloved, what I try to do is to have a lot of input regardless of genre. Watching movies, listening to music, and to fill myself up with a lot of inspirations, and to make myself flat ones. Then, to think of the image of Kingdom Hearts and to let my image--and everything I have put into myself--let it flow out. Yes it is very hard at times, but the creation process is really a joy for me."

Interviewer:"Moving on to the final question, which is actually not from Twitter or Facebook, but we are very keen to know. You have picked ten songs from the new Kingdom Hearts III soundtrack, can you tell us a bit about each of them?"
Editors note: These are ten songs that are available on Apple Music ahead of the soundtrack's release.

Dearly Beloved - KINGDOM HEARTS III Version-
Shimomura:"So yes, I have to chose... AGAIN. Yes I have chosen ten songs out of the soundtrack and the first track is Dearly Beloved - KINGDOM HEARTS III Version-. As I have been explaining throughout this session, it is the title iconic song. It is a song that is played behind the title screen, so I think it is very iconic. And currently, it is the latest version of Dearly Beloved."

Toy Box Jam
Shimomura:"The second song is Toy Box Jam, my image for Kingdom Hearts is filled with bright and fun battle music, so that is why I chose this Toy Box Jam."

Monstropolis Now
Shimomura:"The third song is Monstropolis Now it is a fun song with a comical touch. And you get the image of Monsters kind of waddling and walking bit by bit. So that is why I chose this fun number, Monstropolis Now."

Frozen Wonderland
Shimomura:"The fourth song is Frozen Wonderland, at first I thought I might have a little of a hard time thinking of a tune because of the image of Frozen being so big, but once I started working on it, it was pretty easy. The ice--image of ice and snow-- I think I was able to put that image into the song and also because the northern hemisphere is entering the season of winter, I thought this tune would be perfect."

No Surrender!
Shimomura:"The fifth song is No Surrender!. This is one of the boss songs and the composer who I'm working with--Mr. Ishimoto-- is writing most of the boss songs. But I was allow-- I wrote two boss songs within this game, and so that is why I chose this fifth number which is No Surrender!"

Stranded Beyond
Shimomura:"The sixth number is Stranded Beyond, this is kind of a lonely tune--a melancholic tune, with an image of heading toward the end. This is the sixth one I chose."

Scala ad Caelum
Shimomura:"The seventh number is Scala ad Caelum. Actually, this wasn't first introduced in [Kingdom Hearts III], but it was earlier. But it really for me personally, I really felt the flow, and the fate that this tune is reoccurring again. And this atmosphere which I cannot explain with words I really like this atmosphere that this tune is trying to express. That is why I chose the seventh number Scala ad Caelum."

Edge of Existance
Shimomura:"The eighth number is Edge of Existence, it's a battle song, but it's not so heavy, and not so drastic, but it really conveys the feeling of moving towards the end--the feeling of 'yes, it's entering the last phase!' is really expressed in this number. So again, this is the nuance that I can't explain with words, but I really like the feeling and atmosphere that this melody--this tune is trying to express.

Shimomura:"The ninth tune is Nactflügel, this is the song, this is a new song, a new piece I wrote for the downloadable content ReMind. And this is a very piano concerto-ish piece which I have challenged myself."

Wave of Darkness I
Shimomura:"The tenth number is Wave of Darkness I. In this selection of ten songs, I've decided to choose tunes from every disk, and this is a number from Kingdom Hearts 2.8, and I really have fond memories with this number because I was blessed with the opportunity to play live with the orchestra with the music video playing in the background. So I really have good memories with this. And because it's from [Kingdom Hearts HD 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue] I have this image that this tune is kind of a bridge that goes across to Kingdom Hearts III so that is why this tune is very dear to me."

Interviewer:"Thank you very much."

Interviewer:"I would like to ask Shimomura-san for her comments regarding this digital release to the whole world.
Shimomura:"It's really a great honor for me that my music and such a vast amount of my music is being released digitally worldwide at the same time. Meaning that all of you fans can have access to all of my music at the same time, and I'm very honored. And I'm very happy that many fans will be able to listen to my music that'll be digitally released. I don't think that this can happen all the time. Digitally released, global, at once, and I'm very honored."

Interviewer:"Thank you very much for this wonderful opportunity. I'd like to ask you for some remarks to wrap up today's talk session. Could you give a message to the fans watching worldwide with their thoughts on this exciting international, digital release?"
Shimomura:"Thank you very much for this opportunity. I have to apologize that I have kept you fans waiting after the release of the game itself. But, it is very high in volume in songs not only from Kingdom Hearts III, but also from the downloadable content, and also the numerous music that had not become a soundtrack. They are all included in this digital release. A lot of music means a lot of time for you to listen. But I sincerely hope you take your time to listen to my beloved music and also to spend time with my music and to find your favorite song from this soundtrack. Thank you very, very much." [In English]:"Thank you!"

With this interview, the Kingdom Hearts - III, II.8, Unchained χ, and Union χ (Cross) - Original Soundtrack can be pre-ordered on Spotify and Apple Music. More details here.

A link to the interview video can be found here.

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