Jun Senoue interview by Sonic Central (April 2004)
From Sonic Retro
Sonic Central: How does one go about writing a video game soundtrack? Do you play the game several times to become familiar with the levels?
Jun Senoue: There're lots of ways to write the songs for the soundtrack. Most of the time I have to write the songs without being able to play the game...it's purely passed on my discussions with the game designers or artists...but it's still really cool.
If we have the game and I can either play or watch some footage, it's much easier since I can match the tempo with the feeling of the game. Talking about the theme songs for each team, I wrote 4 brand new songs for each of the teams after previewing the opening movies for each story.
Sonic Central: How closely do you work with the members of Sonic Team?
Jun Senoue: I still officially belong to Wave Master, but ever since I moved to San Francisco over three years ago, I've been an active member of Sonic Team USA. I work very closely with the game designers, programmers and artists and I have a great relationship with them, both personally and professionally.
Sonic Central: Do you select the other musicians to collaborate with on the soundtrack? If so, how do you go about choosing them?
Jun Senoue: Yes, I usually do all the groundwork myself. When writing a song, I usually have some idea of which singers or musicians I would like to work with. It was so cool that I was able to team up with Amir and Ryan of "Julien-K" on the writing of the theme song for Team Dark. They are in another big name band and Julien-K is their new side project. The Team Dark theme song will be their first release. At this moment, we have plans to release the soundtrack CD for the Japanese market only, but soon there is going to be a CD soundtrack for U.S. fans; I'll let you know more details when I have more information...so stay tuned.
Jun Senoue: I pretty much used the same formula in creating this soundtrack, but there were many things that I did differently. This time my goal was to create music that fit each stage or situation more than ever.
Sonic Central: You've said before that you always have a lot of ideas for songs. Do you get inspiration during your workday or does it come to you at odd times?
Jun Senoue: Actually there really isn't much time to get inspired at the office since I'm quite busy. Some of my ideas come to me while driving down the freeway, but sometimes ideas come to me while cruising the halls of Sega on my breaks. I usually track most of my ideas on my mini-disc recorder or write music on just about any piece of paper that's most handy. I even try to keep the melody in my head until I can track it on an instrument that's most handy…usually my guitar. Once I have the bits and pieces, I can arrange them to see what happens. My house is just full of guitars and music notes everywhere. (smiles)
Sonic Central: What is your typical day at Sega like?
Jun Senoue: There really is no typical day at Sega, since it's not a typical 9 to 5 job. If anyone out there is aspiring to be a music director in this business, these words most come to mind…a typical day is "unusual" or "crazy."
Sonic Central: If you could be the lead guitarist in any band in the world for a day, which one would it be?
Jun Senoue: I would love to play for the Foo Fighters or play rhythm guitar for Garbage.
Sonic Central: You've been creating music for the Sonic series since Sonic The Hedgehog 3 in 1993. Do you have a favorite Sonic game?
Jun Senoue: I actually like all of them. I've been a huge Sonic fan ever since he first appeared. I love most all of the Sonic series except Sonic R, which I could not play well...although I like the music. Sonic Heroes is a blast to play and I think it's one of the best action games out there. I tested it in my studio on GameCube with the Dolby pro logic 2 system and it sounds awesome. I hope everyone else will love it too
- Original Interview at Sonic Central.