On the last weekend of July 2012 I travelled all the way to the town of Úbeda, Jaén, to interview the amazing Akira Yamaoka, composer of the “Silent Hill” sound tracks in person.
He was there to take part in the Play Fest event, an event that gathered lots of important personalities from the world of soundtracks between July 23rd and 29th 2012. Yamaoka also took part in an orchestrated concert that will also be covered in another article.
Akira is widely known for his soundtrack work in the “Silent Hill” games, as well as his amazing guitar skills, and I just had to take advantage of this chance to ask some questions. Many fans and readers of musicJAPANplus submitted their questions, and the following are the chosen ones.
Enjoy the interview!
– Have you ever thought about making a new solo album?
Yes, in fact, I am working on it. The music is obviously different from the usual “Silent Hill” music, and it should be released by the end of the year. I hope you will enjoy it.
– Are there any musical artists that inspire your soundtracks? Do you think you’ve been influenced by anyone in particular?
Trent Reznor, from NIN, is my main inspiration, both performing and in music style. One of my dreams is to meet him someday, but I haven’t had the chance so far.
As for the second question, when I travel around the world I see a lot of people that take inspiration from my work. In particular, when these fans are very young, so young that they couldn’t have possible played the first “Silent Hill” game when it first came out, it makes me feel prouder. This is because they grow an interest in the games through my music, so they go and play the original game because of my work in it. That makes me really happy.
– Have you considered performing more concerts in Spain, in other places such as Barcelona?
Of course! I want to go to Madrid and to Barcelona, too. But more than anything, I want to go to Figueres, where Salvador Dali was born. Dali is my favorite artist, or at least one of my favorite ones. I know there is a hall that he designed (Dali’s Theatre Museum), but I am not sure if performing there would be possible. Still, it’s my dream concert hall.
– Which one of the Silent Hill songs is your favorite and why?
Maybe “Theme of Laura”. It’s widely known and popular amongst many fans, who love it even more than I do, and that kind of brings me closer to them. Because of this, I’ve become attached to it.
– Could you tell us who is the main responsible of the basic idea of Silent Hill?
Around the time Resident Evil came out, I was already part of the Konami team and we wanted to do something similar but different, too. We wanted to achieve something horrific and thrilling at the same time. Stephen King’s “The Mist” was a great source of inspiration for us. Our team was brainstorming around that idea, and everyone would give a little piece of the final product with every idea.
We loved the concept of the fog, but at the time we couldn’t manage, graphically speaking, what we wanted to ultimately achieve. So in the first game, the fog has two uses: one being the main element where the game develops around. The other use was to help us achieving background and building graphics easily by “hiding” them with the fog. The Playstation system didn’t allow us to go as far as we would have wanted to. But later, with systems such as Playstation 2 or 3, the fog effect was done a lot better and without the need of hiding graphics.
– In the first song of the series there’s a song called “Esperándote”, which is in Spanish. How did you come up with the idea of including a song in Spanish?
Even before starting working on Silent Hill, I’ve loved Spanish music for a long time. Not necessarily flamenco, but other genres as well. For me, it’s the passion in the songs that make me love them so much. Spanish music sounds beautiful, as well as dark at times, and Silent Hill is dark but also beautiful. So it was a perfect match in the end. It’s all about exploring the beauty behind the horror.
– And finally, could you tell us about your work in Silent Hill Revelation 3D? How do you feel about the experience and the final product of both the soundtrack and the film?
The experience was extremely interesting in many ways. Since I’d been part of the Silent Hill team since the beginning, as the concept of the movie started to work out I could just relate every detail, scene and character with every game. I enjoyed the process so much because not only was it interesting, but also very, very nostalgic. It was a succession of memories, one after the other, so I was really happy remembering the work I had done back then when working in these games. All the fans will enjoy it for sure, and it’s going to be awesome.
Thank you, Akira!
Text and pictures: Elisa