Metal Gear Mondays — Tactical Podcast Action

A Conversation with Kazuma Jinnouchi (Portable Ops Composer) ft. Ryan Payton

June 28, 2021 Metal Gear Mondays Season 2
A Conversation with Kazuma Jinnouchi (Portable Ops Composer) ft. Ryan Payton
Metal Gear Mondays — Tactical Podcast Action
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Metal Gear Mondays — Tactical Podcast Action
A Conversation with Kazuma Jinnouchi (Portable Ops Composer) ft. Ryan Payton
Jun 28, 2021 Season 2
Metal Gear Mondays

Dear listeners, please enjoy this delightful conversation with Metal Gear's composer extraordinaire, Kazuma Jinnouchi. Tori is joined by friend of the show, Ryan Payton, to delve into the composing process as well as some of Kazuma's personal accounts from production.

Support the Show.

Psst... did you know that you could converse with fellow listeners on our Discord? Yes, even now. Right this very moment.

Find more cool links and goodies on our Linktree. And, we have to mention the amazing Metal Gear Mondays Interactive Database that "Dragonhide" put together for us. You can search for anything across every episode. Super cool!

And, if you need to contact the show, feel free to do so using this link.

Show Notes Transcript

Dear listeners, please enjoy this delightful conversation with Metal Gear's composer extraordinaire, Kazuma Jinnouchi. Tori is joined by friend of the show, Ryan Payton, to delve into the composing process as well as some of Kazuma's personal accounts from production.

Support the Show.

Psst... did you know that you could converse with fellow listeners on our Discord? Yes, even now. Right this very moment.

Find more cool links and goodies on our Linktree. And, we have to mention the amazing Metal Gear Mondays Interactive Database that "Dragonhide" put together for us. You can search for anything across every episode. Super cool!

And, if you need to contact the show, feel free to do so using this link.

[00:00:00]
Hello again, Middlegear's men, women, everyone in between. Welcome back to the show. Coming at you

[00:00:07]
from the top to let you know that we have a very special interview episode today, not only with

[00:00:14]
friend of the show Ryan Payton, for I think the third time. Ryan has also brought us Kazama Jnuchy.

[00:00:21]
You know him of course from Portable Ops, from Peace Walker, from Middlegear Solid 4,

[00:00:27]
from Ghost in the Shell, from Halo. He's done lots of great work and he has so kindly brought some

[00:00:33]
of the stories from his days with Middlegear Solid to us. So without any further ado, I bring you

[00:00:40]
Ryan Payton and Kazama Jnuchy.

[00:00:44]
All right, we are here with Ryan Payton once again. Welcome back Ryan.

[00:00:56]
Thank you.

[00:00:57]
With him, he's brought Mr. Kazama Jnuchy. We want to give a very warm welcome to you,

[00:01:05]
sir. Thank you so much for joining us on the show.

[00:01:08]
Well, thank you for having me on the show.

[00:01:10]
Absolutely. So for those of you who aren't familiar, Kazama has been credited with

[00:01:18]
just lots of Middlegear work. We just talked before starting the recording.

[00:01:23]
It was in this order, correct me if I'm wrong, Portable Ops, Middlegear Solid 4, and then Peace

[00:01:30]
Walker. And then I don't know if it's okay to mention that Middlegear Rising was almost a thing.

[00:01:36]
Almost, yeah.

[00:01:39]
But yes, among many other things, these of course are just Metalgear titles, but

[00:01:44]
we might hopefully get into some of the other work you've done within the remainder of the episode.

[00:01:51]
Sounds good.

[00:01:53]
With that in mind, if I could start us back at the beginning,

[00:01:57]
Kazama, what was your first composing gig ever?

[00:02:01]
Oh, first composing gig ever. This includes everything, right? Even outside of video.

[00:02:09]
Yeah, absolutely.

[00:02:10]
Yeah, so my very first gig was when I was in music college in Boston, that I got to write.

[00:02:19]
There was a production music library company based in Japan, and they were looking for a

[00:02:28]
composer who can write in the style of jazz fusion. And then they were providing tracks for

[00:02:37]
shopping channel and a lot of TV shows like that. So I thought I was in jazz school, so I thought it

[00:02:46]
was a great beginning. And then so I wrote about, I think, 10 pieces of music and then just sent them.

[00:02:55]
And I think those pieces are still getting used on TV once in a while.

[00:03:01]
Oh, that's cool.

[00:03:03]
Yeah, so I still keep that relationship with that company. So occasionally I get a call from them

[00:03:08]
and I still write jazz fusion music for them. So that's so excellent.

[00:03:14]
Which is very different from what I do for video games on a daily basis.

[00:03:20]
Sure. I do think it's really interesting and it makes sense actually that jazz fusion was kind

[00:03:27]
of where you started because in metal gear in general, I feel like there are some jazzy undertones

[00:03:35]
in a lot of the music and especially in portable ops listening to the soundtrack. Just, I mean,

[00:03:40]
you can't help but groove a little bit to it. I for one, I'm very happy that it has that tone. So

[00:03:46]
yeah, I'm glad you got your start in jazz fusion. That's pretty excellent.

[00:03:51]
Right. The jazz element in metal gear really comes from Noriko Hibino, who's been with the

[00:04:00]
studio before me. And he had a lot of jazz elements embedded in his piece and that sort of became the

[00:04:09]
foundation of use of that style. And I joined the team after he left. And then I played all of the

[00:04:19]
game he worked on. So I kind of took the idea from there too. That's awesome. Yeah, just keeping

[00:04:26]
that tone and that theme kind of alive. I mean, that really helps make the games what they were.

[00:04:34]
Obviously, you're here with us during our portable ops season. And I think one of the things I think

[00:04:40]
about the most when talking about this game is the feeling that the music gives, especially when

[00:04:47]
you're sneaking through a really tense area. Right. Yeah, that was quite a challenge when I first

[00:04:55]
joined the studio because I've never written those in those style before joining the studio.

[00:05:02]
And there was lots of experienced in-house composers around me. So I learned a lot from them

[00:05:10]
to how to write. And also pulling inspiration from your favorite fusion band Yellow Jackets.

[00:05:18]
Yeah, that actually came from our co-host Warren. He wants to know if you still love the fusion

[00:05:24]
band Yellow Jackets. Well, I don't listen to the band as much anymore. But yeah, I still love

[00:05:32]
their compositions. And in my opinion, it's so well structured. And I actually have a lot of

[00:05:40]
harmonic language influenced from them. So yeah, I still go back to their harmony theory and stuff

[00:05:48]
like that. Sure. Yeah, I bet it feels a bit like home. Oh, yeah. So with your start and composing

[00:05:58]
in mind, I'm just curious, did you always know that you wanted to work in video games? And if not,

[00:06:04]
how did you find your way there? Right. So I had no idea I would end up in the video game world,

[00:06:10]
to be honest. When I was studying music, or even when I graduated, because again, I went to jazz

[00:06:19]
school. And my writing style back then was more acoustic band oriented, like horn sections and

[00:06:29]
stuff like that. And there were a lot of students in the film scoring department who studied

[00:06:37]
those orchestral electronic hybrid style. But I never went through that. So I mean,

[00:06:44]
orchestral writing to begin with, like I felt it was very, very advanced for me. And so I never

[00:06:52]
had thought about even getting into it when I graduated music school. And then so when I graduated

[00:06:59]
in the first three years, I was in the band playing guitar and doing some music compositions,

[00:07:09]
lots of music arrangements for the pop band. And that was my main thing. And so how I got into

[00:07:21]
games is it's really a coincidence. A friend of mine who I still work together, her name is Nobuko

[00:07:29]
Toda, who graduated the same music school in Boston at the same time. And she went straight to Konami.

[00:07:41]
And then she worked on Metal Gear Solid 3. And after the production ended for the three,

[00:07:48]
she gave me a call saying that, hey, our lead composer is leaving studio. And we're looking for

[00:07:57]
someone new and hopefully someone who's a new college graduate. And I wasn't a new college graduate

[00:08:05]
at the time. But she said, well, you're still 25. And you're kind of like a new college graduate. So

[00:08:13]
would you be interested? She asked me that was, I clearly remember that it was on my way home,

[00:08:22]
like around 11pm in Tokyo. And that was after I played a gig. And so I had to ask her twice that

[00:08:37]
what did you say? And she asked me if I wanted to join the studio. And so initially I said,

[00:08:45]
well, thanks for the offer, but I don't think I'm a good fit. That sounds like you.

[00:08:54]
And well, I knew her music. And she's an amazing writer with lots of different styles. And

[00:09:04]
she can do film scoring. And I was never, I've never done that before. So I told her that.

[00:09:11]
And so I don't think I'm skilled enough to do what you just asked me. That was my first response.

[00:09:18]
And then she insisted that, well, I like your music. I think your music is very evocative and

[00:09:27]
very fitting for the video game world. And we can teach you all that orchestral

[00:09:33]
electronic writing. So don't worry about the technical stuff. Just consider this offer. And

[00:09:41]
she hung up. And so I thought about this for more over a week. And then I called her again. And

[00:09:50]
I said, yes, I'm, I'd like to take on offer and submit demo for the process. And so that was

[00:10:00]
my, how I was introduced to this video game world. Well, thank goodness it worked out that way.

[00:10:08]
Yeah. Yeah, I'm glad it worked out. The, well, I had to submit the demo to the studio so that

[00:10:17]
they can evaluate if I'm actually a good candidate. So she sent me, well, we're going to work on the

[00:10:25]
music like this. So you need to be able to write something like this. And she sent me a

[00:10:30]
mettergier solid three main theme by Harry Greggs and Williams. Oh, nice. And then I was, I went,

[00:10:38]
oh my God, I can never do this. I literally had no idea how to even begin with this,

[00:10:46]
that kind of composition. And, but I started deconstructing elements here and there. And then,

[00:10:54]
and I wrote a five minute piece, and I sent to the studio and the response was very mixed at first.

[00:11:02]
And I think, I think the audio director at the time didn't really like my demo, but

[00:11:08]
the, his boss really liked what I did. That's what I heard. And so that's how I got to the

[00:11:16]
actual interview process. And so, so the interview with the audio director was a little, little

[00:11:25]
uncomfortable. So once in a while, but the, his boss who liked what I did, I think he saw

[00:11:34]
some potential in the music I wrote. We had a good conversation and I left the building

[00:11:42]
feeling that if I get in, this is going to be a pretty challenging work. And I really need to

[00:11:51]
do hard work on this. And a few days later, I got a call and I got accepted. So,

[00:11:59]
yeah, that, that was, that was the very beginning. And then when I, when I joined the studio back in

[00:12:07]
2006. So if you work full time in the, in a corporate situation, that you're given a set of

[00:12:18]
computers and sound libraries and everything you need to write music for Metal Gear. And

[00:12:24]
okay, here you go. Go write something. And, and then I was also given a PlayStation portable dev

[00:12:33]
kit on my desk and I was playing the game and I've never played a game that wasn't in development.

[00:12:39]
So that was really fun. And yeah, so I played a game feeling like, well, I'm feeling that, well,

[00:12:48]
I've never played a game without music before. And this is so interesting. And, and I'm writing

[00:12:55]
music for this scene. And how do I start? So I started asking around and well, I have no idea

[00:13:02]
where to begin with. And, and well, here, here's some inspiration and play, play these tracks.

[00:13:10]
These are the previous MGF three tracks. Play, play the game listening to this and how you,

[00:13:17]
and tell me how you feel about it. And so that, that, that became a really good reference. So,

[00:13:25]
okay, if I write, if I use this kind of instrument and then incorporate this kind of musical movement,

[00:13:33]
it might be fitting to this particular scene I'm scoring. And yeah, so it was a very slow

[00:13:41]
learning process. And it probably took like, like whole portable ops production time for me

[00:13:49]
until I get, I start to feel comfortable doing it.

[00:13:54]
Sure, I can imagine what a daunting task that must be, especially if you hadn't,

[00:14:00]
one worked in video games before, and, and two didn't have, well, I guess I should ask you this

[00:14:08]
first. Had you any experience with Metal Gear before you took the job? Were you familiar with it at all?

[00:14:15]
Well, I, my first exposure was in high school. My, my friend of mine was really, really into Metal

[00:14:24]
Gear Solid 1. And he invited me to his place. And you got to play this game. And he showed me the

[00:14:31]
opening cinematic. And, and I didn't have PlayStation at that time. And I was more into

[00:14:39]
computer programming and music and position back then. So, and all my money was spent on the computer

[00:14:46]
rather than PlayStation. And, but I vaguely remember that when I got a call, I remember that

[00:14:54]
experience. And okay, I know it's a very cinematic game. And, and, but I, I didn't play the later,

[00:15:05]
like MGS 2 or MGS 3. So, when I was offered to do an interview, I bought them all. I got a PlayStation 2

[00:15:16]
and, and all of the games that was released on the console. And I played from beginning to end.

[00:15:24]
And I also played MGS 1 as well. So, I knew the story when I took the interview. And I, I, I became a

[00:15:33]
big fan of the story. And yeah, by the time I joined the studio, I was so excited that I, I can be part

[00:15:40]
of the story, you know. Sure. I can't even imagine that that's excellent that you had the chance to

[00:15:47]
get to know it before you ended up taking the job. Because like, I can only imagine what's

[00:15:53]
extra passion that brought to the table, you know, getting to work on this thing that you

[00:15:59]
got to enjoy beforehand. I really got it worked out that way for you.

[00:16:02]
Oh, yeah. The, especially with the series title like that, you have to know the character and

[00:16:09]
you have to know all the, all of the references that, for example, MGS 4 was like, like wrapping

[00:16:16]
everything up that happened before, right? So, you have to know all these little bits and pieces

[00:16:23]
that happened in the previous game. So, yeah, I'm glad I played them all.

[00:16:28]
Well, excellent. You mentioned something previously about, I think, I think it was that you said,

[00:16:36]
you were listening to certain tracks for inspiration moving forward. One of our listeners

[00:16:42]
would love to know which games or movie scores do you take inspiration from while working on your own

[00:16:50]
music, not necessarily for games or for other people's projects, but for you?

[00:16:56]
Right. For the, well, it depends on the project you're working on, but in case of

[00:17:01]
mettergear games, a lot of it was from old Harry Gerex and Williams score, a lot of Hanzimmers,

[00:17:12]
like all media ventures, what the remote control studios used to be called.

[00:17:17]
Those electronic, orchestral hybrid scores that was produced in like 90s and early 2000s.

[00:17:27]
I drew a lot of inspirations from those soundtrack and like, for example, movie like The Rock or

[00:17:37]
the one reference track that came up during MGS4 was a movie called Man on Fire.

[00:17:49]
Ah, yes.

[00:17:49]
Yeah. So we drew a lot of inspiration from that. Lots of subtleties, which I thought was really

[00:17:58]
unique at the time for the video games and very, very adult. Yeah. Oh, and Spy Game and

[00:18:12]
yeah, stuff like that. Those 90s, early 2000s tracks. And yeah, we don't use those pieces

[00:18:22]
as a reference in the recent stuff that I worked on. But yeah, for the mettergear games, that was

[00:18:29]
where it originally started. So that's fantastic. And I suppose that makes sense,

[00:18:36]
you know, given that Harry Gerex and Williams worked on the games too. So yeah, first I need to

[00:18:41]
mention that the last question I asked you about the inspiration came from Lee, one of our patrons

[00:18:50]
and good friends of the Discord and the show. And he also asks, is there a game or movie franchise

[00:18:58]
that you would like to compose music for in the future? Or if you had a dream project?

[00:19:04]
Right. Well, dream project. Well, you know, like after getting to no mettergear was really the

[00:19:11]
first series title that I really thought like I want to work on this. And so that dream sort of came

[00:19:21]
true. Yeah. Yeah. But after having worked on a lot of the series title, I personally would love to,

[00:19:31]
like I love the process of working on the series title because it's very different from working

[00:19:36]
on the original IP from ground up. And I do love the effort that goes into the series title. And

[00:19:44]
from my perspective, I've loved to work on something not necessarily the particular title,

[00:19:51]
but something that that's trying to reboot from reboot the franchise. Yeah. Okay. Because that's

[00:19:59]
a really unique opportunity where you can have your own voice, as well as respecting the tone of

[00:20:06]
the franchise. I think that's that'll be interesting. Sure. And I'm sure I can enjoy

[00:20:12]
if any franchise gig would come to me, I'm sure I'm going to enjoy. So yeah, any reboot would be

[00:20:23]
what I look for. Yeah. Well, great. Yeah, I imagine that would pose some intriguing challenges. Like

[00:20:30]
you mentioned before stepping into the Metal Gear series, you know, you had this, the sound that

[00:20:35]
was already kind of built for you, but to be able to bring your own touch to it while still honoring

[00:20:41]
what's already there, I can imagine that would be that would be a bit of a thrill to work on.

[00:20:48]
Yeah. Like it's funny thing is every time I, no matter it's Metal Gear or Halo,

[00:20:58]
everyone who come to me and about music inspiration says, do your own thing. I never felt

[00:21:05]
that way. Like, well, there, there is this thing that's already established. So maybe I should

[00:21:11]
respect that first. And then maybe sprinkle your own taste on top of it. So really do appreciate that

[00:21:21]
people are willing to hear what I would come up. And yeah, I feel like Cosmo, that was a big part of

[00:21:28]
Halo, Halo 4 working together on that, right? Oh yeah. It was, Halo 4 wasn't a reboot,

[00:21:36]
obviously, given the four at the end of the title, but it was a brand new team. It was the first

[00:21:45]
non-bungie Halo title. And we worked to get you over to Seattle from Japan. And it was the first

[00:21:54]
Halo title not composed by Marty O'Donnell or first mainline, I should say. So in a way,

[00:22:02]
it was something of like a kind of a reboot in a sense. And I really like what you did with the

[00:22:08]
Halo 4 soundtrack. And that at times you're very much honoring Marty's original compositions,

[00:22:14]
which we talked about. And I'm really happy you did that. But also, yeah, you're able to

[00:22:19]
really just go out there and put yourself forward to give it its own mark, which you obviously did

[00:22:26]
again on Halo 5 as well. Yeah, thanks. Yeah, Halo 4 was a pretty interesting project because

[00:22:36]
given all of the legacy from Marty O'Donnell, and by the time I joined the studio, we had Neil

[00:22:43]
Davies working on lots of thematic elements. And so I joined the studio as a sort of additional

[00:22:54]
writer role. And so I had to respect both style, which ended up being a really unique blend of

[00:23:04]
two different Halo music, right? So yeah, the Halo 4 was a big puzzle to

[00:23:12]
solve for me. And yeah, and I'm very happy how it came out. That was very unique.

[00:23:19]
Yeah, I can imagine. You mentioned something earlier, real quick before I move on to another

[00:23:24]
listener question. You mentioned something about subtleties within, I think we were specifically

[00:23:32]
regarding portable ops, but I guess maybe Metal Gear in general. And it just, it dawned on me that

[00:23:38]
that's a very apt description, I think, for the series in general. Just in that,

[00:23:47]
Hideo Kojima really subverted a lot of expectations. And just about every

[00:23:56]
aspect of game development, I suppose. Did you keep that in mind while working on Metal Gear?

[00:24:02]
Well, in the beginning of Metal Gear production, at least back when I was there in the studio,

[00:24:09]
he would often leave a piece of DVD or CD that he listens to on the music lease desk.

[00:24:20]
Once you get that, you're supposed to check that out. And I think Man on Fire was one of those.

[00:24:28]
And once we are given those material as a reference, we pretty much need to stick to that

[00:24:35]
as much as possible. But we obviously need to develop on it so that we do end up having different

[00:24:47]
styles in the end. But the initial process is that it needs to be very true to the reference

[00:24:56]
material you're given. And then once you establish your own way of making that sound,

[00:25:07]
I think that's around the time when you start to expand musically and get given the scene you're

[00:25:18]
scoring to. So there is a very clear direction that comes from Hideo Kojima every time.

[00:25:30]
So we've been talking a lot about honoring the themes and the tones and the music that was set

[00:25:37]
there before you stepped in. Again, Lee, our friend on the Discord wants to know, has there ever been

[00:25:44]
a time with a director or I guess a developer where you had a disagreement about what you wanted to

[00:25:50]
do musically? And if so, were you able to resolve that in a pretty peaceful way? I guess.

[00:25:58]
In my opinion, it always needs to be a peaceful resolution. Sure, absolutely.

[00:26:05]
When you think about your position in the production, obviously the director has wider

[00:26:16]
view of what's happening. And we focus on the very granular material musically. And sometimes we do

[00:26:26]
get lost. So I think it's a very refreshing to have that disagreement. And then usually you

[00:26:37]
notice something you didn't notice before. And that usually becomes a really good inspiration.

[00:26:44]
So in my opinion, I think I should better listen to that rather than insisting my own view of my

[00:26:54]
own narrow view of the project. Sure, that's a great answer. If I find whatever the idea that

[00:27:02]
was presented is wrong, I should first try and then determine how that's not appropriate.

[00:27:11]
And then I think at that point, it's my responsibility to explain that to the director.

[00:27:18]
Have you had a lot of instances like that or has it been mostly pretty smooth rolling?

[00:27:24]
In case of Metal Gear, I was the bottom end of the hierarchy in terms of a theme structure. So

[00:27:32]
it was always my boss presenting the music to the director. So not a lot of chance for you to

[00:27:39]
disagree. Every time he comes back from the review, well, here's the note. Just finish these tasks

[00:27:47]
and then move on. But working on Halo games, which I had a lot of opportunity talking to

[00:27:58]
executive producers, directors. Luckily, Halo franchise has been very smooth for me. They

[00:28:08]
seem to like what I did. And we always had a very constructive conversation. So

[00:28:18]
Speaking of experiences differing between movies and video games, another listener and friend

[00:28:26]
in our Discord, Alex H, would like to know, were there any differences in your approach to composing

[00:28:32]
for a video game movie like Detective Pikachu as opposed to a video game in general?

[00:28:39]
Well, it is a very, very different process. And well, the big difference is the technical

[00:28:49]
aspect of scoring two different mediums. Video games, very program oriented implementation. And

[00:28:58]
film is purely music editing and how we score frame by frame literary. And

[00:29:12]
so technically, there is a big difference. But musically speaking, I think there are

[00:29:22]
similarities where where to respect the franchise and where to be original. That aspect is

[00:29:33]
it's always a balance. So the ratio might be different based on the project. But

[00:29:39]
the fact that you do need to have established a certain balance that's right for the title you're

[00:29:47]
working on, I think that aspect is the same. Just the technical approach is different.

[00:29:54]
Yeah. Okay. Are you more interested in working with movies or video games? Or is it is it pretty

[00:30:02]
much a mixed bag for you? I do like working both, working on both, to be honest. There are

[00:30:08]
our video game scores always always interesting given the technology we get to deal with. And then

[00:30:18]
plus, since I in the last 15 years, I became I feel like I became very fluent in working in

[00:30:29]
the video game world. And I really do enjoy the process of crafting the music for the video game.

[00:30:37]
And and then I love seeing the product come together and and have a cohesive feel. You know,

[00:30:45]
like music is usually I think music is a glue to every elements of the game, you know, like little

[00:30:54]
character movement to like environment, everything like once, well, this is just how I feel about

[00:31:02]
it. But once you have music in like, it feels like everything connects. So I really like, like,

[00:31:11]
when you start feeling, feeling the what the space is supposed to be like and or like, yeah,

[00:31:20]
like when you feel the air through music or like even a smell or I like that gluing process for the

[00:31:30]
video game. That's a great way to put it. And now that you mentioned that, I'm not sure I've

[00:31:37]
ever really considered this, but I can't imagine what kind of a series Metal Gear would be without

[00:31:44]
without this brand of music and this brand of I guess, audio design as well. But the composing,

[00:31:52]
it's just the composition is so unique to this series. And like we were talking about earlier,

[00:31:59]
there's these little subtleties that just where most video games want to be bombastic and loud and

[00:32:06]
you know, really get you hyped up. I just really appreciate and value the atmosphere,

[00:32:13]
like you were saying that that the music in this series happens to create. It was it ended up in

[00:32:21]
once I got used to writing those ambient music, it became really fun working on it too.

[00:32:26]
At first, like, well, there has to be almost like no music, but you have to write music.

[00:32:37]
I can't imagine how you start with a blank slate.

[00:32:40]
And well, just my boss used to say, just give it some like atmospheric pad and see how that sounds

[00:32:49]
to you. And I said, that's like cheating. I can well just try it. And but a lot of the idea and a

[00:33:00]
lot of education, I should say, came from listening to Harry Grickson Williams score.

[00:33:08]
Even those subtle moments is so well crafted. And I could I was just in the studio for hours

[00:33:16]
just to analyze his his delivery. And I was really fortunate to be able to do that to the

[00:33:24]
studying process when I was at economy. And it paid off. I mean, you know, before before I

[00:33:34]
really found this show, I, you know, big fan of Metal Gear, but didn't really know a lot of the

[00:33:40]
specifics of how it was made. And I mean, that's that's kind of the idea of why we're bringing

[00:33:45]
you on. I think a lot of people are in that boat. I never would have guessed which games were composed

[00:33:52]
by different composers, because all of that time you spent studying Harry Grickson Williams work,

[00:34:01]
it clearly shows that it's so cohesive from one game to the next. In my opinion, it sounds like

[00:34:08]
it very much could have been by the same composer. So mad props to you for that.

[00:34:12]
Yeah, it's really how the studio structured the process. And yeah, glad I was I was able to contribute.

[00:34:26]
All right, well, let's see here. I've got another question from Warren. You've mentioned in previous

[00:34:33]
interviews that when you compose, there comes a moment when you think that's it with the music

[00:34:38]
you're composing. And that's when you know you've done a good job. Is that something that came out

[00:34:42]
earlier in your career? And Warren wants to know specifically, was it working with Peeus, Walker,

[00:34:48]
or Halo? Right. The first time I felt that was, I guess it was a matter you're solid for. And

[00:34:57]
okay, it was it took quite a long time for me to really get used to the idea of

[00:35:05]
scoring video games and writing in that orchestral hybrid, electronic hybrid style. But

[00:35:15]
plus scoring to the visual. And there was a moment in Metagir solid for where

[00:35:26]
you take off on the Metagir Rex, and you walk your way out of the corridor on Metagir. And

[00:35:36]
the cinematic right before that game moment, where you have to leave Naomi and

[00:35:46]
so that I really like something clicked when I was writing that scene. And

[00:35:53]
that probably was the first that's it moment for me working on video game. And

[00:36:00]
and I knew that was going to be a great scene. I knew it was going to be approved.

[00:36:07]
Yeah, yeah. Nice. Yeah, that was really a satisfying moment. And so by the time I got to

[00:36:17]
work on Peace Walker, at that point, I had several options. I was able to present several options.

[00:36:25]
Before that, there was not so much option that I could come up with. So I was trying barely trying

[00:36:32]
to keep up. But by the time I worked on Peace Walker, I was able to say, Well, here's one way to

[00:36:42]
score the scene. And if you don't like this idea, we can turn this around and then come up with

[00:36:48]
something completely different, which both of which I can be proud of. So I yeah, Peace Walker

[00:36:57]
was in that regard, I really enjoyed working on Peace Walker and

[00:37:04]
feeling feeling that I knew how this game exactly how this game should sound like.

[00:37:11]
And for Halo games, well, the Halo four was my first Halo, and it was really

[00:37:18]
unique situation. I joined the studio a little less than a year before shipping.

[00:37:26]
So by the time I joined the studio, someone came up to me and said, Well, we have this

[00:37:34]
milestone called called OIO. Like, do you know what that is? And I don't know. It's called one

[00:37:39]
year out. And it's due about in about a month. And then all the executives are going to decide

[00:37:49]
if we are actually shipping this game. Like, I was like, really, I just moved here.

[00:37:54]
And, oh, my gosh. And then we have some music from Neil Davidge, which was fantastic. And

[00:38:02]
and then I knew we had a milestone within the month. So I like learning how to be done really

[00:38:14]
quickly for me. And I think my experience from working on MGS really, really paid off and how

[00:38:23]
to pull idea from where. And so I think that working on Metal Gear was a really good training.

[00:38:30]
So when I score the video game, I know what at least what works and what doesn't.

[00:38:36]
So by the time you got to Halo, were you familiar with the games enough or or watching any of the

[00:38:42]
cutscenes enough, I guess, to have any of those kinds of those aha moments with with the game as

[00:38:49]
well? Well, there are. Well, the Halo four is a very emotional story. So I think that well, Master

[00:38:58]
Chief in Cortana story, especially at the end of the game is very, very emotional, which is,

[00:39:05]
in my view, it's a little different from previous Halo one through three. I mean, musically, it's

[00:39:11]
very different thing. But emotionally, I I kind of knew what to do for those emotional scenes.

[00:39:21]
Thanks to my experience working on the Metal Gear. But getting into Halo, I did the exactly

[00:39:27]
same thing. When before the interview, I played through all the Halo games. And why I knew about it.

[00:39:36]
Back in 2008, I think that the Halo three was really, really big show at Tokyo Game Show. And I

[00:39:45]
wasn't familiar with the the franchise back then. But my co worker said, Well, you should, you should

[00:39:52]
go check that out. It's a really big game from Microsoft. And there is a lot you can learn from.

[00:40:01]
Yeah, so I knew about it. And then, yeah, I played all of it before getting to the interview. And

[00:40:11]
based on my experience working on Metal Gear, I analyzed what's been done to make those Halo games.

[00:40:18]
And yeah, so that was a lot of studying again. That's great, though. You were you were quite the

[00:40:25]
prepared interview. I hope so. It's excellent. Yeah.

[00:40:31]
So one more question from our bud Lee. He wants to know, was there a noticeable difference working on

[00:40:41]
games that were for the PlayStation, whether that be handheld or or any of the generation of

[00:40:48]
PlayStation, I suppose, versus Xbox in terms of, you know, the hardware being different or a budget

[00:40:56]
or anything that might have been a constraint on your process from my perspective, when I was working

[00:41:04]
on MGS, that was between 2006 and 2011. So we were using pretty old engine. And we still used audio

[00:41:16]
engine from, I guess, the enhanced version of audio engine from Metal Gear Solid 2. So capability

[00:41:23]
was very, very different. I think hardware wise, PlayStation three, at least from audio perspective,

[00:41:31]
I mean, the music perspective hardware wise, PlayStation three and Xbox 360. From my perspective,

[00:41:38]
I didn't see that much difference. But because of the tool set was very different. We had to

[00:41:48]
come up with a very different implementation strategy. So that's between MGS four and Halo four.

[00:41:56]
And when it comes to PlayStation portable games, that's a very different story. So

[00:42:03]
we have to be able to stream the music from the memory, which was not very big. So we, every loop

[00:42:13]
was about 30 seconds long. And in case of MGS four, that was about two minutes long. So

[00:42:21]
musically approach would be very different. Like, when the music loops, you don't want to be hearing,

[00:42:26]
oh, that's the beginning of the music again. Like, you don't want to notice that. So you need to be

[00:42:31]
really clever about how you construct a looping music, especially for those shorter loops for MGS

[00:42:39]
four, because it was around two minutes long. I had less of that issue. Because if you listen to

[00:42:48]
music over, like, say, like five minutes, that like you're in trouble for a pretty long time in the

[00:42:55]
game. So yeah, that's a good point. So yeah, those were the major difference. I do just want to mention

[00:43:03]
that that that question was also asked in a similar way by Nick Freida, also a great friend of the

[00:43:11]
show and moderator of our discord. So he was asking specifically about the handheld hardware.

[00:43:18]
So thank you for elaborating on that. Similarly, I believe this is also Nick Freida's question.

[00:43:25]
He'd like to know, were there any other kinds of roadblocks that you've run into along the way,

[00:43:32]
where you had to be creative and find a workaround that might have been, I don't know,

[00:43:38]
more challenging than any of your other day to day tasks? Well, implementation is like,

[00:43:45]
it's a series of roadblocks. And every workaround is different. But let's see, the biggest one

[00:43:55]
probably is, well, this is outside of the MGS franchise. But when you have live orchestra

[00:44:05]
session coming up, and then if you don't have the scene to score, I think you're in big trouble.

[00:44:12]
And for example, this happened on Halo 5 that 10 days before the orchestra session,

[00:44:21]
I didn't have a scene to score. So I went to the producer and, hey, can I at least get a rough cut?

[00:44:31]
And so that I know what to write. And I think I texted him. And then he came to my desk,

[00:44:42]
looking really terrified. And like, what do you need? We don't have the scene ready.

[00:44:47]
Even how many days do we have? He asked. So he, well, recording session is on such and such date.

[00:44:55]
Can you give me a scene at least six days before the session? That way I have

[00:45:03]
one or two days to score. And then if something goes wrong, I can rewrite and still have my

[00:45:11]
orchestration team to prep all of the sheet music and everything. So that happened. That was a little

[00:45:19]
terrifying. But there is always a workaround. So yes, I do have some terrifying moments here and

[00:45:29]
there, probably on every production. But yeah, I'm sure, especially towards the end, when things

[00:45:36]
are starting to put together, oftentimes music is the only thing that can save a certain scene.

[00:45:44]
I totally understand that. So you just need to find a time to work on it. And it's scheduling

[00:45:52]
that needs to be done right on my end. And yeah, but you can always find a solution.

[00:45:58]
I think Cosmo taught me a really naughty lesson on Republic on episode five, because

[00:46:05]
we had such little time to get the music in. And I think he started to do the schedule on his head

[00:46:11]
and realized that I think it's only going to be done via a number of hall nighters. And what he

[00:46:17]
ended up doing and producing without really any time for iteration was so good. And I remember

[00:46:22]
one of the songs called Loose Change. It's something that we still talk about in the studio

[00:46:26]
about how many team members love that song. And I think like, interesting. So in the future,

[00:46:33]
if I just ask Cosmo to produce something. So last minute, it's going to be

[00:46:39]
like all the all the better part is while being aside, obviously.

[00:46:44]
I was going to say like on every game that I work with you, Ryan, I think there is always a

[00:46:49]
moment when you say, come on, we worked on middle year. Yeah, how are we going to be right? Right.

[00:46:57]
Was that now that you say that was that one of the more challenging projects, Metal Gear, or

[00:47:03]
have you has it helped prepare you for even more challenging projects?

[00:47:08]
I often joke about this. I think my skill sets are getting better on every project,

[00:47:16]
but like all of the craziness doesn't really change.

[00:47:21]
Sure. Yeah, Metal Gear was really, really crazy for sure. I think for every, from my perspective,

[00:47:29]
every single person in the audio team like worked around the clock. I mean, not sometimes

[00:47:36]
literally. And I remember this one day, I was about to be behind on the deadline. And I was

[00:47:47]
so exhausted that I went home around midnight and thinking, man, I need to come back in the studio

[00:47:56]
in like a couple of hours. Maybe I can take a nap and then so I took a nap,

[00:48:03]
took the first train to the office and got to the studio around five o'clock. And all of the studio

[00:48:15]
doors closed and everyone was sleeping there. And yeah, I was just going to use that room, but

[00:48:26]
I hate to wake them up. And so I ended up doing other work on my desk.

[00:48:35]
Yeah, it was that crazy. But it got me prepared for another craziness that I got to experience on

[00:48:44]
Halo 4. And I think to this day, I think Halo 4 was the most crazy, schedule-wise. And then I

[00:48:52]
really enjoyed that. But I don't think my physical can handle that anymore.

[00:48:58]
Sure.

[00:48:59]
Yeah, it was, I was in my early 30s, it just kept on going.

[00:49:04]
Well, it seems like you really were able to thrive well under pressure. And I hope that

[00:49:08]
doesn't have to be the case so much anymore. But it does certainly seem like with video games and

[00:49:16]
producing them, there's always going to be a time constraint is what it is what it sounds like.

[00:49:21]
Yeah, I think for every project, even if it's not a video game, there's always that moment.

[00:49:31]
So, but yeah, I guess I kind of got used to the pressure. It's daunting sometimes, but it's really

[00:49:41]
satisfying when you can deliver at the same time. So I kind of got addicted to it. I don't force that

[00:49:50]
to someone that I work with. I try to say get some rest and need to sleep. And I try to tell

[00:49:58]
that to myself as well. Yeah, especially in my 20s, 30s, I just kept on going.

[00:50:06]
Well, let's see. I want to respect your time here. We've got a couple more questions.

[00:50:12]
If you don't mind. One of which is, again, from Warren, when you decided to work for yourself

[00:50:19]
and do freelance, did you notice any impact on your writing process? And he elaborates as in

[00:50:25]
like a personal emotional response that you're getting from your own compositions?

[00:50:31]
Right. Well, your role does change. Being in-house composer, you're not only in charge of music

[00:50:39]
composition, but a lot of probably 50% of your time is spent on implementation and prepping and

[00:50:49]
lots of meetings. And after I left the studio, I have more time purely on composing music.

[00:50:57]
Well, this is really thanks to all my friends who's helping me dealing with all of the other

[00:51:04]
production work. The fact that you have more time to spend on writing, I do feel like I'm

[00:51:11]
challenging myself more, which I think is a great thing. And at the same time, there have been some

[00:51:22]
moments where I was just not satisfied with what I came up with, like given the time I spent.

[00:51:29]
I mean, having a lot of time sometimes works great and sometimes don't for me. And I try out too

[00:51:35]
many things that doesn't work and I get lost sometimes. So when that happens, I just need to

[00:51:41]
do some refreshing. And I'm in the lucky position to be able to do that at the same time, like try

[00:51:46]
out different ideas. And sometimes I get inspiration from those tryouts from different projects.

[00:51:52]
And also, I feel more, you're basically running your own business at this point. So the responsibility

[00:51:59]
feels very, very different. So that sometimes becomes a pressure sometimes. But I generally,

[00:52:05]
I've been enjoying doing my own business and working with many different clients, including Ryan,

[00:52:12]
which I enjoy working very much. And being able to work on many projects, I think there's benefit

[00:52:19]
to that. You get to explore very different styles and different ways of writing, as opposed to when

[00:52:27]
you're in-house, you're writing for just one big franchise for five years. You get to know the style

[00:52:35]
really, really well. But now that I'm outside of the game studio and working on many different

[00:52:42]
projects, I think my language has become wider, I think. Well, that's exciting. That's a great

[00:52:49]
development. Yeah, it's really exciting for me too. And especially when I'm able to notice that

[00:52:57]
difference. Well, I'm glad you're able to have that experience because it sounds like there was a lot

[00:53:03]
of pressure to stay on brand for other people's visions. But as a creative person, I'm sure

[00:53:10]
it's very nice for you to be able to have your outlet and make it your career props for that.

[00:53:16]
I'm sure that can't be easy. Well, it's very satisfying. Yeah, it's really worth it in my view.

[00:53:24]
Well, good. That leads us into our last question, which maybe you just answered,

[00:53:30]
or maybe you have a different answer for us. It's kind of a twofer. What has been the most

[00:53:36]
rewarding experience you've had throughout your career? What are you most proud of from your

[00:53:44]
career up to this point? Well, it's really hard to pick just one title that I'm proud of, but

[00:53:50]
every shipping is really rewarding. And I remember my early days with Metal Gear, the release of MGS4

[00:54:00]
was huge in Japan. And I remember seeing pictures from game shops around Tokyo that there was a huge

[00:54:10]
line in many, many shops. And I remember thinking, wow, this many people are going to play the game

[00:54:17]
and then get it. And then they're going to listen to the music I wrote. And that was surreal. And

[00:54:26]
yeah. And the same thing for Halo games and the same thing for the Iron Man game that I

[00:54:35]
worked on with Ryan, that when my Spotify monthly listener number just went up one digit, I was

[00:54:46]
like, wow. Oh, man. But yeah, it's rewarding to think that something that we create has

[00:54:58]
impact on so many people. Yeah. And so again, I can't pick a single title, but yeah, I'm proud of

[00:55:08]
every shipping. And yeah. Well, good. That's a great answer. That's it for all of the listener

[00:55:15]
specific questions. Warren had just a bit of a comment he wanted me to pass along to you again.

[00:55:21]
He's very sad he can't be here for this episode. He's kind of the music geek of our trio. So

[00:55:30]
he did want to mention that Kazuma, he's a huge fan of your work and really glad to see that you

[00:55:36]
chose to go freelance because he's very eager to hear your work across multiple forms of media.

[00:55:44]
And lastly, I guess just as a fun wrap up, Ryan and I got to talk about this last time, but

[00:55:50]
how has your last year gone? I know everybody's had crazy train things going on, but

[00:55:59]
have you been able to stay on top of everything okay? Stay positive and get through everything?

[00:56:07]
Year four. Well, exactly around this time of the year last year, we were wrapping up Iron Man

[00:56:16]
game, which was fun time. Well, I generally I stayed busy throughout the past year,

[00:56:27]
luckily, and I didn't get to work on any movie projects. I guess that situation has changed

[00:56:38]
quite a bit, I guess. I was both working on video games and Netflix series in the past year.

[00:56:49]
And yeah, thanks to all of the digital media, I was able to continue to do what I love. And

[00:57:00]
one thing that changed was I have this I'm renting this little studio place in

[00:57:07]
Los Angeles. And I didn't get to go there in the past year. I used to use that space when I

[00:57:16]
every time I had a call to do film music. But since I'm primarily working on video game and

[00:57:23]
Netflix, Seattle is where my families are. And so yeah, okay, so it would make more sense to be here.

[00:57:31]
And yeah, it's been great. I've been able to continue writing music. And yeah.

[00:57:41]
Awesome. I'm glad to hear that. Can I be nosy and ask if you are willing and able to tell us the

[00:57:48]
Netflix title you've been working on? The one that came out a couple of years ago is an anime

[00:57:54]
called Ultraman. Another one was Ghost in the Shell, the 3D CG one, SAC2045.

[00:58:05]
Well, that is awesome. Are you an anime fan yourself? This is way off topic.

[00:58:09]
Well, I guess to some extent, yes, I do watch some shows on Netflix. And

[00:58:19]
yeah, not like a huge avid fan. I wouldn't know too many anime. Since I'm getting to work with

[00:58:31]
these directors, I do like their work. And I do like the story that they come up with. So I've

[00:58:40]
checked out all of those anime that they worked on. And now I want to go check out Ultraman.

[00:58:49]
It's really a fun show. There is a second season that's about to be in production. So yeah.

[00:58:54]
Oh, excellent. Well, great. Thank you. Thank you for indulging me in a little bit of

[00:59:01]
just casual conversation there towards the end. It's been really great to get to know you and

[00:59:06]
a little bit about your process and just you as a person. You seem to be a very hardworking,

[00:59:15]
calming presence. And that's important in your industry. So congratulations on putting out so

[00:59:23]
much excellent work without your music. Honestly, I stand by the statement metal gear would not be

[00:59:31]
the same. Well, it's really a teamwork. And I'm glad I got to be a small part of it. Awesome.

[00:59:38]
Well, Ryan, did you have anything else that you wanted to mention?

[00:59:42]
No, I think you did. You and your listeners and your cohorts did a great job

[00:59:47]
pairing lots of good questions. And I got to learn more about Cosma as well, even though

[00:59:51]
I've known each other for I don't know how many years now. Oh, hey, that's great.

[00:59:56]
Well, since 2006, right? So 2006, yeah, since you joined Konami. Oh, wow. Yeah, 15 years.

[01:00:03]
Well, that's great. 15 years. Yeah. I feel very honored to have witnessed some new information

[01:00:10]
being unearthed for you, Ryan. That's great. Yeah, thank you. Thank you. Well, again, guys,

[01:00:16]
thank you so much for joining us. You're welcome back any time. I don't know what the plan is for

[01:00:25]
Metal Gear Solid 4 or Peace Walker. I believe Peace Walker would be next in our timeline. So

[01:00:30]
Cosma, if you'd like to come back, we would always be happy to have you. Ryan, you know,

[01:00:35]
you're always welcome. The door is open. Thank you. And yeah, I think that's going to do it for

[01:00:42]
our episode of Metal Gear Monday's Revengeance. Yes, again, gentlemen, thank you so much. It is

[01:00:48]
really a great pleasure to talk to you, Cosma. Thank you very much for having me. I really enjoyed

[01:00:53]
talking to you. Oh, good. Thank you.

[01:01:23]
you