Over the holidays we’re republishing some of our best features, interviews, opinion pieces and talking points from the previous 12 months from staff and contributors alike — articles that we feel represent our best of 2021. In them you’ll find our usual mix of thoughtfulness, frivolity, retro expertise, gaming nostalgia, and — of course — enthusiasm for all things Nintendo. Enjoy!
Throughout the Nintendo Life Video Game Music Festival we’re speaking to a range of composers and musicians for a mixture of in-depth interviews and shorter, sharper (and perhaps a little goofier) Q&As where we ask just ten rapid-fire personal questions; we’re calling these shorter features ‘Quick Beats’.
Today, we’ve got the CEO of Ancient and legendary veteran of such series as Streets of Rage, Sonic the Hedgehog, Dragon Slayer, Ys, Shinobi, ActRaiser, Etrian Odyssey, and many more — Yuzo Koshiro.
This composer is a personal hero of Team NL, so let’s find out some tidbits about him, including his musical heroes and what keepsake he’d save from a burning building…
What was the first song or album you remember buying?
Kinderszenen, Robert Schumann.
What was the last music you listened to?
Heartbreak Anthem [by Galantis, David Guetta and Little Mix].
What was the very first video game you wrote music for, and how do you feel listening back now?
Xanadu: Scenario II [Dragon Slayer II] by Nihon Falcom. When I listened to it recently, I thought I made it better than I expected regardless of the first composition on commercial PC games.
Which piece of yours are you most proud of?
Streets of Rage 2. Not to mention many people in the world still love it, and I’d say it’s one of the most successful pieces of my life. Also, I love making music on Genesis.
Which piece by someone else do you wish you had written?
Gradius series. I love the music of the entire series so much, so I hope I write even just one song for it someday.
What do you listen to while you’re driving?
A car radio. I love to hear great songs accidentally and check them on Shazam in a moment to find what the songs are.
Do you have a musical hero?
Yes, but it’s too many heroes to count. So it’s so hard to choose one. I’ve loved J.S.Bach since I was a little child, and it has never changed. It’s probably only him that I’ve loved for such a long time. I’d say that he is my musical hero.
Which decade had the best music?
All the decades have their great songs, so it’s hard to choose, but I dare say it’s the ’80s. The ’80s music is a cross between traditional and modern. It feels [like there’s] so much humanity, warmth, and depth because of less computer sequencing and taking [a lot of] time to create music. I really love that musical atmosphere.
Ocarina, harp or bongos — which magical instrument do you take on an epic adventure?
I would choose harp. It would give me healing performing a beautiful melody after a fierce battle.
If your house were on fire and you only had time to grab one keepsake before you flee to safety with your family, what would you take?
Now that photos of my family that are significant for me are on the cloud, and a grand piano is too heavy, I would choose credit cards.
Our thanks to Mr. Koshiro for speaking with us — you can follow him on Twitter.
Be sure to check out our previous Quick Beats Q&A with BAFTA-winner Austin Wintory, and our other Nintendo Life VGM Fest articles in this ongoing season of music-focused interviews and features.