An interview with Tomoya Ohtani

Discussion in 'General Sonic Discussion' started by EmerlForgotten, Mar 16, 2019.

  1. EmerlForgotten


    Sonic Music Curator Member
    1.Sonic Forces’ identity can be attributed, in a big part, to its musical direction. What was your inspiration for the
    synth-based soundtrack?

    1. A large part of the reason that the songs feature a lot of synthesizers is from the story where the plot revolves
    around the power of the Phantom Ruby. Another reason would be the characteristics of the Avatar character. His
    / Her customizable feature in the game led me to an image of “Composed with various parts = Not sounds
    performed by instruments, but more dance music like approach” Further, there was the appearance of Classic
    Sonic in game. As the recent Classic Sonic appearance in Sonic Mania was accompanied by a refined synth
    sound, I limited the music in Forces to use only FM used in the Genesis (Mega Drive), and teamed up with a
    composer well versed in this area, Hataya Naofumi, whom knows very well about the past. The (Modern) Sonic
    stages are recorded with a live band, but partially integrate synth melodies and sequences. I felt this sound fit the
    story more, with a sense of urgency in the trance type synth sound, rather than with a guitar playing the melody. I
    composed “Sunset Heights” first as a template of sorts. The main theme “Fist Bump” and Infinite's theme “Infinite”
    are played by a live band, but have synth sounds integrated as accents. I felt that this would present more of a
    modern rock sound.

    2.On the topic of Sonic Forces’ musical direction, the amount of vocal tracks in the game is quite large
    compared to previous entries. How did the decision come around to make the Avatar stages’ music

    2. Avatar has no dialogue, and doesn't speak in game, but his / her emotions change as the story progresses. I
    felt that it would be interesting to let these changes be expressed in the vocal parts of the Avatar stage
    soundtrack. This approach may be similar to the Rap parts in the Knuckles stages for Sonic Adventure 2. Also, I
    felt that these fragmented vocal parts would be a good match in the Drum'n Bass, EDM type music in the Avatar

    3.Sonic Runners’ soundtrack is a personal favorite of mine. Was your approach to composing music for
    a mobile game different than from a console game?

    3. There are many personal favorites in the Sonic Runners soundtrack for me too. Since Sonic Runners was a
    mobile game, it was decided to be more casual and approachable, and more pop oriented band sound that fits
    Sonic well. I remember having simple fun when producing them. The big difference with console games is that,
    since it is a live service with seasonal events, the songs are not produced in one big batch, but are finished one
    by one, incorporating feedbacks including ones from SNS users too. I think “Spring Emotions” from the Easter
    event, and “End of the summer” for the summer event, really captured a Japanese pop sound, and I'm happy
    that overseas fans liked it as well.

    4.Your compositions for Sonic Adventure 2's Knuckle stages are some of the highlights in that
    soundtrack. Were you asked to compose these tracks for the purpose of having Hunnid-P rap along to
    the music, or was the decision to introduce rap to the songs made after you composed the music?

    4. The sound tracks for the Knuckles stages in Sonic Adventure 2 was my first job as a composer for
    the Sonic Series. Production started after agreement of an initial pitch I made to the development team
    to have rap in the stage songs. The songs were created first, and through a coordinator looking for a
    rap artist, we were able to meet Hunnid-P.

    5.Many fans would love to hear instrumental renditions of your compositions in Sonic Adventure 2,
    especially since A Ghost's Pumpkin Soup's instrumental was released via Sonic Runners. Would the
    release of official instrumental versions be viable in the near future?

    5. I do notice there are many requests like that, but there are no plans as of now.

    6.Sonic The Hedgehog (2006)’s soundtrack is quite a showstopper, mostly due to the sheer variety of
    musical themes. What was composing for that game like compared to, say, Sonic Adventure 2 or Sonic

    6. At the time, Sonic The Hedgehog (2006) was the first title in the series aimed toward a next generation
    console (PS3, XBOX360), and there was call for large scale differences to be made also in terms of music. There I
    was assigned as the sound director for the first time. I remember in the initial phases of the project, Yuji Naka,
    the founder of the series was still at Sega, and he suggested an epic, heavy soundtrack like in a Hollywood
    movie. I was thinking that the soundtrack should be an extension of what the series had built upon, but
    introduce new elements and impact, and epic scale.

    7.Speaking of Sonic The Hedgehog (2006), His World is one of many main vocal themes you've
    composed throughout the years. Is there any specific vocal theme you have the fondest memories of

    7. “His World” was difficult in it's conception, going through numerous trial and errors. On the other hand, the
    theme song for Sonic Unleashed, “Endless Possibility” came to me through an intro guitar phrase, then was just
    finished itself to the end of the song. My style of composing theme songs always incorporates a different singer
    every time, so every time is full of refreshing memories.

    8.While the first entry in the Sonic Rush series had Hideaki Naganuma as the music composer, Sonic
    Rush Adventure had you take the helm. Was it difficult to compose music in a similar style to Mr.

    8. The sound track for Sonic Rush Adventure was done by several composers including myself. The “Naganuma
    sound” in Sonic Rush was very impressionable, but there were no propositions to create similar music in Sonic
    Rush Adventure. Like Naganuma, a big part of my musical influence comes from the sampling music like Hip
    Hop, House, Breakbeats, Drum'n Bass etc. and the Bigbeat movement and dance music of the time, represented
    by the likes of Fatboy Slim. To create beats I used AKAI MPC2000 or E-mu Sp1200 which I owned, so while
    preserving the flow of the Rush series, I felt free to add the essence of what I like, and felt no stress in
    composing. “Sky Babylon” and “Blizzard Peaks” are some of my favorites. I like, “A NEW VENTURE (Surfin'S.R.A
    Remix) too. The difficulty in composing came from the data size limitation for the Nintendo DS.

    9. In  terms of sound, Sonic Lost World's soundtrack sounds extremely vibrant and colorful. Would you
    say you had the most fun composing Lost World's soundtrack? Or does that description fit another
    video game soundtrack you've composed?

    9. For Sonic Lost World, I prepared a lot of colorful music unrestrained by genre, themed with a pop
    instrumental sound. I made quite a variety of songs based on the stage atmosphere, the game play, and level
    design. I was surprised myself that I would compose a tango (“Mindnight Owl”) or a 3 beat waltz (“Snowball
    Waltz”) for the Sonic series. Rarely seen instruments such as steel pan drums are used and recorded too. For any
    game title, I either set a theme so I can have fun composing and/or design a creative approach to the music, so I
    don't think I can name a single tile for this question.

    10.Lastly, if there was one video game composer you'd most like to work with in the future, who would it

    10. Recently I played DELTARUNE Chapter 1 on Nintendo Switch, and like UNDERTALE, the music was fantastic; I
    would like to rearrange music composed by Toby Fox. Talking about collaboration, I made an arrangement of
    Splatoon's “Bomb Rush Blush” in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, so if you haven't heard that yet make sure to
    check that out.

    Message: Thank you for checking out my works. Expect more to come in the future for Sonic series music!
    Tomoya Ohtani
  2. Pengi


    Just want to say that I really appreciate these interviews and how professional you've been with the tone and questions. Thanks for asking about each of the games individually as well! Ohtani's insight into Sonic Forces' soundtrack was particularly interesting.
  3. Laura


    Brightened Eyes Member
    I can't believe Hataya Naofumi helped on the awful Sonic Forces' classic music, his work otherwise is solid.
  4. Hitlersaurus Christ

    Hitlersaurus Christ

    Not a nazi, maybe Jesus, definitely a dinosaur Member
    glorious nippon
    Yeah, I think Ohtani only did classic Green Hill in Forces and Hataya did the others.
  5. LordOfSquad


    bobs over baghdad Member
    Winnipeg, MB
    making cool music no one gives a shit about
    Really cool interview, thanks for sharing with us. Their Bomb Rush Blush mix was one of the best remixes in Smash Ultimate in my opinion, I'd love to see them tackle tracks from other games.
  6. Overlord


    Now playable in Smash Bros Ultimate Moderator
    Berkshire, England
    Learning Cymraeg
    Good job on the interview, some interesting answers.
  7. SystemsReady


    I Have No Idea What I'm Doing At Any Given Moment Member
    The Twin Cities
    trying to not fall asleep while writing Selenium tests
    Huzzah, explicit mention of Drum & Bass. That makes me unreasonably happy as someone who lives in a country where that genre isn't very popular :specialed:
  8. XCubed


    Will Someday Own a Rent-A-Center Oldbie
    Another great interview! Thank you!
  9. Gestalt


    Sphinx in Chains Member
    Interesting insights. Everyone actually agrees the 2006 E3 version of His World is the best.
  10. FollOw


    Show me da wae Oldbie
    My own music, ask me about it
    I just want pumpkin hill instrument
  11. Fred


    Taking a break Oldbie
    Sonic 3 Unlocked
  12. Amazing interview. And I would totally dig Ohtani remixing some Deltarune songs, for sure.
  13. Blue Blood

    Blue Blood

    Wait, so he actually played Undertale? Then I guess the similarities between some music from that game and Fighting Onward (Space Port) in Forces could be more than a coincidence. Lol. I've not played Undertale myself so can't tell you what the track from that game is, but I heard them and they're almost identical.
  14. LordOfSquad


    bobs over baghdad Member
    Winnipeg, MB
    making cool music no one gives a shit about
    Steal from the best I'd say. Fighting Onward is a jam.
  15. Thunder Bro

    Thunder Bro

    I am absolutely loving these interviews, I love getting insights straight from members of game development teams and their own views on things. Do you have plans to try and interview anyone else?
  16. EmerlForgotten


    Sonic Music Curator Member
    There's a few people I'm working on getting interviews from. May take a while though since the process for conducting these takes quite a bit of time.
  17. Thunder Bro

    Thunder Bro

    I certainly don't mind waiting, take your time. I just want to say that you're doing a fantastic job with these interviews and I'm happy to hear that you're planning to do more.
  18. EmerlForgotten


    Sonic Music Curator Member
    Now that Toby Fox's music is in Smash Bros, I wouldn't be surprised if he's managed to get commissioned for a SEGA project soon considering Ohtani's interest.
  19. Laura


    Brightened Eyes Member
    Blue Blood, I think you mean 'Hope and Dreams' from Undertale, it's very similar to 1:27 from Fighting Onward. Nice catch.