Shibuya, Tokyo, 7:30PM on a Sunday evening. Night time means nothing in this city, as the streets are still rammed full of shoppers going in and out of the many music, entertainment and fashion stores that line every main street and side alleyway. A sign and a menu is all that marks the rather uninteresting entrance to a well-known Italian restaurant, and three floors down, I’m sitting with the legendary Jun Senoue. Jun has been at the forefront of Sonic the Hedgehog music since 1993 and has since redefined the face of Sonic music with the formation of Crush 40 and their soundtrack to Sonic Adventure. TSS and junsenoue.com have been lucky enough to grab Jun for an exclusive interview…
T-Bird: So Jun, how are you, and what projects have been keeping you busy?
Jun: I’m working on several projects, at this moment I can only tell you that I’m working on Super Monkey Ball: Step and Roll which was released this month. I was not the composer; I took care of finding the singers and talent in a similar way I did for Sonic Unleashed and Sonic the Hedgehog 2006. The composers were Tomoya Ohtani and Mariko Nanba. There are eight vocal songs which meant I had to find eight singers; In the end these were two Japanese singers, three North Americans and three from Europe, with the genres of the tracks focusing on dance and club tunes.
T-Bird: To sort of follow on, can we expect any new material from you this year? I think “The Works” went down exceptionally well last year, and the burning question on everybody’s lips is when is the second Crush 40 album due out?
Jun: Yeah…we [Jun and Johnny Gioeli] are discussing when we should start work on the next album, or the next show. Originally I had a plan to do other Crush 40 shows here in Tokyo in early May, but Johnny is quite busy with Axel Rudi Pell [the German rock act Johnny performs with] so maybe we will get around to doing some shows. We had a TGS (Tokyo Game Show) performance in 2008, and a lot of kids wanted to be there. Unfortunately they could not attend as the event was during school time, so the aim is to do some shows during the summer or spring vacations.
T-Bird: Wow, that’d be very cool for the Japanese audiences! I think one of the most impressive soundtracks from last year was the Sonic and the Black Knight OST on the principle it was so musically diverse – how did you go about getting in touch with Tommy Tallerico, and what was it like working with him and Richard Jacques amongst others?
Jun: Talking about Sonic and the Black Knight, I ideally wanted to work with the guys who provided the songs to previous Sonic titles instead of teaming up with the SEGA composers I usually team up with. I asked Richard Jacques, then spoke to Howard Drossin. Talking about Tommy though, he was not an original Sonic composer. I’ve known him for years and we are good friends, and I thought this would be a good opportunity to team up with him and have him as a composer on this title.
Tommy provided us with ten ideas for tracks, and basically I selected three ideas from his list. He composed one of them from the start to the finish, and then the other two tracks I used the ideas and took care of them, arranged them and tracked the music with my band. It was a very fun experience!
T-Bird: I bet! Ok…(laughs) I guess this would be a good time to bring up Sonic the hedgehog 4: Episode 1 which has just been announced this week. Any thoughts? Anything you can tell us like, are you involved with the soundtrack?
Jun: Uhh…Ok. My answer is this; I hope I can tell you all the details in late spring or early summer!
T-Bird: Haha! Ok, I guess we will just have to wait then! As we mentioned before, you’ve heard of the Summer of Sonic. In 2008 we had TJ Davis and Richard Jacques, last year we had Bentley Jones return to perform…any chance in the near future for a Crush 40 appearance?
Jun: Talking about the shows we’ve done so far: with had a TGS performance back in 2008, and for that we played along with some backing tracks. For our next shows in Japan (more later!) we plan to have full band. If we come over to the UK, we will probably do something similar to what we did at TGS, but yes, we [Jun and Johnny] will be talking about it!
Don’t miss the second part of the Jun Senoue interview tomorrow, where Jun has answered some of the burning questions posed to him by you, the fans!
A massive thank you to Jeriaska from Gamasutra for the excellent photos!