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Motomu Toriyama talks being incharge of Final Fantasy VII Remake's music

Motomu Toriyama talks being incharge of Final Fantasy VII Remake's music

Written by Brayden — 22 Apr 2020

Famitsu has recently posted an interview with Motomu Toriyama, one of the co-directors of Final Fantasy VII Remake. This is the first in a new series of interviews regarding Final Fantasy VII Remake's music.

Toriyama confirms he's overseen the music for all of his games since Final Fantasy X and reveals that even on the original Final Fantasy VII he spoke with composer Nobuo Uematsu about the in-game music.

Toriyama also talks about the massive number of tracks, revisiting original game tracks and the team making new ones, naming tracks and more.

In addition, the second installment of Famitsu's series has been released and it's with music supervisor Keiji Kawamori and in it he talks a little about working with Toriyama and also reveals it was Toriyama's idea to include a jukebox.

You can read it all below thanks to ?? BlackKite who kindly translated it all to English.

Famitsu: Toriyama-san, as a co-director you were mainly assigned to scenario designs, but what’s the reason for you getting assigned to producing song titles? And please tell us about other titles where you produced song titles as well.

Toriyama: I have been working on supervision to apply music for whole games ever since FFX. If I look back, even earlier during FFVII times, I also talked about in-game music with Uematsu-san, so I was one of the few staff in the FF team that directly experience how Uematsu-san applied music in the game.
In this FFVII Remake, I’m also in charge of supervising the whole game’s music together with sound staff members Kawamori & Ise. My job is to create an enormous amount of songs for FFVII Remake by first putting image music – placeholder songs – then subdivide the sounds even further, and start giving orders to composers and other people.

I have grasped the whole picture on the music side, from “where’s the place to put which music in the game” to “which sound effect to use in which scene”, so that’s why when we’re producing a soundtrack I get to put the official song titles. A lot of the song titles are originally based on character quotes or notable keywords from the scenario, and I was in charge of almost all song names from FFXIII.

Famitsu: 7 CDs also mean an enormous amount of songs, but did you have any hardships on producing song titles?

Toriyama: FFVII Remake had a lot of songs that used a bit of melody from the theme or arranged versions of the original songs. If I were to give the same titles as the originals to all of them, they couldn’t be distinguished and it wouldn’t match with the in-game scenes either, so I was troubled on how much I should make titles for new songs. Ultimately, I would use an intention similar to the originals: If the song compositions hadn’t changed much, I’d give the same names as the originals. And if they had major arrangements, I’d consider them as new songs and give them titles.

Famitsu: What were the things you had to focus, watch out, or be aware of while you were producing song titles?

Toriyama: The FF series has different creators on each title, so the song names also have their own characteristics with each title. This time it’s based on FFVII, so I had to be aware that the new song names I put in FFVII Remake do not stray too far from the lines of the original FFVII. It’s difficult to express it in words, but the song names in the original FFVII were not brought directly from in-game terms but from either the composer’s interpretation of the scenario or sometimes even like in-development names that stick as-is. I decided the song names in FFVII Remake with a similar atmosphere to those.

Famitsu: Some song names are being changed, like “Opening” to “Midgar, City of Mako” and “Those Who Fight Further” to “Hundred Gunner” [EN: The Arsenal]. So what kind of intention did you have when you gave different names for these songs?

Toriyama: FFVII had a lot more songs than the original FFVII, and the composition has become one where exclusive songs are placed on almost every scene in the game. That’s why I put song titles that get even closer to the scenes. “Opening” is not just a simple opening movie; it’s the debut scene of Midgar, the City of Mako, where FFVII Remake takes place in. “Those Who Fight Further” and “Those Who Fight” were each being used in the new 4-part composition as songs to hype up boss battles. I made the song names that would best convey the impressions of a player’s gaming experience; I gave them such names so that when they listen to the song, the scenes would be revived as vivid memories.

Famitsu: Which song had the title that was left an impression even to yourself?

Toriyama: I like “Smash 'Em, Rip 'Em” which played when Tifa and Aerith counter-attacked after getting captured in Don Corneo’s mansion. While it’s based on Tifa & Aerith’s famous quotes in the original FFVII, I think combining them into one made a pleasant title that also fit the scene images.

Famitsu: Which songs in the soundtrack did you like in particular (regardless of whether you’re involved in producing the song name or not)?

Toriyama: For an arranged song from the original FFVII, I would say “Abzu”. Because the cool thing at “Those who Fight” gets an orchestra version and becomes even more splendid. For a new song in FFVII Remake, “Return to the Planet” is a sad song, but it fits perfectly with the emotional imagery of the scene after the 7th Plate fell down so I like it.

Famitsu: [Please tell us] if you have any other episodes on producing song names.

Toriyama: I wanted the English name of the Honeybee Inn’s Dance Battle to be something that gradually rouses romantic feelings between the two with a sexy image, but it was difficult with my vocabulary so I received suggestions from the localization team and picked the closest one to that image. I think it has become a title that even Japanese people would think is cool.

Famitsu: Please leave a message to people who are looking forward to the soundtrack. Please also leave an appealing commentary about FFVII Remake from your standpoint as a Co-Director managing the scenario design.

Toriyama: In FFVII Remake, the music for almost all scenes now have exclusive songs, and they will also develop interactively based on the player’s actions; they are being made to be naturally familiarized with FFVII’s world. Please kindly feel the music that helps hype up FFVII’s story on an even grander scale, along with the gaming experience that has included such music.

Famitsu: [Please tell us] if you have a song you have strong feelings on, hardships during the recording, or anything else.

Kawamori: For hardships during the production, recently there are many games that don’t have much BGM playing at the beginning of development, so I had some hardships in trying to find out the suitable way to play music while consulting with Toriyama and Ise about how far can we play BGMs in a seamless gameplay. After multiple tests, the end result is that we decided to produce it by almost always playing the music just like the original if the songs can change seamlessly in accordance with user controls.

Famitsu: There is a collection feature in the game where you can obtain music discs, but are the songs here selected from past arrangements? Also, did this feature come from an offer by the developers who want to put it in?

Kawamori: Toriyama was the one who sent the proposal to implement a jukebox, and after various considerations we have the current selection of songs. Most of the songs are exclusively arranged, but some of them are re-used from the SQUARE ENIX JAZZ -FINAL FANTASY VII- disc released by our company. I hope you will enjoy this jazz arrangement CD together with the Remake’s soundtrack.

Update: Makoto Ise appears in the third installment and you can read part of his interview below.

However, when I tried looking back, the existence of BGMs in FFVII is indeed very large, so I became convinced that playing a lot of them would make it more like FFVII Remake. Afterwards, I did BGM designs for each location together with sound members Kawamori & Ise, and Toriyama who controls the presentations.

BGM designs were pre-emptive meetings on designing implementations of BGM - from the place & timing to play BGMs to switching BGMs - under Toriyama's presentation policy while looking at it in the actual machine. But it did take quite some time. While Toriyama's images have become clear, the BGM data also became enormous. Most of the cutscenes etc also have exclusives, and we also prepared parts that change based on the situation in fields and battles, so we added a large quantity of BGMs with different arrangements.

Source: Famitsu