[Exclusive] Interview with Earthbound Papas! Veteran music composers of the Final Fantasy Series

Earthbound Papas is a band formed by the beloved master composer of the Final Fantasy series, Nobuo Uetmatsu. The series is widely acclaimed for the gameplay and additionally, notably the music too. The band aims to interpret songs from the Final Fantasy series and other game tracks with an alternative approach to showcasing the core of the music with a touch of rock and metal. The band performed on Comic Fiesta 2017.

The members consists of Yoshitaka Hirota, he plays the bass and has made music for Shadow Hearts, Final Fantasy VI, VII and VIII. He also shared he first met Nobuo Uematsu when he started working on Final Fantasy VII. Keyboardist - Tsutomu Narita who recently done work for Grand Blue Fantasy mobile game. Additionally, he has contribute to Final Fantasy XV expansion pack. Lead vocal - Akiko Kawano who's a lyricist, composer, singer and a proud gamer. Akiko shares that since she loved playing the final fantasy series from a young age, she's familiar with Nobuo Uematsu's works and is a fan. She created a demo CD and passed it to Nobuo Uematsu, from then on she was chosen to sing the theme song for Terra Battle. Next, Nobuo Uematsu plays the keyboard and the organ. He's the veteran composer of the Final Fantasy series. Also, he has contributed to Terra Battle and Grand Blue Fantasy. Guitarist - Michio Okayama. He came to know Nobuo Uematsu when they both worked on Final Fantasy IV. He also produced music for the Kantai Collection. The man behind the drums - Chihiro Fujioka who was the director of Final Fantasy III and Super Mario RPG.

How would you describe Earthbound Papas to new listeners?
Nobuo Uematsu : In an orchestra, there’s a lot of structure and framework. When we bring it on to a stage, we can interpret it in a more flashy manner and experiment a little more with the tune. We decided to go towards a different route with a flashier sound of music on stage.

Having been in the music producing for many years, what has changed from back then from now?
Nobuo Uematsu : Now  the technology has advanced and the access to start is becoming easier. For example, it was a lot harder then to become a musician but now you might just need a MacBook and Garageband to create and synthesize different sounds with more variety.

Is there anxiety when connecting with the younger audiences?
Nobuo Uematsu : In terms of following the trends of what is popular, we don’t do it consciously but everybody participates actively on social media. But when it comes to the generation gap, we are not very self aware. For example, I am 58 years old but I don’t think I’m 58, so we’re like a grown child.

Is there a difference between composing music for games versus for the public consumption?
Tsutomu Narita : So the biggest difference is when we write game music, we consider whether it would fit the scenario. Mostly, we get the material ahead of time and what will happen is we will compose accordingly to the scene of the game. The difference would be for gaming, a reference is given to build up the music.

Would composing for the game be then restricting when it comes to composing?
Tsutomu Narita : Not so much because when there's a set of reference and rules, it makes it a little more fun.

How does the team work performs its best while giving the best quality work?
Nobuo Uematsu : We don’t feel that it’s very difficult to gel together as a team. As mentioned, we are quite diverse in our own ways, it happens very naturally. When we come together, we’ll chit chat and connect with one another. Most importantly, when we play music, we don’t make it very restrictive. Everybody gets to have a say in what to do and give suggestions. With each contribution, we give birth to the tracks.