A Message from Kouji Hayama (2012)
This short message originally appeared in Shooting Gameside #4, and was published alongside a list of Hayama’s numerous cd releases. Among STG fans Hayama is most well-known for his work on the Cho Aniki games, but he has also written the music for Front Mission 3, Ape Escape 2, Rockman ZX Advent, and Gran Chaser. There's an excellent write-up on Hayama's career and personal history available at vgmonline.
Hello, I’m Kouji Hayama, age 46, composer for Cho Aniki. I was active in the game music world about 10-20 years ago now, so younger players who hear my name might be thinking, “who???”
But at the time I wrote the music for Cho Aniki, I was a young man of 25-26, and like everyone else, was working hard to fulfill my dreams.
Fired from the music company I worked at, making no money freelancing, and without any assistance… it was a hand-to-mouth existence.
One day at Akihabara I bought the venerable S900 sampler for 40000 yen. It could only sample up to 8 seconds, but if you lowered the sampling rate you could record much more.
Cho Aniki’s sound contains many unique, rough, high-impact voice samples, and this was a gift from the low sampling rate of the S900.
To be honest, I was glad I had bought it, but I had no idea how to use the thing. Starting with stuff like my own voice and “shocking” video clips from TV, I started gathering a collection of interesting sounds that would become the building blocks of my music composition style.
Sometime after that, an offer came from a game company to work on Cho Aniki. I figured this was a good chance to put my collection of low sample rate sounds to use.
And so I set out to impress the game company: to surprise them, to make them laugh… like a man possessed, with this intrepid spirit I made song after song, heedless of the toll it was taking on my health!
As a reward, my work got good reviews and became one of those soundtracks people were talking about. The soundtrack CD actually outsold the game itself, and reached the 16th spot in the Oricon charts. At the Cho Aniki concert, it was so crowded with enthused fans that I hear some people were knocked over in the fray.
Such was the mainstream success it had reached; a real social phenomenon.
Compared with things nowadays, the Cho Aniki music isn’t really anything special or unusual, but if you take a listen to it knowing the history I just described, I think some part of the passion of those days will be communicated.
As proof of its enduring charm, Cho Aniki’s music is still used on TV programs occasionally, and I still receive royalties from time to time.
The generation that grew up listening to my songs has now grown up themselves, and they are the ones making games. When I think about that, I am deeply moved.
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