Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Higedriver Interview: Talking "Maware!", Love for Chiptunes and Rock music


Maware! Setsugetsuka (Unbreakable Machine-Doll ED), Fubuki (Kantai Collection ED) and Uraomote Fortune (Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun ED). You may know these anisongs but do you know the man behind them? A top musician in the chiptunes scene, Hige Driver has been steadily creating chart-topping anisong hits since his breakout success with Unbreakable Machine-Doll's sensational ending theme in 2013.

We sat down for a chat with the Yamuguchi native about his career, inspirations and plans for the future when he came down to Singapore to spin at STGCC 2015's DJ Night recently.

How did you get your start as a music producer?

I liked playing games a lot when I was young, on 8-bit consoles such as the NES (Nintendo Entertainment System) and the Gameboy. I enjoyed the music in the games and wanted to make my own so I decided to get into chiptunes (8-bit music). While doing chiptunes, I felt quite restricted as the market for it was very niche. I decided to move out of it and that was when I began producing anisongs.

Tell us more about your musical influences and inspirations!

When I was really young, the first CDs I bought were from (Japanese rock bands) Mr. Children and SPEED. They had a lot of influence on me. I also gain my inspiration from old Japanese songs, which I find have very nice melodies. I incorporate those melodies into my songs.

"Sign" by Mr. Children

Wow! How long do you usually take to produce a song?

For my self-produced chiptunes, the production time is very short. It takes around 6 hours or so to get a song done. As for anime and game music, it normally takes around 1 to 2 weeks as I have to communicate back and forth with the production team.

Higedriver spinning at STGCC 2015's DJ Night

Of the many songs you have written, which is your favourite?

That's a bit difficult... Well, if I had to choose one, it would be "Maware! Setsugetsuka". It's requested and played in clubs and at anisong events. Just seeing everyone getting hyped up by the song and having a good time makes me really happy too.

Interesting! Speaking of "Maware! Setsugetsuka", what was the inspiration behind it?

When the light novel for Unbreakable Machine-Doll (Kikou Shoujo wa Kizutsukanai) was announced to be adapted into an anime, I felt that a scene of the dolls (and people) spinning would be very beautiful. It would be very fun for everyone to be spinning around at the chorus. That was how I got the inspiration.

Higedriver's viral hit, "Maware! Setsugetsuka"

Do you enjoy the animes which you've produced music for?

Yes, absolutely! When I start making the songs, the opening/ending sequence is not animated yet and I am provided only with a still picture to work from. I feel really touched when I watch the final animated sequence, paired together with my music.

Are there any plans for you to move into other genres of music?

I'd like to go into rock music. Chiptunes and anisongs are mostly subsets of otaku culture. Rock is more mainstream and heard by everyone so I'd definitely like to venture into that territory.

Recently, you also formed a new unit, "Heart's Cry" with (fellow music producers) Yuyoyuppe and baker. How is the experience collaborating with others compared to working solo?

For Heart's Cry, I am working on the main melody while Yuyoyuppe and Baker are working on the instruments. I feel that both are just as enjoyable. However, when I work with others, many different new ideas will come flowing in to me so it feels more fun!

Higedriver and Yuyoyuppe released an exclusive EP for STGCC

Besides producing music, you also have your own band, HigedriVAN! Could you tell us more about it?

HigedriVAN is formed with me as the center and we are currently making music for games. I'd also like to do many things with the band in the future that I can't do as a solo musician.

Higedriver with his band, HigedriVAN

Thank you for your time! Before we end, what are your plans for the future?

While I’m currently doing a lot of anisongs, my core is still chiptunes. Chiptunes are the most original songs I make as they come from my heart. I make the songs because I really like it while anime and game music are mostly work projects. I’d definitely like to do more chiptunes and participate in more events.

We wonder which big anisong hit will the man come up with next! STGCC annual DJ Night did not fail to disappoint again as both Yuyoyuppe and Higedriver brought the crowd to fever pitch in the closing hours of the convention. We look forward to seeing both of them back on our shores soon!

Did youget a copy of Higedriver and Yuyoyuppe's STGCC X Motoloid Exclusive EP?

Until then, don't forget to complete the STGCC Fan Survey for who you'd like to see next year and Like our Facebook page for the latest updates on Japanese pop culture events in Singapore!