In a previous Developer Diary video for Deathverse: Let It Die, viewers were treated to fresh information about composer Akira Yamaoka’s involvement with the game’s soundtrack. Specifically, how he’s approaching the tone of Deathverse’s soundtrack differently than he did with 2016’s Let It Die.
With Deathverse, Yamaoka notes taking more of a “funk” approach in songs like Death Jamboree, which can be heard playing in the game’s announcement trailer. As fans of Akira Yamaoka’s work as a whole, and his work on Let It Die, we were eager to learn even more about how he’s tackling the Deathverse soundtrack.
And now, we’re excited to be able to share his answers with you on what some of his funk influences have been while working on Deathverse, his approach to crafting a game’s soundtrack, how his style has evolved, and song recommendations for anyone curious as to what he enjoys listening to when he’s not hard at work on the Deathverse soundtrack.
Akira Yamaoka on his approach to the Deathverse: Let It Die soundtrack
What were some of the inspirations behind the music and sound design for Let It Die?
Akira Yamaoka: Since the game portrays a setting where players fight for survival, I wanted to express the anxiety in the sound.
In the video, you mention Deathverse has a different, funkier style compared to Let It Die. Can you talk a bit more on how you settled on a funky style for Deathverse?
Akira Yamaoka: There are many factors that led us to settle on this style, but it started with a request from Uncle Death, who also has an important role in DEATHVERSE. Funk is certainly different for a game genre like this, but we feel that this mismatch has become one of the unique aspects of the game.
What are some funk influences (ex. musicians, songs, albums) that have resonated with you over the years, and are you drawing on any of those influences while working on Deathverse?
Akira Yamaoka: It’s probably JB. The sound in the game itself does not lean only on funk; I also used sounds like Synthwave and Future Bass, which I personally listened to in the past when they were on the rise.
How has your style and approach to music evolved from when you worked on Let It Die, to now as you’re working on Deathverse?
Akira Yamaoka: The feel of the game is different, so I wanted to express the atmosphere differently through the sounds. Also, because of the “real-time'' nature of DEATHVERSE, I was particular not only about the different genres of music, but also the sound program within the game to create interactive sound expressions and music that changes depending on the player.
In the video, you’re seen playing a 7-string Ibanez. Is this your favorite guitar to use? And, out of curiosity, what are some of the other instruments that you own that you find yourself using a lot?
Akira Yamaoka: I often use the 7-string IBANEZ. This is very technical, but I use this guitar a lot because it’s custom modified in the volume area. I also use custom-made guitars and other instruments, which depend on the style of music and how they’re expressed.
How does working on games like Deathverse and Let It Die compare to other games you’ve worked on in the past?
Akira Yamaoka: As this game is not story-based and centered on enjoying 'gameplay', I first ask myself: 'How can I preserve the essence of the gameplay? Would this choice hinder the player experience?' Rather than being particular about the music or sound. On top of that, I want to create music that will leave a strong impression on players when they play it for the first time.
What’s one of your favorite songs that you’ve created for the Deathverse soundtrack thus far?
Akira Yamaoka: Probably the Synthwave-filled track that starts at the title screen. I was very much influenced by 80’s music as well as more recently popular Synthwave when creating this track.
Not sure if this is something you can share or not, but are you collaborating with any other artists for Deathverse?
Akira Yamaoka: I can’t give many details… but I’d like to do as many collaborations as possible for the players who will enjoy this game.
What’s the creative process like for you when you’re composing music for games like Deathverse? Does it typically start with an idea, or a sound, or lyrics? All three?
Akira Yamaoka: I always have the development environment in mind and create the sounds as I play the game myself. Composing game music is different from composing regular music because not only are we creating music, we’re also creating various sound effects or in-game button sounds. Those sounds are played along with the music, so if we only focus on the music, it often ends up not matching with the game sounds. Therefore, we adjust as we create the music and other sounds at the same time.
Lastly, what are some of your favorite bands that you listen to when you aren’t busy working on Deathverse? Do you have any album recommendations for us?
Akira Yamaoka: My recommendations are:
- The Marías / CINEMA
- Sabrina Claudio / About Time
- millennium parade / THE MILLENNIUM PARADE
- Jhené Aiko / Sailing Soul(s)
- Port Noir / Cuts
- Vaundy / strobo
- The Pineapple Thief / Nothing but the Truth
- Lasten Hautausmaa / Kevät
- Alter Bridge / WALK THE SKY 2.0
- The Night Flight Orchestra / Aeromatic II
- Daniel Tompkins / Ruins
- WONK / Eyes
- Tame Impala / Innerspeaker
In closing, we want to send a huge "thank you" to Akira Yamaoka for taking the time to answer our questions about his work on Deathverse: Let It Die, and his work as a composer as a whole.
For more on Deathverse: Let It Die, be sure to read through our previous coverage of the Developer Diary featuring Akira Yamaoka, and our interview with the game's director, Hideyuki Shin, on why Deathverse isn't Let It Die 2.