Over the past 21 years, during good times and bad, one of the most consistently well-regarded aspects of the Sonic the Hedgehog series has been its sound design. While a multitude of composers and performers are responsible for this, the man who holds the most influence in the modern era is Jun Senoue, who in recent times has acted as sound director for Sonic Generations and composed the Sonic 4 music.
He’s a man who likes to keep himself busy – if a quick peek at his production history on Sega Retro doesn’t show you that, then consider that at Summer of Sonic he didn’t appear to have a moment of rest between backstage interviews, two signing sessions, Jam with Jun and the Crush 40 set! Thankfully, before the day took its toll I was able to sit down with him to chat about his start in the business, Sonic Generations and the process of making Sonic music in general. Take a look:
Retro: How did you get into writing music, and specifically how did you get into writing music for video games?
Senoue: Actually I was a big fan of Namco stuff, arcade stuff like Mappy from the mid-80s. After that I was a little bit away from video games. In the early 90s I was surprised by Sonic the Hedgehog for the Genesis, the Mega Drive. I joined Sega back in 1993. I just submitted my stuff to Sega and they accepted. I was totally surprised, those were my favourite games! It was a great opportunity to join Sega and luckily I had a chance to be part of Sonic 3′s music in the first year of my Sega life.
Retro: Were there any musicians that inspired you as you grew up?
Senoue: I was a big fan of a UK pop band called Duran Duran, and that was the reason I got a bass when I was 14. The bass player for them looked much cooler than the guitar player! Also I played the keyboard for a long time, but I found that the keyboard player and the drummer stayed at the back side of the stage. The people at the front of the stage were much more active and I just wanted to be a part of that. So I purchased a bass, because of John Taylor from Duran Duran. But after that I found that some guitar players had nice guitar solos in the middle of the songs, and I thought “Oh, that’s what I want to do!” so I switched from bass to guitar when I was 15, 16? So yes, Duran Duran was one of my favourite bands when I was young and also lots of hard rock and hair metal bands.
Hit “Read more” to learn which game spent a year in production without any sound direction and find out Jun’s favourite Sonic songs!
In the heart of San Diego as the blood from the San Diego ComicCon pumps through the city, the House of Blues was bumping last night with the ’80s Hair Guitar stylings of Crush 40 belting out fan favourites and all new tracks, and a grand outpouring of love for the spiky Blue Blur from all 800 or so in attendance.
And Sonic Retro was there in force to experience it.
After a little meetup at a nearby Yard House with some of our older members and a few other fans, we made our way to House of Blues to discover that the line was already stretching around three corners of a block with people eager to attend Sega of America’s Second Annual celebration of all things Sonic. And while those of us in line joked about the stranger sides of the fandom, we ran into a familiar face frantically scurrying around the block to make sure the line was moving: Sega of America’s Sonic Generations Brand Manager Aaron “Ruby Eclipse” Webber. After some small talk, we left him on his way to continue making sure the line was moving at a steady pace.
As a little bit of a game after letting him go, a few of us wagered on a social experiment: if the six of us belted out loudly the first four lines of Live and Learn, how many people would join in? The result was far greater than expected and can only be truly enjoyed by the video captured of it. Keep an eye out here as we’ll post it once I’m able to get on an Internet service that can handle video uploading.
With that, we went inside the club.
Crush 40, the band that performed the theme songs for past Sonic games such as both Sonic Adventure titles and Sonic Heroes, has put samples of three of their songs that will be on their upcoming EP. While none of the songs are tied to a new Sonic game, one of them is related to the franchise.
The first of these songs, Sonic Youth, heavily references past songs they made or remixed for the Sonic franchise such as Open Your Heart, Live and Learn, His World and Sonic Boom. The as of yet untitled EP will be available on iTunes sometime in the future. The full versions will be performed in Tokyo later this week.
Looking to grab Sonic Generations’ True Blue album in a more tangible way than slapping a random download onto your media player? Lead Sonic music honcho and Crush 40 guitarist Jun Senoue is selling copies of the album at his official website for $55 with the added incentive that he’ll autograph the case for you.
On top of that, the first few orders also get a Sonic themed black guitar pick, something that might go well for those very few of you that dropped some serious ring for a replica of Senoue’s Sonic-themed ESP guitar.
Supplies may be limited, so for those wanting to get their hands on the CD, head on over to JunSenoue.com’s store and get it before it’s gone.
This has been quite the year in terms of Sonic the Hedgehog music releases. We received the amazing deluxe version of the Sonic the Hedgehog 1&2 Soundtrack. We just got the first official release of the Japanese soundtrack to the fan-favorite Sonic the Hedgehog CD. We have all been jamming to the love letter that is the Sonic Generations soundtrack, though its official release is still over a month away. And of course, we did get those Best-Of compilations for Sonic Adventure, Adventure 2, and Sonic Heroes, though those seem so far away. Well, get ready to add another music album to the pile.
History of Sonic Music 20th Anniversary Edition is a 42-track two-disc music compilation spanning every major title in Sonic’s two-decade career, starting with the original Sonic the Hedgehog and ending with last year’s Sonic Colors. If you want to be kept in the dark over what the track listing is, refrain from continuing on. Just know that only seven of the 42 tracks are repeats from the 20 Years of Sonic Music/History of the 1st Stage releases in each region’s respective collector’s edition. Those that are have been marked with a handy asterisk, for those keeping score.
Over a week ago, we made available the full Classic version of City Escape’s stage music in Sonic Generations and the download ticker showed you all ate it up. Some even caught the Endless Mine reference within the auto-tuning (meaning yes, there was a point to the auto-tuning.)
Thanks to the Japanese trailer for City Escape, instead of the generic butt rock techno we got, we catch our first listen to the new modern remix of “Escape form the City”, featuring new vocals by series singers Tony Harnell and Ted Poley.
Opinion injection time: I don’t know about this one. I hope it’s just a studio draft because the vocals just sound like the singers are tired or have food in their mouths. There’s no strength in the guitars either. It just sounds passe and lackluster.
What do you guys think?
We gave plugs to some of Sonic Boom’s debut music earlier, and one of the more requested songs so far has easily been the Classic Remix of “Escape from the City” that will be used in Sonic Generations without any of the audience voices.
We hear you loud and clear. While the recent dissection of the demo yielded its own musical results, Escape from the City was missing from the included files.
But Sonic Retro has its ways…