14 - Is the fight with Android #16 and Imperfect Cell one of your favorites?
It seemed like you spent more time making the music more original in that episode
(I.E. - the track "16 rips off Cell's tail" on your Best of DBZ cd).
Yeah, I think that was from like episode 152 in the Japanese numbers...that's a hard one to answer, being that that was about a hundred shows ago. I might have had a little extra time to work on that fight, and it was all pretty intense. Watching Android 16 go through his good and evil, and how he's changing as a character and trying to protect people, so it's probably a combination of the magic and the plot and the creative spark.
Jon: Where there any other fights that were your favorites to work on, or that you
enjoyed more than others in general?
It was pretty cool with the Cell Jr.s, I liked that a lot. I like it when Cell gets decimated. It all kind of runs together and it's hard to answer with specifics, because I've been watching Buu lately, and there's all these other ones that I liked that were cool fights. Some of Trunks's fights were pretty neat. I think they may have overdone it with Freeza, because it seemed like they were fighting with him forever. I guess that's just where they were stuck as they were continuing to write the story, so you just kind of have to take it in stride. "Ok, they're about to end this and Freeza's just been...nope. We've got ten more episodes, and he was just playing. He wasn't actually fighting!" So some of those were kind of goofy in that way. It was a long one.
Jon: While composing and writing for fight sequences, were there
any character(s) you came to enjoy more?
Well I've always kind of liked Gokuu, I guess. I liked Trunks's story of coming back from the future. I really liked Gohan when he was a little kid. When he grows up he really turns into a big boy in High School and beyond. I thought they did a really good job of changing Gohan into a more grown up character. Another one I really liked was the big giant Namek, Guru, who was the leader of the planet. I'd always thought he was kind of cool. I wish I could have had some of the episodes that were done before I started to help introduce him. I ended up giving him a theme anyway, and then that theme, the kind of spirit of him lived on in Dende, so that's why you hear a lot of musical quotes from that mood whenever Dende's around.
15 - What happened with Gohan's first SSJ2 transformation? In the original
version, the Japanese song "Day of Destiny - Spirit vs Spirit" was composed
for the transformation, exclusively. In your version, you used a good piano
tune to build up the scene during the episode, but seemed to treat the actual
transformation like no big deal, using standard space-filling music. (note:
I'm referring to the episode in which Cell crushes #16's head, triggering the
Any number of factors could have been taking place there. I might not have had as much time as I might have wanted to spend on it, but there's sometimes when you get a deadline thrown at you. If I didn't do it justice, then I guess that maybe that would be the one possible thing. It certainly wasn't a question of trying to make it sound like Spirit vs Spirit, because I hadn't been told beforehand what was done with that scene musically. That didn't enter into any of the creative discussions with the director.
Jon: Have you heard "Day of Destiny, Spirit Vs Spirit?"
Yes, but only after I had already composed the music for that episode. Interestingly enough, I hear a lot of synthesizers in it.
Jon: Yeah, but they're Japanese synthesizers.
Mine are Japanese synthesizers.
Jon: Yeah well...you're not Japanese?
No I'm not, but I've got all kinds of Roland gear. Roland has to love me. I certainly would just like to have in front of me that particular scene to play through it and think about it directly because it's too many episodes ago to be fresh in my mind. All I can offer is that at the moment it must have seemed like the right thing to do. What might make more sense is that the transformation continued in the beginning of the following episode, so I might have put more emphases on that rather than the beginning of the transformation, as opposed to how the Japanese handled it. That seems like what I would do in that kind of situation. If something's going to go over more than one episode and it isn't complete yet, I'm saving some of the energy for as it happens. I certainly try to do that. If you've seen where Gokuu comes back from the spirit world (in the Buu saga) and he's showing Buu the different levels of Super Saiya-jins, the neat thing about that one was that it all happened at once and it kind of allowed for an instant build up, where I didn't have to sustain the emotion for a long time or for over two shows. Hopefully in the second part of the show we're alluding to how some if it gets intensified in the following episode.
16 - What are your thoughts on the AB dub recycling the score from
the "Mega Man" series for their version of DBZ?
I think that's a good example of why they should have had somebody like me. If they wanted to use music, they should have tried to get the rights to my music, created new music, or used the Japanese music because Mega Man is NOT Dragonball Z. You can't put them together. Earlier you asked about what kinds of music I like, well I like opera, symphonic music, classical music and all kinds of music. I used to hate opera when I was younger, but then I wanted to explore it because it's an avenue that I hadn't studied very much, so it just happened that last night I happened to go to an opera, and it sounded to me like the music didn't fit the story. The story was very grueling and about evil, death, and betrayal, and stuff like that, and all of the songs sounded like beer drinking songs from the 19th century. They were all happy, tap your toe songs, and it didn't go together with the plot, and I though "Boy, this is stupid." So I have a feeling that if I were to watch a Mega Man music score used for Dragonball Z, I would not enjoy it to much. That may have fit Mega Man, but with that kind of attitude they might as well just pick any music and slap it on there. How about using Star Wars? It's a lack of respect to the product, and it's getting it out the door. I know a few people who've said they don't like what I'm doing, but I've got to wonder what they feel about what AB is doing.
17 - What might you do differently if you had full creative control
of Dragonball Z musically?
That's a complicated question. It would be sort of hard to do because if Funimation had come to me and asked to make all of the decisions, I would have to have spent another interval of time, maybe a couple of months, thinking about what I would do. I have attempted to immerse myself in the goals of what the task at hand is, and to do it artistically with high regard for the content of the show dramatically and emotionally. I'd like to think that you can just listen to the music itself and you can see the Dragonball Z characters doing whatever it is they were doing. Like, if you listen to a particular segment you can think Oh, they're fighting right now, and this one guy's pulling himself up off the ground after almost being disintegrated, and if you can see that just listening to the music than I feel like I've done something. I'm afraid I can't answer that question with any real concrete answer. I appreciate the artistic collaboration that I have with Funimation, and that's the nature of writing music for film, and historically speaking it's even the nature of working in an opera venue. In a sense I'm even collaborating with the people who animated the show, because I watch the visuals, I dissect them and study them intensely, and have them framed by one thirtieth of a second all the way through 22 minutes of action. You have to respect that in a collaboration that there's going to be a multitude of ideas, and you come together and you pick from the best ideas that make the overall goal take place. I'd rather deal with a reality question like that than a what if question.
18 - What plans do you have after you're finished writing and composing
music for Dragonball Z?
Well I'd love to do Dragonball GT. If that comes to take place that would be cool. If anyone wants to cast their vote for that, I appreciate it, but I also have other animation projects that are in development now that will probably be coming out in the future, and they're pretty exciting. One's geared towards adults and young adults, and sort of takes place in a cyber world. That's about all I can say about it right now.
Jon: Can you give us a name?
I'm afraid I can't. There's two or three projects that I'm touching on right now, one that's in production and I'll step in on in a year or so, or maybe more like 8 or 9 months. It's really an awesome thing, and the animation is so awesome, and almost seems real, but in a fantasy kind of a way, because nothing real is so exotic. It's a lot like what was done with the Final Fantasy movie. I'm not just working for projects in Dallas either, so there's a lot going on.
19 - Any last words for Dragonball Z fans who enjoy and criticize your work?
Well, I appreciate the dialogue from fans. I read everything that's sent to me, and I try to respond to everything, and I appreciate that the majority of people have good manners. There's been a few occasions where somebody forgets their manners in the passion of the moment, I suppose, or because of the detached atmosphere. If you were face to face with somebody you might not say the same thing that you might say in an email. For the most part though, I get a lot of positive feedback, and sometimes I'm not accustomed to praise. This is my first situation where so many people know about the work that I'm working on, and I appreciate the people who have sent me compliments and support. I get a lot of emails where people say "sorry these other people are so negative, but they're just this one element of Dragonball Z fans, and you should ignore them because what you're doing is great." Not everybody's going to like what you do, but the way I see it is because I try to do the very best I can, and stay true to what the show is about, then you get the recognition for that.
Click here to listen to "Goku Battles 19"