An evening with Uematsu, the musician of Final Fantasy



Maybe Uematsu and Roth won’t change the all line up.

After the concert, a small group of around 100 fans gather in the Crimson Lounge down the street, anxiously pecking at tiny appetizers and sipping overpriced cocktails. They paid $ 100 each for tickets to that after party for the chance to meet Uematsu and get his autograph, which at $ 100 a pop is what Mark Hamill orders at comic book conventions. This should serve as a fairly clear measure of Uematsu’s place in the game’s pantheon of gods.

Finally, Uematsu descends the stairs into the basement living room, which quickly fills with applause. “We love you,” cries Orolfo; the crowd agrees. The fans want pictures, want to shake hands, want to approach Uematsu. “We just wanna party with you guys!” Roth says, but it quickly becomes clear that a relaxed date won’t be possible. The pair sit down at a table with stacks of Sharpies and a line quickly forms. Everyone got a pre-signed CD of the show when they walked in the door, but everyone wants a personal minute with the songwriter. They want the Moment.

I already had my Moment in a roundtable interview a few years ago which resulted in Uematsu signing the best thing I could think of: my first sold out Japanese print of Final Fantasy IV Celtic Moon. So I hang on to the bar, watching the procession of fans. “It’s an honor,” said one. “Thank you, nice to meet you too,” Uematsu said in English, a phrase he clearly practiced and used thousands of times.

A couple tell Uematsu that they performed his music at their wedding. Another fan actually proposes the wedding, only half-jokingly. Still others brought their own treasures to sign; a copy of Final Fantasy II, a sheet music book. Uematsu waved for hours, barely touching his beer, never faltered, still beaming. He lives the dream of a million post-war Japanese children; he’s a rock star in America.


Photo: Jon Snyder /

“I would really love to tour America with the Black Mages,” Uematsu said, referring to his rock band which includes current and former Square Enix musicians. They have toured Japan twice, playing jagged renditions of Final fantasy music, and made an American appearance in 2005.

At one point over the past few years, Uematsu has altered his physical appearance to match his inner rock star, growing his graying hair down to shoulder length. At the Kabuki hotel, seated near the koi pond, he has her tied up in a scarf.

“We all grew up listening to American music, we were surrounded by American music since we were kids. So as adults, to do a concert in America, I think everyone would be really happy. A lot. free time in our schedules would be really difficult. “

Uematsu left Square Enix in 2004, becoming independent and creating his own music production company and label. He walked away from Final fantasy for a while, delegating composition tasks to in-house composers while exploring a variety of other indie game projects. A week ago, Square Enix announced that Uematsu will return to score Final Fantasy XIV.

“With some precedents Final fantasy games, I was so busy that I had to share the tasks with other composers, but this time I compose everything myself, “he says.” To control the whole soundtrack, it’s easier to in certain respects. “

Uematsu says he’s also composing the soundtracks for two more Square Enix games to be announced later this year. He is also working on a solo album of children’s music. The album will be released in Japanese and English, in tribute to his fans around the world.

Orchestras led by Arnie Roth, he says, can’t believe the fan reaction. While some fans may show up at the symphony in T-shirts and jeans or even cosplay, Roth says they are “better than the regular audience.”

“With classical audiences, there are always 70 or 80 year olds who start coughing at the end of a very silent triple piano, and all of a sudden, it’s ruin. A classical audience likes to leave before the end of the concert. They want their cars to stand out first. “

Final fantasy the fans don’t want to go home, ”he laughs.

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