|Hexidecimal||Record Label||1998 - 2007||Founder, Producer, Artist|
|Sega (Sonic Team / Wavemaster)||Game Developer||2003 -||Composer|
|Uchu Young||Music Group||2001 -||Artist, Composition, Keyboards|
|GE-ON-DAN||Artist Collective||2009 - 2011||Member|
Hideaki Kobayashi is a prolific Sega composer and independent artist best known for leading the soundtracks for the Phantasy Star series. Born on October 18, 1973 in Tokyo, Kobayashi developed a great interest in creating music while learning to play the electone in his youth. During his teenage years, he performed in a brass band, gained considerable knowledge of music theory, and composed some music to accompany a friend’s game. Deciding to pursue music as a career, he attended the Pan School of Music for four years and started working on karaoke productions. While there, he found his own personal label Hexadecimal and released two original albums, Asterisk and Technosphere. After graduation, he reflected his stylistic versatility further by releasing Karen and Evening Sonata – the former a collection of classical piano trios, the latter featuring experiments in electronic music. He also participated alongside various game musicians on the @MIDIs series of albums under the alias HIDE-AKI. Even before joining Sega, Kobayashi boasted the rare ability to be able to write in different styles, while still having individual musical signatures.
Desiring stable employment, he gained the interest of numerous game companies when he submitted demo tapes to their sound departments and decided to work at Sega from 1998. His first works included sound effects for Let’s Make a J-League Pro Soccer Club, some music for Atsumare! GuruGuru Onsen, and voice acting for Roommania 203. Just a year into his employment at Sega, Kobayashi served as the sound director on Phantasy Star Online. Deciding to take a progressive approach compared to other RPGs, he portrayed the personal focus yet alien setting with subtle blends of acoustic and electronic forces throughout, complemented with suitable sound effects. Among the setpieces were the opening theme, which captured an unfolding boundless journey with rich vocals, as well as the expansive and chaotic final battle themes. Following this magnum opus, Kobayashi returned on the four episodic adaptations of the game for other platforms. In each case, he pursued major contrasts in mood between the instalments and increasingly ambitious fusions, always challenging the expectations of game players. He also pursued increasingly sophisticated mixing methods and realistic sample libraries to yield a cutting-edge sound.
Since 2003, Kobayashi has made a wide range of contributions on the Sonic series too. He initially offered a range of fitting compositions to the fighting game Sonic Battle, the retro-styled platformer Sonic Advance 3, and the compilation Sonic Mega Collection Plus. In each case, Kobayashi carefully balanced his distinctive musicality with consideration of the in-game expectations. Also involved in some external productions, Kobayashi was given the opportunity to take a leading role on an anime score when Sega’s sound division Wavemaster were surprisingly hired to score the two episodes of Submarine 707R. He focused on enhancing the drama of the visuals with mature orchestral underscore. The subsequent year, he made a handful of contributions to Shuka no Toki: Age of Chaos with the same team. His aggressive fusions of rock and techno were also well-received on the first three arcade adaptations and first console version of the street racing manga Initial D. Between such roles, he was entrusted to create sound effects for Sakura Taisen 3 and Sakura Taisen 4. He also accepted guest roles on the soundtracks Onimusha: Blade Warriors,Astro Boy, and two arranged albums.
His talents were also sought for the main Sonic series at last on Sonic Heroes, where he created an intense electro-orchestral final boss theme. Following this success, he was asked to take a much larger role on 2006’s Sonic the Hedgehog and offered a range of innovations; he brought a mature cinematic flavour to the various event themes and characteristically offered intense hybrids of orchestral, electronic, and rock music for boss compositions. He subsequently returned to Sonic and the Secret Rings and Sonic Riders: Zero Gravity in smaller roles, in each case being responsible for the more serious cinematic cues. Continuing to pursue projects outside Sega, he released two new original albums through his personal label between such assignments, exploring electronic directions on Blossom and world music influences on BGM001-008. Also a member of the technopop unit Uchu Young, he has worked on several major songs on their behalf, including two humorous collaborations with Hudson’s Master Takahashi and the opening theme for the radio program teknohauswt. He has also made guest contributions on two anime cover albums – one featuring J-Pop trio MUH~, the other punk remixes of sports themes – as well as nanosounds’ original album Delight in Daylight.
In 2006, Kobayashi created a spectacularly diverse range of music Phantasy Star Universe and its expansion. To enhance the realism and drama of these scores, he organised recording sessions with the Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra and Hollywood Session Orchestra. He went on to offer several innovations on Phantasy Star Zero in order to maintain the series’ distinctive electro-orchestral sound, despite the technological limitations of the DS. He also participated in the three Phantasy Star Portable titles, externally developed by Alfa System; he principally served as a supervisor to an external music team, though nevertheless contributed several theme songs and headlining compositions of his own. Always able to juggle roles on diverse projects, he has been involved on Sega’s crossover titles dedicated to the Summer Olympics and Winter Olympics, as both a composer and sound designer. At request of their sound directors, he also contributed some cinematic underscore and dramatic action themes for Sonic Unleashed, Sonic Colors, and NiGHTS: Journey into Dreams.
Kobayashi has been networking more extensively with the game musicians in recent years. After producing an intimate chamber arrangement of Mushihimesama’s ending theme for the series’ recent multi-artist tribute, he went on to become a founding member of the sound’s creator alliance GE-ON-DAN and contributed two special tracks to the group’s original albums. Also reputed for his abilities as a songwriter through the Phantasy Star series, Kobayashi was also requested to produce the song “Tokyo Tower in 2100” for Akiko Hasegawa. Between guest contributions on Rhythm Thief and the Emperor’s Treasure and Mario & Sonic at the London 2012 Olympics Games, Kobayashi has focused most of his recent attention on the free-to-play success Phantasy Star Online 2. Returning as sound director, he has maintained the series’ distinctive fusion style, while taking epic and emotional new directions. Kobayashi has demonstrated he is able to work in a range of styles and moods since his debut, constantly balancing his scoring duties with independent work.
- Various Album & Game Credits
- Company Site (Japanese)
- Official Profile (Japanese, Archived)
- Interview with RocketBaby (English, February 2001)
© Biography by Chris Greening (September 2010). Last updated on December 30, 2012. Do not republish without formal permission.