|Capcom||Game Developer||1997 - 2009||Composer|
|Capcom||Game Developer||1994 - 2009||Sound Director, Manager|
|Unique Note||Music Production||2009 -||President, Founder, Composer|
|GE-ON-DAN||Artist Collective||2010 - 2011||Member|
Tetsuya Shibata is the president of music production company Unique Note and a former manager and director at the sound section of Capcom. Born on October 24, 1973 in Osaka, music was a major part of Shibata’s upbringing, given his mother was a music teacher and singer. He studied classical piano from a young age, but his interests shifted towards rock music during his adolescence, as he was introduced to bands such as Guns N’ Roses and Led Zeppelin. The artist went on to teach himself to play the electric guitar, bass guitar, and drums and even established a band of his own. At Kansai University, he studied a four year Master’s program in Law, but continued to passionately pursue music performance and took additional studies in jazz composition. Given such experiences, the artist decided it would be satisfying to work as a full-time composer and chose to pursue roles in the video game industry at the advice of his family. In 1997, after applying to a range of companies, he accepted a job in the sound department of Capcom, having felt attracted to the warm atmosphere there.
During his initial years at Capcom, Shibata focused on composing music for fighting games. The artist initially worked as a supporting composer on Vampire Saviour 2, Vampire Hunter 2, and Plasma Sword; on such projects, he encountered many limitations imposed by arcade sound boards and therefore focused on achieving the desired sound using few sound channels. As hardware improved, he was able to offer more stylistically elaborate works on titles such as Street Fighter Zero 3 and Marvel vs. Capcom 2, particularly enjoying the freedom on the latter. However, it was with the Power Stone that Shibata made his solo debut. Like many fighting scores of the day, Shibata offered diverse stylings and moods to individually portray each of the characters in the game. He particularly experimented with jazz music throughout the project and even offered a bonus big band arrangement on its soundtrack release. The composer continued to built a reputation for his cutting-edge fighting music with Power Stone 2 and Heavy Metal: Geomatrix, the latter providing him with the opportunity to compose a hard rock soundtrack for the first time.
On 2001’s Auto Modellista, Shibata made the transition from composing arcade games to working exclusively on console games, freeing him of all major technical restrictions. Desiring to produce something more dynamic and unique compared to other racing soundtracks of the era, the composer offered a hard-edged, rhythmically-focused fusion score. The artist subsequently worked on Devil May Cry 2 and Monster Hunter under the lead of Masato Kouda. Though the former’s soundtrack was largely continuous with its predecessor, Shibata took the series in new directions with his rock-based battle themes. For the initial instalment of the best-selling Monster Hunter franchise, Shibata developed a warm acoustic sound for the setting themes and also coordinated the orchestral recording sessions. After such successes, he was appointed sound director for the first time with 2004’s Resident Evil: Outbreak. On this project, Shibata developed the musical approach of the series and managed a large team of musicians both within and outside Capcom. While the project brought administrative challenges, Shibata did not encounter many creative difficulties, given his diverse past experience in both composition and sound design.
Tetsuya Shibata’s largest project to date is Devil May Cry 3. On this title, he composed over 140 different tracks, but carefully ensured that the music came together as a cohesive whole in the context of the game after carefully considering the scenario and gameplay. In a series of innovations, Shibata offered intricate underscore for the numerous cinematic sequences, minimalist ambient soundscapes for the stage themes, and heavy metal vocal performances by Shootie HG for the battle themes, all implemented using cutting-edge technology. He returned to offer two additional tracks for Devil May Cry 3 Special Edition, compiled with a remix in the Devil May Cry Dangerous Hits album. Having demonstrated his competence for balancing creative and administrative roles, Shibata was appointed as the senior sound manager at Capcom. Due to his heavy organisational responsibilities, Shibata was unable to spend as much time composing Devil May Cry 4 and therefore sought to direct an ensemble team. He nevertheless composed a number of defining compositions for the title during weekends, including the award-nominated celestial vocal theme “Out of Darkness”, recorded with Aubrey Ashburn.
During his final years at Capcom, Tetsuya Shibata balanced many responsibilities. In addition to continuing to manage the company’s sound division, he engaged in direct supervisory and organisation roles on several projects. As the sound producer for the horror title Dead Rising, the bilingual speaker organised the involvement of numerous licensed acts across the world. As sound director on Resident Evil 5 and Monster Hunter 3, Shibata coordinated recording sessions with the Hollywood Symphony Orchestra and the FILMharmonic Orchestra Prague to increase the drama and realism of the titles. He also had supervisory and directorial roles on a number of other soundtracks, but ended up yearning to have more time to compose his own music. Among his other roles included coordination with Capcom’s record label, where he notably compiled the scores for the particularly expansive Breath of Fire Original Soundtrack Special Box. In 2009, he conceived an orchestral concert to celebrate the fifth anniversary of the Monster Hunter series, which was an enormous success both critically and commercially. It was a fitting project to conclude his time at the company.
During early 2009, Shibata resolved to leave Capcom to become a freelancer. It was a difficult decision to make, especially since it required him to leave his management positions on several ongoing games; however, he had desired to compose more music for some time and had ambitions to work on projects outside games. In May 2009, Shibata formed the independent music production company Unique Note to offer music and sound design for video games, films, television, musicals, and commercials. He asked fellow Capcom veteran Yoshino Aoki to join him as a co-composer, having admired her work on the Breath of Fire series. For their debut project, Shibata scored his first musical with Rakuen; he and Aoki were asked to create around 200 pieces of music in just under two months for this production, most of them catchy pop songs. The artist explored transmedia further by producing background music for the PlayStation 3rsquo;s 3D photo viewer PlayMemories, creating jingles for the radio channel All Night Nippon Mobile, and a series of special remixes for industrial rock artist acid android, all of which provided him with fresh new experiences.
Nevertheless, music production for video games remains a major focus for Shibata. One of his initial roles at Unique Note was the production of the cinematic music for a PSP adaptation of Fullmetal Alchemist, developed by Capcom alumni at Crafts & Meister. He and Aoki went on to handle all aspects of sound production – music, sound effects, voice recording, vocal performance, and sound editing – for the developer’s Wii action title Earth Seeker. The orchestral score for the title proved simultaneously fresh yet nostalgic, receiving warm critical reception. He has also organised the participation of Unique Note in a range of smaller projects, including smartphone productions such as Go! Go! Museum and Shall we date? Ninja Love, as well as numerous undisclosed pachislot titles. In other small roles, he appeared on the multi-composer scores to Half-Minute Hero, its sequel, and Otomedius X, between writing the trailer music of DmC: Devil May Cry in a familiar style. Between such roles, Shibata is currently setting up a music school to teach desktop music to aspiring soundtrack artists. Combining business acumen with musical experience, Shibata intends to develop Unique Note into a leading sound production studio in Japan. He is currently working on four projects simultaneously.
- Various Game & Album Credits
- Company Site (English)
- Interview with Music4Games (English, July 2008, Archived)
- Interview with Original Sound Version (English, March 2009)
- Interview with Original Sound Version (English, June 2009)
- Interview with Game-OST (English, October 2009)
- Interview with Original Sound Version (English, April 2010)
© Biography by Chris Greening (September 2010). Last updated on March 10, 2013. Do not republish without formal permission.