|Overrocket||Music Group||1997 - 2004||Co-Founder, Producer, Composer, Programmer|
|Square Enix||Game Developer||2006 - 2009||Synthesizer Operator|
|Square Enix||Game Developer||2009 -||Composer, Synthesizer Operator|
Mitsuto Suzuki is a synthesizer operator at Square Enix and an acclaimed producer of electronic music. Born on April 6, 1973 in Kyoto, Suzuki grew up during a time when groups such as Yellow Magic Orchestra were popular and soon came to compose his own brand of synthesizer music. He made his professional debut at the age of 20 with the EP Voices of Planet, working under the pseudonym ARP-600, to commemorate his favourite classic synthesizer. With the help of prominent label Torema, he reached out to the Japanese techno audience on this release and received considerable attention. Suzuki developed a distinctive minimalistic electronic sound with further releases over the subsequent two years. Most notably, his competition-winning track "Medium Feedback" was included in the compilation album Daisy World Tour,produced by Yellow Magic Orchestra member Haruomi Hosono. In 1998, he conceived a critically acclaimed tribute album dedicated to Erik Satie, entitled Electric Satie — interpreting Satie’s minimalistic compositions, such as the famous piano piece Gymnopédie No. 1, in his own freestyle ambient style.
Desiring for his music to have a greater mainstream, Suzuki founded the electronic unit Overrocket with co-producer Takashi Watanabe and female vocalist Michiyo Honda in 1997. Suzuki was a mastermind of the group, taking a major role in the composing, mixing, and programming of their music. In contrast to his ambient solo work, he mostly wrote techno-pop music inspired by 80s movements for the unit. The band released five albums under the Aten Recordings label, Mariner’s Valley, PreEcho, Pop Music, Post Production, and Overrocket, each subtly distinguished in concept and sound. They are perhaps most remembered for the catchy singles "Text" and "Sunset Bicycle", which became moderately popular in Japan and Britain alike. Suzuki was also involved in some remixes with the unit, including "Our Song" for the Shop 33 EP and Denki Groove’s "Eine Kleine Melodie". In 2004, he also helped to arrange and program Seiji Toda’s long-awaited second album There She Goes published by the same record label. Around this time, Overrocket became inactive and Suzuki looked for other projects to participate in.
Suzuki’s electronic projects were soon recognised by producers at the Bemani division of Konami. With the memory of Electric Satie still resonating, he was asked to remix Satie’s Gymnopédie No. 1 for Keyboardmania 2nd Mix in 2000. Due to connections he made on this project, he received a succession of roles as a composer, remixer, and lyricist on behalf of other games. He notably contributed post production mixes of hits such as "The End of my Spiritually", "Let’s Run", and "Listen Up" to the beatmania IIDX soundtracks, many of them remarkable contrasts from their originals. For Bemani singer Sana, he also mixed "La Bossanova de Sana" and "Angel" for the studio albums Sana-mode and Sanative. However, he is perhaps best known to overseas audiences for producing the "Beyond the Bounds (Mitsuto Suzuki 020203 Mix feat. Sana)", an abstract electronic remix of the iconic vocal theme for Zone of the Enders: The 2nd Runner. Appreciative of Suzuki’s creativity, Konami included this remix on both the soundtrack and single releases for the game.
Desiring more stable employment, Suzuki joined the Square Enix music team as a synthesizer operator in 2006. To familiarise himself with the process of game sound production, he worked alongside the ensemble team of Xbox 360 shooter Project Sylpheed, developing a cutting-edge electro-orchestral sound for the project. He later explored how to push the capacity of handhelds, implementing two streamed pieces — the orchestral "Tale of the Old Nostalgic Kingdom" and the beat-heavy "Summoning the Beast God" — for Yoko Shimomura’s Heroes of Mana. Having established himself at the company, Suzuki went on implement the entire score the Wii’s Final Fantasy Fables: Chocobo Dungeon &@151; distinguishing Yuzo Takahashi’s arrangements from their Final Fantasy originals with rich orchestral samples and modern electronic beats. In another early role at the company, he produced a calming post production mix of Romancing SaGa 2’s final battle theme to close the Square Enix Battle Tracks Vol. 1. His close friend Takeharu Ishimoto also requested that he arrange the disco track "Déjà Vu" for the overseas release The World Ends With You.
Despite his job title, Suzuki has produced original albums while at Square Enix. He was the main inspiration behind the Square Enix Music Official Bootleg series released on iTunes in 2006. His personal contributions, "Split", "Jack Yourself", "Light in Darkness", "Clear", and "Common Note", exposed his warm electronica style to a new audience. He conceived many of these tracks during his personal time, but polished them using the advanced equipment in the workplace. The positive response to Suzuki’s work through the bootleg albums and streamed Internet samples convinced Square Enix to let him to compile an entire album. Entitled In My Own Backyard, it was released by the company’s record label in November 2007. Former Konami colleague Akira Yamaoka praised the release, noting that Suzuki ’seems to know how to stimulate our senses directly’ and encouraged people to ’explore the few composers who have synaesthesia like him’. Suzuki also commemorated the album with the four man concert In My Own Band at August 2008’s Festa do I-Dep. This concert was well-received by fans of experimental electronica.
During 2008, Suzuki developed his reputation for creative sound production with two contrasting projects on the DS. He worked on the murder mystery RPG Sigma Harmonics as a music producer, arranger, and synthesizer operator. He blended Masashi Hamauzu’s characteristic chamber compositions with his own electronic elements to create ethereal and abstract soundscapes. Though the score was shortened from its album version to accommodate the DS’ memory limitations, the quality of the samples was exceptional for the console. Suzuki went on to work under Naoshi Mizuta in similar roles on a very different score, Final Fantasy: The 4 Heroes of Light. Intending to revisit times of old rather than offer cutting-edge sounds, Suzuki treated the score’s simple melodies with samples imitating the NES and other early consoles. The resulting tracks were often reminiscent of Nobuo Uematsu’s classic works on the series, though the samples used were generally more rich and expressive. Nevertheless, Suzuki also pioneered some ambitious fusions of orchestral and chiptune sounds, notably with the adventurous main theme.
While working on these DS titles, Suzuki felt it was the natural time to release his second original work with Square Enix. Having accumulated some tracks during their development, he envisaged an inspiring concept for a new album, entitled Neurovision. Offering a more diverse release, he combined abstract spacey electronica with infectious digitised songs. Around the same time, he also offered his first original compositions for a game score for the flash title Gravidis alongside Ryo Yamazaki. While a landmark in a historical sense, the requested score was too brief to challenge him and he aspired to create more substantial productions. He further surprised his followers by arranging the opening theme song "Pre-Parade" of the anime Toradora! with the permission of Square Enix. The track was a surprising departure from his earlier work, with its upbeat vocals and pop flavour, but still captured the artist’s taste for experimental beats. He later closed the original concept album Music for Art, taking listeners on an imaginary journey across the universe while recounting memories of his own backyard.
Regarded by his colleagues as a reliable and friendly collaborator, Suzuki’s services were also requested on Takeharu Ishimoto’s brawler Dissidia: Final Fantasy. Working as an arranger rather than programmer, he interpreted three classic Final Fantasy themes in his trademark electronic ambient style and offered hard-hitting techno remixes of FFI’s "Battle Scene 2" and FFIX’s "Battle 1". In 2009, his expertise in electronic music impacted on an even more prominent project, Final Fantasy XIII. The artist worked closely with Hamauzu to develop the distinctive electro-orchestral sound for the score and directly arranged some ten tracks featured on the official soundtrack; he peppered compositions such as "Defiers of Fate" and "The Vile Peaks" with energetic beats and ambient samples to mesmerising effect in the game. Propelled to the spotlight with this score, he was invited to give a lecture on music production for the series at the Game Developer Conference 2011 in San Francisco; he contrasted creating the series’ scores for the PlayStation 3 and DS from both a musical and technological perspective.
In 2010, Suzuki made the transition from assistant to leader on the Parasite Eve sequel The 3rd Birthday. The artist was appointed the lead composer of the project at an early development stage, after the series’ original composer Yoko Shimomura enjoyed his solo works. Creating some 50 compositions, he carefully preserved the urban and ambient tone of the original Parasite Eve, remixing a few fan favourites along the way, while taking the series into the 21st century with numerous technological upgrades and musical innovations. The project proved demanding for him due to the release date being brought forward, but he found the overall role creatively fulfilling. He recently noted that the project inspired because, in addition to allowing him to score an entire game for the first time, he was able to work in a wider capacity as a sound producer as part of a development team. Also reprising his role on Dissidia 012: Final Fantasy for three new tracks, he offered percussive additions to music from Final Fantasy XII and Final Fantasy XIII suitable for the action-packed gameplay.
Suzuki has also recently made guest contributions to a number of album productions. Suzuki conveyed the breath of a machine on Taito’s Darius Burst Remix -Wonderworld- and, at special request from producer Akira Yamaoka, made an appearance on the original charity album Play for Japan. The artist also arranged and mixed of the most eclectic additions to the Ainu-inspired album Black Ocean on behalf of Masashi Hamauzu. In further external roles, Suzuki’s post production mixes appeared in The Scythian Steppes and the soundtrack release for the anime. Within his own company, Suzuki created special electronic renderings of classic themes for Chill SQ, X’mas Collections, and Lord of Vermilion Re:2, between exploring chiptunes on SQ Chips and ancient Japan on Sengoku IXA’s image album. In each case, he expressed his individuality while considering the wider themes of the albums. The artist has also helped to organise the involvement of several artists in the ongoing SQ series, including his former workmate note native.
Having impressed producers on Final Fantasy XIII and The 3rd Birthday, Suzuki was appointed as a composer for the ensemble score Final Fantasy XIII-2 in 2011. Wanting to take new approaches beyond traditional Final Fantasy scores, Suzuki focused on combining the organic performances of diverse vocalists and instrumentalists with electronic components and manipulations. His expansive vocal-focused themes, featuring artists such as ORIGA, Shootie HG, and Michiyo Honda, served as a particularly rich accompaniment to the game’s settings. Following this role, Suzuki went on to lead the edgy, high-tech score for Gunslinger Stratos, released in 2012 for arcades. Also returning to the field of rhythm games, he recently contributed two remixes to iNIS’ Demons’ Score and freestyle beats to Taito’s Groove Coaster Zero for iOS. In his next major project, the ever in-demand artist will visit Gran Pulse for the final time to co-compose 2013’s Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII and is expecting to build further on his approaches from Final Fantasy XIII-2.
- Various Game & Album Credits
- Official Site (Japanese)
- Official Profile (Japanese)
- Interview with Original Sound Version (English, March 2011)
© Biography by Chris Greening (September 2007). Last updated on December 30, 2012. Do not republish without formal permission.