RADWIMPS on scoring Suzume, other Makoto Shinkai films: "It's something universal."

RADWIMPS on scoring Suzume, other Makoto Shinkai films: "It's something universal."


Third time's a charm, they say. But when it comes to RADWIMPS scoring Makoto Shinkai movies, it seems like we're charmed every time.

And we're not the only ones, apparently. As of this writing, 2.6 million have watched the music video for 'KANATA HALUKA,' one of the two theme songs the J-rock band wrote for Suzume, the newest Shinkai feature film

Many recognize the band's contribution to the success of Shinkai's animated masterpieces, Kimi no Na wa (Your Name.) and Tenko no Ko (Weathering with You). RADWIMPS, after all, are very talented and have already been quite the popular act even before the motion pictures were, well, in the picture. They've released critically-acclaimed albums and huge singles such as 'Order Made' and 'Dada,' dominated their local Oricon charts, and performed in stadium shows and high-profile showcases both in Japan and abroad.


But it seems like there is something quite special about Suzume and a lot of people see that: the film has already made around 4 billion yen at the box office on its second weekend.  

"The biggest difference [with this collaboration] is that Kazuma Jinnouchi was on board with us. All the songs that he created for this film inspired me so much," Yusuke Takeda shares in an interview with Bandwagon. "Recording-wise, we did an orchestra session abroad, in England at Abbey Road Studio."

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A post shared by 野田 洋次郎 Yojiro Noda (@yoji_noda)

Yojiro Noda, who shared in a press release that recording the orchestra with Jinnouchi has given him "an experience I cannot describe in words," had more to say about the collaboration. "Two years ago when this all started, Shinkai and I [wanted] to deliver some music that was totally different from the past and we were talking about how we [could] do that. And to do so, we probably need a strong partnership with someone like him (Jinnouchi). He’s a very professional music creator who has studied a lot in that field. Kazuma really studies and puts his originality into film scores. So it was really interesting to work together."

This collaboration has borne fruit in the form of 29 tracks in one motion picture soundtrack album, including two vocal tracks that were not featured in Suzume. However, as they were written during the time the band was working on the soundtrack, both 'Tamaki' and 'Tears of Suzume' are said to still be more reflections of the film than the band itself.

Noda explains further, "For the band, it’s kind of like making history for ourselves. So it's more like a niche, you know not "right in the center" type of situation. But for Shinkai movies, from the beginning, we know that there's going to be a lot of people watching the movie and there are tons of audience out there already. It's something universal. So I have to bring something that's very much "right in the center." The goal is definitely different for Shinkai movies; it’s to impress Shinkai."

If that is indeed the goal, it seems like RADWIMPS hit the mark every time. A press release reveals that Shinkai "knew the musical demands of Suzume would be quite different from the previous two films, giving the audience a striking musical experience. RADWIMPS was one of the few musical talents that I could count on to help me make that discovery."

Last year strengthened the idea that the band really do have a thing for helping filmmakers discover their films' sound by scoring The Last Ten Years.

"It was a fresh challenge to score a live-action film for the first time," says Noda. "I experienced many painful moments trying to figure out how our music can accompany the characters and give them a push on their backs. In total, I think I’ve seen the movie close to 100 times during the process of scoring it, but when all the arrangements were done and we did the final orchestra recording, I felt the tears rolling down watching those scenes combined with the music."

With just a few lines, they were able to paint a picture of their dedication to the art of film scoring. So should we be looking forward to more films—animated and live-action—scored by RADWIMPS soon?

"In 2020, we were supposed to do a world tour, which obviously got canceled. That included a US tour, which would have been our first." Akira Kuwahara reveals. "We want to still make that happen and see all the people waiting for us internationally."

Listen to the original soundtrack of Suzume here:

This interview has been edited and condensed for brevity.