Interview by Chief Editor
April 2020 6 min read
Rika Muranaka is a renowned Japanese composer, musician, and producer based in Los Angeles, California. Her composition of The Best Is Yet To Come for the Metal Gear Solid soundtrack brought her into the prominence among millions of gamers. As one of the main features in our TwentyEightyFour interview series, Muranaka talks to us about her work with Hideo Kojima, experiences in the industry, moving from analog to digital and her forthcoming virtual reality projects by her company VR Innovator Inc.
(VC) Over 20 years is an industry is classified as veteran status. Has your tenure and recognition in the industry happen organically or it was part of a plan?
(Rika) I never planned and not everyone plans. When I started to work for Hideo Kojima at the beginning of Metal Gear Solid, The company only had 20 people on the team, and we talked about what each other anticipated in sales, we laughed. Maybe 1 million units? or maybe sales all over the world? This was a pretty high number for Hideo and he hoped so. We sold over 6 million over a year. Following this as we moved into the production of MGS2 (Metal Gear Solid 2), we were given a larger budget, and this allowed me to work with more music, giving a sense of greatness and purpose, that’s when I felt the project could be big.
(VC) Outside all your creative work and collaborative accomplishments, what has changed with your process of creating music?
(Rika) well, I haven’t changed from the beginning. I’m a pioneer always challenging and fighting for new technology to push the limits. When I started with Hideo, that was a period in time when we could put a full orchestra in the PlayStation video game without thinking about the capacity of memory within the game platform. I could record with full capacity for the high quality of music digitally in 192khz and 5.1 and 7.1 sound. It was intriguing! I consider myself really lucky to have experienced that history of a recording era. Not many people know that we had to use tape and splice the 2-inch analog tape to put it together if we made mistakes. Now you can do it without cutting the tape [Rika Laughs].
I am honored and I feel like I was part of history and a good beginning of the gaming industry. Now, I am developing VRARAI and IoT. With music, I am using technology to heal DNA and repair brain circuits
(VC) Your composition of “The Best Is Yet To Come” track is still perhaps one of your most recognized works. How does this make you feel?
(Rika) I am grateful and I really appreciate that I had a chance to record that song. That was a great time! That the song is recognized by all the gamers and because of that music, I get invited by Comicon all over the world. Last year, they made vinyl and fans came to get my autograph at the San Diego Comicon. I was so impressed and wowed. People came from all over the world from Thailand to see me? And I asked for my autograph! These events were sold out! I am honored and I feel like I was part of history and a good beginning of the gaming industry. Now, I am developing VR AR AI and IoT. With music, I am using technology to heal DNA and repair brain circuits. So I am always evolving with technology.
Rika signing autographs at San Diego Comicon, 2019 at the Mundo booth Photo courtesy of VR Innovator Inc
(VC) You introduced Harry Gregson-Williams to the Hideo Kojima and the MGS franchise, how did this come about?
(Rika) Hideo contacted Hanz Zimmer and got rejected. So I contacted Harry Gregson-Williams, and was able to convince him over dinner. That’s what I did and oversaw everything, from budget and his composition for next 20yrs [Rika Laughs]. I am glad I don’t have that job anymore, so I can concentrate on my own projects, I feel great now and I see there are more opportunities more than ever. Thank God!
(VC) What makes you create the work you do. Are you in any form spiritual or psychological driven like many artists for muses?
(Rika) I’m a creative person and I write music because I want to. I am spiritual and in tune with the world. I see dead people and I hear voices. I don’t want to freak people out. But I can see ghosts [Rika Laughs]. I love technology and always researching the next thing, like what can I do with music and technology? This is always my motivation.
(VC) What can you candidly tell young aspiring creative professionals or entrepreneurs about success and risk in the creative sector?
(Rika) I was stupid. I always put my money to do something. But the smart person will find OPM (other people’s money ) [Rika Laughs]. So don’t use your money to make something. Right now I am still Making VR therapy for the next online education program. I raised seed money from a VC (Venture Capitalist), but it’s hard for me to find anyone to put money for the next level. So, I keep investing my own money to keep my VR business [Rika Laughs].
..if I can go back and live with the moment of great jazz musicians and put a dream band again, that would be fabulous! Miles Davis, Bill Evans, John Coltrane, Charlie Parker and put Tupac
(VC) Some mention different historical times as a period they admire for artistic affluence or culture If you can time-warp to any era to collaborate with its culture, what time would it be and why?
(Rika) Well, if I can go back and live with the moment of great jazz musicians and put a dream band again, that would be fabulous! Miles Davis, Bill Evans, John Coltrane, Charlie Parker and put Tupac [Rika Laughs]. Maybe I can do that with the VR Dream session.
Fans with the soundtrack of Metal Gear Solid Photo courtesy of VR Innovator Inc
(VC) At this stage of your professional accomplishments, If you could collaborate with any brand or public figure in business or the Creative sector who would it be and why?
(Rika) I would love to work with Elon Musk that’s for sure! I want to work with the next level of technology and heal people without pharmaceutical medicines. He can understand what I’m trying to do. Definitely with Elon Musk to innovate a new way of living! He is changing the world and I can change the world with new technology.
(VC) What kind of work or upcoming music projects can the world expect from Rika Muranaka and VR Innovator Inc within the next 5 years?
(Rika) I want to do a live streaming VR concert and connect with everyone at home, heal people with VR technology. I think this can happen within the next 5 years If and when I get funded. Healing people through VR technology and music, letting people feel the music and that will heal DNA and repair brain circuits.