Play For Japan: The Album | Artists

© Yoshitaka Amano
Akira Yamaoka
Arthur Inasi
Bear McCreary
Chance Thomas
Hip Tanaka.β
Inon Zur, feat. The Lyris Quartet
Jason Graves
Koji Kondo
Laura Karpman, w/Lisbeth Scott
Laura Shigihara
Mitsuto Suzuki
Nobuko Toda
Nobuo Uematsu
Penka Kouneva
Sean Murray
Tommy Tallarico
Woody Jackson
Yasunori Mitsuda

Akira Yamaoka – “Ex Animo”

The acclaim accorded to composer and sound designer Akira Yamaoka by critics and audiences alike confirms his status as one of the most respected artists in the videogame industry. Known to many by name and many more by his work, Yamaoka has contributed over 20 years’ worth of innovative sound design to games. Yamaoka joined Konami in 1993 to work on Sparkster: Rocket Knight Adventures 2. There he had the opportunity to contribute to a number of landmark titles including Snatcher and Castlevania: Symphony of the Night.

As impressive as those titles would be on any artists’ resume, it’s Yamaoka’s work on the Silent Hill series that helped define his style and place in the industry. A haunting score and ethereal effects were his essential contributions to one of gaming’s first true horror experiences. After Silent Hill, Yamaoka served as composer or producer for every game in the franchise released to date. He also contributed to the score of the 2006 film adaptation of Silent Hill.

In 2010, Yamaoka joined Grasshopper Manufacture as Chief Sound Director, where he is currently putting the final touches on the psychological-action thriller Shadows of the Damned.

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Arthur Inasi – “We Are One”

M-CUE is a Trinidadian-born Producer/Lyricist/SFX Lead/Senior Sound Designer at Harmonix Music Systems. He was once guitarist and vocalist in rock band Sons of You, MC in BQEZ, and Musical Director of Oxytocin, a collective of videogame developer musicians and producers. His music is made up of tough beats, danceable hooks, organic/synth hybrids, and vocal sampling. His music is a mishmash of hip-hop, electronic, dancehall, and ethnic grooves.

A natural lyricist and songwriter, Cue often samples himself and his peers, and will even write something pretty from time to time (just not that often ;P). This song is a departure from his usual style, and comes from a part of his musical ‘heart’ that doesn’t usually get exposed. Look out for the upcoming album “Time Boxing” – Cue’s first solo release since forming Oxytocin. Released 2011 @ Also, his music video for the single “Mouse and Friend” if you’re looking for a fun, videogame-related video:

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Bear McCreary – “Maverick Regeneration”

Bear McCreary started playing Nintendo and Sega games at the same time he first took up the piano, at the age of six.  He practiced both everyday.  After graduating from the University of Southern California in composition, he was launched into pop culture with his groundbreaking score to the hit series Battlestar Galactica, composing “the most innovative music on TV today” (Variety Magazine).

McCreary’s many other credits include the film Step Up 3D, and series such as Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, The Walking Dead, and Human Target, for which he assembled the largest orchestra in the history of series television. His videogame credits include Capcom’s Dark Void, its 8-bit spin-off Dark Void Zero, and Sony’s hit SOCOM 4: US NAVY SEALs.

McCreary composed, orchestrated and conducted “Maverick Regeneration.” The electric guitars were performed by Brendon Small, creator of the acclaimed series Metalocalypse and leader of the influential metal band Dethklok.

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Chance Thomas – “Rise Up”

Chance Thomas has created original music for some of the most lucrative entertainment properties in the world, including James Cameron’s Avatar, Lord of the Rings, King Kong, Star Wars and Marvel Comics. He has a track record of winners: The ChubbChubbs won an Academy Award. Rise Above the Blues won an Emmy Award.

His music has underscored more than one billion dollars in film and videogame sales worldwide, and is honored by more than 40 music awards and nominations. Chance serves on the Board of Directors for the Game Audio Network Guild, on the Audio Advisory Board for the Game Developers Conference, and is an ordained minister in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

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Hip Tanaka.β – “HVC-1384”

Joining Nintendo as sound engineer in 1980, Hip Tanaka’s major contributions include audio/hardware development for the arcade, Famicom, Game Boy, and more. Under the names Hip Tanaka and H. Tanaka, he provided music, sound effects, and sound programming on several titles.

In 1998, Tanaka designed, planned, and developed the Game Boy Camera. The following year, he left Nintendo for Creatures, Inc., producers of the Pokémon card game, where he was appointed president in 2001.

Since leaving Nintendo, Tanaka has worked on a wide variety of projects under the name Hirokazu Tanaka, including TV anime series and composing the main theme song for the Pokémon film. He also produced five tracks for Minna No Uta (Everyone’s Songs), a five-minute TV and radio program on Japan’s national broadcasting network, NHK.

In 2007, Tanaka began performing chiptunes, techno, and electronica live at various clubs and cafes under the names Hip Tanaka.ex, Acerola Beach, and Otona Buranko. Coinciding with a new musical venture in 2011, Tanaka undergoes another name change: Hip Tanaka.β.

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Inon Zur, feat. The Lyris Quartet – “Remember”

Inon Zur composes emotionally dynamic music for film, television, anime and video games. A graduate of the Music Academy of Tel Aviv in Israel, Inon moved to Los Angeles to study the art of film music at the Dick Grove School of Music and UCLA with such luminaries as Jack Smalley, Alan Ferguson, and Henry Mancini. His scores for film and television include Au Pair, Escaflowne, Digimon, and Power Rangers.

Zur’s Hollywood scoring expertise combined with his flair for powerful melodic writing is widely recognized in the world of interactive entertainment. Composing cinematic orchestral music for blockbuster franchises such as Dragon Age, Rift, Tera, Prince of Persia, Everquest, Crysis, and Fallout, he has received international acclaim including award nominations from the British Academy (BAFTA) and Spike TV as well as top honors at the Hollywood Music In Media Awards. Variety named Inon Zur one of the top music talents in interactive entertainment.

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Jason Graves – “Necromancer”

Jason Graves is a British Academy Award-winning composer who has brought his passion for music to video game franchises such as Dead Space, Star Trek, City of Heroes, and Command & Conquer. His music has become synonymous with unique, cinematic textures combined with modern aesthetics and he is renowned worldwide for his cinematic, immersive, and award-winning music.

Jason was solely responsible for creating an innovative, unique soundtrack for Dead Space, which has become Electronic Arts’ best-selling original title and called “the scariest game ever made.” Jason’s groundbreaking score has been hailed by critics as a “truly original soundtrack” and “the best score of the year.” It was recognized with a myriad of worldwide nominations and won two BAFTA awards – one for Original Score and one for Use of Audio. For the latter, the Academy stated, “It’s the music soundtrack that boasts horror and tension.”

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Koji Kondo – “Super Mario Medley On Two Pianos”

[Bio forthcoming]

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Laura Karpman, in collaboration with Lisbeth Scott – “Pine Wind Sound”

Four-time Emmy award winning composer Laura Karpman maintains a vibrant career in film, television, videogame, concert and theater music. Her distinguished credits include scoring Steven Spielberg’s Emmy-winning 20-hour miniseries Taken for DreamWorks, Showtime’s Odyssey 5 (Emmy-nominated); ABC’s primetime drama In Justice; ABC’S Masters of Science Fiction (Emmy-nominated), and numerous videogames including Everquest II, Untold Legends: Dark Kingdom (PS3), Field Commander, and music for Jericho & Halo 3.

After writing music for Sony’s smash hit videogame Everquest II, Karpman was the 2005-6 resident orchestral composer of Sony Online Entertainment. She received a 2005 Game Audio Network (G.A.N.G.) award for her videogame music, which has been performed by orchestras internationally.

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Laura Shigihara – “Jump”

Laura Shigihara is a videogame composer, sound designer, and singer/songwriter. Having worked on over 25 videogame titles, she’s best known for the soundtrack to PopCap’s Plants vs. Zombies. A classically trained pianist and hardcore gamer, Laura’s loved videogame music since the days of the original 8-bit Nintendo. She’s currently putting the finishing touches on Melolune, a musical RPG for which she’s designing, programming, and writing music.

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Mitsuto Suzuki – “Play for You”

Mitsuto Suzuki jump-started his career through his work with legendary techno DJ Fumiya Tanaka’s TOREMA label and Haruomi Hosono’s (of YMO fame) label Daisy World. In 1997, he founded Japanese techno-pop unit Overrocket. The following year, under the name Electric Satie, he released Gymnopedie ‘99, which included original compositions and remixes of French composer and pianist Erik Satie’s work. At GDC 2011, he surprised the audience with a live demonstration and performance using Cyan, a Japanese live performance software package.

Currently employed by Square Enix, Suzuki’s solo projects In My Own Backyard (2007) and Neurovision (2009) are available on iTunes.

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Nobuko Toda – “Reminiscence”

A composer, orchestrator and music director for film, TV and videogames, Nobuko Toda started composing at the age of four on the piano and electric organ by putting music to picture books and nursery tales. With most of her work based in the film score realm, Toda has received many accommodations for her music since her studies at Berklee College of Music, including applause from film score maestro John Williams.

Her music style integrates electronic instruments with dynamic, lyrical orchestration. In 2003, she was chosen as the in-house composer for Konami Digital Entertainment’ s Metal Gear Solid series, mainly scoring for cutscenes. On the PS3 platform game, Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, she worked side by side with Harry Gregson-Williams as chief composer.

In 2010, Toda established music production FILMSCORE LLC, based in Tokyo and Los Angeles, providing scores for coming up videogames, films, and TV drama series. She is also interested in the education of young composers.

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Nobuo Uematsu – “Every New Morning”

A self-taught musician, Nobuo Uematsu spent a few years producing music for commercials before Square-Enix (then Square) in 1986. Best known for his work on the Final Fantasy series, Uematsu left Square Enix after nearly 20 years to form his own company, Smile Please, in 2004. He established his own label, Dog Ear Records, in 2006, and continues to work on a wide range of projects. In addition to his work on the Final Fantasy franchise, Uematsu’s credits include Blue Dragon, The Last Story, and Lost Odyssey, as well as the anime series Guin Saga.

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Penka Kouneva – “White Cloud”

Penka Kouneva is a Sundance Composer Fellow and a rising Hollywood film composer who blends her native Eastern European influences with modern orchestra, medieval chant, and electronica. Recently, she composed additional music for the videogames Gears of War 3, Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands™, and Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, working alongside composer Steve Jablonsky.

Other works include the horror feature Midnight Movie, the crime drama The Third Nail, the SyFy Channel thriller Ice Spiders and TV music for Forensic Files on CourtTV. In addition to scoring, Penka is an orchestrator on film soundtracks, including Transformers 1, 2, Pirates of the Caribbean 3, Angels and Demons, 9, Matrix 2, 3, Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants, and videogames such as World of Warcraft, The Sims 3, Transformers 1, 2, StarCraft 2, and Gears of War 2 & 3.

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Sean Murray – “The Temple Stone”

Hollywood composer Sean Murray has provided the emotional and memorable dramatic musical scores for numerous international films, as well as hit television series and blockbuster videogames spanning diverse genres from the gothic horror of Buffy The Vampire Slayer and urban action of True Crime: Streets of L.A. to the emotionally intense themes of Call of Duty, the biggest entertainment series in history.

Sean’s dark symphonic score for Call of Duty: Black Ops, the best-selling videogame of all time, once again defines the sound of Call of Duty. Described as “an incredibly dense soundscape with booming strings and percussion, and dissonant brass interjections,” his Black Ops score is enhanced by an 80-piece orchestra that features the talent of leading Hollywood musicians and recorded at the famed Warner Brothers Eastwood Scoring Stage in Los Angeles.

Sean’s film credits include the action movie Kill Speed, the controversial television series God, The Devil and Bob with James Garner and Alan Cumming, for Carsey-Werner and NBC; and the deeply disturbing psychological-thriller Junkyard Dog, starring Vivica Fox.

Sean grew up in Santa Barbara, California where he learned the craft of film composing by scoring dozens of student movies for the Brooks Institute Film School. He made his professional debut as composer for the action film Scorpion.

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Tommy Tallarico – “Greater Lights”

As one of the most successful videogame composers in history, Tommy Tallarico has helped revolutionize the gaming world, creating unique audio landscapes that enhance the videogaming experience.  He is considered the person most instrumental in changing the game industry from bleeps & bloops to real music now appreciated worldwide by millions of fans. As a well-recognized on-air television personality, live performer and composer, Tommy brings his in-depth knowledge, years of experience, and love of cutting edge multimedia and videogames to the masses.

An accomplished musician, Tallarico has been writing music for videogames for more than 21 years. He has won over 45 industry awards and has worked on more than 275 game titles. He currently holds 3 Guinness World Records including the person who has worked on the most commercially released video games. Tallarico was the first musician to release a videogame soundtrack worldwide and one of the first musicians to ever use live guitar and 3-D audio in a videogame.

In 2002, Tallarico created the critically acclaimed Video Games Live (, an immersive audio and video concert experience celebrating videogames which is now in its 6th year of touring around the world. Tommy is the founder and CEO of the Game Audio Network Guild (G.A.N.G.), which is a non-profit organization educating and heightening the awareness of audio for the interactive world (

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Woody Jackson – “Moshi Moshi”

Born and raised in Richmond, Virginia; schooled in a holy roller high school; baptized a Mormon; shipped off for an ill-advised one day stint in the US Navy Military Jazz Band – Woodrow Wilson Jackson III’s musical influences are as diverse as his eclectic upbringing.

Woody made his way to Los Angeles in 1992 and has lived there ever since. He has performed and collaborated on the soundtracks of many films and recently began writing music for videogames. The song “Moshi Moshi” was written in response to the great tragedy that Japan and its people have experienced. Playing shows in Tokyo for the first time this past November and experiencing the beauty of the country and its culture has left a permanent and loving impression on his heart.

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Yasunori Mitsuda – “Dimension Break”

Yasunori Mitsuda joined Square-Enix (then Square) in 1992, where his highlights include Chrono Trigger and Xenogears, among others. He left the company to work as a freelance composer in 1998, then in 2001, Mitsuda founded the record label Sleigh Bells and Procyon Studio, where he currently serves as representative director/officer.

Mitsuda joined forces with the London Philharmonic Orchestra for Xenosaga Episode 1, and the Czech Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra on the popular Korean MMORPG Lime Odyssey. In addition to his overseas endeavors, he has ventured into an ever-expanding array of media through his work on the Inazuma Eleven series (1 through 3), which has been developed into a TV anime series, film, and other media.

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Yoshitaka Amano

Yoshitaka Amano’s commenced his career as a character designer at the legendary Tatsunoko Productions. Leaving the company in 1982, he focused on sci-fi and fantasy work, as well as cover illustrations for magazines and books. Quickly garnering critical acclaim in the publishing industry, he won the Seiun “Best Artist of the Year” Award, voted on by the Japanese Science Fiction Convention, four years in a row (1983-86). Soon after, Amano produced visual concepts and design for the first Final Fantasy videogame released by Square.

In 1995, he began lithograph production in Paris and New York, with major exhibitions held in New York in 1997 and 1999. In Japan, his work has been featured in several exhibits including major shows at Tokyo’s Uenonomori Museum. In 2000, Amano illustrated Neil Gaiman’s Sandman: The Dream Hunter, which was nominated for a Hugo Award and went on to win the Eisner Award. He has received numerous other awards for his work including the Dragon Con and Julie awards. Since 2001, he has served as the key visual and concept designer for Onmyouji I and II, a Japanese film franchise also known as The Yin Yang Master. His July 2003 exhibit in Cologne, Germany received a favorable reception from the European crowd.

Amano is currently at work on numerous projects including videogames, publishing, and film.

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