With Red Bull Music Academy (RBMA) putting its focus on Japan this year, a couple of documentaries have sprung up online that delve into the music scene here.
One of these focused on RBMA alumni Yosi Horikawa, but a more extensive series came from Tu Neil and his partner in Like Rice Productions, Nick Dwyer. In the six-part “Diggin’ in the Carts” series, the pair explore the history of what they say is Japan’s “biggest cultural exports”: video game music.
“Music, and the constant discovery of new music, has been the biggest passion of mine,” Dwyer tells The Japan Times. Originally from Auckland, the 34-year-old got into radio and TV as a teenager. In his 20s, he began producing his own programs, one of the most notable being “Making Tracks,” a series for National Geographic that explored music culture around the world.
“I’ve always been super into the music of video games,” he says. “When I was about 7 we got a Commodore 64 in the house and I instantly fell in love with the music from those games. That was my first introduction to electronic music, really.”
According to Dwyer, hunting down the identity of the composers responsible for the soundtracks of game series such as “Contra” and “Streets of Rage” was surprisingly difficult.
“With the Internet these days you can jump online and get information on virtually anything that played a part in inspiring your youth,” he says. “Considering how big a part some of the composers played in shaping us, there wasn’t really that much information out there about these guys.
“When you’ve got someone like (top hip-hop producer) Just Blaze saying that the reason why he makes music now is because of the influence of (“Streets of Rage” composer Yuzo Koshiro’s) soundtracks, that’s big.”
Dwyer says he is glad he can get the stories of these composers told. He also thinks it’s important to “tell the story of a very unique form of music that’s come out of Japan that really has had one of the greatest impacts on the world of music.”
“Diggin’ in the Carts” can be viewed at www.redbullmusicacademy.com/magazine/diggin-in-the-carts.