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FFXIV Composer Masayoshi Soken Talks Final Fantasy Favorites in New Interview

How he went from studying chemistry to composing one of the most impressive video game soundtracks in the world.

Final Fantasy XIV’s esteemed composer, Masayoshi Soken, recently sat down to do a rare video interview in which he talked about Final Fantasy favorites, how he became a composer, and much more.

He sat down to do the interview with YouTubers Alex Moukala and Husky By The Geek. For fans of the MMORPG, this might come as unsurprising. Alex Moukala is a music producer and composer known for his often viral analysis, reactions, and remixes of iconic video game songs on YouTube and Twitter. He has a particular love for Final Fantasy XIV and admiration for its composer, and has made that known through his platform. After often interacting with Soken on Twitter over his reactions and covers, it only feels natural to see a proper conversation between the two. Joining them was Husky By The Geek, a fellow musician who collaborated with Moukala on a remix of the Final Fantasy XIV: Endwalker trailer theme.

I spend several moments each day — yes, I promise it’s every day — getting emotional over Soken’s incredible Final Fantasy XIV music, so I was already fond enough of him as a fan. But learning that he mains White Mage because he has Big Tank Anxiety? I can only stan even harder.

I felt this all the more when he stated his favorite Final Fantasy games are Final Fantasy VI and Final Fantasy X. He also attributed Final Fantasy VII as being particularly memorable. (And he’s right; they’re all extremely good entries). Additionally, he said Lyna from Final Fantasy XIV — who had several standout moments in Patch 5.3 — and Yuna from Final Fantasy X are his favorite characters in the series. You love to see it.

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Soken later delved into his path to becoming a world-renowned video game composer.

“It all started back when I was in college, majoring in chemistry. I was studying about dyes and coloring,” he explains. “After four years in college, I had this epiphany which was ‘I am not fit for chemistry!’ So I was asking myself ‘what am I gonna do with my career?’ I thought about what kind of work I would’ve liked to do… and eventually, I thought ‘Hey, I’d actually like to design sounds.’ After coming to that conclusion though, I had no idea where I could find a job like that in the first place.”

Since he would play so many video games, one day he reflected on how they have so many different kinds of sounds. Eventually, he was reading a gaming magazine when he saw an advertisement for a sound designer position at KONAMI. He applied and was accepted, and later transferred to what was at the time SQUARESOFT (now Square Enix). Nobuo Uematsu interviewed him for his role — a memory he laughs about since he was late to the interview.

“For the next ten years I actually didn’t compose many songs at all,” he continues. “I was instead creating sound effects for various games. That work was important for my formation … that experience of figuring out how to match sound with very specific gameplay moments built a foundation of understanding how to match game content with sound and music content, which is an important skill.”

Final Fantasy XIV was when he started focusing on music composition. At first, he was involved with every aspect of sound, including effects and voiceover recordings. It’s until recently that he’s shifted to mostly just composing the scores.

He delves into how THE PRIMALS band — which recently released “SCIONS & SINNERS,” the fourth Final Fantasy XIV arrangement album — was created, as well as which song he most enjoys performing live. He chats about his favorite instruments, the tools he prefers when composing songs, the role of orchestras in Final Fantasy XIV’s music, and much more. Be sure to watch the whole interview linked above.

You can look forward to hearing Soken’s wonderful new compositions for Final Fantasy XIV: Endwalker in Fall 2021.

About the Author

Natalie Flores

Natalie is Fanbyte's Featured Contributor, with bylines at places like VICE, Polygon, PC Gamer, Paste Magazine, and more.