|Final Fantasy: Project Majestic Mix is a CD being released by a man named Stephen Kennedy. So far, tons of hard work has been poured into it. This enlightening interview tells a bit more about what this whole thing is all about.
Ramza: So Stephen, how did you first get the idea to cover songs from Final Fantasy?
Stephen: I felt that it was probably one of the most impactful and dramatic musical experiences as far as gaming goes.
Ramza: So, like us, you are definitely a major fan of videogame music then?
Stephen: Quite so. I'm just your average game fanatic.
Ramza: That's awesome. Did access to your father's studio help to add to the idea of creating this CD?
Stephen: Definitely. Although it was more or less the wishful thinking and dreaming of creating arrangements in my earlier gaming years, my father and the studio helped me realize that such a potential was obtainable.
Ramza: Now, your page (kfssstudios.com) has a FAQ that covers lots of information. You mention that many other people are working on this CD with you. Tell us a little bit about your experiences working with these people. Are any of these musicians famous?
Stephen: None of the musicians are famous (yet), but I hope that will change with time. It has been a pleasure, but very difficult working with everyone. I have only met 2 of the 9 musicians personally. All corresponding is being done over the phone and via email simply because each indivudual is either in another country, or a thousand miles or more away from me. You have to understand that this is actually quite an amazing , and tedious, way of producing a CD.
Ramza: I would have to say so! Now then, tell us a bit about your musical background as well as the music on the CD. Will there be any vocals on the CD? If so, will YOU be singing?
Stephen: *chuckle* I'm sorry, your question wasn't funny, but I can't help but laugh at the thought of myself singing on the CD. As for my musical background: I grew up in a very musically inclined family...I guess we were kind of like the 'Partridge Family'...only the 'Kennedy Family'. We did sing a lot. However, most of my experience with music is more in the field of Sound Design in the Engineering aspect. I've spent over 8 years in front of a mixing console and put in countless hours aiding my father in his multimedia productions. Music videos, soundtracking...you name it and we've probably done it. There will be vocals featured on the CD, but not like one may assume. Unlike most CDs we are not permitted to add lyrics to any of Squaresoft's music, thus are reduced to only featuring those good ol' Ooohs, Ahhs, and the humming of tunes. Regardless of these restraints, they can be quite effective if done right.
Ramza: Yes, the FF Pray Prelude comes to mind on that one. :)
Stephen: The musical genre that will be featured is a wide variety mainly consisting of Techno, Rock and Orchestral pieces.
Ramza: That sounds varied...Speaking of Squaresoft's permission (mentioned above), you had to get some licenses to make this CD as it would be highly illegal if you didn't. Tell us, how did that process go? What all did you have to do?
Stephen: Actually, that part of the production process is not even finished. Under the United States Copyright Act, the right to use copyrighted, non-dramatic musical works in the making of phonorecords for distribution to the public for private use is the exclusive right of the copyright owner. However, the Act provides that once a copyright owner has recorded and distributed such a work to the U.S. public or permitted another to do so, a compulsory mechanical license is available to anyone else who wants to record and distribute the work in the U.S. upon the payment of license fees at the statutory "compulsory" rate as set forth in Section 115 of the Act. The current royalty rate as of January 1, 1998 is 7.1 cents per composition or 1.35 cents per minute of playing time, whichever is greater, per record, tape or CD made and distributed. It should be noted that a mechanical license does not include the right to reproduce an already existing sound recording, which right must be procured from the copyright owner of such sound recording. Unfortunately, in order to complete this process we must first have all tracks finished so that the licensing company (Harry Fox Agency) knows the exact length of each individual song.
Ramza: So, because the recording isn't completed, you can't complete the legal licensing until such is done. That was confusing!
Stephen: Once everything is finished we must complete a mechanical license application for each song and then send it to HFA for processing. (To your comment above) Yes it is. And yes that is correct. However, we are not worried about Squaresoft because we are going through the proper procedures to obtain such rights, and according to the US constitution we already have the 'right' to do such things as long as royalty rates and Mechanical license fees are paid properly. Until licensing is completed, however, we will not be able to sell or give CDs to anyone.
Ramza: Right. Moving on, your FAQ also mentions that you got to speak with Nobuo Uematsu himself. What does he think of this project? Is he happy about his music becoming more and more popular in America? Will he be helping with the recording?
Stephen: Yes, I did have the pleasure to speak with Mr. Uematsu personally. He seems to be very happy about the whole thing, and maybe a bit flattered. As for Mr. Uematsu helping with recording, I have never even considered asking him. Although it would be an honor, I am quite sure that he is far more busy than I.
Ramza: Perhaps you could have Mr. Uematsu do some of those "Ooh Aah" vocals for a secret track?
Stephen: Now that you mention it, I think Mr. Uematsu would love to do some Oohs and Aahs for a secret track. I bet he's got a great voice, and it would be a great opportunity for people to hear him at his best!....maybe we could do a vocal album of just Mr. Uematsu!!!! Do you think he'd go for it?
Ramza: *LOL*! I'm sure he'd be willing to do that! Ok, let's get serious again...Tell us a bit about your busy schedule with the CD.
Stephen: Aside from my full time job as a manager, I have very little time to work on the CD. I have to really line up those priorities. I leave early every morning and get home at about 7-8PM everyday. After coming home to look at the plethora of continuously amassing emails, I see how the crew is doing and get to work on whatever piece I am currently composing or mastering for mixdown. Let me tell you, this is a 2nd full time job for me.
Ramza: A couple more things before we end this interview. Your page says that there will be at least 3 more CDs released similar to this one, which is a tribute to Nobuo Uematsu. Will the other 3 CDs be dedicated to other specific VG music composers?
Stephen: Actually, If everything works out, I had planned for the next few CDs to be a collage of tunes from all areas of VGM.
Ramza: So then, there's no chance of a tribute to Yasunori Mitsuda? There could be some major potential in remaking some of the Chrono Trigger/Cross music, not to mention Xenogears.
Stephen: I didn't say that. I simply said what my plans were. But I have found that many people want variety. I agree that Yasunori Mitsuda has some great things. It is very possible that such a disc would be made. It will all depend on the opinions of Gamers.
Ramza: Hey, you can't go wrong going by what the fans want!
Stephen: Due to my constant e-mail input from others, I would have to say that if another 'tribute' CD were to be made, Mr. Mitsuda would be first in line. Regardless, you are right. I think that, in most instances, holding polls is the best way to choose music for the CDs.
Ramza: I agree. Now then, it is mentioned that there will be different printed versions of this CD. Gold, Silver, etc...Could you explain this system here for us quickly?
Stephen: Yes. The regular edition includes a booklet and one 70+ min. CD of your favorite Uematsu tunes. Note: the regular edition will be the only version available after the CDs initial release. This could also be categorized as the 'unlimited' CD, as there will be no limit on the number produced.
The Silver edition is planned to feature a numbered CD distinguishing it's rank and rarity, 1 sheet music providing the full score for one song on the CD (probably a piano piece), a foil cover and my signature (hopefully along with Mr.Uematsu's). This version can only be preordered at Anime Nation and will be a very limited supply. If one has not preordered from them yet there is no guarantee they will receive a copy unless you they are eligible for the GDS (Gold Disc Set). If you have not made a donation then the only way you can be guaranteed a copy of the Silver edition is by pre-ordering at Anime Nation.
The Gold Disc Set is planned to feature a numbered CD distinguishing it's rank and rarity, 2 pieces of sheet music providing the full score for two songs on the CD (one piano and one symphonic), a foil cover, my signature (hopefully along with Mr. Uematsu's), and a second disc containing an additional 70+ min. of music not found on any other version of the CD. All this PLUS you get your name in all the CDs! This is a double disc set and will only be availiable for ordering through me by making a donation of $20 or more. Once the GDS is ready for shipping each donor will be contacted via the mailing list on my site and told that they may place their order.
Correction...regarding the Silver edition CD, it should be noted that anyone can get this CD by preordering it from animenation.com 'prior' to the CDs release. After its initial release the Silver edition disc will no longer be available.
Ramza: Hmm...It sounds like this Gold edition is a worthy buy. Now, the $20 is simply a donation which doesn't already add to the LOW cost of $15, so the gold edition totals to $35. Am I correct?
Stephen: That is correct. A donation is simply that. I feel that those who are willing to help financially aid this project deserve something more.
Ramza: I agree, it sounds more than fair. One LAST question before we end this interview. Near the end of the FAQ, the subject automatically switches from the concept of Music CDs to your faith...
Stephen: Yes it does.
Ramza: ...Will any of these statements be featured in the CDs? It seems that you want to "spread the word of God".
Stephen: Yes. I don't plan on doing anything extreme like sending Bibles with each order or anything like that, but I will indeed include a section that explains the ultimate heart and reason for success of this project.
Ramza: So even though the project involves videogame music, you hope to let people know about what you feel with religion and that you want them to come to Christ etc?
Stephen: Yes...I guess you could say that it is that very thought that actually started this project.
Ramza: Well then, I hope all the more that your printings succeed. I'm afraid we must now end this interview. It was of utmost pleasure that I had this opportunity to speak with you.
Stephen: Thank you. I am honored.
Ramza: Good luck with your endeavors in this project, and for all you fans out there, be sure to pre-order a copy at animenation.com or get the gold edition by following instructions at kfssstudios.com.