Hideki Naganuma Profile
|Also Known As:
長沼 英樹 (ながぬま ひでき) / skankfunk
|Date of Birth:
May 16, 1972 (Hokkaido)
Jet Set Radio, Super Monkey Ball, Yakuza
|Blue Note Tokyo||Music Venue||1993 – 1997||Bartender, DJ|
|Sony Epic Records||Record Label||1993 – 1997||Singer, Songwriter|
|Sega (Smilebit / Amusement Vision)||Game Developer||1998 – 2008||Composer, Sound Designer|
|Freelance||N/A||2008 –||Composer, Arranger|
Hideki Naganuma is a former Sega composer known for integrating mainstream styles in game music through the Jet Set Radio series. Born on May 16, 1972 in Hokkaido Prefecture, Naganuma became interested in music when he started electone organ lessons at the age of five. During his high school, he became interested by a wide range of Western music and also started to create his own compositions. He worked at a famous jazz cafe, Blue Note Tokyo, between 1993 to 1997; while he initially worked as a bartender, his talents as a DJ were soon recognised and he received the opportunity to do sets there. During the same period, he also produced some songs for Epic Sony Records. Inspired by these experiences, he started putting together demo tapes in order to gain bigger roles in the music industry. As a result, he was accepted for a role at Sega at the start of 1998.
Hideki Naganuma learned the ropes of game sound creation with several lesser-known works. He made his debut as a voice editor for Shoujo Kakumei Utena: Itsuka Kakumei Sarero Monogatari, before going on to compose music for the toy Hip Jog Jog and the board game Atsumare! GuruGuru Onsen. In 1999, Naganuma was responsible for the music of the Dreamcast and PC versions of Sega Rally 2 Championship alongside Tomonori Sawada. Maintaining the gritty contemporary of the series’ music, he offered both arrangements from the arcade version and some additional music using cutting-edge production techniques. The subsequent year, he wrote the music for two Dreamcast titles, the low-profile horse racing title JRA PAT and, of course, his pioneering breakthrough soundtrack Jet Set Radio.
Jet Set Radio established Naganuma’s trademark sound and brought it to the masses. Offering an eclectic original score to complement the visual style, the soundtrack featured examples of hip-hop, funk, pop, and techno, all with strong rhythms and catchy hooks. Naganuma built each track in a distinctive style from a groovy rhythm track, added vocal parts, and made numerous edits to the voices and waves. While all the vocals were sampled – some from common voice libraries, other times from very obscure sources – they were integrated in a novel and amusing way. Following this success, he offered an even more varied soundtrack to 2002’s Jet Set Radio Future for the Xbox, offering both original and remixed material. As with its predecessor, Naganuma’s tracks blended effortlessly with those licensed from industry artists. Once again, the music was enjoyed both in the game and as a stand-alone album release.
While working on the Jet Set Radio series, Naganuma composed the score for Dreamcast’s Daytona USA 2001 alongside Keiichi Sugiyama. The soundtrack principally featured arrangements of the original score of Daytona USA, which were straightforward for the regular courses and more experimental for the mirror courses. The artist also offered some original compositions for the new courses and offered some of his characteristic hip-hop sampling on the various jingles. After handling the voice editing on Super Galdelic Hour and creating tracks for soccer management title Let’s Make a J-League Pro Soccer Club 3, Naganuma developed his trademark sound once more with 2004’s basketball title Ollie King. He ensured the game’s eight tracks were as elaborate as possible and coloured with cutting-edge hip-hop, jazz, and techno stylings, including remixes of the Jet Set Radio favourites “Teknopathetic” and “The Concept of Love” among them.
Towards the end of his time at Sega, Naganuma created the hit soundtrack for the platformer Sonic Rush. Overcoming the limitations of the DS, he asserted his own distinctive musicality on the title with compelling electronic beats and experimental voices. However, he still carefully maintained the cool yet youthful character of the Sonic series and produced sufficiently diverse contributions to provide a unique character to each of the stage. Following this work, he created the hybridised bass-punctuated menu theme “Boosted” for Sega Rally 2006 and a lively mixture of vocal and instrumental tracks on Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz. While still a resident employee at Sega, Naganuma penned the soundtrack for the animation Air Gear out-of-hours. He was credited under the alias skankfunk on the two volumes of its soundtrack release. From the electrifying background music, to the well-received ending theme, Air Gear proved that Naganuma’s music could appeal even outside of games.
Following uncredited work on the Yakuza spinoff Ryu ga Gotoku Kenzan!, Naganuma left Sega at the start of 2008 in order to pursue further non-game projects. Starting to build a reputation in the pop industry, he has produced a number of tracks and remixes for other artists, notably CHARA and Captain Straydum. However, he has continued to pen guest contributions to video game soundtracks using both his real name and alias: a handful of hard-edged bass-driven tracks for Yakuza: Black: Panther, a vibrant vocal track for Super Monkey Ball 3D, and, in his Bemani debut, “Luv Can Save U” for beatmania IIDX 20 TRICORO. The artist also enjoyed a resurgence of attention when his tracks were re-used on Jet Set Radio HD and its soundtrack release. In the middle of a major career transition, it remains to be seen what the future holds for Hideki Naganuma. However, his legacy of pioneering original hip-hop and other mainstream styles in game music will remain a major one.
– Various Game & Album Credits
– VGMdb Discography
– Interview with RocketBaby (English, July 2001, Archived)
– Interview with Sonic Channel (Japanese, July 2006)
© Biography by Chris Greening (September 2010). Last updated on December 31, 2012. Do not republish without formal permission.
Posted on December 31, 2012 by Chris Greening. Last modified on March 21, 2014.