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Interview: RADWIMPS on Weathering With You

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In advance of the US release by GKIDS of Makoto Shinkai’s latest film, Weathering With You, we were given a chance to ask the band RADWIMPS a few questions by email discussing their role in the film. RADWIMPS first collaborated with Shinkai by creating and performing the soundtrack to Your Name, and now returns to do the same for Weathering With You. Weathering With You will be shown in advance screenings by GKIDS on January 15th and 16th, and will receive a wide release on January 17th.

What were your impressions the first time you read Mr. Shinkai’s script for Weathering With You? Did you have these songs in mind from the start or did you come up with them later on?

Yojiro Noda: I received the Weathering With You script from Mr. Shinkai about a year after Your Name was released, in August of 2017. After reading the script, the first song I composed was “Is There Still Anything That Love Can Do?” and “Daijobu.” These two songs became the beacon in working on this film for the next two years.

The other three songs came about by lengthy discussions with the director in addition to understanding the story better. Two of the songs were composed to match the scenes, so I prioritized expressing the psychology of the characters.

I completed all five songs at the end of 2018. I then shifted to working on the OST of the film. I worked so hard every day, talking with the director and stayed in the studio, that I almost forgot that my main job is the band.

Weathering With You has a lot of lighthearted moments, but also digs into plenty of heavier content. How did you go about composing songs to convey those two different moods?

Noda: In a general categorization, I guess there are two moods, but in the entire film, the 32 pieces in the soundtrack have various emotions depending on the scene.

The fun thing was that when the music changed, how one felt about the scene changed with it. I found that very interesting as I matched the music to the film.

What I was most conscious about was not to have the music explain too much. I didn’t want to overly entice emotions such as sadness, happiness, anxiety, and joy. Just as characters and scenes do, I made sure the music added to the feelings of the viewers without going overboard. After all, there is no point if the music leaves the audience behind.

What’s your process for composing/performing songs as soundtracks for a film as opposed to as individual songs?

Noda: A film score has to embody a specific world, which makes it a slightly different experience from producing an original album because we have to challenge ourselves to come up with music that best matches that specific scene. Also, when making music for film, we can use any instruments we like, and it’s our job to choose the most appropriate ones to make the most suitable music. That completely removes the “band” framework and allows us to create music in a much more open field.

Standing out isn’t always the most crucial thing when it comes to movie music. In fact, the ideal might be for the music to melt together seamlessly with the scene’s characters, lines, and scenery and reach the audience as a single experience.

When writing music as a band, the equivalent of a movie’s scenery and characters and lines are all part of the music itself, so the creative process naturally differs. It shows more of the creator’s ego.

Akira Kuwahara: We can put sounds together as we please when creating an original album, but when writing a film score, we can’t just push our own preferences. There’s something novel and interesting about that. We have to match the music to the timing and the images, meaning it’s not just music you experience with your ears. That’s the biggest difference.

How closely did you work with Mr. Shinkai regarding when and how your songs were used in the film? Was this process similar to how it was with Your Name?

Yusuke Takeda: We composed for a film for the first time for Your Name, and learned and experienced a lot then.

During that time, there were so many firsts for us, and it was a little overwhelming. But for Weathering With You, the experience we gained last time was utilized, and we were able to share the world Director Shinkai imagined to collaborate further.

Speaking of Your Name, was that your first exposure to Mr. Shinkai’s films or had you seen them before?

Takeda: When I was in high school, I watched Voices of a Distant Star and loved it. Since then, I have been watching all of his films.

Finally, what kind of feeling do you hope audiences will take away after Weathering with You and hearing your music with it?

Takeda: I would be happy if this film could entice emotions that provide energy in the audiences’ everyday lives.

Big thanks go out to RADWIMPS for taking the time to answer our questions and to GKIDS for facilitating the interview! Catch Weathering With You in theaters starting January 15!

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