Interview with Marika Takeuchi

Hailing from Tokyo, Japan, Marika Takeuchi is a Los Angeles based multi-talented composer, known for her blend of Japanese pop and modern classical music. Her composition career started at Shobi Music College where she then transitioned to Berklee College of Music to study film music composition.

She has composed for Universal Music Japan and several independent short films alongside her five released albums. 


Hi Marika, welcome to VENTS! How have you been?

Doing great, thank you for having me.

You have experience in a lot of different areas of the music industry. Can you walk us through some of your favorite jobs or gigs?

My favorite gigs are composing and performing piano as a recording artist, as well as composing for media including films, commercials, video games and music libraries. 

You recently completed an EP. What was that experience like and how did it differ from your past projects?

I recorded all the live instruments in my home studio for the first time. Completing everything at home (including writing, producing and recording) gave me more flexibility and creativity. Especially, trying out different mic positions for my old upright piano was definitely different from recording a fancy grand piano at a studio. When I recorded my very first EP in 2011, I recorded it in my friend’s small apartment. So it’s like going back to my origin, but with better perspectives and more experiences. 

What do you hope audiences get out of the experience of listening to your album?

I hope the audience will be relaxed and inspired, and find strengths and beautify in the difficult time we’re going through. 

What are some of your other favorite past projects?

Scoring films and media is always so much fun for me. I also love when my music is used in projects and I see that it comes to live in new forms of art/media. Collaborating with other musicians is also my favorite too.

For the gear heads, tell us a bit about your set-up and favorite software/plug-ins/hardware!

My set-up includes two computers, speakers, an audio interface, two midi keyboards, drum machine, and upright piano and other acoustic instruments. I use Cubase for writing and producing music, and I had a privilege to write a demo song for Cubase 10.5. I also like Native Instruments, Spitfire, Spectrasonic, East West, Vienna Ensemble Pro and plugins from Slate Digital and Izotop. 

How would you describe your musical approach to the visual media space?

Writing music for visual media is very different from writing as an artist. It’s not about expressing myself, but it is to support storytelling with my musical tools. So understanding what music needs to do, what kind of emotions should be evoked, what music style is needed, and other details is very important. So we need to fulfill all of that first and foremost, and then I try to add my own sound a little bit in any style of music I write.   

What is the first step in your composing process?

If I’m writing as an artist, I usually start with playing around on piano to find the right tones and phrases that reflect my concepts. 

When scoring media, figuring out the right sounds to produce the right atmosphere/emotion is the first step. 

When you are stuck creatively, how do you get re-inspired to keep going?

I go for a walk, work out, look at inspiring pieces or art, and watch movies and TV shows to get inspired. Also driving usually clears up my mind and gives me new inspiration and ideas. 

What is your favorite spot or place in the world to think creatively?

I love traveling and walking around, which inspire my creativity. With that being said, I think my home studio with my piano is where I get the most creative.

What is happening next in your world?

My EP will be out on May 5th, and I have another single coming up on May 29th, and I have a couple films coming up which I scored and will be scoring.


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