Nobuo Uematsu is distinguished amongst game soundtrack composers not just because of his work for Squaresoft in the '80s and '90s or his lustrous mustache. He's one of the few songwriters responsible for the way video games sound across the board, influencing other creators over 30 years. Square's Final Fantasy series, on which Uematsu was sole or primary composer for the first 10 games, molded how storytelling in games should sound. The synthesized minor key melody of series theme "Prelude," the ambient wash of Final Fantasy VII's "Opening/Bombing Mission," and hundreds of other songs are landmarks in gaming's aural landscape.
While his output has slowed in recent years as he focused on personal projects like his prog band Earthbound Papas and sleeper hits like The Last Story on Wii, his style still looms tall. Uematsu has revisited his work on the Final Fantasy often since its 25th anniversary in 2012. Most recently he teamed with the London Symphony Orchestra at Abbey Road Studios to record Final Symphony, an album based on the concert series of the same name highlighting songs from Final Fantasy VI, VII, and X. Uematsu spoke with us via a translator over email about his work on the album, the state of video game music, and how to make sure that every song in a huge soundtrack has soul.