With each new installment, the “Metal Gear Solid” series continues to win the hearts of dedicated fans. While many are drawn to the realistic game plot and characters, these elements are just the tip of the iceberg – the franchise’s high quality extends to the entire production.
Through an interview with Ni Fherraigh, we had the opportunity to relive the creation of this legendary song.
For instance, the “Metal Gear Solid” games have always featured excellent musical backdrops. The most memorable tunes, however, come from the undefeatable Solid Snake’s early adventures. One of the most-loved tracks is “The Best Is Yet to Come,” a song written by Riki Muranaka and performed by Irish singer Aoife Ni Fhearraigh. Through an interview with Ni Fherraigh, we had the opportunity to relive the creation of this legendary song. It’s a must-read for all fans!
gamemusic.net: Before we start, could you briefly tell us something about yourself?
You come from a small town called Gweedore (Gaoth Dobhair), situated north of the capital of Ireland. It’s said that both the members of “Clannad” and the world-renowned singer “Enya” grew up in this region. Were you aware of your hometown’s musical past? If so, were they who you looked up to? Or did you have other role models during your childhood?
Aoife Ni Fhearraigh: For such a small rural community it has produced many talented people such as Clannad and Enya. Altan and I have been fortunate to have had the opportunity to perform with them. Mrs Brennan (mother of Enya and some members of Clannad) taught music at the school I attended. At an early age I started to learn traditional Gaelic songs from local singers, but I also listened to singers such as Mary Black, Maura O’Connell and Dolores Keane.
gamemusic.net: Can you tell us a bit about your childhood? What was your family’s attitude towards folklore and tradition? Did your family influence you in any way – encouraging you to sing, or perhaps, quite the opposite? Apart from you, is there anyone in your family that sings or plays in a band?
Aoife Ni Fhearraigh: My family was involved in the local theatre many years ago. They have all performed on stage. One of my brothers produces plays and musicals at An Grianán Theatre, Letterkenny, Co. Donegal. None of them are singers or play any musical instruments, but some of my nieces play the piano. I was always encouraged and supported by my family to sing.
gamemusic.net: Ireland is known for many things, but the recognizable aspect of your country is the music which is now popular around the world. What in your opinion distinguishes it from other kinds of music?
Aoife Ni Fhearraigh: Every country has its own individual style of music (especially traditional music) but if you listen carefully, you may find that there are slight similarities between many cultures. Music, song, dance and the language is intertwined, and many successful groups have made it fashionable over the years. Many associations like Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann were formed to keep the tradition alive and preserve it for many generations.
gamemusic.net: On your albums, you often sing in traditional Irish – for example, in the song “Seacht Sualci Na Maighdine Muire.” Why do you sing in this particular language? Could you tell us a bit more about it?
It is a very old Celtic language which dates back to the 4th century, and is closely related to the Manx and Scottish Gaelic languages. – Aoife Ni Fhearraigh
Aoife Ni Fhearraigh: Irish (the Gaelic language) is my first spoken language. There are areas (known as Gaeltacht areas) in Ireland where the language is spoken on a daily basis, and it is an obligatory subject taught in English medium schools throughout the country. It is a very old Celtic language which dates back to the 4th century, and is closely related to the Manx and Scottish Gaelic languages. It is a very difficult language to learn.
gamemusic.net: You’ve traveled around the world: to Europe, the USA, and even Japan. Which of your travels have been most memorable? Has any country served as a creative inspiration, influencing your record material?
Aoife Ni Fhearraigh: I have always enjoyed touring and singing in concert. Every performance is important to me, as well as meeting the public after the concerts. Performing in Okinawa, Japan and singing in their native language (using phonics) was an interesting project. Having the opportunity to perform in Carnegie Hall in New York, Boston Symphony Hall, and others will always be memorable.
gamemusic.net: Do you remember the moment when your agent (at the time it was Leon Brennan, Maire Brennan’s brother) informed you about the Metal Gear project – that you would perform a song for a video game? It was a pretty unique arrangement for the time – in the 90s, female singers weren’t popular in the field of video game music.What was your first reaction? Were you surprised?
Aoife Ni Fhearraigh: I was delighted to get the chance to perform on Metal Gear Solid (Original), and especially to sing the song in Irish (Gaelic). To sing on a video game was certainly exciting. Irish music is very popular in Japan, so the producers must have envisaged that the Irish (Gaelic) language would suit this game.
gamemusic.net: The song “The Best Is Yet to Come” was used in the game Metal Gear Solid, produced by the Konami Studio and Hideo Kojima. Do you recall this time? What was the process of recording the song? Could you share your feelings about the whole event?
The translator was also present that day – in case some of the words didn’t suit and were changed. – Aoife Ni Fhearraigh
Aoife Ni Fhearraigh: Yes, I remember the day well, there were quite a few singers and musician at the studio and we all had an enjoyable day. The lyrics were written in English first, and then translated into Irish (Gaelic). The translator was also present that day – in case some of the words didn’t suit and were changed. It was many years later before I got the opportunity to listen to the song fully. I have never had the chance to play the game!!
gamemusic.net: The recording of “The Best Is Yet to Come” was supervised by Rika Muranaka, who also served as the song’s the lyricist and arranger. How do you recall the moments spent with this particular composer? Did you have the chance to meet Tappi Iwase, the co-creator of Metal Gear Solid’s music?
Aoife Ni Fhearraigh: Rika Muranaka was in the studio that day, and it was an honour to meet and work with her. Unfortunately, I have not had the chance to meet Tappi Iwase.
gamemusic.net: Do you attribute “The Best Is Yet to Come” with your future career success? Do you feel that that in the future, people will associate your name with this particular song?
Aoife Ni Fhearraigh: Singing the song has certainly introduced my music/singing to thousands of people worldwide who may not have heard of me as an Irish Traditional Singer. Even though it’s been ten years since the game was released, I still receive emails from fans telling me how much they appreciate my singing and how much the song means to them.
gamemusic.net: You’ve had the chance to watch the evolution of video game music – how machine sounds have changed into pieces that are increasingly performed by symphonic orchestras. Do you feel that video game music will eventually be fully accepted by society? At some point, will game soundtracks stand on their own, no longer viewed as merely a backdrop to the game?
Aoife Ni Fhearraigh: I would very much hope so, I think music composed for the games are of very high standard. It is as important as having a soundtrack of a film that you would watch in the cinema. It should be given the right recognition.
gamemusic.net: If there ever was a concert organized in Poland, featuring a performance of “The Best Is Yet to Come”, would you honour us with your presence and, perhaps, a live performance?
Aoife Ni Fhearraigh: I would love to visit and perform in Poland. Sadly I have not had the opportunity to visit your country yet. To perform “The Best is Yet to Come” as a live performance with other singers and musicians would be a fantastic experience. I have not had the chance to perform the song in concert yet.
gamemusic.net: Finally, I would like to learn something about a project you worked on some time ago – “Metal Gear Philanthropy”. Could you give us a look behind the curtain – what did this recording session look like? What are your impressions of this endeavor?
Naturally, I was delighted to be asked, and via the phone and emails we composed the song “There Will be an End.” – Aoife Ni Fhearraigh
Aoife Ni Fhearraigh: Daniel James, who composed the music for Metal Gear Philanthropy, contacted me and asked if I would be interested in contributing to the project. Naturally, I was delighted to be asked, and via the phone and emails we composed the song “There Will be an End.” I recorded the song here in Ireland, and sent the track back to Daniel in the UK. I would enjoyt the opportunity to work with other writers/producers who compose for games/films.
gamemusic.pl: Thank you very much for the interview, and I hope that soon we will be able to hear you again – and not necessarily in-game! Is there anything you would like to say to your fans in Poland?
Aoife Ni Fhearraigh: Thank you for listening and appreciating my music, and I look forward to visiting your country in the future.