A Cup of Coffee With Junya Terui
by Ilaria Mangiardi
From working on various music collaborations to running one of the 6 MassiveMusic offices, Junya Terui is MassiveMusic Tokyo’s Managing Director and Executive Producer. Bringing 10 years of experience, Junya Terui has also coordinated several ADR/VO recording sessions for multiple Hollywood movies and TV shows such as ‘Hawaii Five-0’ and Martin Scorsese’s film ‘The Silence’. Let’s find out how he answered our million dollar questions. But first, coffee.
I heard that you are a coffee lover. You even keep your own coffee grinder at work.
I am! My day always starts and ends with coffee. It seems like, every time I drink a cup of coffee, I can concentrate better – the smell of fresh roasted beans relaxes me. But it makes sense, right? The sense of smell seems to leave the most lasting impression on humans, followed by the sense of hearing, which we specialise in. I am a sucker for GEORGIA’s Roastery Black bottled coffee and let me say, the music that goes with it is also nice. I wonder who made it? *wink wink*
How would Junya describe Junya to someone who has never met Junya?
Simply put, he is a person who manages a commissioned project from start to finish. He’s a very lucky guy who is surrounded by talented team members and artists to create great music. He’s not much of a producer at home, but he’s definitely blessed with a great family.
How would you describe your job to a 5-year old?
“I make the music for the videos that sometimes come up before you watch your favourite YouTube videos. A lot of people are working hard on it, and I’d be happy if you could check it out once in a while.”
Where did you grow up and what kind of kid were you?
I grew up in a rural town in Ibaraki Prefecture, Japan. I spent most of my childhood running around in the great outdoors and playing games with my friends. My parents weren’t really into music so, when I was a kid, I only listened to the J-Pop hit charts on TV, or the music used in commercials. I was amazed by the direction and music of the Nakama Wo Motomete FFVI. In that sense, I used to listen to a lot of gaming music from the 90s. I guess that, unconsciously, I was somehow influenced by that.
What sparked your interest in music?
When I discovered The Beatles, everything changed. When I first listened to ‘1’, I realised that most of their songs were familiar because I had heard them in commercials. I was wonderfully impressed by the catchy melodies and the sound of the English language, and from there I started to actively listen to Western music from the 70s: Blankey Jet City, Thee Michelle Gun Elephant, Number Girl, and got into Japanese rock music and so on. There was no Spotify or Apple Music back then, so I spent every penny I earned from my part-time job to buy CDs. Do I sound like an old man now?
Not at all. When did you first consider music as a career?
I was really into indie rock music including some Japanese bands while studying linguistics at a university in Canada. Starting from Arcade Fire to local musicians in the rural town where I studied. Then, I started listening to the artists on Warp, Domino, 4AD, Rough Trade, Barsuk and so on. That’s when I started forming this vague idea that it would be really cool to work in the music industry. After returning to Japan, I heard that an advertising music production company in Tokyo was looking for a studio assistant, so I jumped at the chance.
What do you like about working at Massive?
Not to brag but, since MassiveMusic is one of the largest creative music agencies worldwide, we have many different opportunities to collaborate with talented musicians from all over the world. The fact we have 6 offices says a lot about our collaborative company culture.
Plus, what is more international than music as a language? There is never a dull moment because we always find something interesting in the process and learn from one another. It’s a great privilege to be able to listen to songs before they are released to the public. And, of course, it’s always been a lot of fun to be officially part of the (literally) Massive party in Cannes.
Any latest campaign you’re particularly proud of?
Talking about the international approach we have, for Pantene’s #PrideHair ‘This Hair Is Me’, we collaborated with a composer from New York. So, the song was born in the U.S. and then revised in Japan. The campaign focuses on embracing LGBT and respecting individuality in Japanese job hunting.
Or the TV commercial for the Yamato Group, where we re-recorded an English version of the famous song ‘Miagete Goran Yoru No Hoshi Wo’ by Kyu Sakamoto. We translated the simple but heartfelt lyrics into English, and worked with a Boston-based singer who delivered an amazing performance.
Are brands acknowledging the power of music more and more?
Definitely. Music is one of the most important elements in advertising, and brands are finally beginning to understand its strength, and I feel that the power of music and sound is slowly but surely being recognised. Companies and brands have always focused on their visual logo, company colours, and collaborations with actors and celebrities.
What they fail to understand sometimes is that music is the only tool that can intentionally manipulate auditory stimuli. It can be used as one of the key elements of branding, which can trigger recall and be very effective if properly implemented. Music influences our emotions and drives us down memory lane.
By having a unique sonic identity, consumers can instantly recognise you as a brand. As a result, you can stand out from your competitors. So, why not harness the power of music?
How do you know when a song fits the picture?
I always try to look at things objectively from the listener’s point of view. It depends on the campaign, but I always keep in mind what the client is ultimately looking for as I work on the project as a whole. In some cases, it may be better for the music to not match the video perfectly, so we proceed with a wide range of perspectives and discussion as a team, and try to produce music that strikes a balance between artistic and commercial, depending on the project.
Every day is different – but what is your typical day at MassiveMusic Tokyo?
I ride my bike to the office to stay fit, spend the morning meeting with my team for project and campaign updates, do music mood search, work with composers in the studio and/or from home, work on accounting documents and contracts, and then ride my bike home. Usually, when I cycle back home, I regret my decision to take the bike in the morning.
How has the Asian landscape changed since you started working at MassiveMusic?
I’ve been working selflessly in this industry for a long time and didn’t have much time to look around but, since joining MassiveMusic, I’ve gradually been able to relax and expand my horizons. In addition to music production for advertising media, which I have been involved in for many years, I always believed that MassiveMusic would be able to develop the possibility of approaching brands directly, such as sonic branding, as a new challenge. In that sense, I can now envision a clearer picture of the future.
What’s that one line in a song that feels like it was written for you?
It’s from a song called ‘Revolver’ by Hanuman, an indie band that has since disbanded: “Dying is the horrible thing, but the most horrible thing after living straight through tomorrow.”
The lines match the structure of the song. Even though the first half of the song is satisfying to listen to, when the second half of the song comes in with the line: “I’m afraid of what’s next after living straight through tomorrow” you witness a glimpse into the daily life of a self-defeating band member, which is totally unexpected and interesting at the same time.
Other than that, I also like the raw lyrics of ‘Lovers in the Apartment’, the lyrics are structured like a short film so when I finish listening to this song, I feel like I’ve seen a short film or something.
If you could have a cup of coffee with someone you admire, who would you pick and what would you ask?
Hayao Miyazaki, the director of Studio Ghibli. I’d like to ask him a lot about his analogue creative philosophy. In particular, I like the last part of the manga version of ‘Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind’ – the best manga out there. What’s the message he was trying to convey? And what are his thoughts on today’s creators? I’d also like to have conversations with indie band artists but, in that case, I’d be drinking beer instead of coffee, so maybe we can talk about that another time.