Interview with Kelli Sae, Singer of Phantasy Star Universe Main Theme
by Tomeeboy (Interview by LoveJuice)- May 11, 2006
If there is one piece of music that is almost a requirement for any type of game, it's a theme song. When used with dazzling cinematics or opening credits, a theme song can really set the mood for the entire game, which makes it an important focus point in the development process. Lyrics, melody and tempo can be used to express exactly what developers want the player to feel and can create an even more immersive experience than simply playing the game.

Once a theme song has been written and approved, there's really only one thing left to do; find somebody to sing it. The folks at Sega and Sonic Team approached singer-songwriter Kelli Sae with the task of singing the theme for their upcoming title, Phantasy Star Universe. contributer LoveJuice was nice enough to interview Kelli recently, on behalf of the site, and has provided us with some Q & A for this article. Without further adu, let's see how the interview went!
  Q & A with Kelli Sae

Q: Can you tell us a bit about how you landed the job? Were you approached by Sega, or was it the other way around? It certainly seems like a very unique job opportunity!

Kelli Sae: Thanks for asking. I actually was approached. I'm not exactly sure how they heard of me though. It may have been through the producer. Good question! ;o)

Q: Were you told anything about the Phantasy Star Universe project prior to your recording session with Sega?

Kelli Sae: No I wasn't given any information. Other than it was to be confidential - and not to be played for anyone. I did know that it was for release this year...I think. LOL

Q: So far, we've heard only one track featuring your vocals, that has yet to be named, within Phantasy Star Universe. Were you asked to record any others? Perhaps a slower or alternate version, or something entirely different altogether?

Kelli Sae: Hmmm. I did record two songs. So I'm thinking that you've only heard the fast version of the song. One song fast and one slow.

Q: The song you feature on, which we've heard so far in trailers and pre-release materials, shares its melody with numerous other pieces of music we've heard within Phantasy Star Universe [stemming all the way back to 2004]. Were you aware of this? Did it have any bearing on the recording?

Kelli Sae: No I had no idea. I've never played the game. But that would make sense since it's probably from the same writers. So they probably wrote it that way on purpose. I will tell you that they were very specific in how they wanted the melody.

Q: The lyrics to the nameless song we have heard, have begun to spread across the internet. Can you tell us anything about them? Did you have any input into the lyrics, or were you told what they were about?

Kelli Sae: No I did not write the lyrics at all. I didn't really have to be told what they were about because I could read it and see. I tried to capture the feeling I thought they were looking for, and imagine myself in the actual situation. Hope that makes sense to you.

Q: Can you tell us anything about your time in the studio? Perhaps who was present (if you can remember any names!), the date and location, or any special bits of information that stand out?

Kelli Sae: Hmm. I can tell you that the studio was kind of full. All the Sega people, and the songwriters and producers. A cameraman was also trying to film me, which I was against. I didn't mind him filming, I just minded him standing directly in front of me as I was singing! This was making me very uncomfortable, and very distracting as well. So, I asked if he could not film, or, film from within the control room. I think there were a total of 7 to 9 people in the control room. I recall the musicians had already laid down the music bits before me. I don't off hand remember the names of everyone, because they were mostly Japanese! I think it was recorded early last year for release this year. Also, the studio was here in New York.

Q: If there's any other information you happen to know, that would be great, I'm sure the community would gobble it up! Perhaps things such as cut lyrics, "extra" music, or scrapped ideas, or any other novelty tidbits from your time with Sega?

Kelli Sae: I don't think I'm at liberty to say. But truthfully, I can't recall. I think if there were any lyrics omitted, it was probably to make the song more 'singable'. Because sometimes the English translation 'sings' different than the Japanese equivalent.

Q: Can you offer any tips and advice to any budding vocalists or musicians, who want to take their art further? Do you undertake any special methods to aid you in performance?

Kelli Sae: Ummm, my main advice would be to really focus on tightening up your skills. Practice often, be open to new things and if it is truly your passion, don't let anyone try to discourage you.

Special methods? Hmmm. I try to approach my performances as if they could possibly be my last. So I give 1000% of myself every time - no matter what.

Okay. I hope I have been helpful and was able to give you what you needed. Thanks so much for taking the time to ask me some really great questions.

All the best! Enjoy the game too!!!


Thanks Kelli, we all appreciate you taking the time to answer some questions regarding PSU and the great theme song that you had a part in making!

For all you visitors out there, be sure to keep checking back as we continue our E3 2006 coverage of Phantasy Star Universe with more great interviews and information!