Junko Tamiya is a Japanese musician, composer, and producer.
Tamiya enjoyed performing music as a child, but initially didn't think much about a professional career in music. That changed by the time she reached college. Tamiya attended the Osaka College of Music in the 1980s at the same time Soyo Oka, Miki Higashino, and Yoko Shimomura were there. During college, she was given an opportunity to interview at Capcom as a video game music composer. She was hired and worked there from around 1987 to 1990, composing unique soundtracks for about a dozen games and contributing to several more.
Though the last video game Tamiya directly worked on was in 1990, her music has been remixed in various sequels including the Bionic Commando and Strider reboots. After leaving Capcom, Tamiya continued to work in the music field as a composer, arranger, and producer for concerts and stage performances.
For inspiration during times of creative drought, Tamiya would look to movies, books, paintings, and songs from other artists. She would also discuss these with her colleagues to gain inspiration.
In 2014, Tamiya returned to the video game community when she attended BitSummit with a couple other ex-Capcom composers and enjoyed herself so much that she intends to contribute to new video game music projects.
Tamiya currently lives in Nara Prefecture in Japan.
Tamiya would compose music using a musical keyboard attached to an MSX computer. For her arcade games, which used FM Synthesis output, she was able to use a Yamaha chip to render the music similar to how it would sound in the game, but for NES games, she emulated the sound of the RP2A03 using digital samples and then painstakingly converted the music into the hex instructions required by Yoshihiro Sakaguchi's sound driver.
In the 1980s and early 1990s, Capcom forced its employees to use aliases in their game credits in order to prevent competing companies from finding their employees and hiring away their talent. This lead to Junko Tamiya being credited under a variety of different aliases which made it difficult to track down all of the games she worked on; Tamiya's eclectic style compounded the problem making it difficult to hear similarities in her music across games. The identity of composers isn't much of a secret anymore, and Tamiya herself has helped us identify her titles. Her aliases found in her numerous games include: Gon, Gondamin, Gonzou, J･Tamiya, Strong Tami, Swimmer Tamichan, and Tamie.
Currently, we're working to understand why she was assigned these aliases. "Tamie" is obvious a shortened form of her last name, and adding "chan" to the end of a name to make "Tamichan" is a common Japanese nickname style that older people give to their younger friends. The words "Swimmer" and "Strong" at the beginning of these shortened forms is not yet understood. "Gonzou" appears to be an uncommon male name in Japanese, "Gondamin," despite its spelling doesn't appear to be a Japanese word at all, and "Gon" is probably just a shortened form of either of these words.
March 2014 at BitSummit with Eirik Suhrke.
- mobygames.com/developer/sheet/view/developerId,201286/ - MobyGames.
- vgmonline.net/junkotamiyainterview - Interview.
- capcom.wikia.com/wiki/Junko_Tamiya - Capcom Database.
- vgmdb.net/artist/1454 - VGMdb.
- facebook.com/JunkoTamiyaMusic - Facebook.
- imdb.com/name/nm1475574 - IMDb.
- discogs.com/artist/4376114-Junko-Tamiya - Discogs.