Syn Songs Licensing For Tokyo Vice, Pachinko & Fistful of Vengeance

May 6, 2022

Tokyo has been the setting of many great moments in the history of western cinema; ‘Lost In Translation’ (2003), ‘Kill Bill’ (2003), ‘Babel’ (2006) and ‘Inception’ (2010) are just some of these and, for many visitors to Japan, these films set the scene for what to expect in the sprawling metropolis of Tokyo.

The city lends itself to dramas from every genre, with the unique character of the city long adored by Hollywood for its cinematic, urban landscape. 2022 has seen the release of long awaited TV adaptations of two novels set in Japan’s capital: ‘Tokyo Vice’ on HBO and ‘Pachinko’ on Apple TV+. Based on Jack Adelstein’s memoir of the same name, ‘Tokyo Vice’ tells the story of an American journalist seconded to the Tokyo Crime Squad police beat in 2009 Tokyo, whilst ‘Pachinko’ - originally written by Min Jin Lee - follows a Korean immigrant family settling in Japan across four generations during the 20th century. Syn’s passion for television has long inspired us to keep a close eye on upcoming shows set (and shot) in Japan, and we had the privilege to work on both of these hit shows for music licensing and ADR.

Disclaimer - there will be no spoilers here - but for a further look, I suggest you head to HBOmax and Apple TV+ to dive into these shows right away!

Capturing the essence of a city on screen is more than just clever storytelling, stunning visuals and authentic production design - the sound of a city plays an equally important role in replicating a city’s identity.

For Tokyo Vice - with scenes luring you into the decadent underbelly of Tokyo’s nightlife - Syn’s ‘Made In Japan’ collection of contemporary Japanese music was the perfect collection to pull from to help create these environmental sounds.

From strip-clubs to Izakaya (Small Japanese Bars), Syn Songs contributed to the music in Tokyo Vice through multiple needle drop placements across the show. Featuring a mix of genres, from J-Pop to traditional Japanese music, our team on the ground in Tokyo gave careful consideration when presenting tracks to Tokyo Vice’s music team, always trying to stay true to the pulsating rhythm of Tokyo’s sonic landscape. Utilising the Syn Studio in the heart of Tokyo, our production team could liaise with the show’s music team in L.A. and provide a local perspective in the city itself.

The Apple TV+ show ‘Pachinko’ provided an equally interesting challenge for the Syn team - with music needs spanning decades of musical history; from pre-war Jazz Standards to 1980s ‘City Pop’ hits.
Liaising with a network of local label contacts and music licensing experts, Syn supported the Pachinko music team to provide authentic music options, whilst helping to navigate language barriers and business intricacies of the region. Keep your ears out when watching the show for several tracks from Syn’s own catalogue, both from the ‘Made In Japan’ collection of contemporary Japanese music.

Whilst music and sound are at the heart of Syn’s work, our studio in Harajuku, Tokyo, has played host to some of Japan’s greatest acting talent to provide ADR (Automated Dialogue Replacement) for Film and Television. As we touch upon in a previous blog-post, ADR is the re-recording of dialogue in the post-production process of film-making, where lines of dialogue are re-recorded due to on-set noise or additional direction. This technical skillset is an area of expertise for Syn, and our studio is globally connected through ISDN-replacement technology such as ‘Source Connect’, giving directors and producers worldwide the ability to join ADR sessions remotely via an internet connection.

For Tokyo Vice, we welcomed iconic Hollywood director Michael Mann (Miami Vice, Heat, Last of the Mohicans) to the studio for one of Episode 1’s ADR sessions, with one of the show’s lead actors, Rachel Keller, in the booth.

Providing much of the ADR for both Tokyo Vice and Pachinko, Syn’s Chief Engineer - Akaku Takashi - worked closely with each show’s post production supervision team to provide ADR at Syn Tokyo, adding to a long list of Hollywood credits for Syn including ‘Silence’ (2016) and ‘Flags of our Fathers’ (2006). Keep an eye open for ADR credits at the end of Tokyo Vice and Pachinko!

Looking to our colleagues in neighbouring China, and leaning into the Asian expertise of our catalogue, Syn also contributed this year with music in the Netflix show ‘Fistful of Vengeance’, a supernatural action thriller movie follow up to Season 1 of the show ‘WuAssasins’. The challenge here was to create a musical adaptation of a Buddhist chant, performed in Mandarin. In a cross-country collaboration between Syn’s Nick Wood and Zhenzhen Yan, we provided the buddhist sutra ‘Uṣṇīṣa vijaya dhāraṇī sūtra’, with vocals performed by Zhenzhen Yan from Syn Beijing. Capturing a sense of mystery, magic and high-drama, the track became a key moment in the film’s soundtrack, and will be available on streaming platforms in the coming months.

You can listen to all of the Syn Songs tracks licensed in these programs here: