With Peace Walker’s Heavens Divide in 2010, and The Phantom Pain’s Sins of the Father in 2015, vocalist Donna Burke has been an important part of the Metal Gear series’ soundtrack. Aside from these beloved songs, she provided the voice of Snake’s iDroid in Metal Gear Solid V as well. Furthermore, she has also covered various of the series’ earlier songs on the Metal Gear Solid Vocal Tracks from 2015 and the Ganime Jazz debut album from earlier this month, including Snake Eater and Calling to the Night. With Metal Gear in Concert, coming to the United States and Europe later this year, she will perform some of the series’ most memorable songs with a live orchestra. Metal Gear Informer had the chance to ask her some questions about her work on the series and her plans for the future.
Who is your favorite Metal Gear character?
Archie? [Donna Burke’s cat] No wait, he isn’t actually in it, is he? Um… Ludvig Forsell’s brief appearance as a guard? Hmm…
I think the scene where Kazuhiro looks up at Snake, puts his glasses on and wryly and sexily says, “What took you so long” is gut-splinteringly poignant, stoic, humorous and heartbreaking with his limbs missing. Ugh, cue tears! I love both characters in this moment equally – the tenderness of Snake as he holds the sunglasses shows how lovely men can be to each other and the beauty of the bonds of friendship transcending really terrible events in your life.
You do know that I’ve not played the game right? It’s not a talent I have; it’s too overwhelmingly real and… real.
You’ve sung two theme songs for the franchise: Heavens Divide and Sins of the Father. Can you briefly explain what each song is about?
“When Heaven’s Divide” is a love song about death, wanting to be remembered after death and making enormous sacrifices and “Sins of the Father” is a story of waking up disorientated and in pain and then remembering some terrible stuff that went down and the enormous pain, betrayal and rage of that.
What’s your personal favorite song?
“Sins of the Father” is so incredibly epic; it brings tears uncontrollably when I sing it. I used to sob and not be able to get through it when I first had to learn it. It touches on some very deep human experiences in a subliminal way. My cats HATE it when I sing this at home; they really think I’m in pain. And in a way, they are right.
How much was Kojima involved with the music?
Alot. In 2011 he told me at a live event that I performed When Heaven’s Divide at that I would get another song to sing that was even more epic than When Heaven’s Divide that Akihiro Honda would write the music for. I finally heard 2 songs in December 2012, and wrote dummy lyrics and sang them. Kojima-san then took the best, most spine tingling parts from each song and asked Honda-san to make Sins of the Father from that. Then Ludvig wrote the lyrics for that song.
You have covered vocal tracks from various Metal Gear games in the past. Would you ever consider covering music from Metal Gear Rising?
Absolutely! I would love to hear fans tell me which songs would translate best for a jazz quintet.
Are you planning to release any more Metal Gear CDs / albums with Metal Gear songs on it?
Yes! We are already planning Ganime Jazz’s next release and it could definitely have “Heaven’s Divide,” “Can’t say goodbye to Yesterday” and “Best is Yet to Come.” Or maybe I’ll save that for Ganime’s third CD!
Are there any plans to expand Metal Gear In Concert to more locations?
Yes, if fans get behind these concerts, most definitely. But you didn’t hear that from me. But actually now you did so this is very hard to deny! A concert promoter is not a charity and they need to know that fans will come out and support the event. So I’m sooooo glad to see that fans are jumping to snap up their tickets! Apparently, there is an algorithm for how fast tickets sell out. I wish I was making this up. So when concerts get added, it’s because of fan demand. I can’t wait to connect with fans of MG in Concert, which took place in Osaka and Tokyo. What a privilege.
A Metal Gear Solid movie is currently in production. They should totally approach you to do a song for it, right?
OMG, yes and I want to do a walk on or at least a voice! I really wanted to be in a Silent Hill movie so this will make up for that! Metal Gear Movie would be awesome!!! Wouldn’t fans go nuts? I’d go nuts! This would be an absolute dream come true.
We would like to thank Donna Burke for taking the time to answer our questions, as well as Alexander Aniel from Dagmusic for arranging the interview.