Sakura-Con 2015: GARNiDELiA Interview

*Note* This is a repost because internet gremlins seemingly ate the original post. Also, the header and inline images were removed. Sorry about that.

Japan-A-Radio had the opportunity to participate in a round table interview with Sakura-Con 2015 musical guests GARNiDELiA, which consists of vocalist MARiA and producer toku.

Q: In Japan, song distribution is mainly done by CD, stateside there isn't really all that, its done by itunes, so my question is, what do you think of J-Pop's reception in the states versus its status in Japan and the different types of releases that it causes.

MARiA: So, in Japan I think there is still a mentality of collecting and there are a lot of collectors and who like to hold something in their hand and be able to touch it, feel it, interact with it, and from my perspective as an artist I think its very.... I think its good to have your jacket, your cover design, your music video be a part of this so I think there's still a need for this cd/dvd type of distribution, at least in Japan.

Q: You're most well know for your anime theme songs such as the ones in Freezing, Mahouka (The Irregular at Magic High School) and Kill la Kill, so my question is, do studios and directors come to you when they ask you to make an opening or ending theme or do they come up to you and say "hey, we really like your style of music, do you think you can you come up with something?", or do they give a more guided direction as in "we're doing this, this is our theme, can you make a song around it?".

MARiA: By and large, I really feel the directors choose the sort of artist that will fit the world setting that will fit the anime or the IP that we are working with, they'll give us a set of guidelines but let us take our creative freedom at the same time and let us explore our "GARNiDELiAn-ness" and insert that into the music as well.

Toku: There are exceptions to this rule of course, one being for Gundam Reconquista G, this was one where they picked one of our songs which was already completed as is.

MARiA: But by and large weread the scripts and we get to compose it based on how we interact and feel based on the world setting and characters.

Q: How was your concert last night at Sakuracon in front of an American crowd?

MARiA: Overall it was a very enjoyable live performance, and I have performed a lot in Japan and in Asia as well but this is my first live performance in America. Having said that, the feedback and the way the audience reacts was quite different from my other experiences and it was quite an instant feedback because when I would do something in my performance I would get an instant reaction or clapping from the audience that would tell me "wow, people like this moment in the song".

Q: Do you have a favorite anime?

MARiA: Naruto! (laughs)

toku: Macross Frontier.

Q: Who are you, do you have inspirations for you music?

toku: So, two types, if its a collaboration like working with an anime ot some project that we feel we need to tie our music more closely to that work then we definitly read the script and get inspiration from that world of anime or game or whatever it is that we are working with. That said, when we are working on original GARNiDELiA songs, MARiA and myself we'll discuss and say "hey I want to do something like this", or "we want to persue this kind of sound", or "this would be fun to do in a live performance", that's kind of where we start in the creative process. That's not just exclusive to us, sometimes we'll get inspiration from the audience as well so based on last night's performance we might go back home and talk about it and go "hey we should create something like this so our next live performance we can create this kind of feel and vibe".

Q: You've both done collaborations with many other artists, my question for you is who are your musical influences.

toku: Pet Shop Boys, Guy Sigsworth (producer that worked with Madonna as well as many other artists), and more recently EDM music.

Q: Since this is your first time performing in Seattle, and considering the feedback of the audience, have you considered a World tour?

MARiA: (laughs) Absolutely, someday we'd like to do a world tour, but its only been a year and change since we debuted so I think we'll need to start planting the seeds around the world communities and then we can talk about a world tour.

toku: I dunno if Sakuracon will invite us back twice but I'd like to come to Seattle again.

Q: Obviously you've done a lot of anime openings, but anime openings usually take around 90 seconds, you usually have a verse and a catchy chorus, your full songs expand on that but still you have a 90 second cut that people will recognize. Have you felt limited by the fact that you have to cut it down to 90 seconds for the TV release or have you wanted to bend the rules a bit?

MARiA: There are definitly different things we'd like to do and different ways we'd like to explore sort of the composition but having said that we'd like to be mindful of the IP and the project or anime that we're collaborating with, therefore in terms of the opening there are a lot of guidelines that the director or producer will put upon us so I don't know if we can escape that restrictor or boundary with that 90 second restriction. However, once we get past those 90 seconds we pretty much have creative freedom, so we have many songs that are interesting in their composition in the way they take you through their song start to finish so once those 90 seconds are over it might not repeat those 90 seconds.

toku: So again when it comes to anime the director is always your guideline and always create the rules so we will have to be mindful of their creative decisions and respect them. I personally can make almost anything so...

MARiA: (laughs)

Q: Did you know that you had so many fans around the world and especially in America?

MARiA: I was really happy and pleased to know that there people that would come and listen to me because I would have nightmares about showing up on the stage and looking at an empty room so now that I have performed here in Seattle and have a lot of fans it's a huge relief and they were so kind they came to the autograph session and we had a great time.

Toku: The Asian fans and Japanese fans at least we are aware that they exist because they'll interact with us via twitter or other social media channels.

MARiA: But when we came to states we had no reaction whatsoever so it was kind of like a black hole.

Q: What do you think of your experience here in Seattle and was there anything you were looking forward to do or see, or in the case of many guests, eat any special foods or drinks that you were excited to try.

MARiA: Um.... clam chowder... and cheese... and the Sakuracon Frappuchino and.. Japan Dog.. and also Cheesecake Factory's cheesecake (laughs).. we have definitly ate a lot of things and everything is delicious in Seattle. We're going to put some weight on.

Q: If you had a chance, or a choice, which anime series would you like to do a theme song for or which act either English or Japanese would you like to collaborate with?

MARiA: Naruto! By Far! (laughs)

toku: If she wants to do it, I'll follow.

(translator asks them the 2nd part of the question)

MARiA: hmmm....

toku: hmmm....

MARiA: This is a difficult question.....

toku: (after a brief pause) Nicki Minaj.

MARiA: Nicki Minaj! (laughs)

MARiA: David Guetta.... As for Japanese artists.. fripSide, angela.. if we could also do a live performance with them because like us they are also a male/female duo that would be a really interesting performance.

Q: Just to add to that angela was acutally here at Sakuracon about 10 years ago, in sort of a similar situation you're in now, in that they had just released their debut album and just done songs for an anime series so, you're sort of following in their footsteps in a way.

MARiA: Wow! (laughs) Yes, we'll look forward to the next 10 years and work hard to make sure that happens.

Q: What are things you enjoy about being on stage?

MARiA: I think the reactions of the audience is a big part of the performance, so when you get that tactile feedback from the audience, especially here in the states with the applause and the shouts and cries, its why we perform and it makes me feel really good.

Q: If I can just add on, when you get that tactile feedback... so a lot of performers they produce a lot of.... "so you can only here this when you're there", but you never get to see it in an album. Do you often feel like you give surprises to fans who show up to the concert?

MARiA: There is definitly a bit of spice we add to the live performances when we get this warm welcome from the audience including.. sometimes we will go a little bit off-lyrics and include some scatter fakes where there normally wouldn't be lyrics or I'll hold the higher notes a little bit longer than I normally would on albums because I think that would get me a good reaction from the audience as well.

Q: Of the songs that you've produced so far which one have you enjoyed the most?

toku: So while I'm actually composing its actually a 50/50 mixture of fun and difficult, I wouldn't necessarily be able to say "this was the most fun", and if anything the newest song, whatever I'm working on gives me the most interaction at the time and that would be what I'd have to pick so it constantly changes and, having said that, now with the internet and social media you get feed back for the songs you produce from end users and consumers and being able to see that and see the reactions is part of the fun part, especially if its good reactions, that's one of the funnest parts of making a song so its not necessarily during the process but after the song is completed.