Anime Expo 2016 - bamboo Interview

bamboo (milktub)
bamboo (milktub)

Japan-A-Radio was given the opportunity to interview the multi-talented creator bamboo. You may know him as the vocalist for the rock duo milktub, who most recently performed the opening theme for The Eccentric Family 2, Naru ga mama, Sawagu ga mama (成るがまま騒ぐまま), but he is also:

  • President of PC game maker Kitchen Guys Factory (OVERDRIVE)
  • President of PC game localization company Nihon Anime Contents (MangaGamer)
  • President of recording studio, artist management, and merchandise producer STUDIO696
  • Consultant for crowd-funding platform CAMPFIRE

―― You’re well-known both for your games and your music. Why did you choose to pursue both as careers? Most people choose to take on just one job.

I like both. Games use music, right? Well, I was able to use the music I wrote in the games I produced. That’s all. All of the sudden at some point I started singing; I didn’t used to sing.

―― In an interview on the Lantis website, it said you used to be a drummer.

Yeah, I used to be a drummer, but when I started making games I wanted a male vocalist. But I didn’t have money to hire one so I sang it myself. That was my start.

―― Bishoujo games usually focus on the females, but your games use a lot of male vocals.

In the course of the story, even if it’s a bishoujo game, even if females are the focus, it’s fine if a male sings too right?

―― Between games, music, the studio, and artist management, you have quite a lot of jobs.

Sometimes I can’t even figure out myself what I’m doing.

―― How do you continue to pursue all of them at the same time?

I delegate. I make it clear what I want to do. I’ll start it, but hand it off when I can’t do it any more. For example, right now Koji is doing a lot of management at MangaGamer. Right now I mostly give presentations. I promote the company to other game makers. “America’s great, let’s release lots of games in English!”

There’s so many things I want to do. Like crowdfunding, which was born in America. I wanted to do that in Japan, like with CAMPFIRE. The things I make (like the Samurai Armor Hoodies) like music and apparel, I want people around the world to be able to learn about them, to try them, to tell them this is what I made. I want everybody to enjoy them. I try not to complicate things by over-thinking, and just do the things I want to do. I live that sort of life.

―― Where do you find the confidence to do these things?

I’ve had lots of failures, so I know what to do. Even if your staff betrays me, I keep believing. I just set my heart on what I want to do.

―― Do you have regrets about things you’ve done or haven’t done?

I have many many regrets. But I usually forget about unpleasant things pretty quickly away.

For example, when I was 16 I was in a band and wanted to become a professional rock ‘n’ roll band member. That desire hasn’t changed. I believe that since I didn’t give up, I am where I am now signed with Lantis and singing. One of my strengths is what I don’t give up.

―― How did you come up with the concept for Endohkai? How did you end up being in charge of “pain-in-the-butt”.

Everybody in the group is selfish, and it’s my job to produce them together as a group. It’s a pain in the butt. Masaaki Endoh is especially a pain in the butt. A couple days ago [JAM Project] was drinking at their hotel to celebrate after their performance [at Anisong World Matsuri], and he told me to come over. Even though he was in a different hotel, even though it was 1 AM, I said “yessir” and went. Endoh-kai is like a group of friends, and us members just say “yessir, let’s do that” to things that make Masaaki Endoh happy. Like concerts.


―― And Masaaki Endoh is the leader.

Yes. Endoh-san just drinks.

―― It seems that way. I don’t understand how Endoh-san and the rest of JAM Project take care of their throats. At the press conference, he said they just drink and eat spicy things.

They don’t, do they! Think drink a lot! It’s impossible for me. My throat is weak compared to his. I’ve written countless songs for Masaaki Endoh and recorded samples for him, but it hurts my throat. The key is goes too high. I use a Chinese medicine created from Forsythia suspensa (響声破笛丸) for my throat.

―― You’re an artist under Lantis yourself, and one of the artists you manage, AiRI, is now under Lantis as well. What is your relationship with Lantis like, being both an artist and a manager?

They’re separate ventures, but while the things I do for each are similar I’m able to easily switch between artist and management modes. Sometimes to protect the artist, sometimes to help the business. Occasionally they mix together though. For example, Lantis is here in America, but I’m here with MangaGamer. Artists have an company with staff to help, but I don’t have much. I’m the president. The cost of the flight, I have to pay it myself!? But I’m also not really bound by the rules Lantis has, just me. Being a business partner with them, it’s very different. It’s very unique. I’m also a game creator and an artist. There aren’t many other people like this. When I’m working with Lantis and things aren’t going well, I can sometimes switch modes to my advantage.

―― How does the process differ between when you’re writing your own songs and writing songs for others to sing?

Many of the songs we write are for works that feature stories, like games, anime. I think about the story’s concept and feel when we write those songs. It’s not that every song is completely different from the others; we try to write something that only we can write. Something with a quick tempo, something loud, something foolish. We try to produce music that only we can produce. Isn’t it frustrating to be told that your music sounds like someone else’s?

―― I watched one of your a web broadcasts with Gero, you were talking about I’ve sound and told about a time when someone asked you to write a song like I’ve Sound.

I declined that saying “Then ask I’ve!”

milktub 25th anniversary live
milktub 25th anniversary live

Oh, there’s one more important thing. Rock ‘n’ roll. That’s everything. Business, sound, games, and rock ‘n’ roll.

―― Is Go-Go-Nippon somehow Rock ‘n’ Roll as well?

Go-Go-Nippon is business, isn’t it. 20 years ago I traveled around the world and visited things like AX. I’ve gotten to meet a lot of game and anime fans and talk to them. Many people wanted to visit Japan, so I thought of bringing Japan to them at a low price through a virtual experience. To bring the culture to them, like the experience of riding on a train. Things I take for granted, but to those people, things that are new and surprising. Now we’ve sold about 140,000 copies of it, isn’t that amazing? But the money’s all going to MangaGamer and I’m getting nothing.

―― You come to America quite frequently.

Yes, my brother lives in LA.

―― And you also lived in Seattle many years ago.

I had a home stay in Seattle

―― When you come to America now, what do you usually do?

I come to play. I’ve been to Asia many times (Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan, Taipei), but it’s been about 5 years since I last came to LA. Last year I stopped in transit to Las Vegas, but that was it. I love America, my brother is here, I wish I could come more. It’s also great for playing Ingress.

―― So when you’re not here at the convention, you’re playing Ingress?

Yeah, [minori president] nbkz also plays Ingress.

―― So that’s why you’re always together.

This trip I’m also doing some official work for Ingress, it worked out well. I hold the Japanese record in Ingress and am second in the world ranking.

―― Why did you name your music studio “696”?

Rock ‘n’ Roll. Roku-kyuu-roku.

―― Why do you like the word “fuck”?

Ah, that word! F-u-c-k right? Because it’s rock ‘n’ roll! Rock bands in America all use it right? Online gamers all say it in voice chat right? You’ll hear it within 5 seconds!

I take a lot of influence from American culture. I always look forward to visiting America. This time I’m at AX as an attendant for another guest, but I want to come here some time for vacation.

We would like to thank bamboo for taking the time and effort to answer our questions.