Thursday, 6 September 2012

STGCC 2012: Piko (Interview)

Having first started sharing his voice to the world via song covers on Nico Nico Douga in 2007, he has since progressed immensely and become a professional singer. He is known for having an extremely large vocal range, spanning that of both genders, and also for his distinctly androgynous styling.

His videos online have received more than 25 000 000 (that’s million) views, and he holds the record as the individual who took the shortest time to stage his first live performance at Shibuya AX from the time of the debut of his first CD. His major single debut was made in 2010 with the song “Story”, and his third single, “Sakurane”, became an instant hit and was used as the ending song of the anime Yorinuki Gintama-san. Soon after, he released his first album, 1PIKO, attaining 7th place on the Oricon charts.

When he walked into the interview room, he distinctly had the air of a celebrity - someone who was impeccably styled, with an entourage following behind. When he opened his mouth, this impression was enhanced by his friendly, yet slightly subdued tone. I (Seren) found myself getting nervous over my Japanese – with this person, it probably has to be perfect. When I actually started asking the questions, though, the nervousness subsided, and in place of it was the odd feeling of, “Oh, okay, he’s human too.”

Human with a better voice than most, it turns out. His short stage performance afterwards drew screams from the crowd, and he even came out again for an encore performance because the fans just wouldn’t stop yelling “Encore!” (In Japanese too, might I add – “Anko-ru!”) He has mentioned that he would be happy to do a full-scale concert in Singapore if he had the opportunity. Perhaps we will be able to see him here again sometime soon…

Check out the interview below~


What was the reason you started uploading videos on Nico Nico Douga?
Well, I’d been in a band since I was in high school, and that was when I’d started singing and performing live, but it was only after I entered university that people started saying to me, “Oh, you’re good.” But at that time I didn’t know what exactly it was about me or my voice that was good, or what it was that I still lacked, so I thought it’d be a good idea to put myself out into the internet and let all sorts of people listen to just my voice. I thought that hopefully, that way I’d be able to obtain honest opinions.

When you first started uploading videos, did you ever think that you wanted to become a professional singer?
Not at that time, no. I never had those thoughts in the beginning. I had more of a feeling of, “Let’s just try this out for now and see what happens.”

You’ve sung the song “Magnet” as a collaboration with Sekihan. What did you think of your first live performance of that song?
The live? (laughs) Well… Since there were so many people who had covered Magnet, we wanted to create a Magnet that was different from other people’s, one that was more interesting, so that’s how it turned out, but the live was… well, it’s a source of humour between the two of us. We wanted to keep as true to the recorded version as possible. Basically, we thought that if people watching us would enjoy it and get hyped up over it, then we’d enjoy performing for them as well – and I’m definitely not homo! (laughs)

You mentioned that you had been performing live before, but what were your feelings when you performed at Nico Nico Douga events? Were you nervous?
Well, of course at first there were events where I was asked to sing just one or two songs, but even so I got quite nervous and there were cases when my voice just wouldn’t come out right, but I’ve slowly gotten used to it since then.

When did you first realise that you could hit such high notes?
Rather than realising it for myself, it was more like I was made to realise it. I’d started uploading covers on Nicodou, then after about a year and a half, I did “Koi wa Sensou”, and I got comments on that saying that I sounded like a girl. That was when it was brought to my attention.

What countries do you look forward to visiting and why?
There are a lot of places I’d like to go to, but… somewhere like Alaska? (laughs) I’d like to see the aurora there.

What about countries within Asia?
I’d really wanted to come to Singapore. But since I’m here now, next would be… India. Because I like curry.

Will you be producing a single or album in the future with just your lower voice?
If I have the opportunity to do so, I’d like to try it.

Is there a particular artist or performer that you can inspiration from?
My musical roots are in artists like Gackt, Janne da Arc, Siam Shade and Mizuki Nana. Gackt was the reason I started loving music. I thought his visual kei style was cool and really liked his various takes on music. I like Janne da Arc because the vocal parts are really high-pitched, and I used to cover their songs when I was in my high school band so I really enjoy their music. Siam Shade is more hard rock, which I really liked, and I used their songs to practise shouting bits. And as for Mizuki Nana, her singing is very skilled, so I sing her songs to practise technique when I sing girl parts.

Are there any singers that you are particularly close to on Nico Nico Douga?
Oh… this is a bit difficult. (laughs) Well, there are a lot of people on Nicodou who have released CDs, but there are only a few who have made a major debut in the same way I have, so I only come across those people in my line of work… Well, when it comes to getting together over drinks and just talking about our lives, there’s Choucho. Choucho, Gero, Sekihan, Yuge, Kentaro.

Have you had any interesting experiences while you have been in Singapore? Or are there any foods you particularly like?
I went to Night Safari on my first night here, and that was really fun. I thought the tapirs were really cute. (laughs)

Would you be interested in coming to Singapore to do a full-scale concert?
Yes, I would like to, if I had the opportunity.

What are your plans from now on, for this coming year?
Well, I have anime events to attend in Guangzhou, as well as a full-scale concert in Hong Kong. In the winter, I also have a CD lined up.

Do you get fanmail from male fans?
Yes I do, occasionally, from people who come to my live performances, or just on twitter or on my blog.

I (Seren) personally thought the way he vehemently denied being homosexual was hilarious.

-Transcription/Translation/Commentary by Seren
-Layout/Pictures/Posting by Emi
-Picture credits to Golgolak's Den

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