When did you know that music was in your future?
I started playing music, specifically the cello, when I was 3 years old,
and from then on I only ever listened to classical music. But when I
entered middle school, I started to listen to Jpop and realized that
there are other types of music besides classical out there. That’s when I
started thinking about how to express myself with different types of
music, and began doing a bit of my own composition at that time.
Can you tell us one fun thing you’ve done during your time in Seattle?
On the day of my live, I went to the Seattle Aquarium. I’ve always loved
aquariums, and this was my first time visiting an aquarium overseas, so
it was a lot of fun.
Last night, a lot of people heard your music for the first time. How would you describe your music to a new listener?
Do you mean what do I want to convey to my listeners? Well, the basic
idea I use to create my music is that as long as I’m alive, there will
be may times when I feel happy or sad, and experience a lot of different
emotions. I’m always putting those emotions into my songs and lyrics,
and when those feelings come across to the people who listen to my music
it makes me really happy.
How would you describe the concept of the clothes you wore for your concert?
Since this convention is called Sakura-con, I went with a sakura theme and chose a pink costume this time.
What is the most challenging song for you to perform, and why?
During my lives, I usually sing while I play an instrument, so when I
perform a song that doesn’t use an instrument, I have to think about how
to express the music with just words, rather than with my cello, so
that can be a little difficult.
Since you said you listen to a lot of classical and jazz
music, can you tell us some of the artists or composers within those
genres that inspire you?
For classical, the person I admire most is actually a musician, rather
than a composer, and her name is Jacqueline du Pré. She was a cellist
who sadly passed away at a young age, but her performances were so
cool–even though she’s a girl, she always gave such strong and powerful
performances that left a really strong impression on me. Actually, she’s
was one of the people I’ve looked up to from the very beginning, and
encouraged me to continue playing the cello. My favorite artist for jazz
is actually a musician as well, or rather a duo of siblings from Japan
called Les Frères. The two of them play piano duets and perform
together, and [like Jacqueline du Pré] put on incredibly powerful
performances. They play so vigorously that sometimes the strings of
their piano have been known to snap during concerts, and watching
performances like that–even on DVD–is really cool and fun to me.
In the past you’ve worked with AnCafe’s Kanon– what was that
experience like, and did you feel that you learned anything new from the
The concept for KANONxKANON was actually taken directly from anime, as
we were making songs specifically for certain anime series. This was the
case with both our first and second singles, that were used as the
opening theme for 2 different series. But rather than adapting the theme
songs around a certain character, we decided to create music that would
come as close as possible to the overall feel of the anime as a whole.
Then we also created a visual style to match that same original feel of
the show, and the overall process was a very creative one. They
basically allowed us to create whatever we wanted out of it, so it was a
really interesting and fun experience. We were also able to tour
something like 7 different countries in Europe last year, which was
another amazing experience.
Are there any other musicians you’d like to work with someday?
I’ve been into a French artist named Emilie Simon for a long time, and I
love listening to her music, so if I had a chance I’d like to meet her
You’ve been around Europe and parts of the US recently, but
if you could, where else would you like to go, and what would you like
Recently I’ve been really wanting to visit the Czech Republic (laughs).
In Czech, there’s a long history of clay animation, or stop-motion
animation, and I heard that there’s a museum there that displays some of
the dolls that have been used in the films. I really like that kind of
dark-fantasy world, so I’d love to go there and visit someday. I’d also
like to try going somewhere like Southern Italy or Spain, where the
weather is nice and warm (laughs).
What is your favorite part about performing overseas?
The fact that everyone in the audience is happy to see me comes across
very strongly and clearly… and now that you mention it, I want to say
how thankful I really am for that.
You mentioned earlier that you started playing cello from a
very young age, and there were times when you wanted to quit– how did
you overcome these feelings?
I’ve been playing for a very long time, and I’ve been lucky to have some
amazing teachers and supporters around me to cheer me on. Of course
there were times when I wanted to quit, but those people around me, as
well as my parents who have always been very supportive, have always
told me what a waste it would be if I quit, and how rewarding it would
be if I continued; that there would be lots of fun opportunities and
amazing people to meet if I kept going. They also taught me how
important it is to think about playing the cello as a very reliable and
treasured hobby, not as a job, and I think hearing that from a lot of
different people definitely helped me continue onward. I also have a lot
of friends around the same age that also play instruments–friends who
play violin, piano, as well as cello. We sometimes used to get together
and play as an ensemble, and I think having that camaraderie is one of
the main reasons I’ve been able to continue on this far.
What is something you haven’t done yet as a musician that you would like to try?
I haven’t really done very many live performances in Japan yet, so from
now on I’d love to get together with other musicians and write new
songs, then put on performances with a “live house” feel to them. Up
until now, my lives have mostly consisted of me performing by myself and
playing my instrument, with a background orchestra recorded from my
CDs, but I’d really like to try performing with other band members, like
a violinist, pianist, drummer, guitar, bass… that kind of sound. I
haven’t really been able to do a lot of performances like that yet, so
from now on that’s what I’d really like to try.
Did you ever want to become something other than a musician when you grew up?
I’ve always really enjoyed drawing, so I wanted to become an illustrator.
How did you decide on your set list for Sakura-con?
For the opening songs, I wanted to pick up certain tracks from my first
and second album that everyone knows. Then for the middle of the set, I
picked a lot of songs that I had composed myself, and lastly I played
songs from my most recent releases, as well as songs I was performing
for the first time. I also chose to play a lot of my more
classical-influenced songs, since I had a pianist and violinist there,
as well as myself on cello.
Is there a particular song you would recommend to new fans?
Hmm which one? (laughs) Well I have a lot of new songs that haven’t been
made in CDs yet, so what I really want to do is get those songs out to
the fans as soon as I can.
If you could meet or do a collaboration with a classical artist or composer from the past, who would it be?
When it comes to classical composers, my favorites aren’t specifically
composers for the cello, but I listen to a lot of Debussy, and also
Chopin’s piano pieces, and I like them a lot. For orchestra, I really
How did the audience from last night’s show differ from your typical audience in Japan?
When I play in Japan, the audience feels almost shy, since they usually
watch and listen very silently (laughs). Yesterday the whole audience
was really energetic and into the show, which felt really different at
first, but they seemed like they were having a lot of fun so I was
relieved at that.
Have you noticed any differences between the fans here in the
USA, in Europe, and in Japan when you actually meet with and talk to
A lot of my fans in Japan almost feel like my Mom and Dad, saying things
like “You did a great job today!” and “You worked really hard!”
(laughs) And even old grandmas and grandpas! But in Europe and America,
there are a lot of fans that say things like “Wow~ I had so much fun!”
and it feels like we’re close friends (laughs).
Can you tell us about an interesting experience you’ve had on this trip so far?
For this performance, I had a violinist and a pianist playing with me,
and the 2 of them are a lot of fun to be around. When I get excited and
energetic, they’re right there having fun with me so it was great
What direction will you be taking with your music now?
Recently, the number of songs I write by myself has increased, and I’ve
really been trying to put all of the feelings and emotions I experience
on a day to day basis into my lyrics. I want to create new songs that
convey all of the happiness and sadness that I feel, and I really hope I
can perform more both in Japan and overseas, so that I can show the
fans how much I’ve grown, and get that kind of acknowledgement from
Do you think that becoming a musician means taking a lot of risks and making a lot sacrifices?
Well, I don’t know exactly what I’ll be doing a year or 2 from now, and
not knowing what’s going to happen can sometimes make me feel very
uncertain about a lot of things. But that’s really what this job is all
about– constantly moving forward and creating new music and having to
think of new ways of express yourself and your ideas, so I feel like I
just really have to do the best I can and give it my all.