Anime Expo 2006
Tofu Records

by Jonathan Mays,
Presenter: Ai Aota

Dressed in a red POLYSICS jumpsuit, Aota opened the panel promptly at 10 a.m. with a video interview of hyde. She translated on the fly:

Why did you name the album Faith?
If you put all ten songs together, Faith is the word. I expressed my feelings through religious words.

What is the message you wanted to express in the album?
Each song has a different message. I want you to feel each song differently.

What was the biggest challenge in the album?
Maybe connecting to people's faiths. I'm not connected to any religon, but when I go to Europe and see big churches, I feel so much power from them. I also feel like the churches will cleanse my hurt. I wanted to put how I feel from the churches in Europe inside of the album.

How did you bring the band together for the album?
I wanted to make this album hard rock. When I do hard rock, [guitarist] Kaz is a necessary part of my music. This is a solo project. In each project I pick artists who can play the sound that I really want.

Please talk about your Jesus Christ song.
The first song is Jesus Christ. It is the epitome of what I wanted to do for this project. The song became the main base, and the other nine songs surrounded it. The passion and lyrics and atmosphere of the song has exactly what I wanted to do for the album. It has everything I wanted to show. I am most attached to the song.

Please share an episode from the time that you were making the album.
I did all I could do for this album. Every day I got more and more tired, so Kaz and I started to feel like we didn't have any energy left. But that's how we felt. Kaz is such a perfectionist and he saw that I worked very late, too. I was amused becuase we felt the same way about each other but didn't tell each other until the end.

How did you design the cover?
We used artwork from an oil painting.

Parts of the interview are available on tofu's official site. is tofu's official hyde space.

"We gotta wake up!"—a music video of hyde's "Countdown" did the trick. With the video still running, Ai discussed hyde's ongoing California tour and two San Francisco concerts coming up later this week. Both dates are sold out, but "maybe if you go the venue, you can pick up some tickets."

3 L'Arc~en~Ciel albums and a DVD are currently available from the label. "L'Arc~en~Ciel loves Tofu Records. They'll be back soon."

tofu will screen L'Arc videos by request at their booth.

After briefly promoting tofu's JPOP CD 2, which has theme songs from Bleach, Honey and Clover, and other anime, Aota played videos from UVERworld and POLYSICS. Will POLYSICS tour again? "Maybe next year." On High and Mighty Color's Texas concert: "The bass player had excellent technique."

A video from Nana Kitade's "18 -eighteen-" excited the crowd, but not as much as the annoucement that she would hold in-store "lives" in San Francisco, New York, and Boston in addition to her Otakon performance next month.

When Aota moved to Puffy AmiYumi, the reaction was muted. Mostly.
"You guys watch the Puffy AmiYumi cartoon?"
[in back] "They rock!"
"Where are you from?"
"I'm from Switzerland."
"What city?"
"No clue."
"I think you're from the east coast."

Puffy AmiYumi's Splurge, featuring Dexter from Offspring and Andy Sturmer from Jellyfish, comes out July 25.

Aota intended to introduce one of the label's upcoming bands, Beat Crusaders, but instead a video from Asian Kung-Fu Generation started playing. AKFG's Sol-fa album "sold very well for us," Aota said.

After the video wrapped up, Aota returned to the first of their "future releases—not sure when, but we have these people." Beat Crusaders "wear these crazy-looking paper masks. They're well known studio musicians who said, 'We rock. Let's make a band.'"

Acid Android, a band formed by L'Arc~en~Ciel's Yukihiro, is also bringing an album to the US soon. "If you're looking for some hard rock, listen to Acid Android."

More information on all of tofu's artists is available from their free annual fanzine, called a "Miracle" book. "We ask questions like 'What did you eat for lunch?' and 'Yukihiro, are you a dog person or a cat person?'"

On other artists that may come to America:

T.M. Revolution: "He's always talking about how he wants to come back when he has the chance. He's so busy, but he wants so much to come back. We need 2-3 months to plan a concert, and we need at least 3 days from his schedule. Maybe next year."

X Japan: "YOSHIKI is a really good friend of tofu's. He comes to the office. Came to the hyde concert. Maybe in the future."

Angela Aki: "I saw Angela Aki live in Japan. She's so good live! She did one concert in Chicago. Maybe we'll release her album."

Asian Kung-Fu Generation: "Too...A little busy right now"

Beat Crusaders: "Maybe. Nothing confirmed, but they're talking about it."

Nami Tamaki: "She loves the US. I'm trying my best to bring her back and release her album."

Aota closed the panel by handing out free t-shirts and keychains to the crowd, which had grown from 50 to about 100 over the hour.

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