Otakon 2009
Naomi Tamura

by Evan Miller,

Naomi Tamura started her panel by standing on a chair on stage to introduce herself to the audience, which filled only one tenth of the gigantic room to which the panel was assigned. In her introduction, she talked about her her history as an artist, as well as some of the events and styles that inspired her music. Tamura got her start by auditioning with Sony Music, after which she became a member of a four-member band that worked together for three years. After the band called it quits, Tamura found herself overseas during the Persian Gulf War in the early 1990s. As the war played itself out on TV screens around the world, she happened upon war footage on MTV that was played along with the music of John Lennon. "That was a huge influence on me," admitted the artist, who returned to Japan shortly after that to launch a solo career.

Tamura talked about her entrance into the world of Anime music, which happened as she was trying to establish her solo career. After doing a song for a jewelry commercial, the producers of Rayearth asked Tamura to sing the theme for the anime. "I wasn't sure how to approach the project, so I went home to visit my family and think about it," said Tamura. After discovering that her collection of old vinyl records contained a fair number of anime songs as well, she decided to accept the project. Before she knew it, she was meeting with producers for the show to talk about the kind of song they were looking for. In the end, the entire production team was happy with the song that resulted from Tamura's efforts, "Yuzurenai Negai" ("Unyielding Wish"). Since then, she's continued singing anime songs, producing solo albums, and recently, she's formed another band called Pearl.

The artist fielded a few questions about the anime songs and artists that inspired her. Among these artists are western artists like Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin (who Tamura cites as her biggest influence), as well as Japanese pop acts. When asked about the music she listened to when she was growing up, the singer admitted that she had a "huge crush" on Akira, the vocalist from the Okinawan pop band Finger Five and was also a huge fan of the "kayokyoku" pop genre that piqued in the early 1980s.

Tamura admitted that the changes in the industry have been pretty visible even from the music end of the business. "Anime has become a more technical industry," said Tamura in reference to the CG-fueled productions of the past decade. She also admitted that her search for a Goku cosplayer to photograph isn't going so well: "All I see are Narutos." She told fans to come to her Sunday afternoon concert, which will open with the song she sung for the Rayearth OVA, "All You Need Is Love."

Near the end of the panel, the singer was asked about her current projects. She stated that she tries to perform at least one or two concerts, hold one fan club event, and release an album every year.

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