Anime Expo 2012
Yuki Kajiura / FictionJunction Focus Panel
by Brian Hanson,
As the the throngs of eager Yuki Kajiura fans were slowly fed into Petree Hall, Yuki Kajiura and her fellow FictionJunction vocalists arrived onstage and briefly thanked their raucous audience. Kajiura-san thanked her fans in English. "So many people have come. We are waiting for your questions." Kajiura-san then introduced her fellow vocalists - Yuriko Kaida, Kaori Oda, Keiko Kubota, and Wakana Ootaki.
The MC asked Kajiura-san how her Anime Expo experience has been thus far, and asked briefly about her concert, which happens the 30th at 7pm. "The audience looks so happy and fun, and they make me feel happy and fun. And I'm going to make sure that everybody's expectations are high, so we make the stage real hot and live."
The floor was then opened to the audience to ask questions.Question: If you were in an alternate universe where you didn't have a career doing music, what would you all be doing instead?
Yuki Kajiura: "Originally I was not a musician to start with, and I was a system engineer before performing, so I'd probably go back to that."
Yuriko Kaida: "*laughs* Probably a housewife, homemaker."
Kaori Oda: "I always dreamed about being a kindergarten teacher, or doing something related to small children."
Keiko Kubota: "I never thought of anything else but... being a singer! I was born to do this!!"
Wakana Ootaki: "My passion is the same: I've lived music and I was born to be a singer, though I always loved manga and art, so maybe a manga artist."
Q: I was genuinely surprised when I listened to the song "Stone Cold" for the first time. It was very different from what you are usually known for. What was the inspiration to make such a different song?
Yuki Kajiura: "My inspiration was, based on the project it was, to make it more digital. And the main character was a young boy, so we were really striving to make something more powerful."
Q: What kind of music do you listen to in your spare time?
Yuki Kajiura: "Opera, music of the world."
Yuriko Kaida: "I don't really have time to listen to anything else, I'm pretty much overwhelmed from everything here."
Kaori Oda: "Just like Ms. Kaida, I'm a bit overwhelmed and don't have a favorite. I've listened to music since I was born; every type of music will do."
Keiko Kobuta: "I like dance music."
Q: Kajiura-san, what qualities do these women possess that attracted you to their voices to make a group?
Yuki Kajiura: "To be honest, FictionJunction is not a 'group.' FictionJunction is just me. Well, actually, it depends on the music and the song. We have gathered several members and singers from everywhere. We don't have 'member' members. I *am* FictionJunction. But I am 'collecting' all the singers that are powerful and worthy to be in this group. They are true professionals, each individual here. I respect them, and I do look up to them. They have the most beautiful voices, and that's how they're selected."
Q: I noticed that Kajiura-san composes music with very sharp key signatures. When you're composing, do you choose those key signatures based on their tonalities, or do you just prefer it?
Yuki Kajiura: "I'm not particularly looking into that range when I compose a soundtrack, but when it comes to the singing and composing, we need to find the range of that singer. Then it's always a sharp key for some reason that I find. Basically for the keyboardist, sharp keys are the black keys, so it's hard to play, to be honest with you. I follow and check the singers' ranges when they start singing, and that becomes the key."
Q: I was curious about the very different music you composed for both Garden of Sinners and Fate/Zero.
Yuki Kajiura: "A different approach. Because Garden of Sinners has a main girl character. If you noticed, all the composition is more feminine: that's how I compose, due to the main character. Fate/Zero is 'the old man's fantasy,' okay. I was thinking more that the main character kind of sinks down, and you don't really visualize them high on the scale."
Q: You write lyrics in many different languages. Do you decide what the language is first, either English or Japanese? Or do you write the song and then decide the language?
Yuki Kajiura: "When I create the music, the composition, I've already decided, so I never have to waver between which language I want. That comes with the music. Well... very seldom though, but if I make it sound more 'English' in the composition, but after completion, I notice that it goes well in Japanese, sometimes I switch them. But mostly I've already made up my mind - this music is more Japanese or English. It's kinda technical, but when I create the music, I don't really decide. The melody itself can *only* fit the Japanese or English language, so there's no other way for it to fit anything else. It's not a decision, so much as the melody itself dictates the language."
Q: What "genre" do you feel yourself most comfortable in composing, regarding your music and style?
Yuki Kajiura: "I think the word 'genre' is not applicable for music itself. Music was born before the word 'genre,' so I'm not comfortable with the definition. But... it is necessary to 'genre' things, because that's how you communicate the music with words, what you're trying to express. Not just the music and melody, but the words have a big portion of it. So genre is important, though I never even consider what genre I am aiming for, or what is my definition of 'genre' in my music, so even now I'm searching. I don't know what genre I am."
Q: FictionJunction, when you record music, how do you determine who is the singer for which specific song?
Yuki Kajiura: "It's the quality of the voice, that's how I determine who is singing which song. So if the melody is very high key, then somebody with a high voice will be picking up that song. However when I make music and I have a particular singer in mind, 'this one fits for her,' then I will lower or change the key to fit her voice. There are some times when I've made a song for a particular singer."
Q: What inspired you to get into music?
Yuki Kajiura: "Well, I started as a band, with my band See-Saw, so that's how all my music started."
Yuriko Kaida: "I came in with as a chorus group, then as you know I had an opportunity to sing a couple of anime songs, so that's how I came to be a singer."
Kaori Oda: "I always wanted to be a singer. At 10 years old, I joined a children's production. At 16, I met an amazing person, *that* person, which is Ms Kajiura. Since then I've been singing in FictionJunction."
Keiko Kobuta: "I was always interested in entertainment - dance, singing, acting. Mostly I was inspired by singing."
Wakana Ootaki: "I wanted to be a singer. I auditioned and met Ms. Kajiura, and here I am."
Q: For everyone, if you're feeling sad or angry, how do you overcome and find inspiration and create your art?
Yuki Kajiura: "Well, when I'm feeling sad, I'm usually not in the mood to write a sad song. I go the opposite and make something very fun and joyful. And when I'm happy, I make the happy songs, too."
Yuriko Kaida:"When I'm down to the bottom of the pits, no way to go further down, and I get there, and then I look up, and there's no where to go but up, I do what Kajiura-san does - make happy songs!"
Kaori Oda: "I just eat 'til I drop."
Keiko Kobuta: "When I'm sad I work like crazy. I'm a workaholic when I'm very sad. And when I'm very upset, I get up and dance."
Wakana Ootaki: "When I'm sad, I go to the shower and cry my heart out. That's what i do."
Q: What is each of your favorite songs that you've made?
Yuki Kajiura: "It is interesting since I'm the writer. I can't say which is my favorite. None of them are my favorite. I'm still waiting to one day write my ultimate song that I really love."
Yuriko Kaida: "Ms. Kajiuri can't say her favorite, and I wanna sing more of Ms. Kajiura's songs, so please remember that I love all of her work!"
Kaori Oda: "The first song that Ms. Kajiura wrote for me. I can't exactly say it's a 'favorite,' but it's the most impactful song in my life. I can't ever forget or thank her enough for writing that song for me. I'm overcome with gratitude."
Keiko Kobuta: "That's also how I discovered ms. Kajiura's world, which is so different and attractive. The most impactful song of my life."
Wakana Ootaki: "Just like everyone here, Kajiura has such an impact on my life, and I love everything she has. But I particularly liked "Hikari no Yukue," and I am so honored to be in her group. She is writing something amazing for me and it's such an honor, and that is the most inspired song that I have so far in m life."
As the Q&A wrapped, Yuki Kajiura was asked to impart some final words to her audience. "Well, instead of a word," she said, "I'm sure you will receive our feeling through the concert, and the songs we will sing tomorrow."