Interview: Konomi Suzukiby Zac Bertschy,
Konomi Suzuki's road to stardom has been sudden and swift; the winner of the Animax All-Japan Anisong Grand Prix in 2011, Suzuki's theme songs started showing up in front of new anime almost immediately. 2012 saw the release of “Choir Jail” alongside the anime series Dusk Maiden of Amnesia, and it's been a string of successes since then; themes for Freezing Vibration, No Game No Life and Bubuki Buranki followed suit, and you can hear her latest in front of this spring's hit Akashic Record of Bastard Magic Instructor. Suzuki was on-hand to perform as part of the Anisong World Matsuri at Anime Expo 2017 in Los Angeles, California, and thankfully, she had time for a few questions.
ANN: You debuted after winning the Animax Anisong Grand Prix in 2011, which is a really unique way to start a singing career, what was the audition process like for that?
Konomi Suzuki: I sent my application, the paperwork, and from there, there were three rounds. The first one, the second assessment, and then the final, and then I won the Grand Prix to be chosen as the number one. That was the process.
How quickly did things change for you after you won?
About a month. It was really quick. Suddenly there were over 10,000 people in the audience waiting for me, and that was after about a month.
What feeling do you remember most from that time? Do you remember fear? Or were you just joyful?
The excitement was the strongest. There was a little bit of fear, but not much.
What are some of your favorite anime and anime songs that inspired you to enter the Grand Prix to begin with?
Sheryl Nome from Macross Frontier. Originally I wanted to be a singer anyway, but encountering her made me want to be an anisong singer for sure.
What is it specifically about Sheryl Nome?
Her voice, that's number one. Her voice is really special, crystal clear, yet powerful enough and that was amazing to me. That was really big. The world of the anime and her singing and her voice were really well-matched, and that gave me a chill.
Soon you're going to be debuting as the star of an anime. We know you can't tell us too much about the anime itself, but what can you tell us about the character you're going to play in this anime?
I play a main character, Rin. She's really lively, active, like she's skipping around and really cute. The voice acting experience will be the first time for me, but I work with a lot of voice actresses and actors, so I have a lot of respect for their jobs. It's a great honor for me, I'm really excited about it.
Do you see yourself doing a lot more voice acting going forward, or do you think singing will always be your main focus?
I'm really focused on Rin. Right now all my focus is pretty much how I can portray Rin in an anime, so I'm not thinking much about after this. If there's an opportunity, I would like to try, but I'm mainly focused on Rin-chan for now.
What was it like collaborating with Kiba of Akiba for Watamote's opening? Did you record together? Perform the song together at all?
They sent me the song – I was really surprised to learn that it was Kiba of Akiba, my older brother actually recognized it first. Once I realized who it was, it was really exciting.
Of all the anisongs that you've performed, which one's lyrics speak the most to you personally?
Love Is My Rail. I think any song would more or less synchronize with my mind, but that one synchronized the most inside my mind and I felt a lot emotionally. I went through a phase – I've been singing for five years now. I was wondering if I could keep on chasing my dream, but I met this song that encouraged me to pursue my career as a singer and that helped me to keep on chasing my dream.
What is your approach to producing singles specifically for anime productions? Do you create a batch of songs for consideration? Or do you work with a production committee? How does a song get selected for anime production?
Depends on the case and the project, and it depends on the anime. Each theme is different, of course, so the process will be different too.
Okay, last two questions. First, who are your favorite Western musicians?
One Direction, 1D. I listen to them often. Avril Lavigne as well.
Last question: have you been to the US before?
This is my first time, yes.
What are you planning to see while you're here? Is there anything in LA you really want to see?
I went to the Santa Monica pier yesterday. And Melrose, I really want to go there and take cool pictures!
Thanks to Konomi Suzuki, Anisong World Matsuri and Anime Expo for the opportunity.
Anisong World Matsuri Website: anisongworldmatsuri.com
Anisong World Matsuri at Otakon 2017
Date: August 11 & 12
Venue: Washington DC Walter E. Washington Convention Center
Lineup: FLOW, JAM Project, T.M. Revolution, Yousei Teikoku
Concert Info: Otakon Website
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