Sound Decision
Yoko Ishida

by Jonathan Mays,
After several months away from the spotlight, the charming singer/songwriter Yoko Ishida is returning on April 29th with a live performance at Anime Boston. Later that week, Geneon is releasing her newest album, "All of Me." I caught up with Ishida earlier, and she offered some details behind her sudden and unexpected rise to anime music fame.

Explain this Para Para thing for people who haven't heard it before.
It's where the songs are arranged in a Eurobeat format and whole groups of people dance together.

How'd you get involved with that?
It was a project of taking 20 songs and arranging them into Eurobeat tracks. I just got offered the project—nothing too unusual.

Is it true that you had no plans to become a singer when you were young?

So if you hadn't won a singing contest, what would you be doing now?
By then, I already had several other auditions lined up, so if the first one hadn't worked out, I hope I would've been successful somewhere down the line. In retrospect, I can't think of any other job that I was interested in at the time, so even though I didn't really see it coming, I think I'd probably be singing anyways.

Do you know when it was that you decided that was what you had to do with your life?
So you know after I debuted the first three or four years it was really, really busy. I was always touring around Japan, and I didn't have much time to sit back and take a breather and think about things. But after three or four years there was a lull in jobs, and that's when I sort of reflected on what I was doing. I decided I needed to study more if I was going to continue on doing this—reevaluating what I was doing.

What kinds of changes did you make?
Voice training! I'd never taken voice lessons before. Also I was thinking about starting to write lyrics, so I read as many books as I could. Before then I didn't have much interest in movies and such but then I started to actively to go theater and movies in order to prepare myself.

It was about four years ago that you started writing your lyrics?

What do you usually write about in your lyrics?
Usually I get the music first, so I listen to the music, and whatever keyword pops in my head, I'll evolve the lyrics from there.

Give me one of your favorite lines.
It's like your own children—it's so hard to narrow it down to one, since I love them all.

Anything special you try to convey in your lyrics?
I don't have as much of a "theme" as most artists. As long as people can relate to what I sing, I'm happy.

Your debut song was Otome no Policy from Sailor Moon, right? That's quite a leap, going from a total unknown to a featured singer in such a popular series.
This was Sailor Moon R ending song, but I wasn't familiar with Sailor Moon at the time; I'd never watched it. So I was waiting for a song for my debut, and I was really excited about it, but when they first handed me the song, I didn't even know what Sailor Moon was. I had no idea how popular it was.

What was it like the first time you heard yourself on TV?
I wanted to hear it live the first time, so I stayed at home and turned on the show. It was a very strange feeling to realize that this was coming through TVs all over the country. What a weird feeling.

A couple of years ago you said you were doing mostly studio work. Are you doing more live performances now?
Mm, still mostly studio work, I think.

Are you still avoiding voice acting?
These days it's not so much "avoiding" as waiting for the right opportunity. Right now I want to focus on my music, but who knows. If an opportunity arises, I might give it a try.

Let's finish up with a stage disaster story.
Hmmmmmmm.....I've been lucky not to have had too many problems on stage! But there was one I can remember. One time I was singing, and while I was singing, the lower portion of the microphone just fell off!

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