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Sound Decision
the Indigo

by Jonathan Mays,
Even if you follow anime music closely, you probably haven't heard of the Indigo. Singer Miki Taoka and guitarist Yuichi Ichikawa have surfaced in only a couple of shows, Ai Yori Aoshi and Someday's Dreamers, and their laid back folk tunes don't instantly burn themselves into your head like some of anime's louder and more obnoxious theme songs.

The fun is that the burden is on you to search them out, and once you're there, you'll be pleasantly surprised by their simple eloquence. The Indigo's music endears itself to you in a way that you'll probably revisit it from time to time as the years go by. As it happens, Miki and Yuichi are pretty endearing, too.

Been a long day?
Miki Taoka: It's been really hectic ever since we landed.

MT: We wanted to have as many people as possible listen to Indigo music, so we scheduled many performances, many autograph sessions as we—well, Nobu [Yamamoto, of Geneon] scheduled as many—[laughing, points to curtain] he's hiding right now.

Thanks to all that, we sold a lot of CDs! We won't have any more to sell for our last concert tomorrow.

You're totally out of them?
MT: 8 copies left.

Not bad.
Yuichi Ichikawa: In Japanese business, you always try to fit as many things into the schedule as possible. We don't want to be wasteful. I mean, we came all this way.

How's Baltimore?
MT: Nice. We had crab cakes last night. It's getting sunny, so we'd like to go tour around tomorrow.

Either of you like baseball?
YI: Oh yeah.

Gotta see Camden Yards.
YI: Right.
MT: I heard that Babe Ruth was born here, so I'm happy to be in the same city.

So how long have you guys been performing?
YI: Since I was about twelve. That's when I started playing guitar and piano.
MT: When I was a little girl, of course I sang along to all the anime theme songs that were on TV. I also liked The Carpenters. Karen Carpenter has such a beautiful voice. And I liked J-Pop and idol music. You know Japanese idols?

MT: I sang a lot of that stuff.

Like who?
Seiko Matsuda.

And Ichikawa?
YI: I liked movie music, soul music, rap music, a lot of different things. Right from the start, I didn't really limit myself to a genre; I listened to everything I could find.

When did you make it a career?
YI: Ah, probably when I was around twenty. I started writing music for commercials, and I did background music for some TV shows.

What's the difference?
YI: I made that sort of music with specific instructions from the client, so it didn't have much to do with my background. I just made what they wanted me to make.

Got an example?
YI: A specific one? [laughing] There was one time that a client made me listen to a song that he liked. But even then, I tried making a song like it, and he said, "No, this is wrong." Usually the director and the client don't know what they want.

When you do get the choice, who do you like to cover?
MT: I like Joni Mitchell and General Crew...and LiSA Loeb. In general I like female vocalists who play acoustic guitar.

What about the last concert you attended?
MT: The last one... wow...
YI: What was the last one?
MT: I can't remember! I think it was in Korea...
YI: Oh, mine was Takeo Yamashita, with Takashi [Omoto, their manager]. It's been so crazy that I haven't been in a while. I spend most of my time writing my own music, so I don't have a lot of time to go and hear other people perform.
MT: Last month I just happened to be in Korea to study Korean, and I saw one over there, but I don't remember who.

How's the Korean coming?
MT: Better than the English. I like English, but it's so hard to pronounce correctly. This is the first time I've ever come to America, and now I'm all worked up to go study English as soon as I go back. Actually, I'd really like to study abroad here in America.

Let's talk anime music.
YI: You want it nice and short?

We got five minutes.
YI: Okay, long one. So an acquaintance of mine working at a record company was making a demo tape of her going solo, but we cancelled that project and decided to work together.

That's not very long.
YI: Okay, okay. We met about eight years ago. Then we formed "the Indigo" in 1998—
MT: —and we made our major debut in Japan in 2000.

What's changed since then?
YI: Our music really has changed. It's because we've always tried to make something better and better and better. I've always strived to make music that complements her singing voice.

And now you're here at Otakon with 25,000 fans.
YI: I grew up wanting to make music like American music, so it's been really wonderful to be able to perform here in America for the last two days. It's like a dream come true. It happened a lot more quickly than I expected.
MT: America is so far from Japan that I never thought our music for anime like Ai Yori Aoshi would lead to our US debut. It's very exciting.

When did you learn there was an audience over here?
MT: We knew the Ai Yori Aoshi anime was for sale in the US, but we had no idea anybody cared about the music until we looked one day and saw all of these e-mails from American fans who had visited our site. They asked where they could buy our CD in America. It feels good to come through for them.

What's your favorite song to sing?
MT: "I Do" from Ai Yori Aoshi Enishi.

Indigo has a lot of mellow music. "I Do" is one of our livelier songs, so when we perform it live, the audience gets more excited than from our other songs.

Care to share any less-than-perfect moments on stage?
MT: Oh, we have a lot of those stories. Once we were doing a live radio performance for a Christmas special, and we have a set of lyrics that go like, "I say to you, as you are dozing," but I made a mistake and actually repeated it twice. "I say to you, as you are dozing, I say to you, as you are dozing." Let's see, what else...
YI: Of course, I never screw up!

Then give us a moment that made you proud.
That's a hard one. When I feel that my audience and I are both enjoying the performance, those are the best moments. It's like we have a spiritual connection.

What do you want to do with the last 30 seconds?
MT: What's your family makeup?

I'm sorry?
YI: Can we get a picture with you?

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