Sound Decision

by Jonathan Mays,
Hours after her late-night performance at A-Kon in Dallas, KOTOKO sat down to talk about her concert, her CD that drops on Wednesday, her fashion style, the meaning of life, and of course, playoff hockey.

When we talked last year, you said you were looking for the meaning of life. How's that going?
I have yet to find it. It will probably be my lifetime search theme... When I die, I might find the true meaning of it.

You also mentioned your love for acoustic guitar. Have you had the opportunity to record or perform with one?
Unfortunately, I haven't done any recordings with just an acoustic guitar. On a radio talk show in my hometown, Takeshi-kun, who's in my band, had performed an original song on acoustic guitar for the talk show.

Let's talk about the A-Kon concert you just finished. How was it? What was your favorite moment?
It was extremely fun live! The best part of the live concert was when I made the mistake of calling out the last song, when there were still two songs left to go before the last song. The audience gave me a warm applause and laughed when I made the mistake. But overall, things went very well, and it was very fun!

I hear you design your own costumes—were any of the A-Kon ones original designs?
I had two of them ready for this live show. The first one was a black mini-pants with a silver shirt. This was my own design, and I've been wearing this for awhile since the Japan tour. The other was an exclusive Texas Cowgirl costume. This was designed by a stylist.

Your new –hane- album drops in America soon. If you were introducing it to someone who had only heard your anime themes, what would you say?
To the fan who only knows my anime songs, the rest of the songs in the "hane" album would probably be surprising... Anime songs are mostly written based on the story line and the characters of the show. The original songs in the "hane" album are all based on my personal thoughts or on things that happened to the people close to me, which would be very different from an anime theme song. The entire theme of the "hane" album consists of me becoming the many feathers of life floating up and down. I would be delighted if my fans listened to the album with that thought in their mind.

Are there any songs of which you are particularly proud?
If I were to choose my favorite song from the "hane" album, it would be difficult, but I'd have to say the main theme song, "hane." It's a song that has me floating up and down, but leads to a strong feeling of eventually rising high up into the sky.

I'd like to know more about your song writing process. Could you pick one song you've written recently, maybe from -hane-, and explain how you put your inspiration into the music?
The anime theme songs are completely inspired from the scenario or the image of the show. As for the original songs in the "hane" album, each of them has stories that are created by many small things I see in life. For example, the song “Fuyu no shizuku” (Droplets of Winter) is inspired from the droplets of icicles that are hanging from the roof of my house in my hometown of Sapporo, where winter is very cold and long lasting.

Do you have a favorite place to compose or write lyrics? What about a usual routine, or superstitions?
When I write lyrics or music for my songs, it's always in my room. I don't have any routines, or any order to how I write my songs, but I can't write anything when there are people around me, so I go where I can be alone when I write them.

Your songs have some unusual and poignant English words: Subversively, suppuration, lament...Do you choose your English lyrics purely for the sound of the word?
Well, I get a phrase or a word that I want to say in Japanese first, and look up the word or phrase that has the precise meaning. At the same time, I also check if it fits the rhythm of the music.

You still work mostly with I'VE, right? If I'm not mistaken, they support many artists in the anime and video game business. Would you mind explaining some of their background?
I'VE is a music writing community based in Hokkaido. Basically, they write theme songs for PC games. Other projects include trance and Euro compilation albums, BGMs. The most recent projects are anime theme songs.

Is it true that you're a big fan of Inu Yasha? What would a KOTOKO Inu Yasha theme be like?
I like Inu Yasha and I would love to write theme songs for the show. If I were to write the songs for it, it would be spotlighted on Kagome and Inu Yasha's feelings toward each other and the difficulties between them. For an opening theme, I would write about Inu Yasha's costume with the feeling of the Japanese culture of that timeline, and for an ending theme, I would write a sad love song based on Inu Yasha and Kagome's oppressive feelings.

Are you a sports fan? We've got championships all over the place. Let's get some predictions!
I like sports, especially baseball. Unfortunately, I'm not familiar with the NBA, so I wouldn't know who would or should win... I'm not familiar with hockey either, so I'm not sure, but I felt love in Canadian fans, so I would like the Canadians to win. I've heard that this year's Japan World Cup team is strong, so I would love to see them do well in the finals.

So, Anime North, A-Kon... who's a better audience: Canadians or Texans?
I wouldn't compare them... [smiles]

Special thanks to Geneon Japan and I'VE for arranging the interview.

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