Sound Decision
Nana Kitade Interview

by Jonathan Mays,
You never know what to expect when walking into an interview with someone like Nana Kitade. Following in the footsteps of Nami Tamaki, the nineteen-year-old gothic lolita icon is the latest self-styled J-Pop Princess to make a trip to America with the requisite fashion status and anime tie-in.

Like Tamaki, Kitade got an early break with a big show in Fullmetal Alchemist. And like her predecessor, Kitade has an enormous hype machine that always threatens to mask her talent. But Nana Kitade has also followed Nami Tamaki down a less frequented path: one that tempers the demands of a J-Pop Princess with the insights of an open, inquisitive artist.

How is Otakon so far?
Everything is nice and smooth so far.

Gonna see anything exciting, like a baseball game?
I probably won't go see a baseball game...

You've been to the US before, right? I think you performed in San Francisco?
Yes, it was an in-store performance.

How was it?
It was a lot of fun! There were a lot of people at my performance, and the concert itself was great. I even sold a lot of my CDs, too! [laughs]

That's the most important part, right?
Yes, very important. [laughs]

Have you done many concerts before?
In America?

I've been performing a lot in Japan.

What was the first one you did? What was that like?
Meaning after my debut?

Your first big live concert.
Right before my debut, I was going through Sony's audition and there was this segment where I has to perform, and it was at this pretty big live house. That was probably my first pretty big live performance experience.

Was it exciting, nerve wracking, anything like that?
I was really, really nervous.

How'd you get over it?
I said to myself, "I have to do this!" And I did it! [laughs]

Seems like it worked out.
I'm not too sure, but I hope I did well, and I'm sure that's the reason I'm here today! [laughs]

Let's talk about that audition stuff for a second because we don't really know about that here. You competed with like 40,000 people, right? What was the process?
Well, Sony was collecting demo tapes from anyone of any type of genre, and then there was this live performance part of the audition...and I'm not really sure about the process itself, really.

What was the first thing you wanted to do after you passed?
The first thing that came to my head was, "I have to make my own CD." I always write lyrics but not music, so I had some people write their own original pieces of music for me. I also thought that I should write both lyrics and the music for my own songs.

Are you getting there?
I actually did it for my first single, so I think yeah, I'm doing it.

Okay, cool. Now you've got one—probably your most popular one here—"Kesenai Tsumi," from Fullmetal Alchemist. How do you write lyrics when you have an anime to work with?
There was actually already music that was going to be used in the ending theme song, so I read the original manga series and that inspired me to write the lyrics.

Did you have a particular theme?
When I read the manga, I felt that the hardships and the difficulties that you have in your life, you still have to have the energy to move forward, to keep going on. So that's the theme behind it.

Where do you find that energy to keep going?
In myself?

Um, I just say to myself, hey, all these tough things happen, but you just have to do it, you just have to go on. That's what I say to myself.

Now, you're also a pianist, right? Just a little bit?
Very, very little bit! [laughs]

Are you working on that, or was it just a childhood thing?
I play the guitar more often, but I still use the piano a little bit, too, to tune my voice and things. But if I practice hard, I'm sure I can play to some level.

Let's talk about your hometown, Sapporo.
It's at the northern tip of Japan, it's really cold!

Do you have any inspirations from there for your music? Or maybe artists from that area?
The city is quite different from Tokyo in that the sky is definitely wider and bluer and cleaner and Hokkaido—Sapporo is a city in Hokkaido prefecture—and Hokkaido is known for its nature and...sure, yeah, that's influenced my music. I have people often tell me that my skin's really white and pale, and that's probably because I'm from northern Japan.

Are there any other artists who inspired you?
One of the first non-Japanese artist records I ever listened to was Garbage, and I thought it was really, really cool.

Now, I checked out your latest CD in Japan, "Cutie Bunny"—is that what it's called?
Yep, yep.

You had a Sailor Moon theme on there, too. Was that your idea? Are you a fan?
For that Cutie Bunny album, I had the idea for including lots of different anime songs, and I suggested Sailor Moon to the staff, so that's why it's on there.

Are you a fan of any other anime or manga?
Fullmetal Alchemist? [everyone laughs]

Why don't we get into your gothic lolita style, the clothes or bunny or anything. In fact…why do you have a bunny?
Because coming to the States I was feeling a little lonely, and I needed the company so I decided to go with her. It's a bear, actually.

Does she have a name?
Sabrina. It's no longer Sabu-chan. That was the name for a little bit, for a couple of days.

Why'd you change it?
The first name was Kumazaburo; kuma means bear and's like a name a grandfather would have, so I thought that was too awful for her. I wanted to give her a different one and now it's Sabrina.

Describe your fashion style.
"Wearing-things-I-like" style. [laughs]

Good enough.
Really, you think so?

Yep. So what's this tea party thing with the gothic lolita?
Meet-and-greet, kind of "getting to know each other" thing.

Why is it called a tea party?
I think it's because everyone loves Alice In Wonderland, and, you know, that's how people in Europe in the 15th and 16th centuries, the high-society people, socialized.

Is that getting popular in Japan?
I think so, it's happening quite often.

Why do you think so?
I think it's because there are not many chances to communicate among those people. And it's not like major events, just a closer number of people just talking to each other, and it's something they want to do and not something that happened very often in the past.

Whether fashion or music, what's the biggest thing you want to do from here on?
It's not music or fashion, but I want to build a castle! [laughs]

Do you have plans for that? Blueprints?
Just a little bit at a time. I'm collecting information on castles and mansions.

Give us a preview.
It would be on a hill in Europe, and there'd be a rose garden and you'd go through this HUGE gate and there's a castle and it would like the one in Germany called Neuschwanstein. I can go on forever! Do you have time for that? [laughs]

Sure, no problem!
Okay, so this castle that I like in Germany, it was actually a model for Cinderella's castle, so it's got a lot of powers and I think it's a typical castle that you'd think of when you hear the word "castle." And you'd open the door and there'd be two stairways going like this, curving, and there's a huge chandelier hanging from the ceiling and there'd be angels painted on the ceiling and all the windows are stained glass and there's a room with like all the mirrors everywhere...and there's a room with a bed with one of do you call a little roof?

A canopy bed.
Yeah, and there's a closet that's humongous huge and there's room for tea parties off to one side and then I'd have a carousel, a merry-go-round outside.

And if we buy your CD now, will you invite us when you build the castle?
Of course you'd be invited! If all my American fans would buy my CDs then I'd get to build my castle because of them, and I'd invite all of them over and we'd have a live show and we'll have a tea party and everyone will be there. And that's confirmed!

All right, I'll look forward to it! Thanks very much for your time.
Thank you!

Transcribed by Trace Wilson

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