Music in Place of Conversation - The 19-Year-Old Spirit of Vocaloid Artist Hachi
[Picture from Matryoshka: "What's this feeling? What should I do?"]
From the video for Matryoshka. It's gathered over three million views.
Late on the night of February 13th, on NicoNico Douga's streaming service NicoNico Live, there was a broadcast themed all around the famous Vocaloid artist "Hachi."
This stream was for a studio rehearsal in preparation for INTERNET INDEPENDENT MUSIC LIVE FES on March 6th. In addition to Hachi, Luschka, Captain Mirai, Igarashi, acne madder [sic], and Yumao also participated. As for guests, there was Furukawa HQ, Toku-P, and wowaka - all told, a collection of many people known on NicoNico. The rehearsal went on for approximately three and a half hours.
[Pictures from the studio.]
The rehearsal was performed in a metropolitan studio.
He doesn't cover only music - he's multitalented, reaching out into illustration and video-making. The burning popularity of Close and Open, Rakshasa and the Corpse shot it past a million views in about four months. Songs like clock lock works and Matryoshka, featuring a worldview both dark and high-tension, have brought in many enthusiastic fans, helping the songs easily top the charts.
However, there are many mysteries as to what kind of person he is. So taking the chance offered by the broadcast, we interviewed him and encountered a calming gaze unthinkable for nineteen (not that age has any real relevance to creating). Now to reveal the secrets of the art!
[Hachi and the author of the article at laptops, one with "Comment/Question Monitor" marked on the back.]
The scene of the broadcast. Hachi on the left, the author on the right (showing his face for some reason). Despite being late at night on Sunday, the stream was a huge success, getting 128,042 viewers and 200,358 comments in total.
— When were you first impacted by music?
Hachi: In fifth grade, I started getting on the computer at home. It all started with seeing a BUMP OF CHICKEN Flash animation that was popular at the time. In some ways it was a lot like the self-made animations being submitted to Nico now.
— So it all started online! You didn't come into contact with CDs or anything?
Hachi: Well, the first CD I ever bought was Dango 3 Kyodai in elementary school.
[The same as the previous picture, but closer in on Hachi.]
Here's Hachi, who despite his popularity hasn't appeared in many interviews. He says this is because he "doesn't like them much, as talking isn't [his] strong point."
— Dango?! Well, that's nothing like your current style.
Hachi: I was in elementary school, what did I know about music? It was popular, so I listened to it.
— Have you been studying music since you were a kid?
Hachi: No, my sister practiced on the piano and I listened, but I didn't do anything myself. Around the end of my second year of middle school, I had some desire to be in a band and started on guitar. That's where it started.
— And when did you get an interest in composing?
Hachi: That would have to be middle school. I'm pretty sure I got a guitar wanting to compose.
— Why was middle school so seemingly crucial in wanting to make songs? Were you looking for popularity, maybe?
Hachi: That... may have been a major part of it. I still didn't know squat about musical theory, and just composed by singing along to my lonely guitar.
— So you had a computer at the time, but you weren't doing any digital music with it.
Hachi: In my middle-school band, everybody pooled their money to buy a multi-track recorder. Plugging that into a computer was my first experience with digital music.
— Do you feel your old style is similar to your current one?
Hachi: No, it used to be all incredibly simple and impulsive songs. I don't make songs like that anymore. Now it's all about imagination, and evoking feelings so deep you can go diving in them.
— What were your interests besides music?
Hachi: I liked drawing. Before I got into music, I aspired to be a manga artist, but I suppose priorities have changed.
— Well, that art lives on in your videos. So why did the rankings switch around?
Hachi: I guess I had intense experience with Flash animations.
— So your feelings from then remain the same today.
[The broadcast displayed on a laptop at the studio.]
The rehearsal and the interview continued late into the night.
— What got you thinking about submitting to Nico in the first place?
Hachi: I was using a hardware sequencer, bashing away at the drums and bass. I was making stuff, so I wanted people to see it. Then I found out about NicoNico, and I felt like I should submit to there.
— How did you feel when you first submitted to Nico?
Hachi: I was pretty much terrible, so there weren't very favorable comments... Even the video quality sucked. I got some pretty bitter comments, but I was happy anyway.
— You felt crushed?
Hachi: Of course I did. But better a response than nothing at all.
— Since you got such harsh comments, did you change the way you made songs?
Hachi: Well, I wasn't THAT beat up about it. Fundamentally, I make what I feel like making.
— For you, your way of creating doesn't often involve finding partners to collaborate with.
Hachi: When it comes to videos, I can do it all myself, so I don't often collaborate. Making things with other people necessitates an understanding between us. I'm pretty sure I'm terrible at that.
— What's your song-making process?
Hachi: There isn't really anything definite. I just make it up as I go.
— But at least the melody comes first, then you make the PV?
Hachi: Even that depends on the song. Like, say, for THE WORLD END UMBRELLA, I had a base of "So there's a person like this here..." and I worked the music into that. The rest, I made it up along the way based on the song.
— Do you like creating?
Hachi: Yeah, it's fun.
— But you can't make a living off of submitting to Nico alone.
Hachi: Right, the opposite: it's just for enjoyment. I don't have much of a sense of making music, but a place... I want to make dioramas. There's a person like this here, living their life like this, and this person has a different kind of life - now I want to make a world just like that.
— Is it sort of like making a city in Sim City?
Hachi: Yeah, that's about right.
— About how much of the day do you spend on music?
Hachi: It varies wildly. When I'm working on something, I could spend the day making music for 20 hours or sleeping for 20 hours. On other days, I might do nothing, read books, space out on the net.
— Twenty hours...! That's astounding.
— Do you have any interests besides creating? Sports?
Hachi: No, I don't like those much.
— What stimulates your creations?
Hachi: I read books now and then. Novels, manga. For manga, I like Inio Asano and Taiyou Matsumoto.
— You have some very unique designs. Are those influenced by them, too?
— What about music?
Hachi: I listen to a lot of stuff, really. I've been liking OK Go recently.
— Speaking of OK Go, their PVs are quite popular on YouTube. Those who get interested might go on to Flash animation.
Hachi: I was first introduced to all this through videos, so I can find fellowship with people like that.
— When you think about it, the internet might be a major influence to a new generation of producers.
Hachi: Yeah... But when you think about it, what would things be like without it? Better, worse, neither? What should the internet tell people - "it's okay not to think"? A wave of things just keeps on coming, and there's no chance to even ask "How did this happen?" Though it is interesting for it.
— That's profound. So, we've questioned you about a number of things so far, but we still haven't seen your origins, Hachi... What do you think drove you to produce your unique works?
Hachi: I don't think I know that too well myself, but, uh...
— Did your sister have a big influence?
Hachi: No, that wasn't it.
— Maybe your parents liked music and often listened to CDs around the house?
— But you got into a band in middle school, and only a couple years later created such fascinating songs. It's a marvel.
Hachi: Maybe it's just because music's been all I've been doing. I haven't even stopped for conversation. If you squeezed all my conversations in high school really tight, I think you might get about four months' worth. (laughs) But seriously.
— Ah, I think I see. In not conversing, you kept your feelings inward.
Hachi: Not to sound too biased... I think a lack of starting conversations might have been what brought me here.
With all that said, do you think you now understand the ways of the genius child Hachi? He'll be leading a band and appearing at INTERNET INDEPENDENT MUSIC LIVE FES on March 6th, in Shinagawa, Tokyo's Stellar Ball.
Hachi said "I can count the number of concerts I've done on both hands. I feel like I've skipped two or three steps, here...", yet also enthusiastically added "but I think they're fun." You should look forward to the monumental day of Hachi stepping from the internet to real life just as much as he does!