In A Band and On NicoNico: The History of Two-Faced Lovers's Two-Faced Author
Hatsune Miku continues to evolve. Songs posted to NicoNico Douga range in genre from ska-punk to hard rock to Shoegazer rock, each making their individual advances. Last year, one user who particularly stood out from the crowd for his charming musical ability was wowaka, or Escape-Reality-P [Genjitsu-Touhi-P].
His first appearance on NicoNico was May last year, when he made his debut with "In a Gray Zone." For still being a student and "taking on the challenge of digital music and finishing a song in a month," it was rather impressive. Incidentally, the name Escape-Reality-P came from his comment in the description of the song that, in the midst of exams, "it's nice to have an escape from reality!"
Afterward, he posted the new songs "The Palm" and "Lineart" in quick succession. Lineart had thunderous guitar and high-pitched vocals. It's highly regarded for expressing beauty amidst the chaos. And with his sixth song, "Two-Faced Lovers," he finally had a song break 700,000 views, in all respects becoming known as a popular Vocaloid artist.
Meeting and talking with him, I found him quite different from the impression I had from his songs, but he regardless came off as an honest youth. He's presently in a band under a pseudonym as well. I asked him about the creation of his songs, his thoughts on NicoNico Douga - and what kind of activity we could expect in the future from this talented youth.
— First things first: when did you start with music?
wowaka: Around my third year of middle school, I had an interest in bands like "ROCKIN'ON." And then I started listening to a bunch of guitar rock bands. I got into playing music around my second or third year in high school.
— So you like rock, huh?
wowaka: Yep. I've been listening to rock my whole life, basically.
— Huh, really. From your music, I would have thought you'd into more electronic stuff.
wowaka: I hear that a lot, but I guess I'll surprise you when I say I don't really listen to any of that. I like POLYSICS, though.
— Alright, then. So, you've played music for about five years now. Then when did you start making songs?
wowaka: Third year of high school. I made an original song for our band. Digital music I only actually only started doing recently, like April last year.
— Have you done any study on song-making? Like, musical theory?
wowaka: Nope. Digital music introduced me to the matter of arranging all the parts, too.
— Did you have an interest that really drove you?
wowaka: I think I started out thinking, "man, I would do anything to make music like POLYSICS." And I knew a bunch of Hatsune Miku songs, and I knew those were all produced by lone individuals. I thought I'd give something fun like that a shot, too.
— Have any Hatsune Miku songs left a real impact on you?
wowaka: The first song to really make me go "whoa" was kz-san's Last Night, Good Night. I was astounded just one person could make a song like that. That's why I went fishing for other Vocaloid-related songs. That was sometime last year.
— Would you do something band-ish with Miku?
wowaka: I've thought about it before, but making Miku's voice fit with it is hard. If I could pull it off well, I'd like to have a band-y kind of sound. Uh, emphasis on IF I could pull it off.
— You didn't think of making your NicoNico debut with your band, I suppose.
wowaka: No. I wanted to see how much one guy could accomplish.
— Do you feel there's something limiting about bands?
wowaka: No, that's not it. The band is fine being the band, and I do stuff as a "band me" and "wowaka me" who are totally different. I do my best to do what I can do with a band in the band, and the things I can't do there, I do on NicoNico... So maybe those songs don't have a band sound, but a sound that results from that process.
— Were you particular about anything in your hit song "Two-Faced Lovers"?
wowaka: I was focused on making it so people wouldn't be able to sing it. "Yes, perfect, this is totally unsingable," I thought. But the very day after I posted it, the singing videos came flooding in. So I lost.
— Is having Vocaloids do fast singing difficult?
wowaka: No, not particularly. I don't really need to put in the effort there, I just need to tamper with the voice quality with my DAW. It ends up being kind of an inorganic, mechanical, heterogeneous feeling.
— Like you're not showing any emotion for it.
wowaka: Right. I've told everyone I'm using this Hatsune Miku thing, I might as well do what I usually can't.
— What do you think of the Hatsune Miku character?
wowaka: Since the existence of a character seems to net you non-musical listeners, I find it very interesting. Yes, having a character to the voice is very interesting indeed.
— But none of your songs have really related to the character of Hatsune Miku.
wowaka: Because I'M not about to make a song like that. (laughs)
— Well, you don't use any illustrations of Hatsune Miku in the videos. Who knows, maybe using some would get you more views.
wowaka: When I first uploaded, I was aware people would be seeing my video, sure, but the music is the main attraction, and a video that doesn't suit it wouldn't do at all. And I wanted to show some individuality. So pondering over those two things resulted in what I have now.
Maybe the videos are one hitch I have, but I don't really feel as if it's a problem at all. If you have a video that matches the song and makes it something really awesome, then hell yes. So if possible, I suppose I would like to do something fancier in the future.
— Sometimes you haven't always gotten a lot of views. What do you think of that?
wowaka: Songs that can't seem to be popular just aren't catching eyes, I guess? I know it would always turn out that way, whatever I did. As regrettable as that is.
— Has striking upon a hit changed your feelings?
wowaka: I suppose I was awfully worrisome while I was working. But of course, even if I did suddenly post a hit, when I was working on said hit I was still thinking about how it'd be received.
— You weren't sure?
wowaka: I didn't feel like I could hope for much of anything from a song. It's depressing when I can't get much popularity, but if I keep making songs, someone will see them, I thought. I'm still a beginner, so I've got to be naïve first, study, and make something worth listening to. So I did.
— Your first song had a very "singable" feeling, but since then you've changed a lot. Is that on purpose?
wowaka: Yeah. Coming into contact with lots of digital music, deciding what kind of feeling my own music should have and what would sound good, I gradually worked my way to the direction I'm heading now.
I was really just groping around at the beginning, but lately, I've been able to make songs that sound the best and are the way I want them to be. I only post songs that I, too, think are cool.
— It seems studying through Vocaloid has taught you not only about song-making, but many other things. That said, does it come in handy for your band too?
wowaka: Oh yeah. I've really learned a lot about how to promote yourself. How to use the internet well, including Twitter. I had never noticed it at all before, but doing stuff on NicoNico Douga really showed me just how big an influence the internet has.
— Has the way your band operates changed any?
wowaka: It has. Hopefully in a good way.
— What do you think about NicoNico comments?
wowaka: They make me happy, most of all. When I uploaded my first song, I was waiting with bated breath wondering when the comments would come, and I was happy as soon as I saw the first one. I never really got any such "comments" on songs when playing in the band. And negative comments are just an inevitability of differing tastes, really.
— What a mature outlook. I'd be crushed if I saw tons of negative comments on my video!
wowaka: Well, sure, it's not like they don't make me feel crushed. So I work to make sure it won't happen next time.
— With such passion for music and popularity, have you ever thought of yourself as a pro?
wowaka: No, because I'm really not. I find this is the most interesting position to be in right here. I can do fun stuff even while I'm in school, and I can do whatever I like on NicoNico Douga. And the band is fine being the band...
Yes, this is the most fun for me. Even doing it as a hobby, I really get to work with music, and accomplish things I personally like. So I'd like to continue enjoying myself this way.
— There seem to be many like that. Put it aside from your occupation, enjoy a hobby as a hobby. If everyone put all their eggs in music, it'd be frightening, wouldn't it?
wowaka: In my case, technically, there are things I still haven't done even with digital music... I guess in some ways, I'm sharing the popularity.
— What do you mean, sharing?
wowaka: I'm kind of riding on the popularity of Hatsune Miku and NicoNico Douga. I mean, there are way more amazing people out there.
— Now that you're so popular on NicoNico, has your band involvement cooled down? Is it any more or less fun?
wowaka: My stance on music is that you do it for fun as a hobby. Whether it's on NicoNico or for a band doesn't change that it's for fun. And if it stopped being fun, I'd quit.
— Would your band do a Miku song?
wowaka: No way in hell. (laughs)
— You could, say, sing it yourself and just hide your identity.
wowaka: That'd be okay, I suppose, but I'd rather do something like that by teaming up with other Vocaloid artists. There are quite a lot of Vocaloid songs I'd like to do with a band.
— You could probably make your band popular in a hurry if you used the wowaka name. But I assume you won't?
— Do the band members know what you do on Nico?
wowaka: No, I don't think they do. But they might find me out soon.
— Any reason you haven't said anything?
wowaka: No real reason... well. Like I said, I'm seeing what one guy can do on NicoNico. And people on NicoNico see me doing that as wowaka, so I guess I don't want them to know that hey, that's me.
— Has getting fans affected you? Put on pressure?
wowaka: Lately the current's seemed so fast, new songs coming out daily. It's remarkably obvious when you use Twitter. When you see that, you just know you have to work hard.
— What do you think of all the fans who come to see you at Vocaloid Master and the like?
wowaka: Amazing. I'm honestly shocked how many people seem to have listened to me. People who I've certainly never met hearing my songs and going out of their way to come to an event and see me... it's just incredible.
— I see. Well, lastly, a message to the fans.
wowaka: Thank you very much for always listening. I want to keep enjoying myself and trying to challenge new things, so I'd appreciate if you kept it up.