[AFASG’15] [INTERVIEW] NANO: “I HOPE TO REACH OUT AND TOUCH EVERY SOUL IN THE WORLD!”
Talented. Passionate. Enigmatic. Of course, we are talking about Nano!
Nano is a bilingual singer who started out an illustrious career by posting English covers of Japanese music on video sites such as Youtube and Nico Nico Douga. Having been born in the USA, Nano often westernized the covers without losing the original style. Nano is often portrayed with red mid-length hair and sometimes, a mask in the videos.
Nano debuted in March 2012 with the album ‘Nanoir’. Continuing on the success of the first album, Nano began composing and recording original theme songs for various anime such as Aoki Haganeno Arpeggio, Btooom! and Mahou Sensou.
Earlier this year, Nano released another studio album, the 3rd one, ‘Rock On’, as well as the single ‘Bull’s Eye’ – the opening theme song for the currently airing anime series, Hidan no Aria AA.
(More official concert pictures like this at the ナノ page!)
Without further ado, let’s take a quick peek into the mysterious vocalist that is Nano!
Q: How was it like growing up in the United States, and how long did it take for you to get used to Japan?
Wow. It’s been a really long time since I started, sort of, dreaming about creating music in the industry while I was born and raised in the US. Ever since I was as little as I can remember, I had an interest in music, my parents listen to a lot of music, and so I have been interested in the music as far as back I can remember. I have never really dreamt of doing anything else as a different job, so yea, it’s been music for me the whole entire time.
You have been noted to insert western influences into your songs and covers, so given that, which western bands or artistes inspire you when you sing?
I get my inspiration from a lot of different genres of music. Right now I sing a lot of rock but I get my inspiration from classical, folk, rock, pop… anything that really just strikes my interests, so I wouldn’t really narrow it down to one group or band or genre. I listen to a lot of different stuff.
Q: You were born in America, New York City, so what makes you want to come back to Japan?
I have always felt that even though I was born and raised in America that my heart had, sort of, that Japanese aspect, and so I’ve always felt that I wanted to try a life in Japan as well as to know my roots, to know half of who I am. My identity has always been, not one or the other, but I wanted to experience both types of life.
Q: Was there any challenges adapting to life in Japan?
Lots of challenges. You know, America and Japan are so different in so many ways – not just the culture and language, the food is different, and people are different. Everything is so different. I feel that I have experienced the good side of both cultures and I don’t really feel any sort of hardships or regrets of any of the obstacles that I have faced.
Q: A lot of your songs have been used as tie-up tracks for video games. Are you a gamer, and if so, what kind of games do you play?
You know I’m so happy that a lot of my songs have been used for tie-ups and to be honest, I’m not a huge gamer.
But I started to try out a lot of games ever since I received the tie-ups. What really appeals to me about anime and games, is that it sort of helps us to escape everyday life and show us a lot of possibilities that we never really could imagine in real life, so just, you know, using our imagination to widen up our world, and so I really think that games and anime are an awesome way to expand the imagination.
Q: What is your impression of Singapore and how would you compare it to both America, the country which you were raised in, and Japan, the country you are currently residing in?
Yea, Singapore is, you know, I’ve only spent a night here so far, but it’s amazing because all the people have been so nice and I actually like the weather here, because it’s really cold in Japan right now, it’s really freezing, it’s about 8 degree Celsius. So when we stepped off the plane, it was like we were not here for work but for vacation or something and it was a really, really nice change. I can’t wait to try out different types of food – I don’t know what’s recommended – but I want to go with my band to explore the town. We had a little time to explore this morning and we went to see the Merlion. There were a lot of tourists there, (laughs) but it was nice seeing that and I hope to be able to come back here again soon.
Q: Your songs have been used as part of anime series before, so how does it feel like when you compose a song for an anime?
It’s always different preparing a song for a tie-up as compared to just a regular, original song for my own self because when I have to prepare a song for let’s say, a tie-up, it’s very important that it doesn’t ruin the world of the anime series or the game series and it becomes a song that represents the series in a way. But it’s more exciting for me in a way, because it gives me sort of ingredients to work on, to express my imagination. Different series all sort of give me different doors to open, different emotions to experience and so I’ve always feel so happy about being able to prepare a song for a tie-up series.
Q: How do you feel about having performed twice in SEA twice already (AFAID and AFASG) and do you have any plans for a concert in Indonesia?
You know it was only a couple of months (before) that I went to Indonesia, although I have America and Japan in my blood, I have never been to Asia before, so I was really excited and happy to be invited to both AFAID and AFASG this time.
Definitely, you know, Indonesia – the crowd was amazing, and my first impression was that I definitely wanted to go back to Indonesia again to perform, and hopefully, hopefully, maybe a solo concert someday. So yea, definitely, I loved it there.
Q: Among all the songs that you have made, wrote and sang, which song do you feel very personal to?
That’s such a hard question. You know every time we write a new song, it becomes my favourite. I don’t want to sound like a narcissist, but I love all my songs because each song represents something different and open new doors for me and I am really happy that I am able to collaborate with someone like, the creator who writes my songs – he’s amazing. So I’m just so happy to be able to collaborate with someone that understands me well and we are able to create something so full of love, emotion and power.
But off the top of my head, right now at the moment though of course, my newest song – – represents who I am now, and so that is definitely on the top of my list. And of course, was always a really deep song for me; it holds a lot of meaning. And then, another song – it was one of my first originals that I wrote – , is really meaningful for me, because it was the first original song that we put out into the world. It’s hard to narrow it down.
Q: Can you share with us more of the new single – Bull’s Eye?
Bull’s eye? Definitely! It’s been actually a year and 3 months that I released a single, so it was really sort of exciting for me, it felt like we were doing something really new. Bull’s eye is both meaning and sound is a little different from my other songs. It’s really catchy and it has a lot of not just rock but catchy popness to it. Also, the tie up for an anime series, it’s kind of new for me too. We were really experimenting with the songs and we actually wrote 3 different types of song to present to the series and in the end, Bull’s Eye was chosen. So I was really happy about that though, because, to be honest, I sort of really like Bull’s Eye from the beginning. It’s definitely a lot of experience.
Q: Speaking of anime tie-ups recently, “Last Refrain” was played in the movie . Can you give us a bit more comments regarding the anime series and how has the anime helped you created the song for it?
And I noticed you are wearing the blue steel shirt. I like your shirt.
Yea you know, Aoki Hagane no Arpeggio is a really special series for me because I’ve been with the series for a couple of years now, and so I’ve feel like I have grown with the series as well and it started with Saviour of Song, and then there was Rock on, and Silver Sky and now Last Refrain. Each song, I think, sort of grew with the series and express different emotions that the series presents.
And with Last Refrain, when I wrote the lyrics of the song, I put myself in the shoes of the characters that are in the scene that it was playing with. I definitely got very, very emotional writing the lyrics. When it’s an opening song, it’s different when it’s an insert song, and this time it’s an insert song. It’s different because when it’s an insert song, it plays behind the scene, so it really represents the story and the emotions and the characters. When I imagine my fans seeing the movie, I hope that they feel the depths of the song.
Q: What motivates you to continue what you are doing right now – fans, passion or other factors?
Hands down what motivates me the most are my listeners, my fans. Without them, I probably won’t be doing music. I love music but I love my fans more than I love my music. It means everything that they listen to what I have to create and the messages that I hope to express. My favourite aspect of doing music is the concerts – the lives – because I get to share the moment with my fans. And it gives me so much power and inspiration to be able to see everyone rocking out to my songs. I am going to try really hard at today’s concert not to cry, because I get really emotional when I do my live.
Q: What are you looking forward for your future works and any plans for more overseas concert?
Definitely expanding my horizons. I hope to be able to travel to a lot of different countries and do a lot of different concerts with a lot of different fan. Each new fan for me is like a treasure. My biggest dream is able to expand my music world and to connect to as many people as I can.
Q: If I am not wrong you began performing overseas this year, right?
Actually my first time was in Germany a couple of years ago, but this year was definitely one of my biggest.
Q: So now that you have performed overseas a couple of times, is there anything about your overseas fans that you have noticed that is kind of different from your Japanese fans? Is there anything interesting that you have learnt about performing for your overseas fans?
Until I went overseas, I didn’t really realize how wide the world is, and how different every culture is, and how special every country is. And when I went to Germany and Taiwan and Indonesia and now Singapore, I noticed that each crowd is so different, in a good way. And that really pumps me up, that my concert, to be able to just create something and share a moment that is just one of a kind.
I think that all concerts are sort of, it’s not, you know we rehearsed and practiced, but concerts, the good thing about them, is that you don’t know what’s going to happen. You don’t know how the crowd is going to react each time. It’s really like experiments. Each time I go to a different country, it’s so exciting for me. I can’t even express in words right now how happy I am to be able to experience so much and receive so much support and love from my fans.
Q: So since you said that each country’s crowd is different, was there anything that stood out for you from your viewpoint at any particular country, like a specific example?
The reactions from the fans are always different. For example, in Japan, fans tend to be sort of shy, sometimes. But when I went to Germany, I could hear the voices from the crowd, from the entire concert, and that really was special for me too. Of course, shyness isn’t bad; I feel the love from that. But you know when everyone is singing along with me and screaming and it’s just exciting, a lot of adrenaline and power. Germany was really just an exciting, fired-up live. Then, when I went to Taiwan, it was also really exciting but different from Germany. I think Japan is one of the quieter countries, so I’m really expecting Singapore to be really fired up too.
Q: I’m sure many of us here would think of listening to some songs when we feel like happy or sad or have experienced certain moments in our lives. Having written and performed these songs before, have you ever felt like listening to any of your songs when you experience something in your everyday life? Any interesting examples you want to share?
Music is a worldwide thing and it’s one of the special tools in life that crosses borders and countries and nationalities. You don’t really have to understand what the lyrics are saying to experience the emotion that the song has. I think that everyone in this world, somewhere in their life, they have been touched, moved or helped by music. And that is why, I do music, because I hope to be able to reach out and touch even one soul in the world, I don’t really care what country they are from, it doesn’t matter to me, as long as they are touched by the song and perhaps, helped. So I’ve definitely been so helped by music in my past, and that’s why I feel that it’s my job to be able to return that now to the next generation of listeners. I just think music is so special it helps us all.
I Love Anisong Set List
- No pain, No game
- Now or Never
- Be the one
- Bull’s Eye
- SAVIOR OF SONG
- Rock on.
- Nano’s was written for a friend’s wedding. Nano wanted fans to think about the crossroads in our life when you’re listening to it.
- Nevereverland was written to give Nano’s fans a motivation to forget all their future impossible. Nano was always discouraged during childhood. Despite being inspired to be a singer, Nano was often told to not live in a dream forever. Nano once lost confidence to become a singer but eventually made it all the way.
- Nano prefers summer to winter.
It has been a really busy year for Nano, having performed multiple times in overseas concerts. I’m sure that those fans lucky enough to attend her concerts are still reeling in from the excitement of it all. Let’s cross our fingers and hope that she will perform a solo concert somewhere near us!
We hope that you have enjoyed getting to Nano a little better, and please continue to give Nano your support!