[AFASG’15][INTERVIEW] LIA: “I AM THE VOICE BEHIND IA!”
Lia, a veteran singer, whose career spans over 15 years, have participated in a variety of genres – European songs, techno, trance and of course, anime songs!
The singer, who graduated from the prestigious school of Berklee College of Music, is also fluent in English! Lia is known for her strong vocals in songs such as “Tori no Uta” – opening theme song of Air, and “My Soul, Your Beats” – opening theme song of the famous Angel Beats.
Lia was here in Singapore for the first time to perform at AFA 2015! We sat down with her to ask her more about her thoughts on her family, working with Jun Maeda, and of course, lending her voice to IA, the Vocaloid.
We at J-Experience got a chance to sit down with the star for an interview, so here you go!
May’n: Good Morning, everyone, just… any questions? (laughs)
Q: You have been active for quite a long time (15 years!). How do you feel about having come this far in your career and could you share any future plans you may have?
Well, it is my pleasure to be able to sing for such a long time. I really appreciate the support of all of my fans. This is my first visit to Singapore and I am really happy to be here, being able to sing overseas.
In the future – as AFA2015 is the first animation music festival I am performing in overseas – I really hope to have more opportunities to sing in other countries.
Please invite me to many more!
Q: You used to sing European songs in the past, but now, you mostly sing for KEY (VN Studio). Is there any difference between the genres?
Both are totally different from one another! Compared to animation songs, it is a really big challenge to sing other genres as well, since I think my voice suits animation songs better. I like singing anime songs but I think it would be really fun to try as many new genres as possible in life.
Q: You have worked a lot with Jun Maeda (Key Composer) in the past, what are some of your experiences working with him?
The first time I met him was in Osaka, in their Visual Art’s studio. He had long black hair that hid his eyes. He is so tall, like a shadow, so quiet.
When I recorded the first single, “Natsukage / Nostalgia” with him, I asked him,
“How do you want me to sing these songs?”
He responded with, “Maybe the boy Soprano kind, kind of like a little boy singing.”
This resulted in their communication thereafter to be quite awkward and difficult as he was quite a shy guy.
Nowadays, he has become more outgoing which I think is pretty amazing that he has changed a lot. He is in the media, talking, playing the guitar and singing lives. I think it has been a really big change for me that he is talking. He has learned to express himself to the world and I think that’s a really good change. He’s a really nice guy.
Touring in Singapore (Source)
Q: Will you consider working with Jun Maeda on a new project in the future?
Well, it’s up to him! There is nothing I can say but hopefully he has another song for me.
For ‘Charlotte’, he asked me to sing the opening theme song – “Bravely you”. I was really surprised and honoured to be able to sing again on his project. I hope that he will ask me again in the future.
Q: How did you feel when you were invited to participate in the animation ‘Charlotte’?
I was surprised and honoured. As I said earlier, there are so many new artists coming out in Japan and I am one of the older artists now. When Maeda-san asked me to sing the song, I was really happy and surprised!
Q: You have sang a few songs for KEY, which song left the deepest impression or which one did you feel most attached to?
It really is difficult. The first song I sang was “Tori no Uta” and it was really difficult to record it. I was living at Los Angeles, California, when I got a call asking if I would like to sing for KEY. At that time, I did not know anything about KEY but I agreed to it.
I sang three songs in two days! For “Tori no Uta”, it has so many chords, the harmony and everything so I had to sing it so many times! At the end, I almost cried because I was not sure if I could do it anymore. However, the staff really helped me a lot, I managed to finish it.
I had no idea that it would be this popular and now, people in the world would think of “Tori no Uta” and Lia together. I am really glad that I took that recording, as if I had not said ‘Yes’ then, I would not have been here right now.
The most difficult recording for the animation – Clannad: After Story – was probably “Toki o Kizamu Uta”. It was really hard for me as I could not count so I asked Maeda-san to write me the music score. When I looked at it, I was like “5, 4, 3, 5” so it was really hard to get into the music. Now that I have sung it and performed it many times, it has become my piece so it really is easy for me. I am glad that everyone liked that song too.
Preparing autographed posters for fans (Source)
Q: What are some of the memorable moments you have living in the US?
I went to the Berklee College of Music, a music college in Boston and I graduated majoring in performance and professional music. After graduating, I moved to Los Angeles as I still had one-year visa, so I wanted to try something while I was there.
I was recording my demo and writing my songs in a home studio, owned by my friend of the same school. We were recording there and that was when I got a call from KEY saying they would like to use the studio, not me. I was translating as the owner did not understand Japanese and the KEY staff did not speak English.
They were going to bring a singer from Japan and record at the studio but the singer cancelled for some reason and they asked me, ‘Can I sing for them?’ However, I told them, ‘You are asking me, even before hearing me sing?’ So in my mind, I was thinking maybe these people aren’t professional.
I told them I would send them a recording I had in hand and they loved it, so that was how I got the job. It was a coincidence that I picked up the phone, answered and translated for my friend, so that’s why I am here. I never thought it will lead me to be invited to an overseas concert and “Tori no Uta” would be that big of a hit. I only knew later on that “Tori no Uta” was a big hit until my cousin listened and was like “Oh my god! My cousin is Lia?” (Laughs)
That was when I thought maybe I am pretty famous. That incident in LA was a big surprise.
Q: Now that you have a family, how do you manage to balance between family and work?
It is really difficult as I have two children now – a five year old daughter and a two year old son, who is like crazy (laughs). He is like a little monster!
It is really hard to manage both at the same time so I am trying to concentrate on one task at a time. At work, I would concentrate on my singing – I’m Lia, but when I am at home, I’m become ‘Mummy’ and concentrate on my kids.
I think of it as if I am a different person right here. I am sorry to my kids but I try to forget being a mum when working. If not it would be really crazy, doing both at the same time, so I try to switch my mind.
Q: What attributes drive you as an artist?
Meeting my fans always inspires me! There are people out there that want to listen to my music. If there was no one, then I will be just singing for fun. However, there are people that are saying ‘Oh, I love your song. I love your singing.’ So that is what really drives me. The fans are what keep my heart going so I am really grateful to them.
Lia performing at the ‘I Love Anisong’ concert AFA’15 (Source)
Q: What do you think is the most important aspect of a theme song?
Animations have really nice stories behind them so when I sing for an anime, I try not to push my character into the music. I would listen to what the producers and writers have to say about the music. Then, I would try to suit the music and put all my voice into it – of course making it ‘Lia-like’ – and put more effort to get into and emulate the world of what the producer wants the song to be. For example, for Maeda-san’s work, I would create a Maeda’s world.
Imagine that he has his own world –that is black and white. So when I sing, I try to add colours to his world, like a painting. I put the most effort in doing so, so that the song (painting) would be more colourful and unique.
Q: You have lent your voice to the popular Vocaloid, ‘IA’. What inspired you to do so and what are your thoughts about it?
The president of my management company, my first manager, asked me after I had my first child, whether I wanted to make a Vocaloid using my voice. I rejected her as I did not want anything to sound like me because I am still singing!
However, she was like “You know you currently have a child now and you probably want to rest”. I immediately replied “Yes!” So she suggested that maybe Vocaloid could be the one to help me work when I am not working. It sounded like it was a decent idea and that was how it started.
Now, IA is really working out in the world while I am like back at home, cooking. However, many people still don’t know it’s my voice behind IA, so I would have to tell them so. (laughs)
It was scary at first for me to have my own Vocaloid, as I was afraid that it would become more popular than me or people would forget about me. However as of now, I think it is in a good balance and the president of my management even mentioned ‘Nothing can beat Lia performing live!’ (Laughs) I trust her words so that’s why I made the Vocaloid, IA. So hopefully people will like me as much as they like her.
Q: Do you have any favourite songs of IA?
My favourite song would be her new song, “Diamond Days”. IA sang it this year during a concert in Japan. When I listened to it, I thought it was a really nice song and maybe, I would want to cover her song.
Lia performing at the ‘I Love Anisong’ concert AFA’15 (Source)
Just in time for her upcoming performance at AFAID2016, we present to you this short interview of Lia! If you haven’t read it yet, please go ahead! We at J-Experience really hope that she comes back to AFASG2016 to perform for us once again! Please continue to support her!