[AFASG’16][J-EXPERIENCE][INTERVIEW] AIMER: THE BEGINNING OF A NEW CHAPTER
If there is a year that can be described as Aimer’s year, 2016 would be it. This year, she pulled off one stunning collaboration after the other, culminating in her collaboration album – her fourth – daydream! Having collaborated with the likes of chelly, tk, taka and RADWIMPS, the incredibly powerful and intellectual songstress indeed has had a spectacular and successful year!
Having stepped out of her comfort zone this year and into the spotlight, she recently completed her first solo overseas live in Taipei’s ATT Showbox as well as selling out on her national hall tour. Aimer has also grown from strength to strength, challenging herself to do better each time.
We, at J-Experience, managed to sat down with the demure artiste to find out more about her music, collaborations and what she has in stored for 2017!
Q: How did you get the name Aimer and what does it mean?
Aimer: It’s a mix between a nickname that I had and the French word for love – je t’aime. When I chose the name Aimer, I realised that it’s not exactly like je t’aime, not exactly like love; you can sense a little bit of sadness behind the name, and I was drawn to that, hence the name – Aimer.
Q: You had to take a break from singing when you were 15. Can you describe your emotions at that time, how and what gave you the inspiration and strength to overcome this difficulty?
Aimer: Back then, I actually lost my voice. The fact that I couldn’t sing felt pretty much like a wall that appeared in front of me suddenly. It made me want to sing even more and made me realised how much I love music.
I told myself then, if I could just sing one more time…
… as there might have been a possibility that I might be unable to sing anymore. However, being able to overcome it and sing again made me realised that maybe it was not too difficult as I was able to overcome it and realised my love and passion towards singing.
CREATING MASTERPIECES THROUGH COLLABORATIONS
Cover Art for insane dream/us (Source)
Taka from ONE OK ROCK
Q: This year, your music career is defined by the many collaborations with famous artistes. What were some fun moments and challenges when doing these collaborations?
Aimer: There’s a lot of great memories that I have when doing collaborations, as each artiste that I collaborate with will each have a different vocal direction. Taka-san – from ONE OK ROCK – has great English pronunciation and he gave me a lot of directions on how to pronounce the English words in the song. It was a really fun and interesting experience for me.
Note: Aimer and taka collaborated on the song, “insane dream”, which has quite a few English words in the lyrics. They also collaborated on: “Higher Ground”, “closer”, “Falling alone” and “Stars in the rain”.
chelly from EGOiST
Q: Last year, you mentioned that you really wanted to collaborate with Egoist because you loved her vocals. Can you please share with us more about this collaboration experience?
Aimer: Before the collaboration, I really wanted to collaborate with EGOiST’s chelly because I really like her voice. I work with Sawano Hiroyuki-san a lot and when I realised that he had a new song for me to sing, I thought of how great it would be if all three of us could do the song together. My dream actually came true! In the recording, the fact that I got to hear chelly-san sing was a really good and stimulating experience for me.
Note: Aimer and chelly collaborated on the song, “ninelie”, together.
tk from Ling Tosite Sigure and Yojiro Noda from RADWIMPS
Q: Can you tell us more about your creative process when collaborating with other artistes, and how do you and they manage to weave distinct music styles together?
Aimer: I managed to meet Yojiro Noda through Taka from ONE OK ROCK, who said that Yojiro Noda had a song that he would love for me to sing together with him. The song was already prepared and he wanted me to be a part of it. It was really relaxing and enjoyable time! I was also happy that I could join in the instrument recording session, be part of the creation process and be able to sing together with the instruments playing behind. When Yojiro Noda joined in to sing the last chorus of the song, I had a great time; I felt that it was a really good collaboration!
Cover Art for Chouchou Musubi (Source)
For tk, I have always been a big fan of his work. When we did this collaboration, the song was also sort of prepared already, but maybe not as complete as the one with RADWIMPS. We did the recording sessions together, and we sat down to discuss on how to edit the music – making a few changes and tweaks to it – and started to work together towards making the song. If you listen to “us”, there is a part where we sang in a very strong and passionate way. It came about because I loved his voice and the way he sings during such parts. I also challenged myself to sing more strongly, passionately and with more power.
As you can see, it’s very hard to give a template for collaborations as each artiste is different.
Note: Aimer and Yojiro Noda-san collaborated on the song, “Chouchou Musubi”, “Natsukusa ni Kimi wo Omou” and a cover of “September” – a song by RADWIMPS.
Aimer and tk collaborated on the songs, “us” and “Kowairo”.
A GLIMPSE INTO HER MUSIC
Q: Many of your songs employ recurring celestial themes and imagery, such as day and night, the sun, moon and stars. Where did you get the idea to use them from?
Aimer: I love to stargaze and evening is my favourite time of the day. At night, I spend a lot of time thinking and while thinking, I would look up at the skies. Even my debut song, “Rokutosei no Yoru”, is based on the celestial themes – the night, stars and the moon.
A lot of people also tend to say they could sense a little bit of loneliness and sadness in my voice and singing, which is unique for me. With this feedback, whenever I create songs, I would incorporate everything and create a story in my songs, albums and singles. In my albums, Sleepless Nights and Midnight Sun, there is a strong celestial theme because it started with what I enjoy and love to do.
Q: You have an AM series of songs – “2:00AM”, “3:00AM” and “4:00AM”. Are there any plans to continue this theme?
Aimer: At “4:00AM”, the series kind of ended and I have no exact plans to continue the theme of songs. However, if there is any request or big response to have a continuation, something might come along… Note: Please tweet at her, https://twitter.com/aimer_and_staff, to let Aimer know that we want a new song for the series! ☺
Q: Regarding your latest single, Akane sasu/everlasting snow, are there any things you took as an inspiration for what you want to tell your listener?
Aimer: As it was an ending song for the anime – Natsume Yuujinchou Go, I took into consideration the storyline and the landscape of the anime, hence, a nostalgic vibe can be felt from the song. Instead of being in a busy, bustling city area, it’s a song closer to nature. I’m hoping that through this song, you can feel a scenery or that you are in the anime itself.
Cover Art for Akane Sasu/everlasting snow (Source)
Q: You have done covers of English songs before, as well as creating and singing your own original songs. What would you say are the challenges of singing covers as compared to original songs?
Aimer: One difficulty that I had was having to make sure that nobody is tied down to their own song – as each of the songs is distinct and have their own lyrics and music; they would be easily recognizable to fans who hear it.
So, when I released my cover album, I put a jazz twist to a lot of the original music that are by themselves more dance-related, to make the listeners feel that it’s a new song where I had put my taste, my colour and my essence into it.
Q: You have sung both English and Japanese songs. Do you plan to sing in other languages?
Aimer: For my Taiwan live, I thought that maybe I could sing in Chinese as a bit of a challenge. However, I realised that it was a really difficult language! So, I thought I could maybe do a cover of a popular Chinese song instead, which I could put my own twist into it, to challenge myself to sing in a new language.
Q: Do you have any role model in the music industry or someone you admire?
Aimer: It’s a bit of a difficult question as there are so many artistes to choose from. In terms of lyrics, I try to find and create contrasts, so, even if the song is a happy one, I will try to add both happy and sad elements. A role model would be Spitz – a Japanese band – with their unique lyrics. Their songs may sound happy but you can find essences of sadness or different edges in their songs.
Ever since daydream, it is as though another episode in my life has ended, and I’m starting a new episode or chapter in my life, and that was something I incorporated in the song too.
Q: Would you one day like to perform a theme song for an animated movie?
Aimer: Movie, huh, movie. Gundam Unicorn was an OVA, right? Does the upcoming Koutetsujou no Kabaneri movie counts as a movie? Technically, it does, right? I am a huge fan of Hayao Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli films, so maybe in the future, I hope to sing for one of their works.
If there’s a song that I can express to the world through my way, hopefully I can let everybody listen to my voice in the theatres one day.
BEING ON CENTRE STAGE
Q: You have just concluded your first solo overseas concert in Taiwan and your sold-out national hall tour. Do you have any plans to have more solo concert overseas and move to bigger venues, such as arenas, in Japan?
Aimer: Next year, I will be performing in both Hong Kong and Singapore, so I’m hoping that in 2017, there would be more opportunities for me to do more local and overseas tours and lives.
Aimer at her Taipei Live (Source)
Q: You have performed in Taipei and Singapore before. How do you feel about performing overseas?
Aimer: When I went to Taiwan for my first one-man live, I noticed that the audience that came for the live all possessed a strong, passionate energy. I’m hoping that through all my performances, I would be able to reciprocate the same amount of energy that the fans have given to me.
LOOKING AHEAD TO 2017
Q: Any plans you have for 2017? Any hints, maybe like last year?
Aimer: This year, I was more “into the light”, performing and singing more. In 2017, I will be going overseas for performances as well as having an acoustic tour around Japan. Before 2016, a lot of my fans told me that I was more in the darkness and by their side. However, in 2016, they noticed that I was more in the spotlight and it inspired and encouraged them to be in the light too. That really touched me. I’m hoping that in 2017, maybe I could challenge myself more, so that together with my fans, we can work together and become stronger together.
Aimer’s photo from Singapore! (Source)
After a stellar 2016, Aimer has set her sights on new goals for 2017! With more focus on performing lives and solo tours, she will be embarking on an acoustic tour around Japan, as well as partaking in the COUNTDOWN LIVE 2016/2017 on December 29!
Looking to challenge herself more for the upcoming year, Aimer will also be participating in two more overseas lives – the Anisong Fantasy Live, both in Hong Kong and Singapore, next year! We at J-Experience cannot wait to see what Aimer has to offer for 2017!
Want to find out more about Aimer and her music?
Aimer’s AFA 2015 interview: https://jexperience.co/afasg15interview-aimer-her-vocal-chord-injury-a-trauma-or-blessing/
Her stage name, Aimer, is pronounced as “eh-meh” and not “ai-mer”. She is fluent in both Japanese and English, having stayed in England for a while.
She plays both the piano and the classical guitar, as well as write most of her own music and songs.