[Interview] Konomi Suzuki 鈴木このみ [Anime Festival Asia Singapore][AFASG2016]
Just 20 this year, Konomi Suzuki burst into the music industry after winning the Animax Anisong Grand Prix competition at just 14 years of age! She then made her debut with her first single – “CHOIR JAIL”, a song which lyrics were produced by Aki Hata.
She already has 11 singles and counting, with the more popular ones being “DAYS of DASH” – the first ending for TV Anime, Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo and “This Game” – the opening theme of No Game No Life, which achieved 2nd place on the Billboard Japan Hot Animation charts!
For her 8th single, she actually collaborated with Masami Okui, whom many consider a legend in the Anisong industry! Her latest single, “Redo”, was used as the opening theme for popular anime, Re: Zero!
An extremely talented performer, since her debut in 2012, she has been invited each year – a total of 5 times – to perform at the largest Anisong event, the Animelo Summer Live! Currently, she is in the midst of her second tour, culminating with her birthday live!
Did you know that the first overseas performance she attended – as a fan – was AFA2010?! Now she’s back to perform on stage at AFA2016! At just 20, Konomi Suzuki definitely has the potential and the talent to continue producing chart-topping songs!
Let’s dive into the Anisong songstress interview find out more about her music, collaborations and more!!
You have mentioned visiting AFA before as a fan. However, you are now invited as an official guest. So, is there any difference between the feelings you experienced both as a fan and as a performing guest?
I am very honoured and happy to attend AFA this year as a guest. Prior to my debut, I attended AFA like all other Anime fans so I understand the feeling of cheering for the artistes as a participant. Therefore, I am very excited to see how tonight’s live will turn out and to find out how the fans will actually cheer and show their love for me.
As a young talent in the music industry, are there any veterans that you look up to or are inspired by?
KS: “This is a very difficult question as there are a lot of artistes to choose from!” One person that I look up to is also someone that I have recently collaborated with – Masami Okui-san! Not only is she a talented and technically gifted singer, she is also amazing as a person. Therefore, I am very honoured to able to collaborate with her.
Following up to that question, is there anyone else you would like to collaborate with?
As someone who watches and loves anime, one of my favourite ones is Macross Frontier. So when I listened to May’n songs that appeared in the anime as well as the ending (i.e., “Diamond Crevasse”), I realised how amazing Anisong is and I started my journey to become an Anisong singer. Therefore, I definitely would jump at the opportunity to collaborate with May’n one day!
Recently, you have been performing in various live shows across Japan and overseas (in 2016). How did your family and colleagues help you along the way in the past few months?
KS: “As I currently do not stay with my family, the only way we can communicate is through phone calls, where they will ask if I’m doing fine and generally show concern for me. So, through such conversations, I would gain motivation for my work as a performing artiste and for my one-man lives. Additionally, my colleagues and staff have all been taking great care of me, often asking me how I am doing. Overall, in terms of my health, I think I am truly very well taken care of by everyone.
Since your debut as a singer, do you feel any difference regarding how you view Anisong/Anime?
Compared to my debut where I only sang in Japan, this year (2016), I have performed in many locations in Asia and overseas and I felt that I am now able to see the love and support from everyone through Anisong with my own eyes. Because of this connection with the fans, I now feel a stronger responsibility to work harder at singing and performing for everyone.
You started your Anisong career/journey after winning Animax All-Japan Anisong Grand Prix in 2011. Was your dream to become an Anisong singer before that, or did it only materialise after winning the competition?
When I was around 13 to 14 years old, some of my friends asked me to watch Anime, and one of them was Macross Frontier. After watching, I realised how amazing and fun anime is and I started to ask my friends for more recommendations! As I continue to watch more Anime, my love for Anime continued to grow and grow and that was when I realised I wanted to pursue a career as an Anisong singer.
Of all your songs, which is your favourite?
It is such a difficult question! All my songs are very important to me as I put my all of my soul into the songs. However, if I do have to choose, I would pick my second single (“DAYS of DASH” – the first ending theme from Sakura-sou no Pet na Kanojo). When I sang that song, I was still a student too, so I noticed a lot of similarities between the characters of Sakurasou and myself and I found that I could really relate to the characters. Thus, if I had to pick one, I would pick “DAYS of DASH” as my favourite song due to its importance and meaning.
When you first debuted, your mother played an instrumental role in terms of your outfits and clothing choices. Does she still play a role in helping you choose your costumes?
Now, I have a professional stylist who chooses my outfits so my mother is not allowed to touch or choose anything for me! *laughs* However, in terms of the clothes I wear casually or outside of work, my mother would send me a lot of clothes!
Since your debut, you have appeared in Animelo Summer every year (up till 2016). How do you feel about this feat?
It is an honour to be able to participate in Animelo Summer every year and each time I attend, I get to meet many new performing artistes which provides a good environment to challenge and stimulate me as a singer. I also feel that each year presents a higher hurdle for me to overcome due to the sheer amount of talent that appears during the event and that one of my goals is to be able to appear in Animelo Summer every year.
If you did not become an Anisong singer, what other career would you have chosen?
Ever since I was young, my dream is always about wanting to become a singer. I definitely want to sing so I cannot think of any other career or job other than being a singer.
Congratulations on your recent birthday live and for turning 20 years old. Do you any new dreams that you want to pursue now that you have reached this milestone?
I would definitely want to travel and go overseas more often. Also, now that I am 20 years old, I just want to experience many new things that I have not tried before and hopefully such experiences can provide exposure and help me to grow as a singer.
Is there any anime/manga series that you would like to sing for?
It is very difficult for me to choose as I have a lot of favourite Anime series. If I had to choose, I would pick a series from the Toaru series (both railgun and index) as I am a huge fan of the series, so if ever there was an opportunity, I would like to sing for the series.
In terms of manga series that has not receive an Anime adaptation, I am a huge fan of Kakegurui and I would really recommend everyone to check it out. (Note: The interview was conducted prior to the adaptation of Kakegurui). So, if ever there was an Anime adaptation, I would definitely be the first person to ask them to let me sing for the series! *laughs*
Is there a different genre that you would want to try?
As my discography is largely made up of rock songs with more upbeat tempo, now that I have turned 20 years of age, I would like to explore singing ballad songs and songs of a slower tempo and I would also like to be able to perform such songs during my future lives.
Some of your seasonal lives and events can only be accessed wholly in Japan due to region restrictions. Do you have any plans to expand such events to overseas fans in the future?
I really want to do it because such events provide me with an opportunity to be up close with my fans. So, if there is an opportunity, I will do it!
Which song can describe Konomi Suzuki the best?
The song that describes me the best as for now (in 2016) is the song, “Love is MY RAIL”, which is the opening theme song for the TV Anime, Ange Vierge. The two people that produced this song, Hata Aki-san and Shirato Yuusuke-san, were also involved in my earlier works – both “DAYS of DASH” and my debut song, “CHOIR JAIL”. I feel that because I have worked with them for so long, these two know me very well and are able to produce songs that can describe me well.
Which song collaboration is the most memorable to you?
This is another difficult question! Because each time I collaborate with a different artiste, they provide me with so much inspiration due to what they have done in their careers. If I need to name one collaborator, it would have to be Masami Okui-san again because during our collaboration, I actually got to see the recording session in person. I was just amazed by the session and it really felt like I was attending a concert as there was this amazing atmosphere in the studio. It is definitely my most memorable collaboration.
You sang the opening theme for the Re:Zero Anime – her 10th single, Redo. If you had the same power as the main character, what would you like to redo in your life?
As I am having so much fun in life right now, it would be very hard to choose something to redo as I would not want to change anything currently. But if I can indeed redo something, I think I would definitely want to redo my high school experience so that experience the fun and youthful experience all over again!
Your 11th single – Chaos Syndrome – was used as the ending theme for the TV Anime series, Chaos:child. Can you tell us a little bit about the song?
I think this song fits the story theme of the Anime perfectly, because in the anime, the people on Earth are doing plenty of bad things. So, as the viewer, you are looking from a high perspective, kind of like a god. So, it was quite interesting to change her expression of the song and figure out how would god kind of look down and see the people from a high vantage point.
So, these were the kind of challenges that I was thinking about during the recording of this single.
Do you have any hobbies outside of singing?
I love Hello Kitty, to the point where I have collected over 200 of those prefectural Hello Kitty plushies! So, you can imagine that my room is completely covered with Hello Kitty plushies! *laughs*
What can we expect from the Konomi Suzuki Countdown Live this year (in 2016/17)?
One of my goals this year was to have this countdown live! So, I am super happy that this dream has come true. I hoping that this live would be able to summarise my effort and work for the entire year of 2016 and welcome the year of 2017. Even though it is a little hard for Singaporean fans to come and cheer for me, for those that can make it, I would hope and appreciate your support at the event!