May'n & Nakajima Press Conference
In 2008, Macross Frontier shook the anime community with it's action packed mecha action and muscial performances. The show's lead singers, May'n (May Nakabayashi) and Megumi Nakajima rose to stardom touring Japan leading to a grand finale at the prestigous Budokan Arena. Almost a year and a half later, both singers were invited to perform live at Anime Expo 2010 in Los Angeles. See what both singers had to say about their experience and performance in front of their American fans in our full press conference transcription.
May’n, where do you see your music headed in the future?
May’n: So there’s May’n’s music and Sheryl Nome’s music. There’s not too much difference, but sometimes I sing in accordance with the things that are happening in Sheryl’s life.
Is there any difference from the pop that she’s looking into exploring and the music she’s already done for Macross?
May’n: I also want to start exploring some rock music. Also, in Japan, there’s a differentiation between anime music and J-Pop. But I think both of those are music, so depending on the time, I’d like to just sing whatever I feel like at the moment.
For things like the Universal Bunny album, May’n experimented a lot with R&B, Jrock, pop, things like that…which of those does she look most forward to doing more often?
May’n: On the album, there were many different types of genres I could experiment with. It’s not about which was the most fun or I enjoyed the most, but about how each was unique and had their own merits.
Where would Megumi Nakajima like to explore her musical talents in the future?
Nakajima: Ever since I was a child, I’ve always been a fan of idols and especially those from the 80’s. I would really like to sing more music, whether it’s anime music or not, that’s reminiscent of those I enjoyed as a child.
Do you prepare differently for American and Japanese fans?
May’n: Since this time, I was singing in front of an American audience, I tried my best to study English in advance. But regardless of the location of the performance, my favorite thing is being able to see the fans’ faces live. The sentiment is the same regardless.
Nakajima: This was also my first time performing internationally. Up to this point, I’ve received letters from fans all over the world, but since they were always so far away, I haven’t had the chance to meet them. I really felt that there were certain parts of me that I’d like to show my fans. That’s why I did my best. But regardless, no matter the difference in language, I think that you can speak through music.
So May’n has been given the strong, sexy image of Sheryl Nome while Nakajima has been perceived as cute and happy image. Is there anything they envy about each other?
May’n: On the stage, there is that particular image. But it’s not artificially created, but rather, this is my particular style.
Nakajima: Sometimes there’s occasions when we play a song that’s more hard rock or something that’s more of a hard style. During those times, I try to use certain parts of my base personality to bring out the parts that would match that performance.
How has the relationship with Yoko Kanno grown over time?
May’n: So initially when I first met Kanno, I was very nervous cause she’s a very fantastic producer. But as time passed, I got to know that she was a very sweet and kind person as well. My nervousness disappeared and, as time passed, I found that she would let me voice my opinion as well. I also really admire and respect her work as well. I’ve come to think of certain music that she would like to produce in her mind, and I also think I would like to produce that same music and what she’d like to create as a final project.
Nakajima: When I first met Yoko Kanno, I had the impression that she was more like a mother. And she’d always protect me and support me when I needed it. Rather than voicing my opinion, it was more of a creative process on both sides. Both of us had something inside us that we wanted to express. If I had a certain expression and she’d respond with her thoughts, making it a mutual collaborative process.
What kind of influence do your parents have on your work?
May’n: My family has always been supportive of me. They’ve pretty much attended every live performance I’ve had in Japan. Even with international performances, they say, “Oh, we wanted to go! We wish we could be there!” So, there’s definitely a lot of support from my family.
Nakajima: My parents actually really love music. Ever since I was young, they’d play music in the house. That’s definitely one of the first influences I’ve had in my life. Now, of course, they tell me I need to be responsible for my actions. But they’re still supportive of me and my life style. They’re always there for me.
When Yoko Kanno was on stage dancing today, is that the first time you’ve seen that? Or does she do that in the studio as well?
May’n: Not so much when we’re recording, but when we’re rehearsing and have a great take, she’d say, “Yes! Great job!” So she’s always a very fun person to be around.
Nakajima: Yoko Kanno has always been very lively in both studio recordings and rehearsals. It’s as though the music is emanating throughout her body. When she has the explosion, as May’n mentioned, that’s when we know we had a great take.
For May’n, how was it to work with Masami Okui?
May’n: She’s a very cool person and embodies the image of rock. When I worked with her, I felt like I had a certain energy that doesn’t usually come out when I sing alone. It’s always a very good experience and I learn a lot from it.
For Nakajima, do you see yourself doing the idol anime that is reminiscent of your childhood or do you want to find your own style?
Nakajima: When I was young, there was a manga I really liked. The main character of that manga was a star at a very young age. That’s something that I really grew up liking and admiring. I’d like to become someone that younger children could aspire to.
Nakajima, is there someone you’d be interested in doing a duet with?
Nakajima: There’s so many people that I’d love to work with. In particular, there’s one who has been retired from the industry. Her name is Kawai Sonoko. It’s someone I’ve really admired from my middle school days. So, I’ve always thought I’d like to meet her someday, if possible.
What about Kawai Sonoko stood out to Nakajima?
Nakajima: Kawai Sonoko has a different voice and accent for each song. As someone who has some fears in my own voice, it’s something that I really looked up to as a child.
Can Nakajima comment on her recent work on the voice synthesizer program, Vocaloid?
Nakajima: Last year, I had a character in which I used my voice very softly. That character was very well received. It seemed people wanted to produce songs using that character, which surprised me and made me very happy. I didn’t realize it’s something that could be so well received.
May’n, how do you emulate Sheryl in your personal life?
May’n: Often times at karaoke, I’d sing songs by May’n and Sheryl. There are certain parts where I think I’m different from Sheryl. She’s a real superstar and can be selfish at times. I think the parts that really overlap between my own personalities is the pride I have in music and joy I get through expressing myself through music.
How does Nakajima feel about her relation to Ranka Lee?
Nakajima: I really feel that the idol character and I almost have an equal sign between each other. There are a lot of parts where I feel that we are similar. And of course, we have different lives as well. But there are certain points when I’m watching the anime and I feel that she’s exactly like me!
What are your feelings after meeting your fans for the first time?
May’n: First of all, I was just so happy to meet them face to face. Another thing that struck me was that they got just as excited as the fans in Japan do. When you think about the fact that this place is ten hours away by plane, and has a different language and culture, for them to get so excited was amazing and made me really happy.
Nakajima: To be honest, this whole experience of being on stage in America and singing there is really still like a dream for me. Because up until this point, I’ve been so used to being distanced from American fans. To close that gap and be able to perform live was truly amazing. Not just that, when I looked at each of their faces, I could see each of their eyes shining and how they enjoyed the show. This experience has become a real treasure for me.
American and Japanese events are real different. How did that cultural difference strike you?
May’n: In Japan, the crowd matches each other and they do everything together. Whereas here, each person just does whatever they feel like. When I saw it, I just thought, “Wow, everyone’s so free!”
Nakajima: What I’ve always tried to hold in my heart is the sentiment that communication should not be between me and the whole mass. It should be between me and each individual person. It should not be the whole group, but between me and each individual. This struck me as the place where that sentiment could really come true.
What part of voice acting does Nakajima find most interesting?
Nakajima: It really widens the range of things you can be. You can be an animal, or maybe even a bottle of water! It’s really a limitless area I enjoy.
Has May’n ever considered pursuing anything in voice acting?
May’n: Ever since I was three years old, I’ve dreamed of becoming a singer. I’ve come to this point concentrating on singing, so I’d like to continue doing that.
What other dreams would the two like to fulfill in Los Angeles before returning to Japan?
May’n: I think it’s so wonderful that we got to do a live performance in Los Angeles. In terms of the fans, no matter where the location is, be it America, Japan, or anywhere else, I still see them as my fans. I actually like to refer to them as a special word: “Bleen,” which means friends. This is the way I’d like to think of my fans. Because of that, I’d definitely like to come back in the future.
Nakajima: At this point, just the fact that we were able to come and perform is likea dream come true. That’s something that I’m really keeping in mind right now. And of course, I’d really love to increase the chances to come again. Hopefully the autograph session would close the gap even more. I’d be able to see the fans in person, face-to-face, the impressions everyone had…that’s something I really can’t get out of my head right now and look forward to.
What surprised you the most about America?
May’n: As I said earlier, the fact that everyone could voice their own happiness and excitement surprised me very much. Other than that, the proportions of food in America were really large and made me really happy.
Nakajima: What surprised me the most was just the vast expanse of America. In Tokyo, you see very little of the sky because everything is so cramped together. When I first arrived here, got out of the airport, and started driving, I just looked at the sky and it was so vast. I really felt the breadth of the area. This was so surprising that I immediately wrote it down in my diary.
What kind of concerns did the two have before coming to America and how were these concerns answered?
May’n: At the beginning of this year, I had a tour in Asia. But that obviously didn’t include America. I was a little bit worried because I was wondering how it would be. I can’t really imagine of what the experience would’ve been like. Regardless of the location, I really look forward to doing the performance and seeing the fans. This is something I’ve always kept in mind, regardless.
Nakajima: This being the first time I was going to perform here, I had different worries. “Would the audience accept me? Would theylisten to my music? How will they react to me?” I really couldn’t imagine what it’d be like. But today, when I stood on stage and heard people call my name, all those worries disappeared.
Transcribed by: Davis Fan