We were lucky enough to sit down with Momoi Halko and conduct an exclusive interview with her at FanimeCon 2009. Hear what the 'Queen of Akihabara' had to say about her trip to America!
T-ONO: Thank you for meeting with us when you're so busy, how was your schedule here in America? Was it pretty busy?
Momo-i: Hmm, yes. Well, I came to San Jose before FanimeCon started. Once the con started I was pretty busy, but I got to take it a little easy before that.
T-ONO: Did you see a lot of touristy sites?
Momo-i: First, oh where did I go? I went to the Apple Headquarters' Apple Store, oh and I went to the Winchester Mystery House. I wanted to go for so long, and I've been wishing to go for so long, and my wish was finally granted. I love San Francisco and I've been coming to visit a few times for the past ten years or so. San Jose isn't that far from there, and I always thought about going to the Winchester Mystery House. But I didn't have a car, so I never got to go. I got taken to see it this time, and I'm very happy about that.
T-ONO That's great to hear.
Momo-i: I also went to the Computer History Museum in Mountain View. I explained the exhibits in so much detail that my band mates asked me, "are you an employee here?"
T-ONO: So this isn't your first time in Northern California is it?
Momo-i: Yes, I've been to San Jose too, I've been to the garage where Hewlett Packard started. It's just a normal garage (laughs). It was a normal garage at a normal house. There was a monument that that said it was the "Birthplace of Silicon Valley."
T-ONO: Moving on to your work, what kind of projects or plans do you have with your career?
Momo-i: I've started a label called "AKIHABA LOVE RECORDS" last April. From about 2 years ago, I've been invited to a number of conventions outside of Japan, and I realized that people the world over are interested in Akihabara culture. I have played in Akihabara since I was little and so I thought naming my label after it seemed fitting. I hope to spread a type of Akiba Music, a whole genre around the world from its birthplace.
T-ONO: How were the fans' reactions to your concert last night?
Momo-i: I was happy that so the crowd was so excited! Everyone seemed so happy to be there, that I was just as happy performing. It was a really big concert hall too, but I knew everyone was listening to me because the people in the back waved glow sticks. It really made me see just how many people had come to see me. I only spoke mostly in Japanese, but I was happy to see that everyone seemed to understand me more or less.
Even with a language barrier, I felt I could communicate from the heart by singing my songs. Also, In Japan otaku are looked down upon, but here I am in America to perform in front of so many like-minded people because I am one. I feel happy that I am an otaku (laugh).
T-ONO: So, moving onto the future, in the case of otaku culture, you started as a street performer in Akihabara right?
T-ONO: What do you think is in store for the future? You have grown in popularity by performing in Akihabara, but do you notice any new trends developing?
Momo-i: Hmmm, Akihabara no longer closes off traffic so that people can walk on the streets on the main street on weekends. So there's a lot of boys and girls who rent event spaces in places like CD shops and such where people can do their otaku performances.
Also, there are a lot of artists doing Akiba-style events and performances outside of Akihabara, like Oosu in Nagoya or Nihonbashi in Osaka. There are live performances, but there are also people partying at club music events, especially in Nagoya's scene. I think that's really interesting to see. It's not just in Akihabara now, and people all over Japan are getting excited over Akiba-style music.
T-ONO: Then how about Nico Nico Douga?
Momo-i: Oh, Nico Nico Douga is interesting too. When I was a student, the only way for me to perform was as a street performer. Major record labels would have to distribute your CD if you wanted a lot of people to hear you, so I could only have people listen to me sing on the streets of Akihabara. Well, I was uploading videos of myself on the Internet back then, but it was all dial-up back then and no one could see it - Internet connections and hardware in general just wasn't available in most households at the time. With Nico Nico Douga, now I have the tools to show people things I've made myself to a lot of people and I find that really interesting. I think it's great that there are more choices on how to make it big now, on top of what originally was dominated by major record labels.
But on the other hand, the flow of time on the net is really fast. Things that were made last week can seem like it was made last year. That's why I made "AKIHABA LOVE RECORDS" to preserve good music. Before Nico Nico Douga, CDs were a way to distribute music to a wider audience; now, I think their role has shifted in to "preserving" things.
That's why I am and wish to continue collaborating with many of the Nico Nico Douga artists. The CD jacket to my first single under this label, "Loozie·Goozie" and my third single, "Jien Otsu Song" are designed by people who have drawn for Hatsune Miku PVs on Nico Nico Douga. So, this might have been a bit long winded, but don't you think it's really interesting?
T-ONO: So what will you be doing after this (interview)?
Momo-i: I'll be heading home to Japan after this. I have a live show I do every month on Nico Nico Douga, it's called "The Moko Moko 60 Minutes." You can watch from the United States too, so please watch it. Well there's no English on Nico Nico Douga, so for those that don't understand Japanese it might be a little hard, but please try watching anyway! I'll be waiting for comment from America.
Also, AKIHABA LOVE RECORDS will be releasing on May 27th, with guest vocalist Okumi Masami, its second single, "My Resolution ~Under that Clock~! And then, on June 17th, we release my third single, "Jien Otsu." This song is the theme song to the otaku K-1 Fighter Nagashima Jien Otsu Yuichiro. You can Google for the details on your own time. I will also be doing summer live concerts in August. So I hope to do my best.
T-ONO： Do you have any comments on the swine flu epidemic?
Momo-i: The new influenza? Well, you can't buy any masks in Japan right now. Because of the shortage on masks, I sent my friend in Osaka some. I work in voice acting and singing, so I keep stock of masks in my house. So when my friend in Osaka couldn't buy any I sent them some to their great delight. (laughs) Yes, let's all take care of ourselves.
T-ONO: Thank you very much for the interview!
Momo-i: Thank you very much.
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