JAM Project Interview @ J-POP Summit 2015
JAM Project is well known for their upbeat high energy music most recognizably found in iconic super robot, and mecha anime titles and games. Join us as we kickback and have a lighthearted conversation with JAM Project's Hironobu Kageyama, Masaaki Endoh, Hiroshi Kitadani, Masami Okui, and Yoshiki Fukuyama at Fort Mason in San Francisco during J-POP Summit 2015!
T-ONO: JAM Project has done countless anime, game and tokusatsu (live action, special effects) music. Has anything changed from the past to now?
Kageyama: As in what has changed with us? Hmm, let’s see… Our base is anime songs, but compared to the past, anison (anime song) has changed its sound quite significantly. So even though we are veteran singers, we have to continue striving to change our music to appeal to the newer audience.
T-ONO: For Kageyama and Endou, when Mizuki Ichirou first brought to you the concept of JAM Project, how did you feel and react?
Kageyama: Up until 2000, anison has changed from representing anime to a promotional tool for popular J-Pop singers. So for people like Mr. Mizuki who has lived within the anison culture, it didn’t feel right for this culture to gradually disappear, and hence he called upon Me and Endou to “defend” anison, since we also sang anison at the time.
T-ONO: This question is for Masami, Kitadani, and Fukuyama. Did you guys know of JAM Project before you entered the group?
Masami: Yes, I did know about it.
Fukuyama: I did not know.
T-ONO: When you received your offer, how did you feel about it?
Masami: For me, at least, I was a fan of Mr. Kageyama’s debut band Lazy. So the offer was brought to me by someone official when Mr. Mizuki was becoming a part-time member, rather than the face of JAM Project. So for me to be in the place of Mr. Mizuki was a bit off place due to his stature. But because I was a fan of Lazy, and I knew Mr. Kageyama was singing anison, I wanted to see how my experience would change JAM Project. This is especially the case since the song I sang for anime are a a bit pop and dance-like.
Kitadani: I actually watched the first live of JAM Project as a spectator and I always wanted to be on stage with them. Being close to Mr. Kageyama and Mr. Endou, I was actually given an offer by them to join.
Fukuyama: For me, I sang a lot of anison but never had a chance to group up and perform lives that was strictly anison. So I thought that if they are going to recruit me into the band, I might as well join and experience it.
T-ONO: And with that, I have a question for Fukuyama. I heard you like animals, so do you have a specific animal you would like to raise?
Fukuyama: Mmm, recently my wife is trying to convince me in raising a goat for the house. But because I like animals in general, I would like to have an opportunity to raise them all, so much that I wouldn’t mind living in a zoo.
T-ONO: Do you have a favorite animal at the zoo?
Fukuyama: Mmm that is a hard choice. Other than the standard cats and dogs, I’ve raised reptiles, amphibians and fishes at my house…
T-ONO: For me, it’s a panda.
Fukuyama: Oh~, I wouldn’t mind trying to raise a panda, but if I did that my house would probably become a zoo, so maybe I'll raise another reptilian species. [laughs]
T-ONO: This question is for you Endou. I’ve heard that whenever you travel abroad you have a hard time finding food.
Endou: Oh? [chuckles] How do you know that?
T-ONO: Just a bit of information I’ve heard. But traveling to Las Vegas, Baltimore and now San Francisco, is it hard for you to find something to eat?
Endou: Every time I travel I bring some instant ramen with me, but this time I have not gotten a chance to crack one open. I do like junk food, so America is one of those places I feel comfortable eating.
T-ONO: For me personally, it’s actually hard to find food that I like in America. I like natto and oshinko (takuan/pickled Japanese radish).
Kageyama: Wow, you can eat natto, that’s pretty amazing.
T-ONO: This question is for you Kitadani. I know you guys have a busy schedule, but have you visited J-Pop Summit side event, the Sake Summit?
T-ONO: At Union Square, there is a side event to taste sake. But in general, is there an alcoholic beverage that you like to drink?
Kitadani: I always press Nihon-shu in general.
T-ONO: On the rocks? Or diluted?
Kitadani: Mostly at room temperature.
T-ONO: Out of curiosity, who drinks the most here?
Kageyama: In terms of amount, it’s probably Endou. But in terms of frequency, it’s Kitadani. On his off day, he starts drinking in the morning.
Kitadani: No no no, that’s not true. [laughs]
T-ONO: The last question is for you Kageyama. Is there a person who influenced you to sing countless anison, music for games and tokusatsu?
Kageyama: Mmm, in our youth we listened to Mr. Mizuki or Mr. Sasaki in their respected anime, but in the past they did not appear in person on television. So I wondered what kind of person sang these song. By fate, when I started to sing more anison, the first person I met was none other than Mr. Mizuki and Mrs. Horie (Horie Mitsuko). So at first, I sang anison as just a work necessity, and didn’t think myself as an anison singer. But Mr. Mizuki and Mrs. Horie pushed me to keep at it, and that I have what it takes to sing anison. So rather than singing a little bit of anison at my concert, I devoted my life to it and doors started to open.
T-ONO: A final message for your fans please!
Interviewer: Alysa McWilliams
Questions: Yusuke Osada