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Sakura-Con: Interview with Kanon Wakeshima
Tuesday, June 5, 2012 at 3:38am in Interviews

Sakura-Con: Interview with Kanon Wakeshima

Translated and Transcribed by S-T.net’s translator, Alicia
Photography and Notations by Ku and Juri

On the third day and final day of Sakura-con, Shattered-Tranquility was granted the opportunity to attend a press interview and directly ask Kanon Wakeshima some questions.

When did you know that music was in your future?
I started playing music, specifically the cello, when I was 3 years old, and from then on I only ever listened to classical music. But when I entered middle school, I started to listen to Jpop and realized that there are other types of music besides classical out there. That’s when I started thinking about how to express myself with different types of music, and began doing a bit of my own composition at that time.

Can you tell us one fun thing you’ve done during your time in Seattle?
On the day of my live, I went to the Seattle Aquarium. I’ve always loved aquariums, and this was my first time visiting an aquarium overseas, so it was a lot of fun.

Last night, a lot of people heard your music for the first time. How would you describe your music to a new listener?
Do you mean what do I want to convey to my listeners? Well, the basic idea I use to create my music is that as long as I’m alive, there will be may times when I feel happy or sad, and experience a lot of different emotions. I’m always putting those emotions into my songs and lyrics, and when those feelings come across to the people who listen to my music it makes me really happy.

How would you describe the concept of the clothes you wore for your concert?
Since this convention is called Sakura-con, I went with a sakura theme and chose a pink costume this time.

What is the most challenging song for you to perform, and why?
During my lives, I usually sing while I play an instrument, so when I perform a song that doesn’t use an instrument, I have to think about how to express the music with just words, rather than with my cello, so that can be a little difficult.

Since you said you listen to a lot of classical and jazz music, can you tell us some of the artists or composers within those genres that inspire you?
For classical, the person I admire most is actually a musician, rather than a composer, and her name is Jacqueline du Pré. She was a cellist who sadly passed away at a young age, but her performances were so cool–even though she’s a girl, she always gave such strong and powerful performances that left a really strong impression on me. Actually, she’s was one of the people I’ve looked up to from the very beginning, and encouraged me to continue playing the cello. My favorite artist for jazz is actually a musician as well, or rather a duo of siblings from Japan called Les Frères. The two of them play piano duets and perform together, and [like Jacqueline du Pré] put on incredibly powerful performances. They play so vigorously that sometimes the strings of their piano have been known to snap during concerts, and watching performances like that–even on DVD–is really cool and fun to me.

In the past you’ve worked with AnCafe’s Kanon– what was that experience like, and did you feel that you learned anything new from the collaboration?
The concept for KANONxKANON was actually taken directly from anime, as we were making songs specifically for certain anime series. This was the case with both our first and second singles, that were used as the opening theme for 2 different series. But rather than adapting the theme songs around a certain character, we decided to create music that would come as close as possible to the overall feel of the anime as a whole. Then we also created a visual style to match that same original feel of the show, and the overall process was a very creative one. They basically allowed us to create whatever we wanted out of it, so it was a really interesting and fun experience. We were also able to tour something like 7 different countries in Europe last year, which was another amazing experience.

Are there any other musicians you’d like to work with someday?
I’ve been into a French artist named Emilie Simon for a long time, and I love listening to her music, so if I had a chance I’d like to meet her someday (laughs).

You’ve been around Europe and parts of the US recently, but if you could, where else would you like to go, and what would you like to see?
Recently I’ve been really wanting to visit the Czech Republic (laughs). In Czech, there’s a long history of clay animation, or stop-motion animation, and I heard that there’s a museum there that displays some of the dolls that have been used in the films. I really like that kind of dark-fantasy world, so I’d love to go there and visit someday. I’d also like to try going somewhere like Southern Italy or Spain, where the weather is nice and warm (laughs).

What is your favorite part about performing overseas?
The fact that everyone in the audience is happy to see me comes across very strongly and clearly… and now that you mention it, I want to say how thankful I really am for that.

You mentioned earlier that you started playing cello from a very young age, and there were times when you wanted to quit– how did you overcome these feelings?
I’ve been playing for a very long time, and I’ve been lucky to have some amazing teachers and supporters around me to cheer me on. Of course there were times when I wanted to quit, but those people around me, as well as my parents who have always been very supportive, have always told me what a waste it would be if I quit, and how rewarding it would be if I continued; that there would be lots of fun opportunities and amazing people to meet if I kept going. They also taught me how important it is to think about playing the cello as a very reliable and treasured hobby, not as a job, and I think hearing that from a lot of different people definitely helped me continue onward. I also have a lot of friends around the same age that also play instruments–friends who play violin, piano, as well as cello. We sometimes used to get together and play as an ensemble, and I think having that camaraderie is one of the main reasons I’ve been able to continue on this far.

What is something you haven’t done yet as a musician that you would like to try?
I haven’t really done very many live performances in Japan yet, so from now on I’d love to get together with other musicians and write new songs, then put on performances with a “live house” feel to them. Up until now, my lives have mostly consisted of me performing by myself and playing my instrument, with a background orchestra recorded from my CDs, but I’d really like to try performing with other band members, like a violinist, pianist, drummer, guitar, bass… that kind of sound. I haven’t really been able to do a lot of performances like that yet, so from now on that’s what I’d really like to try.

Did you ever want to become something other than a musician when you grew up?
I’ve always really enjoyed drawing, so I wanted to become an illustrator.

How did you decide on your set list for Sakura-con?
For the opening songs, I wanted to pick up certain tracks from my first and second album that everyone knows. Then for the middle of the set, I picked a lot of songs that I had composed myself, and lastly I played songs from my most recent releases, as well as songs I was performing for the first time. I also chose to play a lot of my more classical-influenced songs, since I had a pianist and violinist there, as well as myself on cello.

Is there a particular song you would recommend to new fans?
Hmm which one? (laughs) Well I have a lot of new songs that haven’t been made in CDs yet, so what I really want to do is get those songs out to the fans as soon as I can.

If you could meet or do a collaboration with a classical artist or composer from the past, who would it be?
When it comes to classical composers, my favorites aren’t specifically composers for the cello, but I listen to a lot of Debussy, and also Chopin’s piano pieces, and I like them a lot. For orchestra, I really love Tchaikovsky.

How did the audience from last night’s show differ from your typical audience in Japan?
When I play in Japan, the audience feels almost shy, since they usually watch and listen very silently (laughs). Yesterday the whole audience was really energetic and into the show, which felt really different at first, but they seemed like they were having a lot of fun so I was relieved at that.

Have you noticed any differences between the fans here in the USA, in Europe, and in Japan when you actually meet with and talk to them?
A lot of my fans in Japan almost feel like my Mom and Dad, saying things like “You did a great job today!” and “You worked really hard!” (laughs) And even old grandmas and grandpas! But in Europe and America, there are a lot of fans that say things like “Wow~ I had so much fun!” and it feels like we’re close friends (laughs).

Can you tell us about an interesting experience you’ve had on this trip so far?
For this performance, I had a violinist and a pianist playing with me, and the 2 of them are a lot of fun to be around. When I get excited and energetic, they’re right there having fun with me so it was great (laughs).

What direction will you be taking with your music now?
Recently, the number of songs I write by myself has increased, and I’ve really been trying to put all of the feelings and emotions I experience on a day to day basis into my lyrics. I want to create new songs that convey all of the happiness and sadness that I feel, and I really hope I can perform more both in Japan and overseas, so that I can show the fans how much I’ve grown, and get that kind of acknowledgement from them.

Do you think that becoming a musician means taking a lot of risks and making a lot sacrifices?
Well, I don’t know exactly what I’ll be doing a year or 2 from now, and not knowing what’s going to happen can sometimes make me feel very uncertain about a lot of things. But that’s really what this job is all about– constantly moving forward and creating new music and having to think of new ways of express yourself and your ideas, so I feel like I just really have to do the best I can and give it my all.

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Sakura-Con: Interview with Kanon Wakeshima Reviewed by on . Translated and Transcribed by S-T.net's translator, Alicia Photography and Notations by Ku and Juri On the third day and final day of Sakura-con, Shattered-Tran Translated and Transcribed by S-T.net's translator, Alicia Photography and Notations by Ku and Juri On the third day and final day of Sakura-con, Shattered-Tran Rating:
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