AFA SG 2015: Revealing nano’s “Bull’s Eye” in Music – An Interview

Taken from nano’s official website

nano, a 27-year old singer and songwriter, has just concluded the long-awaited item at the I Love Anisong concert at Anime Festival Asia Singapore (AFA SG) 2015 just last month. Unlike most other anisong artistes we may be familiar with, nano was not actually born in Japan but in New York City instead, and the talented young performer is effectively bilingual. This unique background has been known to be a source of inspiration for nano‘s music style, which often incorporates both Western and Japanese elements, and nano has in fact performed in different countries across the world before. To date, seven singles, three studio albums and one live album have been released under nano‘s discography, amongst which includes works which have been featured as the theme songs for several anime series and games. Having debuted just three years back in 2012 and performed live for the first time the following year, this year marks nano‘s first time visting and performing in Singapore.

J-Network has been especially fortunate to have been able to interview nano, and in a series of replies given to the wide array of questions posed by different members of the media, readers can look forward to finding more about the cosmopolitan singer’s experiences, and what keeps this energetic musician going. For the uninitiated, nano is certainly one rising name in Japanese music to look out for.

Q: Can you tell us how is it like growing up in America and how long did it take for you to get used to Japan after going back? 

A: Well, it’s been a really long time since I started dreaming about creating music, but I was born and raised in the US and ever since I was little as I can remember, I’ve had an interest in music. My parents listened to a lot of music and so I’ve been interested in music as far back as I can remember. I’ve never really dreamed of doing anything else as a different job so it’s been music for me the whole time.

J-Network: You’ve been noted to insert ‘Western’ influences into your songs and covers – given that, which Western bands or artistes would you say inspire you when you sing?

A: I get my inspiration from a lot of different genres of music. Right now I sing a lot of rock, but I get my inspiration from classical and folk, rock, pop, anything that really just strikes my interest, so I wouldn’t really narrow it down to just one group or band or genre. I listen to a lot of different stuff.

Q: You were born in America, New York City, so what made you want to come back to Japan?

A: I’ve always felt that even though I was born and raised in America, that my heart sort of, had that Japanese aspect so I’ve always felt that I wanted to try a life in Japan as well to know my roots, to know half of who I am, and so my identity has always been not one or the other, but I wanted to experience both types of life.

Q: Were there any challenges adapting to the life in Japan?

A: Lots of challenges. America and Japan are so different in so many ways, and not just the culture and language, but the food is different, the people are different, everything is so different. But I feel that I’ve experienced the good sides of both cultures and I don’t really feel any sort of hardships or regrets about any of the obstacles that I face.

Q: A lot of your songs have been tie-up tracks for video games, so I was wondering if you are a gamer and what kinds of games do you play? 

A: I’m so happy that a lot of my songs have been used for tie-ups, and to be honest I’m not a huge gamer but I started to try out a lot of games ever since I’ve received the tie-ups so I find a lot of these, what really appeals to me about anime and games is that it helps us to escape everyday life and show us a lot of possibilities that we never really could imagine in real life, so just using our imagination to widen up our world, so I really think that games and anime are an awesome way to expand the imagination.

Q: Since this is your first time in Singapore, what is your impression of the country? How would you compare it with both America and Japan?

A: I’ve only spent a night here so far but it’s amazing because all the people have been so nice and I actually like the weather here because it’s really cold in Japan right now, it’s really freezing, it’s about 8 degrees Celsius, and so when we stepped off the plane it was like you were not here for work but for a vacation or something, and it was really a nice change, and I can’t wait to try out different types of food. I don’t know what’s recommended but I want to go with my band to explore the town, we had a little time to explore this morning and we went to see the Merlion, and there were a lot of tourists there but it was nice seeing that and I hope to be able to come back here again soon.

Q: Your songs have been used as part of anime series. How does it feel like when you compose a song for an anime?

A: It’s always different preparing a song for a tie-up as compared to just a regular, original song for myself because when I have to prepare a song for, say, a tie-up, it’s very important that it doesn’t ruin the world of the anime series or the game series, and it becomes a song that represents the series in a way, but it’s more exciting for me because it gives me ingredients to work on, to express my imagination, different series all give me different doors to open, different emotions to experience, and so I always feel so happy about being able to prepare a song for a tie-up series.

Q: How do you feel about performing in Southeast Asia twice? Do you have any plans for a solo concert in Indonesia?

A: It is only a couple of months ago that I went to Indonesia, and although I have America and Japan in my blood, I have never been to Asia before so I was really excited and happy to be invited to both AFA Indonesia and Singapore this time, and definitely, in Indonesia the crowd was amazing and my first impression was that I definitely wanted to go back to Indonesia again to perform and hopefully, maybe a solo concert someday. So definitely, I’d love to.

Q: Among all the songs that you have wrote and sang, which songs do you feel are very personal to yourself?

A: That’s such a hard question; every time we write a new song it becomes my favourite because I don’t want to sound like a narcissist, but I love all my songs because each song represents something different and opens new doors for me and I’m really happy that I am able to collaborate with someone like the creator who writes my songs, she’s amazing, and so I’m just really happy to be able to collaborate with someone that understands me well and is able to create something so full of life and emotion and power. Off the top of my head, right now at the moment, of course, my new song “Bull’s Eye” probably represents who I am now, and so that’s definitely on the top of my list, and of course “Rock on.” was always a really deep song for me, it holds a lot of meaning and then, another song – it’s one of my first originals that I wrote but “magenta” is really meaningful for me because it was the first original song that we put out to the world, so definitely. But it’s hard to narrow it down.

Official music video of “Rock on.” taken from the YouTube channel of nano’s record label, Flying Dog

Q: Can you share with us more about your new single “Bull’s Eye”?

A: Bull’s Eye? Definitely. It’s been actually a year and three months that [sic: should be “since”?] I released a single so it was really exciting for me, it felt like doing something really new. And “Bull’s Eye”, both its meaning and sound is a little bit different from my other songs, I think. It’s really catchy and it has a lot of, not just rock but sort of catchy “pop-ness” to it. And also it’s the tie-up for an anime series that is kind of new for me too. So we were really experimenting with the song and we actually wrote three different types of songs to present to the series, and in the end “Bull’s Eye was chosen so I was really happy about that though, because to be honest I really liked Bull’s Eye” from the beginning. So yeah definitely a lot of experience.

Official music video of “Bull’s Eye” taken from the YouTube channel of nano’s record label, Flying Dog

Q: Speaking of anime tie-ups, recently in Singapore the anime movie for Aoki Hagane no Arupejio (ENG: Arpeggio of Blue Steel) was aired, and “Last Refrain” was played in the background. Can you give us a bit more comments regarding the anime series and how the anime helped you create the song for it?

A: Yeah, I noticed you are wearing the Blue Steel –the out-, I like your shirt. Aoki Hagane no Arupejio is a really special series for me because I’ve been with the series for a couple of years now and so I feel like I have grown with the series as well. And it started with “Saviour of Song” and then there was Rock on. and “Silver Sky” and now “Last Refrain”. And each song, I think sort of grew with the series and expressed different emotions that the series presents and with “Last Refrain”, when I read the lyrics for this song, I put myself in the shoes of the characters who are in the scene that it was playing with and I definitely got very emotional writing the lyrics and when it’s an opening song, it’s different from when it’s an insert song. This time, it’s an insert song and when it’s an insert song, it plays behind the scene so it really represents the story and the emotions and the characters and so yeah, when I imagine my fans seeing the movie, I hope that they feel the depths of the song.

Q: What motivates you to continue what you’re doing right now? Is it because of your fans, passion, or any other factors?

A: Hands down, what motivates me the most are my listeners, my fans. Without them, I can’t really be doing music. I love music, but I love my fans more than I love my music and it means everything that they listen to what I have to create and the messages that I hope to express and my favourite aspect in doing music is the concerts, the lives, because I get to share the moment with my fans, and it gives me so much power and inspiration to be able to see everyone rocking out to my songs, and so I hope, I’m going to try really hard at today’s concert not to cry, because I get really emotional when I do my lives, so I’m really looking forward to today’s concert in Singapore.



Q: Now that you’ve performed overseas a couple of times, is there anything about your overseas fans that you’ve noticed that’s kind of different from your Japanese fans, and is there anything you’ve learned about performing from your overseas fans that you find interesting?

A: Until I went overseas, I didn’t really realize how different every culture is and how special every culture is, and when I went to Germany and Taiwan and Indonesia and now Singapore, I noticed that each crowd is so different and in a good way, and that really pumps me up that my concerts, to be able to just create something and share a moment that is just one of a kind. I think all concerts are, sort of, it’s not [?] in practice, but concerts, the good thing about concerts is that you don’t know what’s going to happen, you don’t know how the crowd is going to react each time and so it’s just really like experience. And so each time I go to a different country it’s so exciting for me, I can’t even express in words right now how happy I am to receive so much support from my fans.

Q: You said that each country is kind of different, so I was wondering if there was anything that stood out for you from your viewpoint about any particular country.

A: For example, yeah, the reactions from the fans are always different, like for example, in Japan, fans tend to be a little, sort of, shy sometimes, but when I went to Germany, for example, I could hear the voices from the crowd the entire concert, and that really was special for me, though of course, shyness isn’t bad, it’s also very, I feel the love in that, but you know, when everyone’s singing along with me and screaming and it was just exciting, a lot of adrenaline and power, so Germany for example was really just exciting, fired-up, and then when I want to Taiwan, Taiwan was also very exciting but different from Germany. I think Japan is one of the quieter countries! So I’m really expecting Singapore to be really fired-up too.

J-Network: I’m sure many of us here would think of listening to some songs when we feel happy, or sad, or when we experience certain moments in our life. Having written and performed your own songs before, have you ever felt like listening to any of your songs when you experience something in your everyday life? Any interesting examples you may want to share?

A: I think, you know, music is a worldwide thing and it’s one of the special tools in life that crosses borders and countries and nationalities, and you do not really have to understand what the lyrics are saying to experience the emotion that the song has, and I think everyone in this world, somewhere in their life, they’ve been touched or moved or helped by music, and that was why I do music because I hope to be able to reach out and touch even one soul in the world. I don’t really care what country they’re from, it doesn’t matter to me as long as they’re touched by the song and perhaps helped, so I’ve definitely been so helped by music in the past, and that’s why I feel that it’s my job to be able to return that now to the next generation of listeners. So I just think music is so special, it helps us all. Thank you so much, thank you. Thank you very much.

-grayingmantis and lestrrr

Sources: Flying Dog’s YouTube channel, nano’s official website

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