Stepping Into the Light: An Interview with Aimer

Aimer is on a roll. With her latest album, daydream, hitting second on the Oricon charts and engaging in collaborations with some of the top names in the Japanese music industry, Aimer is a young songstress to look out for. Having achieved so much in a year such as her first solo overseas performance in Taipei’s ATT Showbox, her sold out national hall tour and various music releases, there were many questions with regards to her collaborations, feelings as an artiste and someone who has recently stepped into the light. Find out more about what Aimer has to say about her career in 2016 so far!

Q: This year, you have just concluded your first solo overseas concert and your sold-out national hall tour. Do you have any plans to have more solo concerts overseas and to move into bigger venues such as arenas in Japan?
Aimer: Next year, I’m going back to Singapore and soon Hong Kong so I hope for more opportunities to go overseas and perform.

Q: You have performed in Taipei and are set to perform in Singapore today. How do you feel about performing overseas?
Aimer: When I went to Taiwan for my first overseas one-man show, I noticed that all the audience who came had a very strong, passionate energy. I hope through my performance, I can give back this same energy that everyone is giving me too.

Q: Your music career was marked by many collaborations with famous artistes this year. What were some fun moments and challenges doing these inter-artistes collaborations?
Aimer: There were a lot of fun episodes. Each time I collaborate with a different artiste, each will have a different vocal direction. Like taka from ONE OK ROCK who has very good English pronunciation and gave me a lot of direction in pronouncing some words etc. So it was really fun and a good experience for me.

Q: You have done covers of English language songs as well as creating your own original songs. What are the challenges for singing covers as compared to original songs?
Aimer: When I released my cover album, I used a lot of original music that are more in the dance genre and I put a jazz twist to it. Maybe one difficulty I had is to make sure that nobody is tied down to the original song. People would hear the lyrics and recognise the original song but I hope people will as though it is a new song through my taste, my colour and essence in the cover.

Q: You had to take a break from singing when you were 15 years old. Can you describe your emotions during that time, how you overcame this difficulty and what gave you the inspiration and strength to overcome it?
Aimer: At that time, I actually lost my voice. Not being able to sing was like a big wall that suddenly came in front of me. It actually made me want to sing even more and I realised how much I loved music. There might have been a possibility that I might not even be able to sing anymore. However, being able to overcome it and sing again made me realise maybe it was not too difficult because I was able to overcome it and realise the love and passion I have towards singing.

Q: Last year, you mentioned that you really wanted to collaborate with chelly from EGOIST because you loved her vocals. Can you please share with us more about this collaboration experience?
Aimer: 
Before that, I really loved chelly’s voice and wanted to work with her. I worked with Hiroyuki Sawano a lot and this time, I was going to sing a new song. What if all three of us worked on the song together? Then, my dream came true. I got to hear chelly do the recording and singing and it was really stimulating for me.

Q: You have sung songs in English and Japanese. Do you plan to sing songs in other languages as well?
Aimer: In my first live in Taiwan, I wanted to try Chinese but found the Chinese language to be very challenging. Maybe one day, I can do a cover of a popular song in Chinese to put my own twist to it to challenge myself to a new language as well.

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Q: Can you tell us more about your creative process when you collaborate with other artistes and how do you and them managed to weave distinct music styles together? (Ling Tosite Sigure’s tk and RADWIMPS’ Yojiro Noda*)
Aimer: I managed to meet Yojiro Noda through taka from ONE OK ROCK who said that Yojiro Noda had a song that he would like me to sing together with him. The song was already prepared in a sense, making it quite relaxing but I was still happy to be able to join in the sessions like instrument recordings. Being able to join in the creative process and sing together with the instruments behind was a very enjoyable time. When Yojiro Noda joined in to sing in the last chorus as well, it was a really good collaboration.

For tk, I had always been a fan of his works. When we did the collaboration, the songs were kind of done, maybe not on the same level as RADWIMPS. We did the sessions together and we sat down to discuss arrangements, tweaks and all that and we were together to work towards the songs. For instance, in us, there is a very passionate part, that came about because I loved the way tk’s voice worked during those parts in his own songs. I also challenged myself to sing stronger, more passionately and with more power. I cannot give one template because each collaboration artiste is very different.

*tk collaborated for “Kowairo” and “us” in “daydream” while Yojiro Noda collaborated for “Chouchou Musubi”

Q: Do you have any role model in music or someone you admire?
Aimer: It’s a bit of a difficult question. In terms of lyrics, even if the song theme is about being happy, I try to find a contrast and add both happy and sad elements. Spitz has very unique lyrics with their happy songs with an essence of sadness or different edges.

Q: You have the AM series songs through 2AM, 3AM, 4AM. Are there any plans to continue with this theme?
Aimer: At 4AM, the series kind of came to an end and I don’t have any exact plans to continue. However, if there are any requests or big reponses for a continuation, something might come along?

Q: Many of your songs employ recurring celestial themes and imagery such as day and night, the sun, moon and stars. Where did you get the ideas to use them from?
Aimer: I love stargazing and night is my favourite time of day. At night, I spend a lot of time thinking and looking up at the sky. Even my debut song (Rokutosei no Yoru) is based off nighttime and the stars and moon. A lot of people also remarked that they could sense a bit of loneliness and sadness in my singing. With this feedback on my voice, whenever i make songs, I will incorporate everything and create a story into my songs, albums and singles. In Midnight Sun and Sleepless Nights, there is a strong celestial theme because it started with what I enjoyed doing.

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Q: Regarding your latest single, Akane Sasu/everlasting snow, is there any particular things you took as an inspiration for what you wanted to tell your listener?
Aimer: 
Because it was the ending song for Natsume Yūjin-chō Go, I took into consideration the storyline and landscape you might see in the anime, hence the nostalgic vibe. With the setting being closer to nature, I hope you can feel the scenery or feel like you are in the anime itself. Ever since daydream, it was as though a new adventure or episode in my life has ended and I was starting a new chapter in my life and that was something I incorporated into the song as well.

Q: How did you get the name “Aimer” and what does it mean?
Aimer: It’s a mix between a nickname that I had and a French word for love (Je t’aime). When I heard the name ‘aimer’, you can sense a little bit of sadness in the name and I was drawn to it, hence why I chose the name.

Q: Do you have any plans for 2017? Do you have any hints for us?
Aimer: 
This year, I was more ‘into the light’ and active in performing. In 2017, I will also be going overseas for performances and will be holding my acoustic tour around Japan. Prior to 2016, lot of my fans told me that I was more in the darkness and ‘by our side’ but in 2016, I was more in the spotlight and it inspired my fans to be in the light too. It really touched me. I hope that in 2017, I can challenge myself too and work together with my fans to become stronger together.

Q: Would you one day like to perform the theme song for an anime movie?
Aimer: Gundam Unicorn was an OVA, right? Does the upcoming Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress movie count as a movie? I really like Hayao Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli’s works. If it’s a song that I can express the words through my way, hopefully I can let everyone listen to my voice in music theaters as well.

Aimer is showing no signs of slowing down with her career. Rejuvenated and inspired by her fans, she is set to embark on an acoustic tour across Japan in early 2017 and will perform for Anisong Festival Live alongside established acts like Kalafina and GARNiDELiA. She will also be joining COUNTDOWN JAPAN 16/17 to usher in the new year. The team over at J-Network is definitely looking forward to seeing what she has to offer in 2017!

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