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VGD Interview with STEREOPONY at Sakura-Con 2012

Very Good Days had the privilege of interviewing Stereopony for the second year in a row, given shortly after the Stereopony Q&A panel on Saturday, April 7, 2012 at Sakura-Con 2012 (at the Washington State Convention Center, Seattle, Washington, USA). Stereopony has returned to the United States for the fourth year in a row and for their third anime convention performance. The last two years Stereopony performed at anime conventions on the east coast of the United States. This year they finally visited the west coast — Sakura-Con 2012 in Seattle, Washington. Accompanying Stereopony was MAO, Stereopony’s support guitarist for their More! More!! More!!! Tour. Stereopony made several appearances throughout the convention:

  • Opening Ceremonies (Click to view video.)
  • Concert
  • Autograph Panel #1
  • Q&A Panel
  • Autograph Panel #2
  • Photo Session
  • Signed Poster Raffle (Click to view video.)

What did you think about yesterday’s performance?

SHIHO: So exciting. Very funky. (Is my English right?)

AIMI: We had a good time. It was really fun.

NOHANA: It was really fun. I want to do it again.

How is performing at an anime convention different than performing at live houses or other more traditional venues?

SHIHO: Of course the size is different… They are both really fun.

AIMI: Although it depends on the capacity, audiences are generally close to us in live houses. In big venues, such as here, they are far from us, but we can meet so many people. Both are important for us.

I’m sure seeing fans in anime cosplay might be one of the more interesting aspects of performing at an anime convention. Are there any other notable performances throughout your career that you would consider memorable?

AIMI: Did he ask about what’s most surprising besides cos-play? But cos-play is most surprising. (laugh)

It’s very exciting to see STEREOPONY venture out to America to perform here in Seattle and three live houses located in California. What are your thoughts on the upcoming U.S. West Coast tour?

SHIHO: Hmm… We’re thinking much about how we can interact with the audiences while performing, what we can do especially because it’s a live house.

What preparation went into this tour?

AIMI: Preparation for coming to US? Does it answer the question if I say we rehearsed in the studio? Umm preparation…

SHIHO: I think it’s ok? He asked about what we did in Japan, right?

VGD: Yes.

SHIHO: We have been touring in Japan. While on the tour, we tried to make time to rehearse for the U.S. tour.

I’m sure you’re aware by now you have many fans all over the world. Do you like performing overseas?

SHIHO: I love it very much.

AIMI: I love it very much. I want to live in the United States.

Is there a penultimate gig you would like to perform at, such as Budokan or Tokyo Dome?

AIMI: Well… It’s not just because of the size. I want to hold a concert in Budokan, because I promised with someone to hold a concert there. I want to fulfill the promise one day.

We have noticed STEREOPONY has performed shows recently with a support guitarist. What has the experience been like with the additional support that differed from how it was before? Why was the addition made to your live shows?

AIMI: We have wanted to show more expression in our music, so we added a support guitar. And I sometimes sing with a hand mic. She [MAO] can make our sounds more powerful, and it’s so fun to play with her.

Your latest album More! More!! More!!! is a fantastic addition to an already strong discography. Can you tell us about the song writing and the recording that went into the new album?

SHIHO: Before we recorded the album, we had many serious discussions about it and studied it together.

Is there a particular song or songs that you’re especially proud of on this latest album?

NOHANA: (coughs) I can’t stop coughing…

SHIHO: I appreciate very much the completion of “Blowin’ in the wind.” We were supported by two guitarists when we made it. One of them is a member of serial TV drama, a Japanese rock band we respect very much. I think it has changed my life the most.

More! More!! More!!! begins with Introduction, a track written in English. Why did you write this message, and why did you choose to record it in English?

NOHANA: (NOHANA still cannot stop coughing and is escorted to another room)

AIMI: So, I made it with my message “Here we go! Let’s have fun! More and more! More! More!! More!!!” to get people excited to listen to the album.

More! More!! More!!! includes responses to “Hitohira no Hanabira” and “Sweet Blue.” Is there a story being told between those two songs and their counterparts “Hana Hiraku Oka” and “Amaryllis” respectively.

AIMI: Yeah, “Hana Hiraku Oka” is the answer song for “Hitohira no Hanabira.” The main character of “Hitohira no Hanabira” is a boy, so I wrote it from the point of view of a boy, and “Hana Hiraku Oka” was written from the point of view of a girl.

“Sweet Blue” was written before our debut. It was written about my idea when I spoke with adults from the urban city. Then “Amaryllis” was written about what I felt after I move to an urban city.

During last year’s interview in Boston, we were told there weren’t any plans on releasing your pre-debut songs. Can you tell us what encouraged you to re-record “Super Girl” and update its lyrcs?

AIMI: The theme of this album is “more (do), more (play), more…”, so we wanted to record this unreleased song and give our fans more than we ever gave them before.

Naturally, we have to ask, if “Super Girl” was released, is there hope for a future release of “Sayonara no Kisetsu?”

SHIHO: (laugh)

AIMI: Well, I can’t say right now… (laugh)< It was recently announced that you will be releasing your 11th single “stand by me” on May 30th. Can you tell us about this new song and its accompanying track “Okami?”

AIMI: Recently, we, STEREOPONY, really want to express the encouraging heart. “stand by me” shows strong will with appreciation for people who empower us and stand by us. “Okami” is a cover song by serial TV drama. I think it shows a new side of STEREOPONY.

In your tenth single Arigatou you included an acoustic version of your fifth single “Tsukiakari no Michishirube.” Why did you choose “Tsukiakari no Michishirube” as an acoustic track and is it difficult or fun to re-envision and rearrange an earlier track into an acoustic version?

AIMI: “Arigatou” shows our emotional feelings. It’s an important song for us. So, we were troubled in choosing a coupling song. Even though we tried to make another new song, it couldn’t express our feelings correctly. “Tsukiakari no Michishirube” is a very important song for us. It has a message — “Go ahead believing ourselves, even if it’s very hard” — and we wanted to play it again for ourselves. Then we recorded an acoustic version as the coupling song of “Arigatou.”

NOHANA: (NOHANA returns to the room)

2011 seemed to be an emotional year for STEREOPONY, considering the earthquake and remembering Nini through Tengoku Kara no Yell and “Arigatou.” How are these events going to shape STEREOPONY in the future?

AIMI: Yeah, “Arigatou”… It was completed at last with much support while “A Yell from Heaven” was being made. In the last year we made the song and the disaster occurred in japan, so I have thought about my life and the others’ lives frequently. Although humans are born, they’ll reach the end of their life one day. It made me think about such ideas, and about what I can do while I’m alive. Then I realized that I have to sing, and more aggressively, to keep working hard. I have to do what I can do now. So, it became clear what kind of music I should make.

Thank you so much once again for taking some time to speak with us. Would you say a final message for our members and your fans around the world?

AIMI: Although we’re in Japan, so many fans wait for us abroad. The support helps us so much, and we want to perform around the world. Music can connect people without words. It is very appreciated. Please encourage us, because we want to meet many fans with our music.

Very Good Days: Thank you.

STEREOPONY: Thank you.

 

Very Good Days would like to thank STEREOPONY and their staff (with special thanks to Ryu Takahashi and Nadeshiko Nakahara), Sony Music Japan, Jessica Sullivan, and Sakura-Con for making this Interview happen. We would also like to thank Dylan Rhoads (Nintendo of America Inc.) for his translation and additional assistance for this interview.



Images courtesy of Eddie Lai (Elsuke). Interview by Zachary Kopp (arcluna), Roderic Suarez (rsniteblaze), Eddie Lai (Elsuke), and Richard Pangilinan (Drahc). Additional translation by Hirokazu Tanaka (Hirotana)

 

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