J-Pop Exchange Exclusive Interview with Naomi Tamura
Transcript from: http://www.jpopexchange.net/Naomi_Tamura_JPop_Exchange_Exclusive_Interview.htm
Original Air Date: 3/17/2012
SeanBird (J-Pop Exchange): Hi Naomi, thank you for taking time to speak with us…
Naomi Tamura: First of all, I am pleased to be here today and thank you very much for this great chance! Thank you very very much from the bottom of my heart. Although, I'm curious about how you knew about me… how did SeanBird know about me? Maybe after my participation in one of the remarkable festival named "Ota-con", which is a huge festival of Japanese culture… or maybe I should say which 'became' part of the famous Japanese culture, anime or animation, last July? Anyway, I really appreciate this wonderful chance, thank you very much, and I'd like to start answering the questions.
SeanBird: If you don’t mind, please tell us something about where you were born and where you grew up. Was it in a large city or a smaller town?
Naomi Tamura: I was born in Aichi, Japan. How can I explain about Aichi prefecture…. hm… there is a very fast train named, Shinkansen (bullet train) in Japan, and on that train it's about a 2-hour ride west from Tokyo. I think it's quite a big city, because when people name 7 big cities in Japan, Aichi is always represented in the list; and when artists from overseas come to tour Japan, they always go to Tokyo, Nagoya and Osaka because these are the big cities where many people live. By the way, Nagoya is the biggest city in the Aichi prefecture… and somehow the name Nagoya is more popular than the name of the prefecture, Aichi. So, I think the place where I was born and raised was quite a big city, and the place where my house is located is about 15 to 20 minutes by car from the center of Nagoya city. There still are some nature preserves around this area. To be honest, until I moved to Tokyo, I thought of my home town as a really big city. However, compared to Tokyo, my hometown is not such a big city and I even started to feel it's simply a rural district area. And I spent my childhood just like normal kids. None of my family members was really into music, nor was there anyone who worked as a singer or song writer… so my family members think I was born with a mutation. I guess that's it about my childhood and my hometown.
SeanBird: How and when did you decide to pursue a career in music? Was it always your intention to pursue a career in music?
Naomi Tamura: Well… I personally think my consciousness as a professional started growing only after I became a professional. Until I became pro-, I simply loved music. When I was in junior high, there was a 1-year older 'sempai' - he was a guy – who had a band and when I first saw their band performance I instantly thought, "What is this! It's so cool!!" and wished to do the same with girl band members. When I became a high school student, I formed a girl band, and that became the basic structure of my band that led us to Tokyo a few years later. So I went out to Tokyo with the members of my band, 'Pearl', we and made our debut. Although this band broke up, and after that, I became a solo singer with my name, Naomi Tamura. I think it was around that time that I determined to become a pro-solo singer. When you're in a band, you share both happiness and sadness together with 4 or 5 members, but if you are a solo singer you must accept and understand everything all by yourself. So… I think, when I became a solo singer, I became aware of the professional attitude, distinctly different from the simple "like! or love music!!" kind of feeling that I had when I was in a band. I recognized myself gaining more responsibilities and consciousness to stand on a more professional footing, like today. When I think back about when I formed a band or performed in live venues, I think I had a feeling of "I want to become a pro", so maybe I can say that my attitude on 'pro-' has grown, step by step. And this feeling is still growing today… how can I say… like, I think my professionalism has grown more each year … so, over time, I think consciousness of "pro-" will grow forever. I think there were 2 big turning points in my life. The 1st was when I came to Tokyo, and the 2nd was when I became a solo singer.
SeanBird: Who are your musical influences?
Naomi Tamura: As I already told you, none of my family members was very interested in music, so the 1st musical impact was given by my 'sempai', a 1-year older guy who showed me a band performance for the first time in my life. After forming my own band, I watched and learned a lot from older musicians I met at live venues and I guess they influenced me a lot. And there's a person who I love… and that person is a Japanese singer, and that person respects and loves a vocalist named, Janis Joplin. This female singer is already dead though… and I've been influenced a lot by this person, Janice. The first band I formed is named after her last album, "Pearl". There is a track without her vocal in this album and … I think this track makes this album even more interesting… . Anyway, I love this album so much I decided to name my band after this album. I loved and respected her that much. At the beginning… how can I say… I like the way she delivered her voice instinctively and I used to think, "the way she sings is very feminine and I love it;" but as I worked more on my singing career, I started to love not only the way how she uses her voice like a wind instrument, but also the way she sings gentle melody, a bit like how country singers do; I guess I'm more interested in the way she sings ballads in such a cool way, these days.
SeanBird: What music do you listen to?
Naomi Tamura: hm… I like songs with good melody and harmony a lot. I also like J-Pop but, I like '70s music the most. Currently I am very much in to the … ah… Eagles. lol After they regrouped… or maybe we don't say 'regrouped' in their case… I like the grown up Eagles and the albums of Rod Stuart… the album that has many ballads in it is my most favorite and I listen to it a lot these days.
SeanBird: Yuzurenai Negai or Unyielding Wish is the first opening theme song to the anime “Magic Knight Rayearth.” I find the song to be particularly impressive; I like it very much. Please tell us more about this song … your ideas and inspirations for it. And did this song serve as a theme song for “Magic Knight Rayearth”?
Naomi Tamura: Thanks for liking this song SeanBird, this song came out as an opening theme of the animation named, "Magic Knight Rayearth," and it started with an offer asking me to sing an opening theme for that animation. It was the time when I just started my new phase as a solo singer, right after closing my Rock vocalist career, together with my band career, so I had a little hesitation on singing a song for animation. About the same time, I got a few days off and went back to my hometown, Nagoya. I walked into my room and thought back about my childhood, thinking what type of songs I listened to in my old days. And then, I realized how often I listened to the songs of animations. I was a girl who spent many times on my own lol and, I don't know if you know something called, Sonosheet (flexible record) which was very thin like a cellophane paper… well not as thin as a paper though… anyway, there used to be a very thin record as such and I used to play it and sing along when I was small. I found a huge pile of these Sonosheet’s in my room, which my Mom decided to keep, and most of these songs were the ones from animations. Until that time, I didn't realize how much I loved animation! And I also thought back about my childhood and remembered about those early years I started watching TV, and the first song that influenced me was a song that was a theme from an animation program. Then it must be a great honor to have a chance to sing an opening theme of such an influential thing! And if I had a confidence or pride in creating a good pop song of fairly good quality, I should accept this offer… and … ah… how can I put this into words… I still remember, "I'd love to be your very first music you ever heard and remember in your life" kind of feeling that pushed me forward. So, together with a strong determination, I came back to Tokyo and replied to this offer. And so, it started. While creating this opening theme of Rayearth, many people, I mean… really many people were involved during the creation process, and I had a feeling of something great is growing here… or how should I say, I could feel the gathering of the power and I could see how this power can expand and spread far and wide. So, this song "Yuzurenai Negai" is one of my most important songs. Whenever I receive a message that says, "I became your fan after hearing 'Yuzurenai Negai' ", or "Please keep singing this song" it is my most pleasant moment and it always reminds me about the day I decided to accept this offer and to sing the theme of Rayearth, and it was a right decision.
SeanBird: In addition to the anime “Magic Knight Rayearth,” you’ve also performed three songs for Pokémon and those songs were “Ready Go”, “New Pledge” and “Full of Summer”, what were your inspirations and / or motivations behind those three songs?
Naomi Tamura: These songs were written for another anime, Pokémon. It was when I was performing in concert somewhere, and someone from the Pokémon staff was watching that show, and came up to me and asked me if I would be interested in singing and writing lyrics. Hm… how can I say, it was a similar situation to when I worked for Rayearth, and I thought if I'm singing a good song, and I am delivering a good performance, I should accept this offer and take part in this project. I enjoyed singing together with kids for the song, "Ippai Summer" ("Full of Summer"). And when I think back about that experience, I was very much motivated by the kids. Also, to write lyrics… ah… to write lyrics for something that already has a good reputation and image, there is a certain direction to follow, so it was hard work to write lyrics that fit in to the image, and I like both… to write lyrics freely, and also in a case like this, when you’re given a direction … maybe I can put it into words like… "please express yourself on this road", type of works. It is very challenging and enjoyable to think how I can express myself on a narrow road I was given. So, it was a great pleasure to work on this Pokémon project. After finishing this work, I felt that I could move 1 step forward thorough this project. I also met many people while I was involved with this project, and this is one of the most unforgettable parts. SeanBird: Do you have any current or upcoming projects that you would like to talk about?
Naomi Tamura: Well, I've already done quite a lot of things until today. I think I will be singing all the past songs, including the songs I have written or sung for animation. Maybe you’d be surprised but, I also like Jazz very much. So, I'd like to sing Jazz or old Japanese songs, which we commonly call 'Shouka', since I love these types of songs as well. Maybe… I think in this way because I'm a singer though- and as a singer… music doesn't really have genre. As my ambition, I would love to sing many different types of songs. As I said earlier in this interview, I like the songs of animation, so I'd like to sing these songs to overseas audiences if I could have any chance to sing. So, SeanBird, if you ever know of such opportunities, please let me know! lol
SeanBird: Thank you again Naomi for taking time out of your busy schedule to speak with us; good luck with everything!
Naomi Tamura: It's my pleasure. I deeply appreciate this great chance. I hope to see you in person someday! Thanks again, and this is Naomi Tamura speaking.
I forgot to tell you something very important! lol I hope you can follow my activities through my official website. Please check, tamuranaomi.com! And also, there's a button to email me at [email protected] I'd be happy to receive messages from you, and maybe I can come to your city and sing if you can keep sending me requests from there. So, don't forget to check my website. Okay… I guess I haven't forgotten to leave another message… See you soon! bye- bye!!