The VOCALOID Assortment, also referred to as VocaColle, is a biannual occasion that includes Vocaloid submissions, held each spring and autumn. Entrants compete to assert prime rankings in 5 completely different classes: “TOP100,” “Rookies,” “REMIX,” “Enso Shitemita,” and “MMD&3DCG.” The primary songs within the TOP100 and the Rookies classes are included within the “Challenge SEKAI Colourful Stage! feat. Hatsune Miku” smartphone sport. There may be additionally a Chokaigi 2023 Theme Track contest, a VocaColle & UtaColle & OdoColle collaborative mission, and lots of different methods to get pleasure from Vocaloid tradition.
We interviewed Yuri Kuriyama, a Vocaloid producer and a member of Van de Store, within the days main as much as this yr’s VocaColle. He talked concerning the Vocaloid songs and producers that influenced him, the way forward for the Vocaloid scene, and extra.
We requested you to pick which of the numerous Vocaloid songs have made an enormous impression on you and influenced your personal work. One tune you talked about was “Soften” (2007). This was the tune that led to the formation of supercell, a gaggle of creators led by Vocaloid producer ryo.
Yuri Kuriyama: Loads of the primary Vocaloid songs had actually quick vocals or had vocal melodies that hit notes human singers couldn’t attain. In different phrases, there have been features of them that leveraged the distinctive capabilities of the software program. “Soften” was completely different. It was a considerably laid again tune. It’s a beautiful tune that might be nice even when sung by a human singer, and I feel it actually exhibits what makes ryo such a gifted producer. Hatsune Miku’s pitch within the tune can be fantastic. Within the early days of the scene, there have been lots of songs the place the pitch was just a little bit off, and that all the time felt awkward to me. There’s none of that in “Soften.” It feels very pure. Amongst supercell’s songs, I notably like “Juuzoku Ningen” and “Kimi no Shiranai Monogatari.” ryo was one of many first artists to interrupt out from the Vocaloid scene to the main music scene.
“final Night time good Night time” (2008) is a tune from livetune, kz’s solo unit. “Matryoshka” (2010) is one in all Hachi’s most well-known songs. Hachi later started releasing songs as Kenshi Yonezu, turning into one in all Japan’s prime artists.
Kuriyama: With “final Night time good Night time,” kz utilized Auto-Tune to Hatsune Miku. Once I met him in individual and requested him why he used Auto-Tune, he advised me “as a result of the pitch was bothering me,” which made lots of sense. This tune is what made me like Hatsune Miku’s voice, and what acquired me actually into the Vocaloid scene. It influenced me rather a lot, to the purpose that I feel it will be truthful to say that if this tune hadn’t existed, I wouldn’t have listened to Vocaloid music.
Hachi’s “Matoryoshka” is, for me, the platonic perfect of the sort of Vocaloid tune I like. It makes use of the “MaruSa chord development” (a chord development continuously utilized in J-pop songs like Shiina Ringo’s “Marunouchi Sadistic”), however it’s doing one thing actually new with it.
I feel the drum line of “THE WORLD END UMBRELLA” is absolutely attention-grabbing.
You’d want 4 arms to really play it dwell (laughs). The association is one which’s solely doable as a result of it was made on a pc. I like how the feelings of the tune come throughout so immediately. “Wonderland to Histujinouta” is one other instance of how a lot of an influence Hachi has had on the Vocaloid scene.
There’s additionally “Nihonbashi Koukashita R Keikaku” (2012) by Shizen no Teki-P (Jin) and “Kimi no Taion” by Kuwagata-P.
Kuriyama: Jin’s Kagerou Challenge was simply wonderful. (The Kagerou Challenge is a mixed-media mission with novels, comics, and anime all primarily based on Jin’s music.) Plus, not one of the songs sound alike. The chord progressions are completely different, the sounds are completely different, they usually’re all nice songs. “Nihonbashi Koukashita R Keikaku” was a beautiful fusion of a tune and an anime music video. The music movies for the Vocaloid songs that got here out earlier than that had been typically single static illustrations or very handmade-feeling animations, and I imply that in a great way. Once I noticed the “Nihonbashi Koukashita R Keikaku” music video, I believed “Wow, that’s skilled!” (laughs)
“Kimi no Taion” featured each piano and guitar. I feel it additionally used the MaruSa chord development, however it put the piano half out in entrance, and that confirmed me a brand new strategy. I feel that it affected my very own preparations.
You additionally listed Sasanomaly and sasakure.UK as artists from the Vocaloid producer scene that you just favored.
Kuriyama: Sasanomaly was once a Vocaloid producer going by the title Neko Boro. His songs are nice, however so is his sound manufacturing and mixing. Mixing includes a number of levels, and if you do it you’re desirous about alternative ways the music shall be heard — from earphones, headphones, audio system, and so forth. Sasanomaly sounds good irrespective of the way you’re listening. I like lots of his songs, however final summer season I had “sport of life feat. Boku no Lyric no Boyomi” on repeat. He was additionally in a band referred to as Dios, and I’ve been impressed by the breadth of his musical actions.
I additionally love sasakure.UK! Everyone in our band (Van de Store) actually likes UK Rampage (the band headed by sasakure.UK). He’s each a Vocaloid producer and a band member, and his approach in each is nice. I’ve all the time needed do the sorts of issues Sasakure.UK is doing, and I had so many questions for him once I truly met him. (laughs)
You additionally stated that syudou, Yoh Kamiyama, nulut, and Harumaki Gohan resonate with you.
Kuriyama: They’re energetic Vocaloid producers, energetic as soloists utilizing the identical title, creating new models with completely different names, and the like. They’ve all acquired their very own completely different approaches, however what all of them share in frequent is that they write and sing their very own songs.
I’m certain they’ve diverse causes for that, however for me there have been undoubtedly sounds I might study whereas working with Vocaloid and sounds I might study from altering my strategy and surroundings, which made me understand that I can get pleasure from music at an excellent deeper stage.
I feel the broader your music horizons are, the higher. I need to create Vocaloid songs that replicate what I’ve realized, not simply following some template.
For models made up of a Vocaloid producer and a feminine singer, like YOASOBI or DUSTCELL, if you happen to merely have a look at their construction, it’s the identical as a music producer and the Vocaloid software program, however it appears like they’re creating new sounds you could’t hear in typical Vocaloid songs. If individuals acquire an appreciation for Vocaloid by studying of it by means of them, that might be fantastic.
Who is aware of, someday Yonezu could be like, “I’m again!” and launch one other Vocaloid tune. The Vocaloid scene is a very free, enjoyable scene proper now.
The variety of Vocaloid producers who’re making music for idols and bands is on the rise, and we’re seeing lots of style crossovers.
Kuriyama: Proper. Once I’m writing music for my band, I’m typically considering “I need to make a Vocaloid tune,” and vice versa. It’s enjoyable bouncing backwards and forwards between the expressive types of individuals and the expressive types of software program. It’s like switching backwards and forwards between consuming potato chips and chocolate. (laughs)
Let’s speak a bit about your personal music. First, there’s “Limelight” (2017). You posted this underneath the artist title “Hachiya Nanashi,” and it was your first tune to succeed in a million performs. It’s an electroswing tune, a style you’re notably keen on.
Kuriyama: Electroswing was initially made by taking swing jazz samples or new songs primarily based in swing jazz after which transforming them with an electro really feel. Not too long ago, there’s been lots of pop with a swing really feel that’s created completely on the pc, however I’m extra within the former strategy. I like truly performing the music, utilizing an outdated mic to file it, after which deliberately degrading the sound high quality. I made “Limelight” that approach, alone. In fact, I acquired assist from some musician colleagues, however I needed to tackle the challenges of songwriting and association alone, working off solely my very own concepts. There are parts of glitch hop and dubstep, and I feel it got here out as an attention-grabbing tune.
Once you uploaded “Neurosis” (2019), you commented that it was your “old flame tune.” “Jitterbug” (2019) was a enjoyable tune, a brand new evolution in electroswing.
Kuriyama: I wrote “Neurosis” once I was affected by a damaged coronary heart. So far as genres go, it’s 200 BPM rock. I didn’t actually suppose too deeply about it, I simply did what I felt like once I made the tune. I used a Les Paul guitar, and it had a little bit of a wierd tone.
With “Jitterbug,” I made a decision to again to electroswing once more, primarily based on what I’d performed with “Limelight.” The rhythm was actually tough, and when the tune was included within the sport “Challenge DIVA MEGA39’s,” there have been individuals complaining on Twitter that “Jitterbug” was too arduous. I’m not superb at rhythm video games, so I used to be considering “I understand how you are feeling!” (laughs)
In March 2022, you uploaded “Pheles,” which had parts of each jazz and rock. The mysterious lyrics and feeling additionally actually stand out.
Kuriyama: I wrote the tune for “GABULI,” a masked battle manga mission, and I feel I actually conveyed the sensation of GABULI’s world. I put distorted guitars entrance and heart, and gave the tune a swing really feel. It’s acquired a “rock-swing” groove, so I feel I used to be in a position to obtain one thing new with it. I don’t need to repeat myself if in any respect doable. I need to strive new approaches, and if there’s one thing I used to be unable to do prior to now, I need to overcome that hurdle.
You could have lots of songs with a dwell instrumental really feel to them, which should take lots of time and value a bit of cash.
Kuriyama: I could be a little bit of an outlier within the Vocaloid world. My pals will inform me, “As a substitute of going into the studio for hours and paying all that cash to file dwell components, wouldn’t it’s higher to simply go surfing and search for samples?” Or they’ll say, “You’re actually focusing and dealing on that half, however do you actually suppose listeners will even discover?” I find yourself considering, “Yeah, possibly,” and I typically really feel a bit dumb for focusing a lot on some particulars (laughs), however I’m assured that there are individuals on the market who will perceive what I’m doing.
What future do you see for the Vocaloid scene?
Kuriyama: I really feel like Vocaloid fads and “meta” templates change in two yr cycles. In fact, there are some fantastic chords and types that by no means change. Over the previous couple of years, I’ve been feeling like there’s been lots of programmed melodies and EDM-like songs, and never a lot dwell instrumentation. However these days there’s been an increase within the variety of songs which can be making an attempt new issues, and I’m discovering songs that match my present tastes. I like the sensation proper now that everybody’s doing what they do as a result of they honestly need to. They’re all bringing their ardour and placing out what they actually like. I really feel like we’re going to be seeing much more new issues popping out quickly.
In closing, might you share your personal expectations for VocaColle?
Kuriyama: I’ve all the time felt that Nico Nico Douga is the true dwelling of Vocaloid. I’m comfortable that this occasion that sprang from Niconico Chokaigi remains to be being held. Nonetheless, it’s additionally come to really feel like a gateway to success for individuals who need to make a dwelling by means of music, and getting all uptight and specializing in views and likes takes away from the enjoyable magic of the occasion. It takes the joys away. Individuals can get pleasure from it nevertheless they need to, after all, however I’d prefer it to be extra of a carnival, extra of an uninhibited occasion.
I like carnivals myself, and when individuals who like Vocaloid come collectively as a result of they suppose one thing’s enjoyable or attention-grabbing, it actually makes the environment electrical.
—This interview by Tomoyuki Mori first appeared on Billboard Japan