Interview with ryo from supercell

interview - 10.11.2011 11:01

ryo from 11-member doujin group supercell shares his thoughts on the VOCALOID software Hatsune Miku and composing music.

supercell is a supergroup who first made it with their 2009 hit, Melt, featuring vocals from Hatsune Miku, a voice software program often used for vocals in compositions. ryo, the leader of supercell, kindly took the time to answer our questions about his work and use of VOCALOID.

Can you tell us about the beginnings of supercell? How did you form?

ryo: It all started from just posting Hatsune Miku songs at the popular video sharing site Nico Nico Douga in Japan.

The name supercell seems to refer to the enormous supercell cloud structure. How is that idea reflected in supercell? How did you choose this name?

ryo: The illustrations come with many of the Hatsune Miku songs and they tend to also get posted on the video sharing site. While speaking with the illustrators, I came up with the idea that it looks like a huge supercell in the way that the illustrations and the music crash into each other.

Can you break down how each illustrator's work is used?

ryo: We don’t really have rules; it just gets decided each time we do a project how the art will play a role.

VOCALOID ongaku is a new thing here for JaME. Can you describe it for us in a nutshell?

ryo: It’s a genre of music that lets you feel the groove and creativity. It’s amazing when you understand the lyrics of an awesome, cute girl like Hatsune Miku who sings and how she exists as an avatar.

What role does the website Nico Nico Douga and its community play for most VOCALOID ongaku?

ryo: Rather than a contribution, it was more like I was in the middle of the excitement with everybody and wanted to find a way to contribute to it. The Nico Nico community is tremendously important for fans and creators.

ryo, you compose all of supercell’s music and primarily use VOCALOID software. What process do you go through to create a song using the software?

ryo: It really depends on the mood I’m in. I usually imagine the way Miku sings and whether she’s mad or crying or laughing. It’s all rooted in emotions and the process grows from there.

What is your thought process when composing music? Do you work with a central theme for a song or begin with a few lines that stick and work around that?

ryo: This also depends on my mood. Whatever way I start, my belief is that in the end the lyrics are the most important thing.

What makes a good VOCALOID song in your opinion? Does it have a particular sound or convey a certain feeling?

ryo: I think whether the person who’s making the song feels it’s good or not is what matters most. And also, if the VOCALOID sound matches the character’s singing voice it’ll be even better and more genuine.

Often in your work, you have used Hatsune Miku over other VOCALOID software. What part of Hatsune Miku appeals to you? Is it her range or pitch?

ryo: Of course liking Miku herself comes first, but I always remember the uplifting feeling I got when I discovered VOCALOID and the new ways it allowed me to create music. That may be the reason and it’s what I can never forget.
Have you had a chance to use other VOCALOID software besides Hatsune Miku? If so, what are your thoughts?

ryo: I’d like to try something with a male voice; that would be interesting.

Apart from sounding different, are there major differences between each of the VOCALOID software types?

ryo: It may be different from what you imagine from the visuals.

Although it is still in production, an English version of Hatsune Miku will be released in the near future. Do you think that by using an English-language VOCALOID your music will also reach a larger international audience?

ryo: Yes, I hope so!

To date, you have worked with numerous doujin singers such as nagi. How do you choose which singer you will work with?

ryo: It depends on the circumstances when we finish making an album. We like to try new things and having different singers allows me to explore different emotions and types of lyrics and music.

Can you tell us about your latest split single, Sekiranun Graffiti / Fallin’ Fallin’ Fallin feat. Hatsune Miku with Dixie Flatline? What are the songs about and what inspired you for each song?

ryo: For the choruses, the VOCALOIDs are singing as a big choir. I don’t intend to make this a four-on-the-floor type of sound, but I think it’s a good song to listen to while driving. I’d be happy if our fans like it.

Both sides of Seikiranun Graffiti / Fallin’ Fallin’ Fallin‘s cover art show a slender Hatsune Miku, rendered in a simple style. On one side, Miku is seated atop a creature in the sky, flying and on the other, she is surrounded by heart shaped leaves while sitting on a bench. How does the album art reflect the tone of the music?

ryo: Yes. This was inspired by both summer and fall. The song titles are a subtle play on words as well.

The VOCALOID Hatsune Miku is seen singing as a 3D hologram in a concert. Would you be interested in joining her place in the spotlight?

ryo: If I have time I would!

Hatsune Miku held a concert in Los Angeles July. Did you expect that there would be fans of supercell in the United States?

ryo: I didn’t really ever imagine it. I heard that WORLD IS MINE feat. Hatsune Miku has had a good reaction and I hope fans there continue to enjoy our music.

Will supercell perform abroad? Are there any countries you would like to perform in?

ryo: Even in Japan I’ve only performed once, so I may need to start from Japan first, but if I could, I would love to perform in the US.

How do you think VOCALOID music will reach the mainstream and people that have no interest in anime or Japanese pop culture?

ryo: I guess it’s something that’s not really interesting for anyone who doesn’t really have a genuine interest. As VOCALOID music continues to achieve popularity, there will be people against it and it’s the same in Japan. But I think in the end the genre is very interesting and allows tremendous creativity. I also enjoy the community that has been built up around VOCALOID by fans, artists, programmers and other musicians.

What are your plans for supercell in the near future?

ryo: To make good music.

Any final messages?

ryo: I hope to announce more and more anime and VOCALOID music very soon! Thank you for giving me the interview!

JaME would like to thank supercell and Erik Jansen for making this interview possible.
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