Interview with MELL

interview - 09.02.2010 00:01

JaME met with the anime theme song singer MELL to talk about how she is realizing her dream.

The day after a stunningly energetic performance at the second largest anime convention in the US, Otakon, the lively MELL, a popular anime theme singer, met with JaME to talk about how she’s living her dream.

Thank you for meeting with us. Please introduce yourself to our readers.

MELL: I’m MELL and I’m here from Japan. I sing mainly anime theme songs in Japan. Last August, I released my first full album and went on a tour in Japan, six locations. This year, I was invited here as a guest of Otakon so I’m hoping I can sing Japanese anime songs here just like I do in Japan and sort of bring my Japanese concerts here to the US. “Black Lagoon” is an anime that I sing the theme song to that’s on air here in America!

Where does the name MELL come from?

MELL: I didn’t come up with this name, actually! (laughs) There’s someone who writes my songs for me, my producer Kazuya Takase, he’s the person that came up with the name. From what he tells me, there’s really no story behind it, it’s just a name that popped into his head (laughs).

How has your experience here at Otakon been so far?

MELL: Oh it’s been absolutely fabulous so far! I look at all the cosplayers around and they’re all so beautiful. The cosplays at the live yesterday were fantastic. It was amazing how high the energy was.

Was it anything like what you had expected?

MELL: It was far larger than I anticipated! I was really surprised at the size of this event.

How did you get interested in pursuing music as a career?

MELL: I liked singing as a little girl in chorus. There was a Swedish band that I like a great deal. I listened to them all the time as a child. Then there was a show called MTV Music Video in Japan and watching that show, it really just showed me how much of an expressive freedom there is in music. I’m very much influenced by American music videos.

Would you say your music is centred around a specific concept?

MELL: My main thing is to express all sorts of emotions that people feel, not just limit myself to one little box and instead, to try to see how much emotion I can put into each individual song.

You work with Kazuya Takase to write your music, how does this partnership work?

MELL: Well, we’ve been working together for over ten years and I’ve had the opportunity to sing a lot of his songs. Right now, we sort of understand what the other person wants made without having to discuss anything so we can sort of dive into our work. Our music together in Japan is called “I’ve Sound.” Takase is the producer for all songs created within I’ve Sound. He’s created countless hundreds of songs, five, six hundred – I’m not sure how many, but he’s been the producer for all of them!

What inspires your lyrics?

MELL: I try to preserve the melody as much as I can. I listen to the melody and think about what kind of emotions the listener would feel and I try to place lyrics to the song that helps bridge the melody and that emotion.

Your lyrics aren't only limited to Japanese. For example, RIDEBACK has both a Japanese and an English version. Was this done to express something different between the two versions?

MELL: It’s really surprising but the Japanese and the English versions of the song are to the same melody but the messages I’m singing through them are different. In the Japanese lyrics, those were written to see how much I, as a Japanese singer, could share with the Japanese audience while the English lyrics are more true to the story. It’s surprising how different they came out!

At the end of last year, you held your first live tour called “Scope.” What was that like? Could you share with us your most memorable moment from the tour?

MELL: Ah! (laughs) It was my first solo tour and I think all my fans were dying of anticipation! It was just awesome how great they all were! I was very happy with just how much everyone enjoyed my tour but at the same time, it was my first solo tour so I was very nervous. I kept screwing things up, for example, the day of our checkout from our hotel in Fukuoka, I forgot that it was the day we were supposed to check out! (laughs) I went downstairs to meet up with everybody with all my luggage still in my room and when I got down there, everyone was all packed and ready to go and they were like, “Oh, MELL, aren’t you going to Nagoya with us? Or are you staying here in Fukuoka by yourself?” (laughs) There are many stories like that from my solo tour!

Your PVs always seem to have a dark feel to them. Who comes up with the concepts for your PVs?

MELL: The messages in them basically come from the Japanese lyrics. We try to capture a different angle of those songs for the PVs, so we have the director for the video listen to the song and then he tries to realize his image for the song so it’s a different way of looking at the same song. My PVs tend to be very adventurous and I like shooting them a great deal, I like when they’re really shocking (laughs). Actually, I’m wondering, from the standpoint of the American audience, what do you think of my PVs? Did you think I’d be a scary person from watching them? (laughs)

No, I don’t think your audience here thinks that! (laughs) The videos are very interesting and make you want to see more.

MELL: I’m very happy to hear that! (laughs) I’m sorry that my English accent is very bad!

Actually, it’s quite good!

MELL: (laughs) I’ll keep practicing hard! But I am really happy that people watch my music videos and listen to my songs, thank you so much!

Do you have any future plans you could share with us?

MELL: At the beginning of the new year, I’m going to start working on a new album so there will be lots of recording. We’re going to try real hard to make it a new album so once it comes out, hopefully we’ll have another live tour. Maybe for that tour, I’m hoping we can come back to the US and maybe other places around the world!

Lastly, please give a message for your fans.

MELL: I am one of many Japanese singers to have been influenced by American music. Back when I was first listening to American music, I could never have imagined that Japanese animation would one day become so popular here in the United States. I’m very excited that this has happened! I’m hoping that through this cultural exchange, we can strengthen the friendship between Japan and the US and that this can lead to further happiness for people all around the world. It’s like I’m living a dream!

Thank you!

MELL: Thank you!

JaME would like to thank Alyce Wilson, Otakon and MELL for making this interview possible and Melony for the photos
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MELL 17/07

Baltimore, MD - United States of America
Baltimore Convention Center
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