Interview with Kalafina

interview - 05.21.2009 20:01

Kalafina answers a few questions for JaME before their performance at Anime Boston this weekend.

Though fairly new to the music scene, Kalafina, has already grown quite popular with their operatic styled pop-rock. This weekend, they will be holding a concert at Anime Boston, in the United States. The three members of the group were kind enough to take some time and share their thoughts with JaME. From working with composer Yuki Kajiura, the influence of anime in their music and their future plans, Kalafina offers clear and insightful answers.


Does the name Kalafina have any particular meaning? Who came up with it?

Kalafina: Our producer, Yuki Kajiura-san, is the one who came up with the name. It’s a coined word from the image of the music. We are often asked if the “Kala” part is taken from the film “Kara no Kyoukai,” but that’s not the case. I think the listeners could have their own interpretations.

When Kalafina first formed, what were your first impressions of each other? Was it difficult to work together, or was it easy right from the start?

Wakana: We learned about each other through work. They support me, both as good business and personal partners.

Keiko: When we first formed the group, I remember that I was able to work smoothly with Wakana. Our voices are so different, but it felt so good when they blended together!

Hikaru: Well the first impression was...Wakana had a beige or gold feel, and Keiko had a purple or black feel. I was nervous at first and didn't fully understand the others, but I’m now very happy to be able to work with this group.

Is anyone assigned to being a particular part, for example soprano, mezzo-soprano or contralto, or do you switch off for different songs?

Keiko: Basically, Wakana and Hikaru sing the soprano part, and I sing alto, but it depends on the song.

How did each of you become interested in music and singing? Did you always want to be a performer?

Wakana: I’ve always enjoyed singing since I was a kid, and I wanted to sing for someone, or for many people.

Keiko: I got interested through J-pop. I started singing and dancing as a child because I wanted to become a singer who could do both.

Hikaru: I grew up in a house where there was always music playing, so it was very natural for me. I decided that I’d become a singer when I was 3.

Hikaru, what made you decide to audition for Yuki Kajiura’s project?

Hikaru: I’ve been to a different audition held by Sony Music before, and the staff people from Sony later approached me to audition for Kalafina.

For Wakana and Keiko, is Kalafina very different from your work with FictionJunction? Do you think the songs are different, or the way you perform them?

Wakana: The biggest difference is that Kajiura-san is the main act with FictionJunction as opposed to Kalafina, where we present ourselves as a group of three. Perhaps with FictionJunction I could find myself more as an individual figure.

Keiko: Kalafina is a three-person group, and FictionJunction is Kajiura-san’s solo project, so this definitely leads to a different style of singing. I think that Kalafina has its own unique color in the music, so the approach is completely different compare to FictionJunction. The common thing is that it’s both very exciting!

Your fashion has a lot of lolita elements to it, is there any reason for this?

Wakana: I’m not conscious of the lolita fashion, but I think the gothic element works very well with the image of the music.

Keiko: We took some gothic element into our fashion in order to express the views of the songs. I hope to challenge various fashions in accordance to the images of the songs in the future.

Kalafina was originally formed to perform the songs for the animated movie adaptations of the “Kara no Kyoukai” (The Garden of Sinners) novels. Did you read the novels or watch the movies of “Kara no Kyoukai” before you began work as Kalafina?

Wakana: After passing the audition, I read the original novel and tried to link it with Kajiura-san’s music's image.

Keiko: I read the novel after passing the audition.

Hikaru: I bought and read the novel right after I became a member of Kalafina.

If so, do you think they have influenced the way you perform a song? And have you become more interested in the movies or novels?

Wakana: Yes, I think so. Especially with the song Kimi ga Hikari ni Kaeteiku (You Turn It into Light), I always recall the main character.

Keiko: Yes, it has influenced on our performance. When singing a song that’s used for the ending theme of “The Garden of Sinners,” I try to express the lyrics with my body movements!

Hikaru: Obviously, all these songs were composed for “The Garden of Sinners,” so I tried to express the inspiration I’ve received from the novel as well.

Kalafina: Of course, it made us even more interested, and we feel refreshed to come across this unique new view of the world. Every time we saw the film, we were all drawn into the combination of the pictures and the music.

Most of your work so far has been linked to an anime. Given the opportunity, would you like to release more singles that have no associations other than with Kalafina?

Wakana: Yes, I think that’s definitely a possibility. We’re expressionists through singing, so I think it’s great if we could individually work in various fields. Also, I hope that Kalafina will not only be specifically linked to anime, but rather recognized as a “Kalafina Sound” so that our music will reach out to even more people.

Keiko: Rather than thinking about our future activities, I hope that I can build a firm platform as Kalafina for now.

Hikaru: Kalafina was originally formed for “The Garden of Sinners,” but I hope to participate in various activities in the future and with Kajiura-san again, too.

Out of all the songs you have performed as Kalafina so far, which are your personal favorites and why?

Wakana: It often changes, but I like the song serenato right now. Part of it is because we had such a tough time when we recorded this song, but I always shed a few tears because of the lyrics.

Keiko: Ongaku (Music). The more we perform this song live, the more I fall in love with this song.

Hikaru: Mine would be Gloria. I like the simple structure and the melody.

Can you tell us a little bit about what it’s like to work with Yuki Kajiura?

Wakana: She’s like a teacher for me, so I was very nervous at first, but I feel very thankful and happy to be part of her work.

Keiko: There’s always a good tension, and I can always feel her love and passion towards music.

Hikaru: It makes me nervous, but it’s very fun.

Were any of you familiar with her compositions prior to working with her?

Wakana: I found out about her through See-Saw.

Keiko: Yes, I already knew about her.

Hikaru: I often heard her music, but wasn't aware that it was Kajiura-san’s compositions.

The song Lacrimosa was used as a theme for “Kuroshitsuji” rather than “Kara no Kyoukai;” do you think this song in particular has a different style to it?

Wakana: It has very passionate lyrics and melodies, so it may sound a little different from the previous Kalafina image.

Keiko: Kajiura-san again composed the song in accordance to the image of "Kuroshitsuji," and I can really feel the Medieval European vibe.

Hikaru: I think it’s even more energetic compared to the other songs.

Can you tell us a little bit about the recording process of your album Seventh Heaven?

Wakana: First, we would record the main vocal part, then the chorus and the counter melodies. During the recordings we would sing and record individually, so it was exciting to hear when all of our parts finally overlapped together.

Keiko: Sometimes, I was able to sit in on the instrumental recording sessions (like the guitar, flute and drums sessions) and get even more motivated and inspired for my own part.

Hikaru: We recorded a few new songs for the album. First I would receive the demo from Kajiura-san, then pre-record my parts, and then the actual recording session would take place.

Is your performance at Boston your first time in America, or had you visited before for other reasons?

Wakana: Keiko and I went over to New York this January for FictionJunction’s new album recording. I’m very glad to come back to the US!! This will be my first time to go to Boston though.

Keiko: I was in NY earlier this year for FictionJunction’s recording, so this will be my second time in the US.

Hikaru: It’ll be my first time. Actually...it’s my first time to go outside of Japan!

What expectations do you have from your concert at Anime Boston? Would you like to perform at other anime conventions or events in other cities around the world? If so, where would you like to perform?

Wakana: I’m very excited to meet all of our fans and people who enjoy Japanese animation overseas! Other places I’d like to visit would be Egypt and California.

Keiko: It’s our first time performing overseas, so I’m a little nervous, but I’ll be happy if everybody could just simply enjoy the show! I’d like to go to Los Angeles!

Hikaru: I hope that everybody will enjoy our performance. I hope to visit many places and have a great time with many people.

What are your plans for the near future? Can we expect new releases or performances soon?

Wakana: Our new single is scheduled to be released in July!

Keiko: We plan to perform live a lot this year!

Hikaru: We’ll be releasing our 5th single in the summer! We’ll be performing live!

Lastly, please give a message to our readers.

Wakana: I’ll continue singing as a member of Kalafina and also simply as a singer, hoping that it will reach to your heart. I appreciate all your support!

Keiko: Kalafina has just started, but we’ve recently started our blog, so I hope you will all get to know us little by little!

Hikaru: Thank you very much for those who has been supporting us! For those who just found out about us, nice to meet you! We are already very excited to meet you all at Anime Boston! I hope we will all have a great time together.


Many thanks to Kalafina and Sony Music Entertainment (Japan) Inc. for this interview.
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