Interview Exclusive

Interview with KAF

27/06/2024 2024-06-27 14:00:00 JaME Author: Christine

Interview with KAF

KAF shares some thoughts on her latest EP "GSA," the perks of being a virtual artist, her KAIKA project, and connecting with fans around the world.

© KAF. All rights reserved.
One of Japan's most prominent virtual singers, KAF debuted in 2018. Since then, her YouTube channel has racked up over 300 million views, and she has hit some remarkable milestones with her concerts as well, holding a sold-out show at the famous Nippon Budokan in Tokyo as well as the first-ever arena show by a virtual artist this January.

This May, KAF released the EP GSA, her first collection of solo material since 2023. The EP sees her exploring new terrain, as it marks her first time working on a solo release with producers besides longtime collaborator Kanzaki Iori.

KAF also launched a project blurring the line between the digital and physical worlds called KAIKA earlier this year. The KAIKA project sees KAF take on the role of primary songwriter, allowing her to express herself more directly.

Just after GSA hit digital platforms, JaME had the opportunity to ask KAF some questions about her career as a virtual artist, her music, her international ambitions, and how KAIKA factors into her future plans.

For any readers who might not be familiar with your work, how would you describe the music you make?

KAF: Over the years I’ve worked with so many talented artists, including Kanzaki Iori, who made most of my original songs – so it’s hard to define exactly how my music sounds. I often hear from people that my voice is emotional. I guess it really is something you must hear to understand.

Is there a particular artist or moment that inspired you to start making music?

KAF: When I was 11 years old, I stumbled across Vocaloid music, and the culture of “Utattemita,” which is cover songs, usually of Vocaloid music. All of this was shared on places like Nico Nico Douga and YouTube at the time. The artist Honeyworks was a big reason I initially got interested in Vocaloid music. I think my way of singing was largely affected by the musician sana who did numerous songs with Honeyworks.

What inspired you to start making music specifically as a virtual artist?

KAF: I actually wasn’t specifically sure what becoming a virtual artist would be like when I became one. More than anything, I just wanted to sing and hoped that someone, somewhere in the world would hear my singing.

What do you like most about being a virtual artist?

KAF: I can feel the passion of the creators I work with directly. In the virtual world, everything is made by real people; even the things that are unable to interact with the real world such as weather and space. It takes so much time, energy, and skill to create all of this. So, recognizing all of that, I feel like my body is almost like a crystal made from the passion of the people around me working on the world of KAF. I’m really proud of the fact that I get to be part of this team.

Gestalt has quite an eclectic sound. Could you please explain a bit about the inspiration behind this song?

KAF: My new song Gestalt was made by Okajima Kanata and discusses the ambiguous boundary between both real and virtual, which is where I often find myself residing. It’s always stimulating being caught between these two worlds, but sometimes it gets too complicated and frustrating. Capturing that in the chaos of this song feels kind of extraordinary and left me feeling like there was nothing I could do but dance! Throughout the song I screamed a lot, whispered a lot, and probably made some strange sounds.

The juxtaposition of the cute dance with barren industrial spaces in the Gestalt music video is interesting as well. Is there a concept or theme behind the MV?

KAF: Gestalt was actually the theme song for a mystery game titled “project:;COLD,” and the same abandoned building from the music video appears in the game. Given the scenario, I really like how calm and collected I look in such a setting.

Is there anything in particular you would like fans to notice about the other two songs from the EP, Swimmer and From Apocalypse?

KAF: In Swimmer, I had to pay particular attention to the sound of each closing word, especially during the rap part of the song. In from Apocalypse, I’m particularly fond of the line “I’ll set my sights on you and give you the cutest smile.” I imagined that I’d be looking directly at the person listening to the song while singing that. With that being said, I want everyone to be able to enjoy all three songs at their own pace.

Why did you decide to launch the KAIKA project?

KAF: Sometimes I hesitate on speaking about my own personal feelings with KAF because the project isn’t just me, it’s a project consisting of many. With KAIKA however, I’m able to share emotions that are personal to me, and that’s what forms the foundation of my music there.

Where did the name KAIKA come from? Is there a meaning behind it?

KAF: It's actually a play on words in Japanese. The common meaning of Kaika is “blooming." My third one-man live was also called "Kaika," but the way we wrote that in kanji gave it the meaning “strange singing." In this case, for how I write my artist name, it means “Curling Flower,” because I didn’t want things to end as I bloomed. After everything is said and done, I want to continue to curl around and meet now people until the moment I scatter into the wind. The name “KAIKA” really suits my views.

What would you like to convey to fans with KAIKA’s debut song?

KAF: Originally, I made a handful of songs just for me, such as the ones shown at my concert following my debut as KAIKA. I didn’t particularly think about an audience when writing these songs, and they were all quite spontaneous in creation. With that being said, if there’s anyone who is able to listen to these songs and feel “this song's about me,” I feel like we can be connected beyond both time and memories – at least that’s what I hope.

You revealed KAIKA as a surprise during one of your shows as KAF. Do you plan to keep the projects mostly separate going forward, or do you see KAIKA making appearances at your shows as KAF in the future as well?

KAF: I want to make KAIKA’s live shows and KAF’s shows separate. By debuting KAIKA in the way I did, I wanted people to know and connect the existence of both aliases. But the messages of the songs are so different, and I also understand that some people might have an air of confusion about my new appearance. I want to make sure that KAF’s audience doesn’t feel forced into also seeing KAIKA because of our connection.

You’ve recorded many covers over the years. Do you have a personal favourite you would recommend to new listeners?

KAF: I still listen to my cover of Amai by Mel all the time. I sang in a soft and whispery voice which makes me feel so calm, and I love the atmosphere of the song.

You’ve collaborated with a wide range of artists as part of your "Suite" series. Is there anyone you haven’t had the chance to work with that you’d be interested in collaborating with someday?

KAF: I’ve collaborated with mostly Japanese musicians so far, so I think I want to try collaborating with an international artist in the future.

You’ve been answering questions from fans in English on X recently with the corner “KAF’s Worldwide Observations." What inspired you to start doing this, and how has the experience been?

KAF: "KAF’s Worldwide Observations!" I want to communicate with my listeners abroad, especially to show my gratitude that they discovered me and my music despite the barrier that is language. It gives me so much motivation to learn other languages. Someday, I want to do an all-English live stream!

Are you interested in performing overseas? If so, assuming you could hold a show anywhere in the world, where would you want to go?

KAF: Of course! There’s several cities where I’d love to perform – New York, Paris, Vancouver, Hong Kong, London. Right now, I’m really wanting to go to a region that’s extremely cold. I want to see the aurora lights, as well as snowfall in the night… I wonder if I could perform outside during one of these nights...?

You’ve hit some very impressive career milestones. Are there any particular goals you dream of achieving one day as an artist?

KAF: I want to sing until I die, staying active for my entire life is my dream.

What else can fans look forward to from KAF in 2024?

KAF: In 2024, I have several live shows and new songs coming! I’ll be trying my best to bring you as much excitement and fun as possible!

Please leave a message for our readers.

KAF: Thank you so much for reading! I always appreciate everyone’s support and observation! Take care of yourself, and stay healthy. Mata ne~

JaME would like to thank KAF and maru mgmt for this interview opportunity.

Links to download and stream GSA on various music platforms are available here
 Download or stream "GSA"  KAF - Official Website  KAF - Official YouTube  KAF - Official Instagram  KAF - Official X (Twitter)

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KAF © KAF. All rights reserved.

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