By now, you should be very familiar with GWAVE's latest pet project, the LOVE BULLETS series, which prominently features 井上みゆ (INOUE miyu) as the lead singer. What about those crazy sounds behind her lovely voice? Save for a few guest collaborations, 磯村カイ (ISOMURA kai), the second half of Team Love Bullets, is the musical mastermind behind it all. Join us as we sit down for a virtual cup of coffee with Japan's latest (or sole?) "moe R&B" duo.
GWAVE has recently turned LOVE BULLETS into a series, with the release of a second volume in March 2009. Was this the plan all along, or was it due to strong fan appreciation? Should we expect a third volume too?
磯村カイ: You are right, it was prompted by strong fan reaction to the first album. I don't want to jinx it, but chances are good that a third volume could follow suit. Especially if fan reaction to the second volume is as strong as it was for the first one.
井上みゆ: Personally, I am just so happy to hear that people are enjoying our songs and that we got the opportunity to make another Love Bullets album. I like to call our genre "Moe R&B", it really represents the kind of music I want to sing. Plus I think that the jacket illustrations are totally cute!
How have fans reacted to 「1×8 ラブ・バレット」? It seems to me like it would be your most recognizable song to this day. After all, that’s what the new GWAVE series is named after.
磯村カイ: On a personal level, this song means a lot to me! It marks the beginning of my collaboration with 井上みゆ. As soon as it was published, the reaction was very good so we decided to continue working together. For this opportunity, I am very thankful; therefore this song holds a special meaning for myself. The song has been described as "full of energy" by yourself and many Japanese fans, so this greatly pleases me as this was my original intention. Listening to this song helps me forget about sad feelings and annoying real life situations. If it has the same effect for other people, then I am honored!
井上みゆ: It does seem like this is a very popular song with the fans! After this, we worked together on 「モノモノ☆ダンスフィーバー」 which cemented our team spirit! It was featured on GWAVE vol. 10. My producer prior to team Love Bullets was GWAVE's 加藤義治 (KATOU Yoshiharu), who is now responsible for planning and producing our new releases, so I am very grateful to him.
Have you ever visited North America? Did you know there were team Love Bullets fans outside of Japan?
磯 村カイ: I did travel to the United States once, but that was a long time ago. Way before denpa was even considered as a genre, actually. To tell you the truth, I had no idea this kind of music was starting to become popular outside of Japan, until I started talking to you by email!
井上みゆ: Actually I once lived in Illinois! But I too had no idea that we had some international fans. This makes me feel privileged, I hope everyone will enjoy our new songs.
Mr. Isomura, please tell us about TONAKAI sound works and the services you provide.
磯村カイ: Certainly! Since 2004, we are in the business of providing original theme songs, background music (BGM) and sound effects for anyone who needs them, which is mostly video game companies these days. As it stands, TONAKAI sound works has only one full-time employee; that would be myself! But of course I work with various vocalists, such as Miyu-san and collaborate with other sound units such as MOSAIC.WAV. For a complete list of our past projects, please visit the official TONAKAI website.
When game companies contact you for themes or BGM, what is the process like? Do they impose certain restrictions that limit your creativity?
磯村カイ: As much as possible, there is a constant flow of discussion between myself and the company which requested the work. My goal is obviously to make sure that they are satisfied with the final product. Of course, I need to adjust my lyrics and overall mood of the compositions to suit the game's genre, which goes back to my initial point: a wide-open channel of communication is essential. This can be a little frustrating but I prefer to see it as a challenge! To tell you the truth, this has yet to worry me so far.
Do you travel a lot to meet the other artists you are involved with? After all you are based in Osaka.
磯村カイ: Correct, I do travel at least 3 times per year to Tokyo... I love that city so much! This is mostly for recording vocals and meeting people. I do enjoy traveling a lot, since I find it very relaxing and it can be good for creativity! The rest of the work is accomplished inside my home studio. Once in a while, Miyu-san will come and meet me in Osaka.
What artists, producers, singers or game soundtracks have influenced your compositions and vocal performances?
磯村カイ: My musical influence comes from a variety of sources. Some of the artists include Cornelius, Kraftwerk, YMO, Paul Simon, R.E.M., 小西康陽 (PizzicatoV) and 鈴木惣一郎 (World Standard). Of course, I grew up listening to Japanese anime music like many people in my field. That is probably the main source of inspiration for my current music.
井上みゆ: I love a lot of American soul and R&B artists such as the classic Stevie Wonder. Rodney Jerkins is a great producer. I also like Destiny's Child, Ashanti, Aaliyah, En Vogue and everything from Morning Musume.
Recently there have been a lot of DENPA PARTY events in Tokyo. It seems to me like your music would fit in just right with the crowd there. How about a LOVE BULLETS live event?
磯村カイ: I actually haven't performed live yet, nor do I have any plans to do so in the near future. I have heard of DENPA PARTY but I don't know too many details about them. On the other hand, a LOVE BULLETS live concert isn't such a bad idea. We'll see how fans react to the second volume first, but that is definitely a possibility!
The TONAKAI website also has some online games (in English no less!). When you were growing up, what kind of job did you think you would do later?
磯村カイ: I'll be honest, I had multiple dream jobs in mind when I was a kid! One of them was definitely to become a game programmer. Somehow I turned out as a musician instead, but I am still working in the game industry. Flash production is a great hobby of mine, I find it very interesting and rewarding. That said, I am considering producing a full Flash game in the future, so please look for that!
井上みゆ: I always knew I would become a singer someday! From the start, I've had nothing but respect for the established voice actors and narrators, so I practiced a lot whenever I could. It seems like most respected voice actors started off as narrators, so I thought I should try that method! My first published song was 「夢見る乙女達☆」 from UNiSONSHIFT in 2003. I am also interested in the aspect of voice work production in general. You could say that singing is both my hobby and my job, but I sometimes prefer to think of myself as a narrator, telling many stories through songs. I also like to reconstruct songs on my own... but since there are no deadlines, I'm not getting a lot done!
Thanks for your time! Good luck with Team Love Bullets!
井上みゆ: Thank you so much for supporting team Love Bullets and doing this interview! It's a very gratifying feeling to know that people outside of Japan are looking forward to our songs m( _ _ )m Hope we can talk again in the future☆
磯村カイ: You're welcome! Actually is I who should thank you for this interview. Having just finished up the second volume of LOVE BULLETS, I can say with confidence that this is some of my best work yet. I hope people all over the world will appreciate this new album!