nano, the singer behind may hit Japanese songs including “No Pain No Game,” “Neverland” and “Born to Be”, her made US debut at San Jose this past May. We had the opportunity to sit down with nano at Fanime 2018.
How does it feel to be back in America?
It’s great to be back. I really feel that this is my home country and it’s just… it’s been a while since I’ve been back and also my first concert here so it’s just a miracle, dream come true.
You just mentioned your concert; how was it? I’m sure you were asked that all day today, but how was it?
No, but I could say it a million times. It was just amazing and it’s one that I will always remember forever. The crowd was just incredible. American crowd is just so hyped up and fired up, and they were singing the whole time. And it just made everything so much more powerful.
I was actually really scared that I wouldn’t be able to do this interview cause I lost my throat shouting yesterday.
Oh wow! That’s awesome! Thank you! Thank you!
So as we’re all aware Yuro Yuppe wasn’t able to attend. Did that affect your setlist and plans for the concert at all?
Originally, no. Well, I really wanted him to be there, of course. But I originally had the setlist set up and I wanted to perform Palette for him while he was there. But unfortunately, he couldn’t come so I dedicated Palette across the seats to him last night. And it was really unfortunate he couldn’t attend.
How did you feel when the whole venue encored you? It was really really loud, like insane.
I know. I wanted to go out immediately to answer to those calls. That was so incredible to be able to hear an encore and be called back across the seas. And they’re just great.
I personally, originally discovered your work through the cover songs that you did. Was that the start before your debut?
Yeah, I was originally doing that. Of course, I wanted to pursue careers of a professional musician way before I did covers. But that was how my director found me, through my covers, so covers have always been a very important kickoff for my career.
I remember I attended your Q&A chat and it was one question that someone asked that was planning to ask which was where Nano came from. One thing too is I recall that you said that you work very closely with Arpeggio of Blue Steel, how did that go? I know you said it was a year-long project.
Yeah, there was a lot of thought and hard effort put into it. When I received the offer, I didn’t imagine that I would be doing it for as long as I did and for as many songs because there were four songs that I performed… that I recorded for Arpeggio. And so because I’ve done so many songs for it it really holds a special part in my heart.
Do you mind going into the development process because I know a lot of Westerners aren’t really familiar with how it’s done?
Well, the offer comes and the first song I did for it was Savior of Song. So we had a songwriter write the song for us and then I would put the lyrics on it. And then we would go into recording, and me and Hiro from my first story, saying together and did the recording of the vocals. It was a first for me to actually do that kind of collaboration, so it was a really interesting recording process. Then we got to watch our song being played with the opening animation, and it really excited us. It’s always exciting to watch your song broadcast on TV with the animation, it makes it so much more special.
Do you get to know about the animation sequence or do they often like “Give us a song and then we’ll make it work.” Did you see any of the animation before it got broadcast?
A little bit, like the rough drafts and also the scripts. We get to read the scripts a little bit to see how the story goes because when I need to write the lyrics, I need to know how the story goes and what the characters are doing. But we get a very vague image, so when we saw the animation for the first time, it was amazing because it’s 3D animation. So it was really exciting to see that.
Speaking of lyrics, since you’re bilingual. What is the creative process for when writing songs? Do you start off with like “I’m gonna go into this thinking I’m gonna do Japanese first? Or English first?” What is the creative process behind it?
It depends on the song. If the animation or the people that are offering the tie-up want me to write in Japanese I’ll write in Japanese. If they want me to write in English I’ll write in English. And if I’m free to do whatever I want then I’ll listen to the song and I’ll say… It’s not like a rule or anything. When I feel it “This is English” or “This is Japanese”. So it’s just the feeling.
It seems like you have a lot of creative work like you can do whatever you want depending on who’s in charge.
Yeah, I have a lot of freedom.
When you released your single “My Liberation”. That was for the Chains of Chronicles project. Since that was a video game adaptation, did that factor into when you wrote the music for that?
Yeah definitely, because y’know when you write for an anime it’s usually the first series. But there’s no other fans connected, well, maybe the manga or something. But the people that are playing the game, they already have a vision and they’re already so heated up about the game. So you don’t want to do something that’ll disappoint these already-existing fans; it’s very nerve wracking to create something new but also satisfy the existing fans. So it’s always a challenge but that challenge is also very exciting.
Did you get the chance to play the game?
Yes, I did. Put it on my iPhone and I played it, and it was really challenging. I’m not a huge, experienced gamer so I was really struggling on level one. But it was fun.
Back in 2016, so what we also do on the side with anime trending is that we do a lot of rankings similar to “Oricon” or Billboards”. We have a soundtrack one that does each season. You did the ending called “Dreamcatcher” from the anime Magical Girl Raising Project, and that song actually consistently hit the top two within our community.
Oh really? Oh my gosh, thank you, guys!
How do you feel about Magical Girl Raising Project and “Dreamcatcher” doing so well?
Yeah, Dreamcatcher is actually a very personal song as well, and the songwriter and myself both love the song to pieces. And so when we were able to connect that with the anime series and we realized that so many of the watchers really appreciated the song as well. So I was really happy about that because it’s such a personal song as well.
Since this was an ending song, do you also factor that it could be an opening sequence or ending sequence, does it matter?
Oh, it does matter. Usually opening songs need a little bit of “oomf”, the speed. But endings are more of the relaxation time, you know you sorta want to be healed after watching an emotional series. So usually, not all the time, endings tend to be ballads or sort of lowdown songs, and so we wanted to create a song that kind of was not a fighting song. We wanted to create a sort of healing process song and Dreamcatcher was kind of that sort of that song filled with love.
Aside from being super into music and performances, are there any other general hobbies that you enjoy?
General hobbies… lately though I’ve been just music-driven and music has been my passion, but I do like taking photographs and reading books. Just in my free time though, nothing too hard. I don’t want to use energy where I don’t have to use energy. So just staying at home, being a homey person, reading books and watching movies.
So this is a sort of a side question, but you mentioned that you really enjoy pizza? What topping of pizza do you like?
I’m a big cheese person. I usually go for the the cheese pizza, but if I’m really hungry, I’ll top it off with veggies. I’m also a big veggie person but nothing beats cheese.
I remember during your earlier chat, you brought up other music and songs to study and learn. Where do you draw from when listening to other music?
When I’m in work mode, I usually listen to like the lyrics, mostly because I’m a lyricist myself. Lyrics come to my ears a lot. I know that a lot of singers tend to focus on the vocals more, or maybe drummers would focus on the rhythm, but I’m a very wordy kind of person. I usually first end up listening to the lyrics, and then the melody, and picking up on the rest. Thing I love about lyrics most, is that lyrics are different insights into the writer. Every song is so unique and different, and expresses the thing that the lyricist wants to express the most. There’s no right or wrong, and it’s interesting reading different kinds of thoughts from different people through their lyrics.
I would guess that one of the challenges too would be combining Japanese and English lyrics. You mention that this happens sometimes. What are the ways you help fans understand both the English parts and Japanese parts of the song?
I try to stay true to the song as possible. I don’t wanna make my own lyrics cause that wouldn’t be translating. I try not to wander too far from the track, but at the same time, I would want my English speaking fans to be able to read my lyrics and not think that it was translated. I want them to be able to read it and think that it could’ve been written in English from the beginning. I try hard to keep that in my translations.
We know that you’re always working, but did you get to enjoy Fanime at all?
Yes! I’ve been walking around looking at cosplays. They’re SO amazing. It’s amazing how much passion there is in the convention. I love it.
On the topic of passion and fans of anime: One thing you emphasize is that you can be reached out to on Facebook and Twitter. You have a lot of comments. Are there moments where there’s so much feedback, that you have issues figuring out what to do since there’s so many suggestions?
No actually. I take everything to heart. It’s not possible to do everything that they ask, but I try to do as much as I can and every input counts. Even when I can’t follow every suggestion that I receive, every voice counts cause one opinion mounts up, and maybe if there’s enough of those same opinions, it has the power to change some things. I always say to my fans, “Keep your voices raised, tell me what you want”
How did you get to that thought process? I love the way you talk about breaking the barriers between culture and give amazing insight to motivate fans.
I think I mentioned before that I’m a very introverted person. I spend a lot of time thinking by myself, and as a big thinker, I think about how I can improve and move on in life. That thought process ends up being very positive, and it helps me find answers that I need. I’m a very positive person cause i want to move forward.
Closing Statements for all of your fans?
Thank you SO MUCH for the opportunity to come back to America and perform my first live at my home country. It’s been such an amazing trip so far and I already can’t wait to be back. Next time, maybe I’ll put some more requests that fans want in my set list so keep voicing your opinions.
Special thanks to nano, Fanime and HoriPro Inc. for the amazing opportunity. We wish nano the best at AnimeNYC!