INTERVIEW: Nana Asteria Talks About Being an Indie VTuber and VSinger

Nana Asteria Interview

Nana Asteria is an English-language independent VTuber and VSinger from Australia. She made her Live 2D debut in April, 2022. We had the opportunity to talk to Nana about her music and career as a virtual talent.

Becoming a VTuber and VSinger

When did you first discover VTubers? Who or what inspired you to become a VTuber yourself?

I discovered VTubers through clips translated in English by Kaigai-Niki (overseas fans) on YouTube. It was specifically hololive clips. I remember just thinking to myself, “Who is this girl putting band-aids on her… on her [redacted]”. They’re so funny, unhinged, and just so entertaining to watch. 

All of a sudden my friends became VTubers, and I only have like 2 friends. And I started following their activities. I found out a lot of the cool music things that Vtubers are doing and I thought, “wow, well I like music, I like singing”. My friends begged me for half a year so I started to feel really left out. 

So, to answer the question of what made me become a VTuber: peer pressure. 

Music is a big part of your content. What motivated you to start singing and create original music? 

So, for singing, I used to be tone-deaf. As a kid, I would just sing because it made me happy. It’s therapeutic. Soothes the soul, you know. For original music though, for me it’s a way to impart my life experiences onto the world. Since day-one as a VTuber, I’ve always wanted to make meaningful content for myself because I’m not good at speaking. I’m emotionally constipated and don’t know how to express my feelings. I feel a bit too much. But I also want to make meaningful content for other people, too. 

How did it feel when you released your first original EP SHOW YA?

I kind-of felt scared because I’ve never shared my music with anyone before [Show Ya]. This is my first time writing a full EP and there’s a lot of anxieties attached to how people review something that, I don’t know, took a lot of courage and vulnerability to share with the world. But it was received so nicely. Thank you so much for always listening and being really supportive. Like the reception was just so overwhelmingly supportive. I finished writing the 5 songs in one month. So, I felt like it was quite rushed too, but I’m really glad people liked it. 

But yeah, I was very “scaredge”.

Are there any plans to release a full album any time soon? 

All I can say is, you shall receive new music. However it is very difficult for me to make [an album] at the moment, because I’m constantly planning more [song] covers. I’m constantly commissioning people for these covers and planning streams, planning events, and — these days —  I’ve been receiving a lot of songwriting commissions as well. So, that’s been something I’ve been dipping my toes into, writing songs for other people. 

However, my own music is something that I will always want to work on in the end. So, you shall receive your goods. The drought shall only last a little longer. Be patient! 

Your original song, Darkest Before Dawn, carries some heavy themes of bullying and mental health. Can you talk a bit about what inspired you to make this song?

Alright so, I wrote Darkest Before Dawn when I was in a pretty dark period in my life. What inspired me specifically was, as I said before, I want to write songs and make content that imparts my life experiences and my world views to share with people. I want to make content that means a lot to me, personally, and hopefully is meaningful for other people as well. 

Specifically, I find all forms of art and content talking about mental health to be really important and relatable for me particularly. It makes me feel seen and it’s really comforting for me when I see, I guess, that — oh, you know, they’re expressing some real life issues that deeply affect many people. But, in a way, that makes me feel like, “Oh, I’m not alone.” 

Darkest Before Dawn’s entire message is that there is light at the end of the tunnel, and there is hope for everybody. That is the message I really wanted to express with this song and something that I’ve always wanted to say to people who have been struggling in my personal life. Which is, I guess, one of the biggest inspirations for why I wrote this song.

Your original song, Show Ya, is all about rising up and never backing down. Is there a particular audience this is aimed towards and do you view this song’s message as part of your own journey? 

For Show Ya, I wrote this song right before I had made my official Live2D debut! And it’s kinda like a song that encapsulates my feelings towards starting this VTuber journey. So, yes, it would be my goals, and dreams, and hope embodied in a song. Of wanting to be “Girlboss”. Wanting to, you know, keep rising and to keep doing well and to keep on beating everybody’s expectations. And the audience I would aim it towards is every single person who doesn’t know me yet. That’s what I had in mind when I was preparing for my debut. I want people to look at this song and say “WOW, Nana Asteria’s voice!” 

Your cover of Tot Musica by Ado from One Piece Film: RED just hit 10k views [now 100k], breaking a new milestone for your channel. How do you feel about reaching this many people with your music?

When I first saw this, I was like “That’s never happening again.” I personally think I’m still very bad at singing. I’m still, I guess, inexperienced. 

I still don’t know a lot of things but, to have that many eyes- like, actually receive that many views, it means that I’m doing something right. 

So I hope I can continue to do well and for more people to listen to my voice and my music. And, I don’t know, it’s a pretty big milestone for me as an individual. So I hope, you know, this new-found success and eyes on me- it will only drive me to want to do even better!

Being a Part of the VTuber Community

You contributed to the lyrics and melody of Prismatic Dream for PRISM Project. What was it like to write a song for another group? What was it like to write a song for another group?

Honestly, it was so fun! I love all the girls. They are very hard working, very talented, and it was the first time I felt like my abilities as a songwriter were recognised. That was a huge confidence boost for me and it made me feel just very grateful. Again, I’m not unfamiliar with working with a bunch of people, I enjoy group activities actually! So it was just really wholesome and heartwarming to see everything come together, and they loved the song in the end. 

Yes, stan PRISM!

You recently received an honorable mention in Amalee’s Villain Vibes cover contest, even given the designation of “cracked”. How does it feel to receive recognition from talents in the broader community?

I had an unarchived stream about this and, the entire time, I was gushing, I was crying, I was sobbing, I was twerking, I was everywhere all at once. Many emotions. The biggest feeling was just happiness, gratefulness, and disbelief. I refuse to believe that the coolest of all people has called me “kakkoii” (cool), and that the most cracked people have called me cracked. That’s insane! Nah, that’s not real, I’m still dreaming, somebody wake me up!

Are there other talents you feel have been an inspiration to you as a vocalist and a streamer? 

Well, as a vocalist, I would definitely say Aimer, G.E.M, Taeyeon, and Ado! I love them all very much. As a streamer and a vocalist, doubled, would be Hoshimachi Suisei, because I love her very much and she continues to inspire me as well. 

Finding Success as an Indie VTuber

Next month [at the time of the interview] is your half year anniversary since your Live 2d debut. How has the VTuber experience been?

Oh, it’s been crazy. In the beginning, I thought VTubing was mostly streaming and was mostly just having fun with your audience. A little bit of giggles here and there. Having a silly, good old time. And it still is! But there is so much more to it, especially with making videos such as covers, shorts, highlights, and edits. All the different ins-and-outs of each platform. And I met so many very kind talented people. It’s just been a crazy ride. I think I’ve grown a lot as a person too, and I hope we continue to have fun together. 

What are your feelings on being an independent VTuber as opposed to part of an organization? 

I’ve mentioned this briefly earlier but it’s a lot of work for an individual. You can often feel burnt out or [experience] feelings of not being enough. In comparison to organizations where you receive more professional help and assistance, it’s hard being an indie due to a lot of these ins-and-outs of being a streamer, of being a singer, of finding the right editors, finding the right mixers, finding the right animators, finding the right illustrators. You have to learn all of this by yourself.

It can be really daunting especially for people who are really shy and they don’t really know how to communicate or network. Oftentimes you’re left feeling overwhelmed because no matter what you do- it’s not that your content’s bad or you’re not funny, but you just don’t know how the algorithm works. Or you don’t know how to do thumbnails or you don’t know how to edit your videos. 

So, sometimes it can feel quite lonely, but the benefits of being an indie is a lot of freedom! And you get to do literally whatever the hell you want. You say whatever the hell you want. And above anything you are responsible for creating your own experience and your brand. And I think that’s something really really cool, so I really enjoy being an indie. 

Is there anything you have been doing to look after your mental and physical health? What are the biggest challenges to staying healthy as a VTuber?

Okay, for me I go to therapy, as everybody should. Even if you don’t have mental health issues I believe that this is something very important because talking about your feelings and knowing how to be honest in an effective and healthy way is very important. And, as much as it’s over said and being made into a meme, go touch some grass. 

So, going out for walks. I call them “Hot Girl Walks”. Going out on a Hot Girl Walk is always super good. And yeah, just cleaning your room, and taking a hot bath. Hot baths are really good for you. I’ve been getting really into taking herbal baths, which have healing properties and it’s good for blood flow and stuff. Hot Girl Baths are also very good for you. 

Physical health-wise, I can say quite a lot but I do think it’s very important, as for any nine-to-five eight hour job, to know when to take breaks. As a content creator, you can easily have a 16-hour work day and not even realize it. So [it’s about] knowing how to set boundaries for yourself like “this is my lunch time, if anyone dares to touch me, I will destroy all of you.” Having boundaries and knowing when to prioritize, and respect, rest time. 

The biggest challenges to [maintain being] a VTuber are 100% health-related. Specifically with posture, with talking, with singing. It’s really unsustainable at times when you are streaming for, say, 2-4 hours today. Afterwards you have to record a song for like another 2-4 hours and then, the next day, you have to do that all over again. Then, after that, you have to record something like shorts and, after that, you have to contact all these people that’ve been working for you for different videos. Oftentimes you just overwork. You just burn out. 

Another one is posture. Sitting like a shrimp in your chair. Like a little prawn in your chair for hours straight. That’s why remedies like rehydration, stretching, and changing posture are all really good. But thes, even after streams — no one talks about this — but we often stay in that chair and keep working.

So going on Hot Girl Walks and stretching is very important. Please exercise, everybody, and stretch, and take care of yourselves for a long, healthy sustainable career. 

Recently somebody uploaded your covers onto Bilibili. How does it feel to have an international audience? What does the Galaxy Gang mean to you?

I found out about this just recently, too. A part of me is just, “woah I’m honored you think I’m good enough to be re-uploaded onto other sites. Wow!” So yeah, I just feel honored. I don’t have any plans to stream on Bilibili any time soon so I guess for people to try and have an audience over there for me is, you know, pretty “pog”! 

But how does it feel to have an international audience? I feel like, even though a majority of my current audience is American, I get quite a few Japanese people in my chat sometimes, some Korean people, and so I’m just like “wow, even though you don’t understand what I’m saying, I’m so honored!” I try my best to learn languages so I can communicate with other people. For them to think that I’m worth their time, even if they don’t understand what I’m saying, is just touching, man. Thank you!

And what does the Galaxy Gang mean to you? They have my heart. Galaxy Gang has my heart, and I’m entirely and utterly grateful to them, because everything I do right now, and all my success, is owed entirely to them. Thank you!

Is rolling gacha on stream a buff or a nerf to your luck?

Oh boy. Okay, in my experience, streamer’s luck is real. Don’t tell anybody I said this but streamer’s luck is real. Just kidding… sometimes. But most of the time I would say it’s a buff. I become more excitable. I have more hype. And it always makes for a good time. Even if the- even if our favorite anime characters don’t come home. 

Are there any shoutouts you want to give?

My best friends, HaewonTheWitch and EMIRINGO. I love them with my life and I would not be here without them. Please check them out as well!

You can find Nana Asteria on Twitter, YouTube, and Twitch.

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