Last week we covered Hatsune Miku Magical Mirai 2019, an event that combines a big exhibition in conjunction with a bunch of concerts. What’s special about these concerts is that the star of the show Hatsune Miku is, in fact, a virtual singer. To break the wall between two-dimensional and three-dimensional, Magical Mirai offers an impressive digital show that combines virtual singers with a real band playing the instruments.
We wanted to find out what it feels like to perform with a virtual singer, and also what impact Hatsune Miku has made to the world thanks to her unique features. We took this opportunity to speak with the talented Hatsune Miku band.
As the line-up of the band may slightly differ depending on what kind of Hatsune Miku show is being offered, let’s first introduce the musicians who performed at this year’s Magical Mirai.
Masaru “Angelo” Teramae (Guitar)
Starting out as a bassist at the age of 13, Angelo later transitioned to playing guitar at age 18. He’s active in the metal doujin circle Demetori with his twin brother, but also as a supporting stage musician for several artists.
Takahiro Misawa (Guitar)
Takahiro Misawa lived in Boston, USA, which is where he started picking up the guitar at the age of 13. His professional career began at age 21 and ever since Magical Mirai 2014, he’s been part of the Hatsune Miku band.
Already at age three, MEG.ME started playing the piano and not much longer, at age seven she started composing her own songs. Along with being a professional keyboardist, she is active as a composer, lyricist, and arranger.
chloe picked up the bass at age 10 and was musically influenced by her father who listened to fusion style music. Currently, she’s active as a vocalist and bassist in the three-piece rock band DOG MONSTER. Outside of that, she’s also active as a lyricist and support bassist.
camacho began his musical journey when he studied classical piano from an early age but later transitioned to drums. His skills have allowed him to work with artists such as Hatsune Miku, Jaejoong, and majiko. He’s currently active as a supporting musician for live concerts and as a studio musician for recordings.
There are still plenty of people—especially abroad—who aren’t quite familiar with what Hatsune Miku is and what she does. To those people, how would you explain Miku’s contribution and her role in the music industry?
MEG.ME: As I’m also a composer; when writing songs, one of the hurdles is finding someone to sing that song for you. What Miku allows songwriters to do is to create songs, even without having a network or connection to singers or being able to sing yourself. By allowing anybody to be able to create songs, Miku is a tool that allows many more people to express themselves through songs, again, even if they themselves cannot sing or have access to singers.
Do you think a lot of music wouldn’t have been created if it wasn’t for Miku?
MEG.ME: Yes, definitely! A lot of creative expressions have happened thanks to Miku and I believe that’s what really started the boom of Hatsune Miku, why she became so popular.
There aren’t many people who are able to perform with a virtual singers, how do you feel about it? How was it the first time when performing with Miku?
chloe: I was originally a fan of Hatsune Miku. Being on stage right next to a character that you like, someone you admire, was like a dream and it was a lot of fun [laughs].
MEG.ME: I had previously seen the live shows a few times before actually joining the band, and I really thought it was amazing. But once I joined the stage myself and saw Miku up close, I really felt Miku’s presence there, I felt like she was real. It was so much different seeing her up close than on a phone screen or computer screen, I could feel the gravity around her, as well as her mass, so I was really surprised.
We asked Hiroyuki Itoh (Hatsune Miku’s creator) this question too, but in your point-of-view, why do you feel it is essential to have a band playing the shows instead of instrumental playback?
Angelo: There is something special you can only get out of the show when bringing together the raw performance—the human elements—and the digital elements which the characters provide. It wouldn’t be the same without having an actual live band in the presence.
Definitely, we couldn’t agree more! Even though Miku is the center of attention, We do tend to focus on the band too and enjoy your cool stage moves.
camacho: [In English] Thank you! Grazie!
What does Miku mean to you? What kind of impact has Miku made in your life?
MEG.ME: For me, the first thing would be that I was able to travel overseas. Before touring with Hatsune Miku, the only country outside Japan I had visited was South Korea—and that only happened once for me as a tourist. I didn’t really have the chance to go abroad, but through work and concerts with Miku, I’ve been to so many more countries now and it really expanded my world. This is all thanks to Miku.
We know you’re involved with many Korean artists as well, such as SHINee, Apink, Red Velvet, T-ara, and many more! How has that influenced your musical work?
MEG.ME: Not much of a direct correspondence between those two different aspects of my work, because in terms of Hatsune Miku music, there’s not really a single genre that defines it. That means Miku’s music could sound like K-pop, dance, rock, and so on and so forth. And thus, working with Miku has allowed me to really be attuned to trends in music, for example: What’s new? What’s hot? What’s popular?
How about the others? In what significant way has Miku impacted your life?
camacho: Kind of following up on what MEG.ME said. People around the world create music with Miku and listen to music made with Miku. And so, there are so many different genres and they all kind of converge on Miku. Performing with her is a great opportunity to test my skills as a drummer, to expand my boundaries.
For example, in a Miku show, you’d have anything ranging from a jazzy song to straight-up rock music, EDM, and so on, it’s a very varied setlist. I’m able to get first-hand experience with a lot of different genres that I would not otherwise have touched.
Also, the thing about performing with Miku, she doesn’t really need to take breaks. We are doing five shows in three days. A human singer would never do that. That’s just impossible. So as for myself, I’m working really hard to try keeping up with Miku. But I believe this has really helped me become a better drummer. [In English] It’s so hard!
That must be exhausting! How about you, Misawa-san?
Takahiro Misawa: I used to live in America during my childhood and started playing guitar when I was living in Boston as a middle schooler. It was very emotional for me to go back during the MIKU EXPO US tour.
It got me thinking about how I started playing guitar from listening to The Beatles, and maybe, there’s a lot of people who pick up their own instruments thanks to Hatsune Miku’s music and her influence.
I hope that during the tour that we’re able to inspire the people who come see us play, that it becomes an impactful memory to get people to pick up their own instruments and try their own hands at music.
In that sense, I believe Miku has been very influential—one of the most influential Japanese artists—in terms of inspiring people to pursue and compose music, writing lyrics, and such.
That is a great observation and we believe that is the case as well!
Takahiro Misawa: Thank you [laughs]!
Same question to Angelo-san, how has Miku impacted you?
Angelo: Similar to what camacho said about Miku’s live schedule being so long and so frequent, including the fact that there’s barely any MC intermissions between songs. We play about 25 songs each performance, but twice in a single day! For any other artist I’ve worked with, that simply doesn’t happen.
Having said that, Miku is a very unique performing artist. Working with her really trains my focus, my stamina. It has positively affected my skills as a professional guitarist.
As for chloe?
chloe: I believe that Miku as a platform, as a culture—like hiitemita (instrument covers) and utattemita (vocal covers)—has impacted me. Through what started out as someone in their bedroom just broadcasting their shows and performances, you can reach anyone in the world.
As well as the concept of seeing a two-dimensional character within a 3D-space really turned my world view upside down. Being able to merge the two felt unreal, so I’m very impressed by that.
Speaking of Miku being able to connect people as a platform. Do you have any experience of getting to know precious friends or acquaintances thanks to the platform Miku created?
chloe: I started out doing covers [on niconico] and was discovered through those videos. And now I’m actually here working with Miku. I feel fortunate to be here right now. I guess I was pretty… lucky?
MEG.ME: One of the meetings that happened was during the MIKU EXPO 2016 North America tour where we met the band Anamanaguchi who opened for Hatsune Miku. Through that, we developed a friendship with them and they even asked me to record piano for their songs. Not only that, just the band members that are here right now are also thanks to Miku. Nowadays, for example, if I write a song I can just ask these guys to lend a hand with the instrument recording. As such, Hatsune Miku has been a place for developing new meetings and new friendships.
camacho: Even outside of performing directly with Miku, I’ve worked with a lot of Vocaloid producers such as mikitoP (みきとP). I believe that recently, the population of people involved with Hatsune Miku has grown significantly bigger the recent years!
Takahiro Misawa: One impactful meeting that happened came through the Hatsune Miku Kodo Taiko collaboration. As a performing guitarist, you would normally be on stage or in the studio, to encounter the opportunity to play with a traditional Japanese taiko troupe is very special. I feel like this is only something Miku can facilitate, especially to be able to combine traditional Japanese taiko with rock music.
Even to this day, I’m in touch with some of the Kodo members and grab meals with them. They come to the Miku shows as well! It’s a very one-of-a-kind, special new type of meeting that happened thanks to Miku.
MEG.ME: These interactions have not only happened to us as musicians, but the fans have also experienced similar things!.
Thanks to this collaboration, Miku fans who normally might be more into anime and manga, who have never been interested in traditional Japanese music to begin with, gained interested in Kodo and would even go to other Kodo shows after the collaboration—despite it having nothing to do with Miku. And of course, it goes the other way around where Kodo fans were able to learn out about Hatsune Miku through the collaboration.
So the interaction isn’t just on our side as musicians, but on the fan side as well!
Angelo: A couple of friends that I knew—before I got involved with Miku—were making music with Miku and became very successful. I thought, “Wow, that’s incredible!”, and that’s how it caught my attention.
Thanks to their influence you’re here with all of these great people, playing with Miku!
Angelo: [In English] Yes!
As for our final question—a tricky one. How would a show be without glowsticks? What essence does it have?
Takahiro Misawa: That’s a hard question to answer…
camacho: We ended up getting used to seeing them, so… [Laughs]
MEG.ME: We’re so used to seeing it now that it’s an integral part of the show. It’s an essential element of the Hatsune Miku concerts.
Takahiro Misawa: One thing I noticed is that in Japan, everyone matches the color to the character that’s on stage at the time. For example, Hatsune Miku’s color is green, while Kagamine Rin & Len colors are orange and yellow, respectively.
But what we have seen in America, is that people are all over the place when choosing their colors. Most likely, they just use whichever color they feel like. It’s a way for the crowd, the individual audience member to express themselves at the show.
Is it perhaps because the audience doesn’t know about the Miku live show culture? Like the “unwritten rules”?
Takahiro Misawa: It’s not really something that is decided beforehand, but rather something you can feel in the air. Something that happens organically.
That concludes the interview, thank you very much for your time today!
Hatsune Miku band: Thank you very much!
It was a real pleasure speaking with the people responsible for such an energetic and amazing show! We hope to see them later this year at the upcoming MIKU EXPO 2020 EUROPE.
Magical Mirai Official Website
MIKU EXPO Official Website
Twitter (Magical Mirai)
Twitter (MIKU EXPO)
Twitter (Takahiro Misawa)
Photo: Crypton Future Media