With a talent to adjust her vocals to any type of genre, from opera to EDM, Sennzai is a singer that truly stands out. She’s a prominent figure within the doujin (self-published) scene, but can also be found featured in commercial games like DEEMO, Arcaea, CHUNITHM, and many more.
Sennzai is now close to releasing one of her most anticipated albums “RedemptioN”, on April 25, after a successful crowdfunding campaign—reaching 236% of the initial 1 million yen goal. This will be her 10-year celebratory release and as such, we wanted to take the opportunity to go back in time and learn more about Sennzai’s past.
We’ve been fans of yours for a long time so it’s great to finally be able to speak with you! While you’re a well-known vocalist in the doujin scene, could you please introduce yourself to those who aren’t familiar with your work?
My name is Sennzai. I am Japanese working as a singer and a lyricist.
I independently produce my own CDs through my private label “Seardrop”, and I do a lot of vocal work for rhythm games from Japan and also abroad.
Over my career, I have developed a wide range of vocal styles and can change my voice to fit any genre: I am relying on my experience based on classical music and can sing various songs, from cute pop compositions to intense rock tracks.
And your career as a singer has already reached its 10th year, how does it feel?
I can’t believe it’s been 10 years since singing became such a big part of my life!
Were there any artists you particularly wanted to cover, or who you looked to as a role model that influenced your decision?
A role model… If it comes to classical music, then I would say I admire the voice of the female German soprano singer, Diana Damrau.
One of the reasons I started learning singing was because I had always wanted to perform “Queen of the Night” aria [composed by Mozart]. When I heard Diana Damrau’s cover of this song, it was like a shockwave had passed through me. Her vocal range is so accurate, and her voice so powerful, I was astonished to realize that such a human being could exist.
I probably wouldn’t say that Diana Damrau is influencing my career. However, if that day, I hadn’t listened to her cover of “Queen of the Night” aria, maybe my singing voice wouldn’t be what it is today.
Thinking back to when you first started out, did you ever expect to be working in this field for so long?
I wasn’t expecting it at all!
Ten years is astonishingly long. After all, I started singing as a hobby during the early years of my career and I enjoyed it a lot, then I couldn’t imagine that one day, I would have been offered the opportunity to sing as a professional.
As you previously mentioned, you have over your career developed a wide range of vocal styles, but one that stands out to us is your impressive falsetto [and soprano]. What gave you the idea to incorporate it into modern pop music?
I simply noticed that this voice tone was actually my normal singing voice.
Fundamentally, falsetto is a way of singing which is associated with classical music. However, at the time, I was mostly singing pop or rock songs rather than classical ones. By singing these songs in my own personal way without trying to adopt a particular style, it just kind of happened. It’s more a coincidence.
Did you expect this type of vocals to be so well-received?
I am actually not sure about how much I am recognized, I simply think that I would be truly happy if my singing style could be appreciated!
Especially in the beginning, I didn’t really receive any recognition due to the fact that my singing techniques were still at a rough stage and because my voice didn’t match the music itself, I was close to being discouraged around this time.
It was very painful, but I stayed true to myself and pushed forward, and I’m glad I did.
In that sense, if you were to choose a song that best represents “Sennzai” right now, which one would it be?
It’s a really tough choice, but I would most likely go with “Tødestrieb by Powerless feat.Sennzai”.
During these years of self-production, I used my sadness and all my negative emotions as fuel, and I think that I did a particularly skillful job at channeling these feelings into Tødestrieb, and into the album itself in general.
I don’t usually write the lyrics of all my songs by myself, but I did for this one. With that being said, I feel that I was able to express my individuality in a straightforward way.
You’ve also taken part in some interesting projects in the past, would you mind highlighting some of them to our readers?
I took part in a new project by Bandai Namco Arts [Lantis] last year, titled MixBox [a free anisong livestreaming service], in order to create exclusive content for “MixUp!”.
MixUp! is part of the #StayHome initiative commenced during the coronavirus pandemic in order to support remote production by various artists and creators. All of the recording and filming were done remotely.
For me, MixUp! was a particularly significant and important assignment.
Doujin events and concerts I was invited to perform at were all canceled, but in the middle of all that, I’m very thankful to have been given the opportunity to sing, and it was also my first time doing actual filming. It was kind of embarrassing to show people what I look like while singing, but I hope that my voice and emotions could come across as more genuine.
I’ve collaborated with Arcaea several times before, which is a mobile rhythm game available globally and has over five million downloads, but the song that I feel the most deeply attached to is probably “Kokuu no Yume”.
When I heard that this would be a song to mark the occasion of Arcaea’s second anniversary, I felt a lot of pressure but, more than that, to be trusted with the creation of such an important piece of music, all the way down to the lyrics, made me feel recognized as an artist which honestly made me happy.
For “Kokuu no Yume”, rather than trying to show “Sennzai”, I was really conscious of trying to make the vocals blend in with the music and the world of Arcaea.
I wrote the lyrics after going over the story many times, and even now, almost two years after its release, I’m so happy that so many players still love the song…
It was a very rewarding song.
Moreover, although I have collaborated with overseas artists in the past, this was my first time working with an overseas composer on a full-scale commercial song, so it was a great experience for me.
Arcaea is just one of many games you’ve participated in, how did you end up in so many of them?
It’s thanks to the influence of the composers around me and my bonds with them.
I think it’s because many people related to the rhythm game industry are acquaintances of the composers I’m close with online (this was a while ago so my memories are a little bit hazy).
Especially in the rhythm game industry, there are song contests where we used to send our song applications. Even now, I sometimes send my work when I have the opportunity to do so.
As a big part of your discography are collaborations with various composers, could you tell us a little about the collaborative process itself? Does it differ between projects?
When it comes to my personal work, it’s more or less the same.
Until recently, I lived in Hokkaido and mostly recorded songs at home. I receive the project files from the composers, which I then load up and play on my DAW [Digital Audio Workstation] and record my part at home, and finally submit the whole thing. That’s the typical process.
It’s slightly different when I record in a studio.
I don’t usually record at studios for my personal work, but it often happens when I’m working on commercial tracks. There, I record while receiving direction in real-time.
You started your own label Seardrop in 2016 and we’ve been able to enjoy a handful of releases already. What made you start your own label as opposed to releasing music through an established record label?
Since the very beginning, I’ve always thought that if I was going to release my own CDs, it should be through my own label. I might actually not have even thought about any other alternatives.
Even before creating my label, I would often participate as a guest in various works. At that time, I thought that if I really wanted to pursue my own direction through a solo album, then creating my own label would be inevitable.
Doesn’t that mean you are essentially doing everything yourself? Doesn’t that require a lot of work?
It’s a crazy amount of work! It really is… [Laughs]
It’s probably difficult for fans to imagine all the mundane tasks there are and the hassle of being a producer and director. It truly is essential work!
Also, since I alone am in charge of everything, I’m often close to being crushed by the pressure—even though I’m free to do what I like [laughs].
In previous projects, I was able to be a bit vaguer with the process, but release after release, I could no longer make those kinds of compromises. Compared to before, I’m pickier and concerned about more things. Thinking about how many people know about my work, and the things they’re expecting of me, I feel like I have to meet those expectations, and taking this so seriously has increased my worries.
But in the end, it’s thanks to the people who enjoy my work, who notice the smallest details, and who appreciate the production part of my work. Their voices give me the strength to do even better.
So what are some other artists you’d like to work with in the future?
That’s a difficult question… There are a few people who I would really like to work with, but if I have to choose only one artist, then it would be “Kikuo”, I have been a big fan of his since forever.
Can you briefly tell us what we can expect from the new album “RedemptioN”? Are there any aspects that make this album more special compared to previous ones?
Just like the meaning of the album title “RedemptioN”, I composed it in hope that it could save people who are suffering.
I believe it can become a channel to people’s emotions and past that reside within them.
I already used some of the elements of this album in previous works, but this time, I thought about this piece as a whole, “a complete album”, and focused on its creation with that in mind.
Each song has its own role, they are linked to each other and there is a logical progression throughout the album, so I would be glad if the listeners could notice it.
Also, I particularly paid attention to the notion of “transmission, communication”, more so than before, so I intended to make it relatively easy to understand.
Finally, the artist who worked on the design of the CD artwork paid great attention to it, with details referring directly to the music video. Therefore, I wish that not only Japanese fans, but also fans from abroad could get a physical copy of this album.
As overseas fans, can we expect to be able to participate in more of your activities?
I am currently 100% focused on the creation of my new work, but once things calm down I definitely want to try new ways of sharing my music!
I really want to do my best from now on so that my music can reach people from all over the world without worrying about countries or borders!
Also, it’s difficult because of the coronavirus situation nowadays, but I would love to be invited abroad to perform!
From now on, what are your short-term goals or long-term goals?
As a short-term goal, I would like to be able to sing for a project in a field I haven’t worked in before.
Especially since I’ve recently moved to the Kanto region for my career; experiencing many things I haven’t been able to before is my current goal!
As a long-term goal, to sing for the rest of my life.
Before we end this interview, please share a message with our readers!
Thank you for your continuous support!
That I have been able to keep singing until now, is without a doubt thanks to everyone’s encouragement.
From here on out, I’ll be able to keep singing as long as you are by my side.
I would be very grateful if I could continue receiving that support!
From this point forward, I will experiment with new things and face many challenges, and I want you all to accompany me in this journey.
Your support is absolutely essential to me.
I will give it my all from now on as well.
To the people who have read the interview up till this point and who have never heard my songs, I would be very happy if this article is the reason you take an interest in my work—even if it’s just a little bit.
Thank you for giving me this wonderful opportunity!
We’re truly honored to be given the opportunity to be the first to interview Sennzai, which is why we decided to include a Japanese version too—to make it more accessible. We encourage you to listen to the wonderful album “RedemptioN” and experience Sennzai’s angelic voice first hand!
- lar ililialar ililia
- Kanousei no Shoujo可能性の少女
- Shisou = Musou思想＝夢想
- lar ililia (Instrumental Ver.)lar ililia (Instrumental Ver.)
- Kanousei no Shoujo (Instrumental Ver.)可能性の少女 (Instrumental Ver.)
- Unhumanize (Instrumental Ver.)アンヒューマナイズ (Instrumental Ver.)
- Lure (Instrumental Ver.)Lure (Instrumental Ver.)
- Compensation (Instrumental Ver.)Compensation (Instrumental Ver.)
- Shisou = Musou (Instrumental Ver.)思想＝夢想 (Instrumental Ver.)
- RedemptioN (Instrumental Ver.)RedemptioN (Instrumental Ver.)