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Text Interviews » J-Pop World Interview with Kalafina and Yuki Kajiura

Interview originally posted on J-Pop World.

Part One

Let’s start with your latest news. On March 4th Kalafina released their first full album, “Seventh Heaven”. How long had you been working on the music and how would you describe its musical style?

Yuki: The 1st single was written during the fall in 2007, then the 2nd, 3rd single came along, so it took about a year and a half. It’s hard to describe what the musical style is. I guess all I could say is that it’s “Kalafina Style”.

The song Seventh Heaven was the theme song to The Garden of Sinners (Kara no Kyoukai). Can you tell us more about your involvement in that anime film series?

Yuki: First of all, I became in charge of the soundtrack for the film, and then I started to produce all the theme songs with this new project “Kalafina”.

Can you tell us about the song Oblivious? What’s the story behind it?

Yuki: I’ll leave that up to your imagination. I think that the interpretation could vary from person to person, so whatever you felt, that’s the truth to this song.

Which songs on the album are your favorites to perform live?

Wakana: Love come down, because we could all dance to it!

Keiko: Ongaku (music).

Hikaru: ARIA. The combination of the fantastic chorus and the subtle, yet strong melody would feel even more beautiful during our live performance.

Can you describe what the recording sessions were like?

Yuki: First we’d record the melody part, and then we would add the chorus on top. Sometimes the chorus would change during our overdubbing process.

You also released the group’s latest single “Lacrimosa”, on March 4th. Can you tell us about the songs Lacrimosa and Gloria?

Yuki: Lacrimosa was the ending theme for the anime series “Kuroshitsuji” (Black Butler), and since the series had some religious elements to it, I interpreted that view into my music. I wanted this song to have a strong energy to live even inside sadness.

Gloria is about a very happy couple who has now decided to live together. But some people have pointed out that it doesn’t sound happy because of the sad melody line (laughs).

Wakana: Lacrimosa is a song about the passionate shouting spirit. It’s got a clear contrast, and it could sound either “calm” or in “motion”.

Gloria is about the silent sorrow, and also the passion deep inside the heart.

Keiko: I fell in love with Lacrimosa when I first heard it! I remember that the melody line smoothly soaked in. It was the first time to sing so strongly with Wakana, so that was a very fresh feeling for me. And Gloria is actually perhaps my favorite song. I’ve always enjoyed listening to simple, acoustic songs, like piano & vocals, or acoustic guitar & vocals. But when it comes to performing, I like to sing more of energetic, dynamic songs (laughs).

Hikaru: If Lacrimosa is the passionate red, Gloria is the silent blue. But I feel like both songs share a purple partial as well.

How would you compare Lacrimosa’s sound and feel to the other songs on your album?

Yuki: I think the lyrics are especially influenced from the animation.

Wakana: It’s an intense song with even more of a fantasy, classical vibe. I felt that this song too, faithfully reproduced the original anime feel/image.

Keiko: I instinctively felt that Lacrimosa has a strong sense of the Medieval European feel!

Hikaru: I sang this song with a little touch of spirituality compare to the other songs.

From May 22nd to the 24th you will be attending Anime Boston 2009 at the Hynes Convention Center in Boston. How did you get involved with them?

Yuki: It was a recommendation from the record company.

What can fans who attend expect to see?

Yuki: There is a different attraction from the recorded overdubbed chorus, to an actual live chorus work, so I hope you enjoy their live performance.

Wakana: Visually, the driving live performance, and our individual characteristics. Musically, our 3-part chorus and the intricate melody.

Keiko: The gap between the image of our voice and our actual voice (laughs). I hope you could enjoy our music live!

Hikaru: I hope that you could enjoy our “live feel”.

Will this be your first time as a group traveling overseas together?

Yuki: Yes, it’s the first time.

What do you think of the fascination so many people around the world have for Japanese animation and music?

Yuki: Animation is still a young culture in Japan, so I feel that there are many creators that have a very free mind with an adventurous spirit. Perhaps that might be why it’s getting the support from the young people overseas.

Wakana: I think it’s great! I personally love animation and manga, so I’m simply happy to see our culture being accepted outside of Japan as well.

Keiko: I feel simply happy! We wouldn’t be able to go to Boston if it wasn’t for that, and I really thank all the anime music fans all over the world.

Do you have a final message to all your fans?

Yuki: It’s our first overseas performance as Kalafina. The members seems to be all excited already, so I hope we could all have a great time together.

Wakana: I’m nervous to perform abroad for the first time, but I’ll be looking forward to see you all! I hope you could feel and enjoy our music with us!

Keiko: I’m very excited to meet you all! I love you all~

Hikaru: Thank you so much for all your support. I’m already excited for Anime Boston, and I hope to enjoy with you all!

Part Two

Let’s learn more about everyone. First off, Yuki Kajiura can you tell us about the hometown you grew up in?

Yuki: Most of my childhood memories are from West Germany, Düsseldorf. It was a very beautiful city with a lot of trees, sort of similar to Boston.

What kind of kid were you? What types of things did you like to do?

Yuki: I was already really into music from my father’s influence. I have been listening to a lot of music since I was in 1st grade, and then I would try to play them on the piano and sing along. It was probably in either German or Italian, but I was just trying to copy what I heard and having fun.

How do you think living in Germany influenced who you are now?

Yuki: I think it has influenced me somewhere deep inside me. The climate and the landscapes are complete different from Japan, and perhaps those feelings are somewhat reflected in my composition.

Can you tell us a little bit about your college years? What did you study and what were you career plans at the time?

Yuki: I was studying English Literature, and my graduation thesis was about Fitzgerald. At the time, I wasn’t planning to become a professional musician at all, and I started working at a major communications company in Japan. I thought that I’ll be working there all my life.

How did your band “Sea-Saw” get started back in 1992? What kind of music did you want to create?

Yuki: There wasn’t a specific music genre that we were aiming for at the time. I just simply wanted to play my own compositions

Your music has become a staple of Japanese anime. Are there certain songs or projects you are most proud of?

Yuki: Frankly speaking, I really can’t choose one. Once I become part of a project, I would deeply get involved, so I have a special feeling towards each individual project.

If you were in charge of the music industry, what changes would you make?

Yuki: I personally think that there’s no need to change the music industry. I think it’s more important that the creators pursue what they really want to make, and do what they really love, rather than changing the industry.

What led you to form Kalafina? What were your goals for the group?

Yuki: The start was the film, “The Garden of Sinners,” and there were no goals initially. I wanted to go with the feeling.

Keiko, Hikaru and Wakana can you each also describe the hometowns you grew up in?

Keiko: I was born in Tokyo, where there were many traditional shopping streets. I was a little embarrassed around people, and was a shy kid.

Hikaru: I was born in the Toyama prefecture. The seasonal changes are very distinguished and beautiful.

Wakana: I was born in Tokyo, and raised in Fukuoka surrounded by mountains. Fukuoka was where I was exposed in singing, and it’s also where I met my teacher.

What did each of you want to be when you were in high school?

Keiko: I started practicing singing and dancing since middle school to become a singer.

Hikaru: I was already auditioning at the time.

Wakana: I decided to become a singer when I was in 11th grade. This is when I came across with Gospel music.

How did each of you first get into music?

Keiko: Through J-Pop. I started singing and dancing as a child because I wanted to become a singer who could do both.

Hikaru: I grew up in a house where there was always music playing, so it was very natural for me. I decided that I’d become a singer when I was 3.

Wakana: I’ve always enjoyed singing since I was a kid, and I wanted to sing for someone, and for many people.

What projects or groups had you been in before joining Kalafina?

Keiko & Wakana: FictionJunction

Can you describe how you each joined the group?

Kalafina: Through an audition.

What are your thoughts and feelings about being a part of Kalafina?

Keiko: It’s very inspiring to team up with Hikaru and Wakana, who both have a completely different character, so I feel that we’re all able to elevate each other.

Hikaru: I’m just simply very happy to be here.

Wakana: I’m very glad that Kajiura-san found the three of us and formed Kalafina.

What do your family and friends think of your musical careers?

Keiko: They are all happy about it, and very supportive.

Hikaru: People tell me that they like the music even through an objective prospective.

Wakana: I really thank my family for supporting my dream.

Yuki, what are your plans for the rest of the year? Any other projects in the works you can tell us about?

Yuki: I have a few other soundtracks that I’ll be working on, and I also have some of my own live concerts coming up in July. I’m very excited about that.

Does anyone have anything else they want to bring up or comment on?

All: We are all very happy to be at Anime Boston, and we hope to come back to America! Thank you very much for all your support.

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