English translation (based on the German subtitles) of the full video interview of Kalafina from the DVD that was included inside the German magazine “Animania”. Translation by Firak
Interviewer: Hello Keiko, Hikaru and Wakana. We are pleased to meet you, welcome to AnimagiC. Is this your first visit to Germany and can you share some of your impressions?
Wakana: Yes, we are in Germany for the first time and are really excited about the beautiful cities. We have performed here in Bonn on two days. The audience has greeted us heartily and allowed us to experience unforgettable concerts. I am a huge fan of Studio Ghibli and therefore very happy to be in Germany, which was the model for a number of Ghibli locations.
Interviewer: How did you get into singing and what was your career like before you joined Kalafina?
Keiko: Each of us has her own history, but we all were determined to become a singer since childhood. Becoming part of Kalafina has allowed us to grow, both in vocal and musical terms.
Interviewer: How did you first come into contact with producer Yuki Kajiura and how did you join Kalafina?
Hikaru: Kalafina was formed initially to record the title songs of the animated film series “Kara no Kyoukai”. The three of us have been selected through an audition. Keiko and Wakana had already worked with Kajiura-san before, while I joined the group shortly after its formation.
Interviewer: What is the origin of the name Kalafina and what does it mean?
Wakana: Kalafina is an artificial name made up by Kajiura-san, it has no meaning in itself. What is important is the sound of the name, reflecting the group’s image.
Interviewer: Starting with your first single “oblivious” released in January 2008 you have managed a stellar career. Looking back, what are your impressions of the past four and a half years?
Keiko: A lot of things have happened since our debut and we were able to gain many new experiences. I would never have thought that one day we would have so many performances, and especially not that we would be able to sing to a European audience. This is a great experience and I would be glad if everything just stays the way it is.
Interviewer: Can you tell us a bit about the process of making a Kalafina song? What is the collaboration between you and Yuki Kajiura like?
Hikaru: Yuki Kajiura is responsible for composition, lyrics and production of all of Kalafina’s songs. The three of us contribute the singing. Our parts are recorded separately in coordination with Kajiura-san.
Interviewer: Your latest album “After Eden” again contains a mix of calm and rock songs: Would you call this mix of up-tempo and ballad-like songs the “typical Kalafina sound”?
Wakana: In my opinion, our chorus work is the most distinctive element. But “After Eden” is in fact very diverse stylistically. We have focused on creating songs that sound good live, based on our five year experience with concerts. Our music is supposed to be complex and offer each fan room for his or her own interpretations. We will certainly make a lot of new discoveries in the future and our music will constantly evolve.
Interviewer: Do you draw inspiration from other artists or are there particular artists that have strongly influenced the sound of Kalafina?
Wakana: My inspiration to become a singer was born out of enthusiasm for Céline Dion and Whitney Houston.
Keiko: My role model is the Japanese singer Yutaka Ozaki. He showed me the importance of singing from the heart.
Hikaru: And I am a big fan of Beyoncé.
Keiko: Kalafina’s sound – as I see it – is certainly a mixture of all these influences and preferences. And we will continue to work on it in the future.
Interviewer: Your videos as well as your live performances are characterized by a fairy tale like style. From where do you get the inspiration for your captivating costumes?
Keiko: We have costumes made for each new song matching the theme. Many times, fantasy worlds are involved, which explains the fairy tale style costumes. A very insignificant, er, important point… (laughs) are the corsets we always wear.
Interviewer: Your live show is filled with lots of dance segments. How often do you have to train and how do you keep yourself fit?
Hikaru: The choreography always is the result of our previous dance shows, so it is difficult to say how long we have worked on it. But we adapt the movements to each new show, adding new elements and changing others. That is how our current show came to be. Well…
Keiko: Why we are in such a good shape… (laughs)
Hikaru: Oh yes, well… Every one of us has her own tricks. I am hardly doing anything, however. I prefer sleeping, maybe that is my trick. But Keiko and Wakana are into sports. Being active is surely best… but not for me.
Interviewer: How do you prepare for an appearance? Do you have certain rituals that you perform back stage?
Wakana: We do a lot of rehearsals to prepare for our performances. This is also where we design the choreography. We review past performances and share our impressions. This process is really important for our work, we narrow down the direction with each rehearsal. Ideally, the performance will tell how successful we have been, but during the show we are often too focused on other things and that is why rehearsals are such important indicators. Immediately before a show, each of us does her own ritual. But what we have in common is the fondness for a Chinese sweet we discovered on our Asia tour. It is good for your throat and we suck it before each performance now.
Interviewer: You have contributed opening and ending themes for countless anime productions: What are you current favourite films or series?
Wakana: I like everything made by Studio Ghibli.
Keiko: Currently, my favourite series is “Uchuu Kyoudai”.
Hikaru: And I am a huge fan of all of Clamp’s works.
Interviewer: When you contribute a song for an anime, do you watch the complete film or series afterwards?
Keiko: We do watch it, as well as the source material, if it is an adaptation.
Interviewer: What is your favourite way to spend your spare time, when you are not in the recording studio or on stage?
Wakana: Generally, I like to go outdoors. I frequently visit Yoyogi Park in Tokyo when the weather is good. On weekends, there are often festivals focussing on individual countries, for example India or Thailand. You can try all kinds of food there or just enjoy the sun. I really like that.
Keiko: I like to work out, at the gym or in hot yoga classes. In the evening I will eat sweets, regaining any lost weight.
Keiko: Simply great!
Hikaru: I sleep most of the time.
Hikaru: In case I am not asleep, I read or puzzle. I tend to stay at home.
Interviewer: Do you currently work on a new single or even a new album? Can you tell us something about your next projects?
Hikaru: Needless to say, most of our activities are focused on Japan. We have a busy schedule there and are in the midst of preparations, as we want everyone to enjoy it. But we will also do our best to get a chance of performing abroad again in the future.
Interviewer: Finally, do you have a message for your German fans?
Wakana: This is the first time we have visited Germany and Europe. It has been a wish of ours for quite some time and we are very happy that we could make it happen. The audience has superbly supported us on both days and had no reservations at all. It has been a great and encouraging experience for us to see that our music has reached the people in Europe. We will carry this feeling in our hearts back home to Japan and are determined to return to Germany. But we also would not mind a European tour. Just start looking forward to it.