Thanks a million to carlenne for translating and posting this translation on her blog.
Chapter I: Kalafina
Solo Interview: Hikaru
Hikaru also holds a straight and honest ‘core’ within her gentle and soft manner. Her background of being chosen among countless other people is proof of her ability. She tells of the struggle she travailed in co-operation with her mother.
– Hikaru-san, what is your first memory?
Hikaru:I don’t really remember. I do remember when my little sister was born and holding her. UntiI then I had lived the life of an only child. In an instant it felt as if my mama and papa had been taken away by my little sister. I think it must have felt that way. Also the scenery when we went to my new kindergarten after moving moved house. There was a large playground at the new kindergarten and we played Sailor Moon. That might be my oldest memory.
– What kind of child were you back then?
Hikaru: I think I was a very energetic child. I don’t think I was shy long ago. Although now that I’ve become an adult I might have become a little shy. It’s different from the usual pattern, isn’t it? (laughs) When I was little I used to play in parks and became friendly with children I didn’t know, I even gave my home address to the parents of the children (laughs). Without knowing why thank you cards kept coming my mother was like ‘Who is this?’ (laughs) She scolded me ‘You shouldn’t tell them!’ I was that kind of danger-prone, thoughtless child.
– What kind of life did you lead once you reached primary school?
Hikaru: In any case, we moved house often. It was a lot of fun, but it also felt hard to make friends. Whenever I transferred, although I said ‘I’ll get in contact with you again’ in the end I never ended up doing so (laughs). Whenever we moved to a new place, I would be enjoying the lifestyle there and end up forgetting about keeping in contact with friends from the previous school. I didn’t really leave behind much attachment to the previous places. A transfer student was something of a novelty so everyone would talk to you. It was at that time I would talk to people and become quite friendly with them. I also got quite friendly with a girl who I took lessons with. Even now I’m in contact with her and she’s probably the only person who I can call a close friend. I might be the only one who thinks that though (laughs).
– Did your family like music?
Hikaru: My mother liked music. She also liked karaoke too so she often took me along with her when I was little, she also taught me about abdominal breathing when I was at a very young age. It seems my mother also thought that I liked music. Because I did things like singing along while watching the television and also when we went shopping I sang along while listening to the store music. Because my mother also liked music I think it had an effect on me. Before I realised it I also liked music. I don’t have a moment (in my memories) when I thought ‘Because of this event, I got into music!’
– So it’s reasonable to say that singing rather than listening came first for you.
Hikaru: That’s right. It was like ‘I want to sing! I want to be on TV!’ I don’t know if you’ll believe me even if I say this but my mother says ‘Ever since Hikaru was still inside my belly, I knew she would be a child that loved music.’ She also said this when I was auditioning (for Kalafina) but everyone scoffed and laughed (laughs).
– Apart from abdominal breathing what else did your mother teach you?
Hikaru: Every day we spent time practicing singing. I would sing karaoke while playing the CD and she would say ‘It would be better to do this part like this’ and get really angry saying, ‘That’s no good at all.’ I have also practiced while crying a lot. My mother’s word was absolute. Even if I thought ‘I hate this’ at times, I couldn’t say so, so I went to where the laundry was and did this (does a ‘bang bang’ pounding gesture) to the laundry (laughs). My mother’s thought process is very quick so her comebacks were always immediate, I was like ‘I’ve had enough…’ (laughs) In the end, we didn’t end up fighting.
– Is your relationship unchanged even now?
Hikaru: It hasn’t changed. As well as being my mother, she’s also like a friend. We have overcome many things working together. I can ask and talk to her about anything. On that point, there are some things I don’t want her to interfere in that she does though (laughs).
– How did you have fun with your friends during middle and high school?
Hikaru: I had a very strict curfew at my house, it was 8 o’clock. Going out at night was strictly forbidden. I couldn’t stay late even when doing karaoke so after a while they stopped wanting to invite me. Even when someone said to me ‘Let’s go have fun’ I turned them down saying ‘No, I can’t have any scandals.’ (laughs) I was honestly always told ‘You musn’t go along when people invite you to do something bad. If you really want to debut, you definitely musn’t go out at night.’ I also don’t eat spicy food and quit drinking carbonated drinks in the earlier years of primary school. I also abstain from all things that might have an effect on my throat. Thanks to that even now I have never experienced any major illnesses. For the sake of singing, I’ve lived my life having quit going out at night, and all the rest of it.
– Did you never think ‘I’ve even become a high school student, I hate having a curfew’?
Hikaru: I may have wanted to try living such a life (laughs). I didn’t participate in the student council or do club activities or anything. In the meantime, during my teen years I had to persevere! But thanks to that I’m able to have what I do now (laughs).
– You graduated high school while still aiming to be a singer, what happened after that?
Hikaru: I went on to a foreign language vocational school so that I could study English. I thought that since it was English it might come in handy in the future, even if I couldn’t become a singer it would definitely help in finding employment. When I graduated would be the time to decide whether or not I would pursue work as a singer. I was more than a year into my studies when I graduated and moved to Tokyo.
– You were still a student when the Kalafina project began, weren’t you?
Hikaru: Yes, that’s right. I was studying (laughs).
I didn’t think about singing other than as a solo act
– What was the first music you liked so much that you wanted to buy the CD yourself?
Hikaru: The first time I bought a CD I was in high school, it was a Destiny’s Child CD. Before that it was just like my mother would buy me CD’s in order for me to practice singing. Naomi Tamura-san’s ‘Yuzurenai Negai’ and Seiko Matsuda’s ‘Anata ni aitakute (~Missing you~)’ and the like. There was also BoA-san, Mika Nakashima-san and MISIA-san among others.
– Although you had been listening to J-POP, the first CD you spend money and bought yourself was Destiny’s Child?
Hikaru: I got a Beyonce live DVD from Santa and when I watched it I came to like it a lot. When I heard that the unit that person was in was releasing a CD I thought ‘I’ll buy it!’ My singing style has a tendency of becoming flat so when I took voice training I was once told ‘There are many R&B artists who sing in a flat way so don’t listen to it too much.’ If I were to offer up an example of the music I have listening to up until now they would all be artists who have a tendency to sing in a flat way. However I can’t help but want to listen to them sometimes. Even if I have to brush aside what my sensei told I me I listen to them! Kind of like that (laughs).
– So would you say that your musical back bone is R&B, Hikaru-san?
Hikaru: I think that’s correct. I loved J-POP and R&B artists.
– Prior to Kalafina did you take auditions while aiming to be a pro singer?
Hikaru: That’s right. I started taking them from when I was in primary school. In high school I went to a Sony Music audition and I made it to the final inspection, it was someone who saw a video of that audition that called for me to come to the Kalafina audition.
– So that’s how it happened. Did you take quite a few auditions?
Hikaru: Yes. My documents always made it through inspection. Each time I would ride the Shinkansen to Tokyo with my mother. For places close by it was Kanzezawa, I also went to Nagoya and Osaka. It was like going on a trip. After the audition was over my mother would say ‘What kind of things did they ask you?’ but my memory would be hazy and when I would reply ‘Hm, what kind of things did they ask me?’ she would get angry and say ‘Remember the things they say to you!’ (laughs)
– Did you get any jobs from the auditions?
Hikaru: When I was still very young I was in a CM while I was going to a training school I entered via an audition. After that I quit the training school but was scouted by the entertainment production in whose CM I appeared in and trotted out in various CMs broadcast in the Hokuriku prefectures. I was in over 20 CMs. Another thing was when my mother applied and I ended up appearing on the cover of ‘Kids De-View.’ The first time I undertook work was sometime during kindergarten.
– From the time you were old enough to be aware of what was going on, you worked hard while working in tandem with your mother, didn’t you?
Hikaru: That’s right. She would bring clothes along saying ‘These would be good for this audition, don’t you think?’ (laughs) While talking it over together we would decide on the clothes that I would wear to the audition.
– When you aimed to become a singer, as expected you were thinking of a solo career?
Hikaru: It was because I definitely wanted to sing the main melody when singing a chorus and also because I didn’t think that group work with others was a particular strong point of mine. Especially with singing, I want to do things in the way I want to do them. I didn’t really consider singing in a group at all. Artists like Morning Musume have hits, but more than singing with everyone else and doing the same dances I thought that I wanted to do the things I wanted to do. I had not thoughts of being anything other than a solo singer.
The suffocating first recording
– With the Sony Music audition as the occasion, your heart’s desire was granted and you grasped the chance to debut in Kalafina. How does it feel when looking back on that time?
Hikaru: At first it was a situation in which I didn’t know anything. In the meantime, the only thing I knew was that ‘You will be singing the theme for an anime’, I didn’t know what kind of unit it would be or what kind of anime. However someone called for me saying ‘Will you take the audition?’ so I went and sang and a little while later was asked ‘Would you like to sing the theme songs for the Kara no Kyoukai anime movies as a unit?’ When they said ‘There are seven movies in total however we will be deciding the singer by instalment so I don’t know whether or not you will get to sing the main melody. What would you like to do?’, ‘I’ll do it’ was my first answer. I didn’t know what would happen but I felt that I may as well try going for it. However, although I didn’t know it the CD for ‘oblivious’ had already been released (laughs). When I looked at the Kalafina home page the release information was there. I was like ‘Huh? I took the audition, didn’t I? I wonder who these people are…’ (laughs) At the time I still hadn’t been introduced so I didn’t know anybody. In any case I thought ‘It seems that I’ll be joining Kalafina so I’d better listen to the CD in preparation’ so I bought it and listened to it (laughs).
– So you bought it (laughs).
Hikaru: And just after that the recording company sent the sampler CD (laughs). I wonder if I ended up contributing to the overall sales? (laughs) However I did think ‘Is it really alright for me to come into the middle of these peoples’ voices?’ Their voices were completely different to my own. It felt very classical however at that time my voice didn’t have any elements of that at all. I thought ‘I do fit this unit, right?’ (laughs) Eventually they got in touch and said ‘We’ll be taking photos.’ Some weeks later the photos were put up on the home page and I finally felt, ‘I’m really going to be in Kalafina!’ It was about that time that written music for six songs was sent to me, they were for the temporary versions of the ‘Kara no Kyoukai’ songs. Once I’d frantically finished practising, it was time to record them, so all of a sudden I was being taken to a recording booth.
– You came up to Tokyo from Toyama.
Hikaru: Yes. At that time I was so flustered at first I put on the headphones with the right and left sides mixed up (laughs). Somehow or other I ended up finishing the recording, after that when I was in Toyama again another message came. It said ‘The songs we are doing now are ‘sprinter’ and ‘ARIA’, however Hikaru-chan you will be singing as the main vocal.’ I was like ‘Eh, is that alright?’ My mother and I were both in an uproar saying ‘This is bad! What are we going to do!’ (laughs)
– So back then it was your first time recording.
Hikaru: Yes. I was so nervous that my hands went numb. I was suffocating. I was trying too hard and my breathing became faint. In that state I finished singing the recording. I cannot forget that experience. It had a great impact on me.
– With the main vocals being entrusted to you, you had to answer those expectations.
Hikaru: Even though the other two were in (the CD) before me…. isn’t it bad for me to sing the main vocal for both ‘sprinter’ and ‘ARIA’… I couldn’t help but think things like that, for the first time in my life I had a stomach ache. I was happy at having the main vocal entrusted to me, and I thought that I would give it my all, but on the other hand I felt extremely guilty.
– At that point in time, had you still not met Wakana-san or Keiko-san?
Hikaru: I met them during the recording of the demo song. The first time I met them it was from across the recording booth so it was like ‘Hello there.’ After that I also met them when we went to inspect the Pacifico Yokohama Kokuritsu Dai Hall for “Dream Port” (Revo & Yuki Kajiura Presents Dream Port 2008). The first time we worked together was for the filming of the ‘sprinter’ music video, after that we received our information together which led to what I consider my first live (Opening Act for “Yuki Kajiura LIVE vol. #2).
– When did the consciousness of working as a unit sprout within you, Hikaru-san?
Hikaru: When we were still doing opening acts I was not thinking about doing lives just with Kalafina, so I did not have any of those feelings at all. For the time being, I was in live performances as part of Kalafina. After that, when ‘Seventh Heaven’ and ‘Lacrimosa’ were released simultaneously, we had a kick-off event (“Kalafina Kick Off Greeting Vol. 0”). After the event was over I faced the decision I had made in my heart to move to Tokyo. When I told the other two about my decision to move to Tokyo by the end of March we talked it over saying, ‘If Hikaru-chan comes to Tokyo we’ll be able to practice more then.’ By coming to Tokyo, I was able to come to the come to the resolution that ‘We’ll be doing it with the three of us’, I also felt that Kalafina would be able to continue activities outside of ‘Kara no Kyoukai.’ As expected, the occasion was the kick-off event. If I remember correctly, our costumes back then weren’t like they are now, they were flower-patterned one pieces. The three of us were talking about it before like ‘Did Kalafina always have this image…?’ (laughs)
– Did you move to Tokyo upon telling your family of your decision?
Hikaru: That’s right. At first I thought of living alone, but it would have been difficult financial-wise. That being the case, it was better for all of us to go. It was right about that time my little sister was taking the high school examination so she decided to apply for a high school in Tokyo and we all went. We searched for an apartment while saying ‘The rent is so high!’ (laughs)
– Up to this point I get the feeling you had not experienced much disappointment.
Hikaru: Every time I was turned down in an audition I felt it. That ‘Time is running out.’ I often talked about it with my mother ever since I entered high school, saying ‘Now that I’ve become such and such an age, time’s really running out.’ I still did intend on giving it my all though… Every time I was turned down, we talked about it together saying ‘What will we do about the next audition?’
– In that situation did you think of saying things like ‘I want to quit’ or ‘I can’t keep going on with this anymore’ to your mother?
Hikaru: I never thought of wanting to quit. There was a feeling of working together with my mother but it never felt as if she was dragging me into it. Because I said that I wanted to do it my mother helped out too. She said to me ‘If you don’t want to do it, you don’t have to.’ However there wasn’t anything else I wanted to do. In my vision of the future there wasn’t anything else but becoming a singer. I thought that even if I was turned down in an audition, I could always gamble on the next one. I don’t know why, but I thought that ‘It’ll all work out somehow.’ I thought ‘I’ll definitely become (a singer)!’
– When your song came in a Kalafina CD what did your mother think of it?
Hikaru: She said ‘It’s great.’ She handed the CD around to acquaintances. At the time, the information that I was the singer still hadn’t fully come out, so she was like ‘Don’t tell anyone, OK? This is Hikaru singing.’ (laughs) However at the time we were still living in Toyama so I didn’t truly feel as if I had become a singer.
– When did the feeling of having truly become a singer form?
Hikaru: It was when ‘storia’ was released. It was the first song after ‘Kara no Kyoukai’ had finished and I had moved to Tokyo. Friends from my hometown emailed me saying ‘I heard it.’ Even though I was in Tokyo, I experienced a strange sensation upon knowing that friends in a far off place were listening to my songs, so it was then that the feeling of having truly become a singer formed.
– I think that the way you perceived being a part of a music unit in Kalafina has changed quite a bit since the time you first joined compared to now. What kind of existence has Kalafina become to Hikaru-san now?
Hikaru: Now… it is the place that moves me. It is the single reason I leave the house (laughs). To me it is living. If I didn’t have Kalafina, I might be dead. Truly. I probably wouldn’t eat. Because of Kalafina, I take care of my physical condition, I live my life with my focus always on it. Without Kalafina I probably wouldn’t be who I am now.
– Your current lifestyle mode is focused on Kalafina. If not for it that would mean you might be dead.
Hikaru: It’s kind of like ‘ding!’ (laughs) I wouldn’t leave the house, and probably just be lying down while eating snacks stacked up all around me (laughs). However, self-awareness sprouted. Now I can clearly see the boundary between the things I want to do and the things I must do as part of Kalafina.
– What was the event that caused that budding of self-awareness?
Hikaru: I think there is the fact that I have been able to sing many songs and have being doing a lot of lives as well as that we’ve talked about it among the three of us saying ‘It’s like this, isn’t it?’, there have also been many scenes where I have thought within myself ‘It’s like that’ so I think that was also a primary factor. I think it would be quite weak if it was just me thinking it on my own. But there are three people in Kalafina. If it was just me I wouldn’t mind what people thought, if something happened it might cause trouble for Kalafina though, and thereafter there also might be difficulties for my self within Kalafina. I’ve become able to feel for myself as an individual as well that I don’t want to be thought of in that way.
– To Hikaru-san Kalafina is a place you feel you must protect.
Hikaru: That’s right. I have a lot of fun here, and even within my own life I feel as if the things we are doing now are something extraordinary. When I’m about to die and think back on my life, because I think I am doing something I will remember at that time, I don’t want to destroy this place. Because I’m human I might feel certain things but I want to band together with everyone and make something good, I want to have something good to show. As expected, I think that when working with others, it’s important to be considerate of the feelings of the people you are working with. I want to go on while placing importance on things like that.
– What would you say is Hikaru-san’s role in Kalafina?
Hikaru: Let’s see… I think it’s OK for me not to talk as much (laughs). I don’t talk that much, however as it is necessary to, I think it is my job to measure the correct timing for when I do speak (laughs). The result of me having become able to talk more little by little has become the kind of balance we have now. I think probably that balance is a good thing. When looking from an objective point of view, seeing that I don’t talk as much is interesting I think.
– In Kalafina it seems as if Keiko-san’s role is to draw attention little by little while looking at the overall picture, I get the feeling that Hikaru-san’s role is look at the overall picture from an adult perspective.
Hikaru: An adult! (laughs) That is probably because I was the eldest daughter. Because the two of them are a little sister with an older brother and a little sister with an older sister. The parts where (the two of them) think that they would like to go first on, they go first on, their feelings of having parts they feel they cannot yield are stronger than my own. If everyone were to go first then it would be a bit too much so I feel like I should go afterwards. I’m always having thoughts like that.
Look straight ahead, and do your best at the things you can do right now!
– Then, Hikaru-san, what kind of existence is Keiko-san to you?
Hikaru: Keiko is the person with the most objectivity. Everyone feels that they want to make Kalafina into a good thing however the one who is thinking that the most is Keiko. She is able to see ahead as well as the present. That is why the person who most often gives her opinion and says ‘Kalafina is in this type of situation, so I think we should do this,’ is Keiko. What she looks at also includes the three of us so whatever she says is always spot on. She is also quite hard on herself too so I respect her a lot. I think she is the one who works the hardest. I can tell from the extremity of her words that she gives her opinion because she has thought it through thoroughly herself. She also has her playful side. She has quite a few cute slips of the tongue where you want to quip ‘No, that’s not right.’ (laughs) I can’t say it though (laughs). She is a very cute person in private. Like she holds onto your hand. She wants to feel the warmth of another person, probably (laughs). I think she is probably the type to gain composure from skinship with others.
– That is an adult –like opinion (laughs).
Hikaru: However, she is a person that when she wants to be alone, really wants to be alone, so when she has a ‘Leave me alone’ type aura I quietly leave her be. She has a lot of depth to her however because she is easy to understand it is easy interact with her. I spend each day watching Keiko from behind thinking ‘I have to follow her example, I have to do it myself as well.’
– Then, what kind of existence is Wakana-san to you?
Hikaru: I think Wakana is someone who places a lot of importance on common sense. She carefully watches the things other people say and do and is considerate of them and she also teaches me what is imporant as a person. When you enter this kind of world, in times like this you should do this, she teaches me the things I don’t know. As I thought, she is also Kalafina’s mood maker. She is dependable in a different way to Keiko’s feeling of dependability, Wakana has a feeling of drawing everyone in. No matter the question she will answer it, and on the point that she is always watching people, she can also adapt herself to any situation. Also, because Wakana is someone who knows very well what she has to do, when she notices something, she will focus there and there will suddenly be a moment when she can’t see what’s happening around her. Just at those times times I think ‘I’ll support her.’ It really is interesting when is it just the two of us. Because I like her we are able to be together, I can also respect her as a person, it’s fun being together and because there is trust, I can be at ease. We are neither friends nor family, but I think there is something more there than just the relationship between a work acquaintance.
– And how about Kajiura-san?
Hikaru: It’s like she is in a place very high up, yet at the same time she is someone that feels very close by. Your hand doesn’t reach, but you have a very strong sensation of her being by your side. She thinks of Kalafina itself with great care and I also think it like she is raising us. Not only as artists, it also feels as if she is watching over us as individuals as well. She is a severe person when it comes to work and also points out things for us saying ‘Isn’t this part here wrong?’ however, she makes songs that esteem the character of the voice that is ‘Hikaru’ and serve to make the best use of it. It is in that meaning that I think that she really does a lot for for me. Normally I do not see her except in a work setting, however because she is a very thoughtful person, I always receive birthday presents from her, bath salts and the like. Regarding the consideration of such a person, I feel like I have to follow her example. As a person and also as a woman. Because she is someone I can respect musically as well as a person, I am grateful just to have been able to work with her like this. I feel very glad that my producer was Yuki Kajiura.
– Is Kajiura-san like a teacher to Kalafina?
Hikaru: If Kalafina was a plant, then Kajiura-san would be the soil, the sun and the water. She is the person who created Kalafina and also the one that allowed us to grow. I cannot express it in just one word. Kalafina exists because of the three of us and Kajiura-san.
– Hereafter as the individual singer Hikaru what kind of musical life are you thinking of leading?
Hikaru: For now…. I am thinking of doing my best in Kalafina for a number of years. I think it’s a lot of fun and that there are a lot of things I can do so I want to do it with all my might. Although in the future I would like to conduct musical activities as the individual singer Hikaru, and there are many things I want to try doing, for now I want to focus on Kalafina. Even if I were to do activities on my own, I wouldn’t want Kalafina to cease to exist… selfish of me, isn’t it? I want the three of us to do the things we want to do while still being in Kalafina as well. Still having a place that I can return to while conducting solo activities is my ideal. It’s a warm place where I feel comfortable so as expected it’s place where I can think ‘This is great.’ Because we’re always constantly thinking of putting out the best that we can whenever we’re working on a new song, I think we’re always able to make the best of songs. Regarding having the consciousness that we are doing something amazing, there are more things I want to do, more things that I want to hear, more things I want to come to like. No matter how many times I’ve heard them, I want to know more of the depths of the songs, it is simply in the part of me that has emotions placed in those songs that those kinds of feelings are very strong. I feel that having a place such as this is a very happy thing. I think that everything about my lifestyle as part of Kalafina are very happy things.
– Hikaru-san, you are quite logical and forward thinking, aren’t you? The way ahead is a straight and forward road.
Hikaru: It’s because I don’t really want to look to the side, nor do I want to look back. It feels a bit like, ‘Look straight ahead, and do your best at the things you can do right now!’ It might be just an ideal, but I would like it if everyone could face forwards with a smile. If you are always happy, everyone else around you will be able to be happy too.