Kalafina made an appearance on Tokyo Girls’ Update TV (Episode 10), and were willing to let us interview them about some topics that we didn’t have time to discuss during the program.
– In 2014 you released a two-disc best album “THE BEST”, as well as the album “far on the water” in 2015, but was your train of thought different for each?
Keiko: We released our best album last year with the concept of “how far we had come this way together”. We wanted to revisit our history once more, or more like, what kind of work we had been doing at the time the three of us debuted and how far we had come since, and by putting that into an album, we were able to reflect on it all. Additionally we wanted to dig deeper into each of our songs we’d done one by one, and in doing so our musical approach changed as well.
From that heightened sense of awareness we produced far on the water, and during the production at the time of recording it we really felt like, “Oh, we were able to do this so naturally!” with the way we created a natural harmony, the way our voices came together, and the unison between us. So because of that, rather than putting a lot of thought into the recording during production, it felt like we were able to let each other’s singing voices weave together as one on their own. I was reminded again of how natural it all was. It’s surprisingly difficult to make it appear that way. In a song where the vocals switch and change, how to solidify three people’s voices into a single song is very difficult, but we were able to come to some realizations during the production process. We felt an inner bond between us, and for that we were very happy.
– I think all of Kalafina’s members put a substantial amount of detail into your vocals, but could you tell us if there’s something you try to keep in mind when you sing or any original voice training methods you use?
Wakana: When the three of us practice, we have a way for us to create a three-voice harmony, and we’re always trying to incorporate that. I’d be sure to tell the others, for example, something like, “My voice sounds a little different today.” We always discuss things with each other like, “Today my voice is coming out a little lower than usual so I’ll try to hold back a little”, and then letting them hear my voice after explaining it in words so it’ll be clear to everyone, “that’s why today it kind of sounds like there’s an overall roundness to it” or, “If I try to sing a more strongly during the actual performance, I think this might happen.” It’s not just about singing. I think the way each member goes about care and training is different. In my case, I often sing soprano, so after I’ve finished singing, as a cool down I’ll keep sing the same note for five minutes, like a low “oooo” in my range, to cool down my throat.
Hikaru: I don’t have any particularly original voice training, and quite the opposite, I learn quite a lot from Wakana and Keiko. For example, when you sing you use your abs as well as your diaphragm, and in general you use many muscles. As part of voice training there’s an exercise where you breathe out while repeating “fu fu fu”, and if you keep up with it every day you’ll be able to hold notes for longer, which is something they taught me and I’ve put into practice.
Keiko: People often tell us that our bodies are an instrument… and whenever we hear that we feel ourselves straighten up (laugh), but it really is true. When the three of us sing, depending on where our sound comes from– for example, the top of the head, the chest, or places like the nose or the chin on the face… Depending on where the our sound comes from, it changes the quality of our voice. So that we can get our sound to come our from whatever part of the body we want it to, we do considerable vowel training.
– Do you completely decide who is going to do which part, how and with what part of the body to sing from for this or that particular song?
Keiko: No, we don’t plan things out that far. When the three of us sing there’s a point where we feel it would sound nice for us to harmonize, and then one of us will say something like, “I’ll do this part,” and then, “Okay then I’ll do that part,” and that’s how we make it. We try to make our harmonies sound good, or to create a good tone quality that is pleasant on the ears, but that’s something the three of us come up with together. When the time comes all three of us will sing and we’ll find that sound together, and then do that kind of training over and over.
– Your bodies really are an instrument, then.
Keiko: But if you say it like that it’ll really make us tense up. (laugh) Every day the condition of our bodies is different, so it’s important to keep from being shaky as much as possible. But since there’s three of us, if I’m not doing very well than Wakana or Hikaru can help me out, and so we support one another.
– I see. You really can’t afford to be careless, then! Moving on, are there any placese or things you would recommend to foreigners visiting Japan?
Wakana: It would definitely be sushi! I love the restaurant chain Sushizanmai. (laugh) I go there a lot.
– What do you recommend there?
Wakana: They have something called an “aburi set”. It has cooked fatty tuna, cooked fin meat, and cooked salmon sushi. Also their toro-taku rolls! It has picked radish and fatty tuna. I also like their monkfish/goosefish liver! Fish is really delicious. Please give it a try!
Hikaru: Kyoto, naturally. It’s the best place to feel the atmosphere of Japan. Also, if you venture away from the cities and to the countryside, like where there are many isolated houses, I think you can get a taste of things that have a real Japanese flavor. Like with buildings that look different from those overseas, like temples and so on. If you really want to relax, I recommend the countryside over the city.
Keiko: In that case, you can to Kyoto to really experience Japan and then go to Sushizanmai when you come back to the city. (laugh) If you do that, wouldn’t Shibuya be the place to go? It’s a spot I’d like everyone to visit! Even for us, it’s a place that changes so fast it dizzying. New buildings appear and others that were there disappear. It’s a place where you can really feel the era of today. It’s the source of all the latest trends. So I think it would be good to try standing in the middle of it. (laugh) I’d like everyone to try walking across the Shibuya scramble intersection.
– Thank you for your suggestions. We definitely hope everyone will give them a try. Finally, what is something new you’d like to try as Kalafina?
Keiko: Of course I think making changes are important, but as far as Kalafina goes, we think “not changing” is important. There’s beauty in the things you keep doing and the things that don’t change, and within that we try challenge ourselves to make small changes or create small bursts of inspiration.
When we meet artists who have different tastes in music from what we’re doing, we can learn from their singing methods and methods of appeal that we haven’t tried yet. In those instances we don’t just bring in those influences as they are, but always challenge ourselves to “express it in song in a way that reflects our own style”.