Ani-Me Con 2017, March 18-19th @ the Big Fresno Fairgrounds in Fresno California.
For my latest convention report for 2017, I traveled to Fresno, California for this year’s Ani-Me Con.
Attendance was just over 7,000 for the weekend, making this year their biggest convention yet.
Some of the things you would have found at Ani-Me Con this year included the live action role playing of “Terras Wars”. As well as Ani-Me standards such as the collector card game tournaments, comedy acts, band performances, panels, dance crews and a rave on Saturday night. And also a cosplay contest that took place on both days plus a fashion show.
Special guests include voice talent Erik Kimerer, Sarah Annie Williams and Erika Harlacher and on Saturday there were panels on voice acting, experiences in the industry and autograph signings.
Band performances by “Coast in the clouds” and “Light of mine” and on Sunday a performance by the band “For the record”. Artist panel was by Hyperbooster studio who displayed his talents including drawing manga and also there was a comedy act by Vanna Vandal.
There were three different dance crews on Saturday which include “Empire Dance Crew”, “Royal T”, “Corps Dance Crew” with their hip-hop sailors scouts routine, which was a lot of fun to watch.
On Sunday we had singing and dancing performances by “Lovely Rushers”, who I think did a fantastic job, even though they were not the last act onstage on Sunday, they were a hard act to follow.
On Saturday and Sunday, Ani-Me hosted a cosplay contest. I am really impressed with the level cosplay that’s happening in the Central Valley. From beginner to advance, people are putting a lot of effort and a lot of thought into the costumes of their making. This year they had a fashion show on Sunday, featuring the designs of Miss Alphabet. Very colorful, very fun and the presentation was done very well, quite impressive.
Overall, Ani-Me has definitely grown compared to last year. I have lightly touched, on a lot of the different things that was available at Ani-Me Con.
I haven’t talked about what was on the main floor all the different items that were for sale at reasonably market prices. Like items from Japan, PVC figures, hoodies, games, card games and etc.
The convention had an artists alley with very talented artists. Cosplayers had tables where they had on display items from their different costumes. On display were props, where they could talk about how they made it and the process of what they went through and also giving tips to other people that are interested in making props and costumes.
It was a pleasure to return to Ani-ME Con this year. It will be interesting to see what they do with next year’s event.
Photos By Derek Orchard
When I first discovered Puffy AmiYumi (known as “Puffy” in Japan), they took Japan by their storm with their simple style of t-shirts, blue jeans and sneakers. Bucking the fashion trend and dance choreography of other Japanese female music artists during the 1990’s, Puffy AmiYumi impressed audiences with their style of music and presentation.
The duo consisting of Yumi Yoshimura and Ami Onuki burst into the Japanese music scene back in 1996 dominating the charts. And while Puffy AmiYumi would release their debut album in America and perform in the U.S., it wasn’t until their music was featured in the Cartoon Network animated series “Teen Titans” that the duo would receive recognition internationally.
In 2004, the duo would have their own animated TV series titled “Hi Hi Puffy AmiYumi”, would be featured on a GAP fashion ad and performing at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade.
And as I have interviewed Puffy AmiYumi for the next few years, our last interview with the ladies, was back in 2010 to celebrate the duo’s 15th Anniversary (view our 15th Anniversary Puffy AmiYumi special).
And here we are in 2017, celebrating the duo’s 21-year anniversary and knowing that there are not many female Japanese music artists that have had the same level of success of Puffy AmiYumi and continue to perform for audiences worldwide.
Starting on March 31st, the group will be performing at Anime Boston 2017 and on April 4th, the group will be performing at the Belasco Theater in Los Angeles, followed by a performance on April 6th at the Regency Ballroom in San Francisco and on April 9th at Trees in Dallas, Texas as part of their Puffy AmiYumi US Tour 2017 “#NotLazyTour”.
I recently had the opportunity to interview Puffy AmiYumi about their upcoming U.S. performance:
I interviewed both of you when you made your debut in the United States and I have listened to your music when you first made your single debut “Asia no Junshin” in Japan. What is the biggest difference in your approach to music today versus when you first started out.
Ami: When we debuted, we really didn’t know anything. We were always surprised by how our producer, Tamio Okuda, and other musicians made music and the various things they concentrated on. But now, we really understand how that feels.
Very few Japanese acts were able to penetrate the American music scene, yet Puffy AmiYumi was able to create an audience thanks to the theme song for “Teen Titans” and you eventually had your own animated show in the United States. You had a GAP ad and performed on the Macy’s Parade on national TV. Looking back at your success and knowing that you accomplished something that many Japanese have not done, was there a lot of pressure on for the both of you to continue that success?
Yumi: There wasn’t really any pressure. We always make sure to have fun with anything we do as a part of Puffy’s style, so when we did all of those things, I believe we did while having fun. And those were all experiences that most Japanese people aren’t able to experience much, so we are very honored.
Last year, Puffy AmiYumi celebrated their 20th Anniversary and the music scene has changed a lot in the past two decades. One difference is the popularity of social media such as YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram. Do you feel that social media has changed the way for the both of you to communicate with your fans?
Ami: I believe that the spread of social media over the last 20 year is definitely huge. I personally have my own Instagram, and because of that, I’m able to directly receive messages of support from fans. And since we can see how our fans our reacting with so little time lag, it’s very helpful to us.
You are about to embark on another tour which includes performances in the United States (for Puffy AmiYumi US Tour 2017 “NOT LAZY”). It’s been awhile since you performed in the U.S., how does it feel to be coming back?
Yumi: Even though we hadn’t traveled to America for a while, we had been constantly doing concerts in Japan, so I think we’ve powered up even more since our last visit. So right now, we’re very excited!
As you celebrate your 21st year, after all these years…Ami, what are your top three songs that you love performing in front of a live audience?
Ami: “Asia no Junshin,” “Akai Buranko,” and “Circuit no Musume.”
I’m curious to see how your musical tastes have changed. In our very first interview, Yumi you said you were listening to Nirvana, Eels, Hole and U2 and Ami said Red Hot Chili Peppers. But what about now?
Yumi: Of course, I still love all of those groups. When I listen to the albums that I love, I remember things from when I first heard the albums, or feel very nostalgic.
Back in 2002, for our second interview, I asked each of you to describe each other in one word. Yumi, you said of Ami, “Serious” and Ami, you said of Yumi “Young”. In 2010, Yumi said of Ami “Relax” and Ami said of Yumi, “Older Sister”. Ami, if you had to describe Yumi, what would you say today?
Ami: For Yumi…“Hanashi ga Tomoranai” (She doesn’t stop talking)
Yumi, you told me you were playing the video game “Ryu ga Gotoku” (known as “Yakuza” in the U.S.) a lot back then. Ami you were playing “Dragon Quest Monsters Joker II”. Any certain games that you are playing now?
Yumi: I still love “Dragon Quest” even now and continue to play. Right now, I’m trying to figure out if I want to buy a Nintendo Switch or not.
Both of you told me you love tea! But I didn’t get to ask what kind of tea that both of you enjoy? So, I have to ask…what is your favorite tea? And if there is an area in Tokyo that serves the best tea, which area would you recommend?
Ami: We like tea… Did we actually say that? Either way, I do like tea. I like chai. I think I’d recommend the café next to Saigoyama Park.
It’s funny because in our 2010 interview, both of you said that you wished Taco Bell would open a store in Japan and now you can find a Taco Bell in Japan. And now there are more Mexican restaurants in Tokyo. But with you returning back to America, is there a certain food that you have wanted to try but never yet had the chance?
Yumi: While we weren’t in America, I can now eat some foods that I couldn’t before. For example, cilantro and lamb. Because of that, I’d like to try out some places that I never got to try before.
What final words do you have for your fans worldwide?
Ami: This year, Puffy is now in our 21st year. The reason that we’ve been able to continue for so long is the countless support we’ve received from people from various countries!! We’ll continue to work even harder so we can someday hold concerts in countries we haven’t been to yet!
Yumi: Last year, we celebrated our 20th anniversary, and we are grateful to all of our fans! The upcoming concerts should be a lot of fun. Please come out and see us!
Photos courtesy of Sony Music Entertainment Japan
Read our complete J!-ENT Puffy AmiYumi interviews and articles from 1996-2010 (Click on image)
Bak-Anime 2017 February 25 and 26 at the Kern County Fairground in Bakersfield, CA
The 9th annual Bak-Anime, Bakersfield’s one and only Anime convention was held in the final week of February 2017.
In previous years, the event has been held in a much smaller venue which they had outgrown. I have gone to other events where they had changed locations and the new locations were really too big for the event.
From my personal perspective, it was a smart choice for the convention to make the move, as there were plenty of dealers and plenty of attendees.
In fact, Bak-Anime had a record attendances with over 3,500 attendees.
The dealers room was not too crowded and t was really easy to shop around and find deals if you are looking for something special. And for those who were hungry, a Okamoto Kitchen Japanese comfort food truck and Pappa John’s Pizza were there on hand.
Bak-Anime 2017 had a returning favorite, Actor/voice actor/composer/singer/producer Vic Mignogna. And new to Bak-anime, Actress/voice actress/Producer Cherami Leigh and Voice actress/gamer, Danielle McRae.
On Saturday only, David Yost, Karan Ashley and Walter Jones from the “Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers” were special guests at the event.
All the guest had panels and were available for signings.
All the lines seem to move pretty fast, I thought everyone was having a good time.
Pro Lab gaming was there at Bak-Anime for the video game tournaments, Paladins Game Castle and the Gaming spot sponsored the collector card games, demos and other hobby games.
They also had their 4th annual swap meet which is an event only for fans. On Saturday night, they had their late night electric dance party open for all ages. And on Sunday, the event had an art contest.
There was plenty a Cosplay to be seen throughout Bak-Anime 2017.
There were plenty of people walking around in different costumes from anime, comics, video games and movies. On Saturday afternoon, Bak-Anime 2017 had an adult cosplay contest, where just about everyone had skit or a dance routine that they did. And I actually think there was an actual marriage proposal that happened during the contest.
On Sunday, they had another cosplay contest which was for the kids only. Even though the kids had help sometimes, it is really amazing to see all the talent that is out there. People with the skills to make these elaborate and awesome costumes.
I have personally been really impressed with how Bak-Anime has continued to grow and has been so well supported by the community out there in Bakersfield.
I really do think it is a show that is worth your the time , even if it is just for one day.
If you’ve never been to a “Anime con” or a “Comic-Con” this would be a great first time show to get a taste of the con experience.
More Photos By Derek orchard
Back in 2012, Dir.F, a label manager at Tsubasa Records wanted to create a new music project featuring provisional female members. While the music and lyrics for the group would be created by music producer, Hidefumi Kenmochi.
The name of this group project would be “Suiyoubi no Campanella”, which translates to Wednesday Campanella.
That same year, Dir.F was at a house party for a friend and he would meet KOM_I and he invited her to join Wednesday Campanella as one of the provisional female vocalists and the group would upload two tracks on YouTube that year, “Oz” and Kukai”.
Wanting to push their album later that year, the group’s first CD titled “Suiyoubi no Campanella Demo 1” was sold at Design Festa Tokyo Autumn.
The following year, KOM_I would perform live performances with just her on stage and the group released their first mini album titled “Crawl to Saka Agari” and it was released at Village Vanguard Shimokitazawa.
But it wasn’t until 2014, when the group’s track “Momotaro” appeared on J-WAVE and would become popular.
In 2016, Wednesday Campanella would make their American debut at SXSW in Texas and would perform in July in San Francisco at J-POP Summit Festival.
While the first five mini albums were released by Tsubasa Records, the group would be signed by Warner Records and would release their first major label album “UMA” in 2016.
And since then, Wednesday Campanella’s popularity has skyrocketed. From a promotion and music video with Toyota for the Prius, multiple television performances, magazine interviews and live performances throughout Japan, KOM_I also appeared on the popular variety show “SMAP x SMAP” with SMAP (who also sung along with her).
J!-ENT’s Dennis A. Amith had the opportunity to interview KOM_I the day after Wednesday Campanella’s performance at J-POP SUMMIT.
Zappcon 2016 was held October 15 and 16th at the Valdez hall in Fresno California. ZappCon brings a wide range of talent from all kinds fandoms. You can learn about voice acting, building models from masking tape board, gaming and many more.
I think this year at ZappCon, they improved on their organization of the booths and table, putting more like things together. If you are looking for cosplayers, go to one location, toys another location, videogames another location and so on. I do think that made it easier if there was something that you wanted to buy, but you didn’t want to buy it right away, it made it easy to find that vendor later.
Some of the special guest that were at Zappcon this year. Hynden Walch, she is The Voice of Starfire on “Teen Titans” and the new “Teen Titans Go!”, Princess bubblegum on cartoon networks smash hit “Adventure Time”, Harley Quinn on the Batman series as well as DCU animated feature “Assault on Akrham”, for which she received a BTVA People’s choice award. Lisle Wilkerson, she is a power house behind some of gaming industry’s most popular female fighting characters, such as Nina Williams, Christine Monteiro from “Tekken” and Sarah Brandt from “Virtual Fighter”. She’s acted alongside Bill Murray in the academy award winning film “Lost in translation” and had the lead role in the award winning in the film, “Kamataki”. D.C. Douglas the sinister voice of Albert Wesker in “Resident Evil”, The Voice of Legion in “Mass Effects” series and he was Bud in the movie “sharknado 2”. Chanda Hahn, a New York Times and USAID today best-selling author of “Reign (an unfortunate fairy tale)” she also writes the “iron butterfly” series. Eben Burgoon, started his career writing short fiction and sketch comedies for over a decade before embarking into comics, his first comics series was “Eben07: covert custodian”. Shawn Sutter, he is the creator of “Relicblade” and is the lead artists on the comic “B squad”.
There were some familiar faces down Cosplay row, returning this year Holly Brooke, based out of northern California, right now she is studying to become a veterinarian. Loki Hates You return ZappCon, and this year for his 2nd appearance and Mighty ThorTV to continue the panel they did last year the “awkward family panel” where they interview the audience. Yes is true Loki’s running for President. And new to ZappCon this year, Princess Marley cosplay, she has been active in cosplay since 2007 she is an advocate for body positivity in the cosplay community. She is also a huge supporter of cosplay in the things you love no matter how many people may recognize you. Originally reached nor I are to the running the popular tumbler blog “the little cosplay things”. If you wanted to get a picture of or with one of your favor characters they had several cosplay meet ups for photos. So if you are dressed up your get got to gather together to should a photo together and I was a great place if you wanted to get your photo with your favor character. These happened multiple times each day plus they had the all ages cosplay contest on Saturday and on Sunday they had a kids cosplay contest.
Kirby Krackle A internationally touring nerd-rock artist, featuring the music of songwriter and performer Kyle Stevens. Pioneering the genre in 2009. Kirby Krackle is known the world over as the go to band for heartfelt songs dedicated to the best in comic books, videogames, Pop and geek culture with youTube videos, totaling over 3.5 million views and I have been featured on MTV, i09, boing boing, Gizmodo and more.
Okay, you walked the floor, I maybe you made a few purchases, found if you must have items like comics may be some art from a local artist, but you’re not ready to go home yet. What are you now? Well if you have young ones you could take them over to the kid’s own where there was Bat party for kids, Todd the snake man, the discovery center, California arts Academy, pro martial arts. And if you don’t have any kids. outdoors there was iron gate sword fighting, Terras Wars. You could go and get a photo taken with the 501st in the photo area. And you could check out any board games and play them there at the show in the gaming area they had set up. They also had a video game area also set up so you can go play video games while you are at the show and at certain times,The Voice actors were playing there games that they had voice characters in, so you could smacked down our get smacked down in person by the characters you play in the game. if that wasn’t enough, after all of that they had multiple panels starting at every hour. You probably could of watch panels all day and never seen the floor.
I really do think this is a fun show. Sure maybe it’s not one of those huge shows that you hear about on TV. And they always have something new big and exciting every year. But not everyone can go to those shows. I do see the event coordinators doing their best to create a fun and happy environment for their attendees. I enjoy the smaller shows because I think they stay to the heart of why we have all gotten into the stuff. For the fun in the enjoyment, for ourselves and that what we share with one another. With events like this where just all people, we all can be kids and act like kids. Here we are all friends and we help one another.
So if you didn’t make it this year, you should think about attending next year.
The Japanese all-female rock band Silent Siren made their US debut in San Francisco back in July 2016. But with a world tour in Jakarta, Shanghai, Taiwan and Hong Kong, the band performed in Los Angeles in September and on October 2nd, at Slims in San Francisco.
J!-ENT’s Dennis A. Amith recently had the opportunity to interview Silent Siren.
More Silent Siren will be featured in our upcoming J!-ENT Annual issue coming in December 2016.
Ani-me POP Summit is the first cultural convention dedicated to J-pop and K-pop in the Central Valley and is always striving to give the Central Valley new, refreshing and exciting entertainment.
The event was held at the Big Fresno Fairgrounds on Saturday, June 18, 2016 and this convention is dedicated to bringing Asian pop music, fashion, film, dance, art, games, interactive workshops, stimulating panels, Anime, movies and import car shows.
Ani-me POP summit had a huge lineup of guests including five singing performances, five live band performances, two comedy acts, five dancing performances, cosplay contest, fashion show, not to mention, gaming tournaments, panels and a Rave plus DJs.
Kinu Cafe was there and they had a vendor’s hall, with stuff ranging from Anime, Sci-Fi and comics and Bushiroad showed their upcoming releases.
I thought this event was pretty well set up. You could walk around the vendor’s hall, get something to eat, the sit back and listen to some music.
Then you could play some games, head back to the vendor’s hall make some purchases and then go back and listen to some music or watch some of the dance routines.
There was plenty of room you didn’t have to worry about feeling like you are being shoved into one spot.
Akai Sky, Coast in the Clouds, Light of Mine, Outside the Wire were some of the bands performing later in the day. Some of the Highlights I experienced feaetured Paprika Mari. She is the lead vocalist for Candy Bomber, a multi-genre pop band based in Los Angeles, California.
Her roots in both the U.S. and Japan helped to shape her musical sensibility and OkitaSemi cosplayer and Vocalist from California, USA. Paprika Mari’s goal is to recreate scenes from anime/manga as much as possible.
Paprika Mari & OkitaSemi did a set of music covers from different Anime. I was really impressed with the quality of their performances and their song choices.
“Candy Bomber” is a J-rock inspired band/project formed by five musicians of various musical backgrounds with a burning passion of music and providing endless entertainment to the people.
Like the idea of AKB48 joining forces with Visual-Kei then leaping through an adventurous journey with Polysics and The Clash at Demonhead, Candy Bomber takes the standard “Rock Band” and fuses it together with styles and instruments from different genres of music – the Uke, Sax, and at times the Kazoo.
The audience is sure to hear their familiar favorites tunes from Anime and J-Rock, combined with a mixture of Jazz, Pop and METAL. I really enjoyed Candy bomber’s performance, it was nice seeing a full band with a saxophone player.
I had a lot of fun listening of them perform and I will be looking forward to seeing them perform in the future.
Tiffany Fujii is a Bay Area idol dancer/singer/performer whose credits include dozens of anime conventions and events.
She’s been producing and uploading odottemita videos since 2008 and was the winner of the first ever Vocaloid Dance Contest at San Francisco’s JPop Summit in 2011!
Besides performing solo she is also a member of several Bay Area idol groups such as Ti@Mi, T…radmark, Hello! Musume, as well as many others.
As a lover of Japanese pop music, especially idols. This girl had so much energy!
She was singing and she was dancing, spinning around. She sang a full set of songs. She also sat in on the panel with Roli Angels.
RÖLI ANGELS includes 4 women artists which consists of SHAKE (green), LEMON (yellow), APRI (red), and GRAPE (purple) with a “costume play party Rock” as a concept.
Roli Angels came directly from Japan and originally, they were an Indie idol J-pop group, and now ARE rock!
Performing all their songs in English, having copies of their latest CD in English for their American fans, new and old.
If you knew Roli Angels before, you might have been surprised to see the new direction they are going with their music.
This isn’t their first trip to the states, but it is as a rock group and with this lineup, Apri and Grape are new members of Roli Angels.
They put on a really great show, they were really personal with fans at their booth and as well as the panel before the show.
There was a full venue of stuff to do here, there a lot of things that happened that I have haven’t even mention.
If you came at the beginning of the day or the end of the day, there was a lot to see and do. this was a full one day event.
If you like Japanese music, fashion, art, games, anime, food, Cosplay, as well as niche subcultures. then this is something you should check out.
See more photos from Ani-Me Con at:
A few years ago, it was often discussed among industry and press about the two competing anime events in Japan. The two events… Tokyo International Anime Fair and Anime Contents Expo would each bring in anime fans to their event for two weekends straight. Most often was the case, one would have to pick one event over the other.
But all that has changed in 2015. This time, both events have come together and united to form AnimeJapan 2015, with a goal to become “the biggest anime event on Earth”.
Held at Tokyo Big Sight (East Hall 1-6 and 1F Reception Hall), from March 26-27, the event would bring all anime fans, local and international, all license holders and business practioners to showcase upcoming anime titles and other areas of Japanese pop culture.
A total of 135,323 attendees, an 11% increase from 2015 which brought in 121,540 attendees (the first event in 2014 brought in 111,252 attendees).
AnimeJapan 2016 featured 468 companies (409 from Japan and 59 from overseas). While, Family Animation Festa would bring out 10,325 people.
J!-ENT arrived to the event an hour before opening and as we were able to check out the setup of the booths and teams preparing for the attendees waiting to get inside. We also had the opportunity to also see the large crowds develop outside of the venue. But then to later see how efficient and quick Japanese event registration was despite the large lines.
But it was an amazing sight to behold as many thousands upon many thousands of people entered and filled up both halls, some trying to get their hands on limited edition goods but many who were there primarily to get information on the latest anime series and obtain the many swag (primarily clear files and bags) that were given out.
For more information on AnimeJapan, please click here.
For more J!-ENT photos from AnimeJapan 2016 by Antonio Airoso, please click here.
Ani-Me Con 2016 took place at the Big Fresno Fairgrounds in Fresno, California February 20 and 21st. Ani-Me Con is one of the biggest Anime/gaming events in the Central Valley. This event had over a 100 vendors, artist, exhibitors and fan club’s, also had a live entertainment, Tournament gaming and a cosplay contest on both days.
This is my 2nd year attending Ani-Me Con. So much has changed from last year, the first thing easy to notice different venue and with a different venue comes ticket sales. Before Ani-me Con, was a free event and the venue was very small and they did the best with what they could now that they’ve opened up to a much larger venue, So this little show is growing up. Now I seen some other shows start to grow and try to expand, the event coordinators are doing a good job growing with the purpose in mind. A lot of their vendors had a lot of things that was reasonably priced for someone who may have not had a lot of money to go to an event like this, this is a very accessible show.
One of the things I really liked about this show is that it wasn’t just all about the commercial side of the conventions. There was enough other things, there that you actually can learn more about voice acting, costume making an what was happen the next. You could go and learn about something that you’re very interested in and you don’t have someone to talk to in person about it. You could a shown up early and stayed late for the after-hours party. This just a wasn’t a Anime show or a trading card gaming show. If you took the time and walk by the Cosplay area, a lot of the Cosplay artist had their props out and they were there willing to talk about how they made their equipment, what materials they used and the whole process of making costumes.
The voice actor guests were Erika Harlacher, Sarah Anne Williams and Erik Keimerer. Some of the live entertainment, Kinu Cafe, Lolita fashion show, Terra wars fighting exhibition, heart of otaku culture import car club. Singing performances of Lovely Rushers and Band performances by Akai Sky, Iwanaga, Light of mine. This is just some of the things that they had, There is much more to see.
I could spent a lot more time talking about how much more they had to offer than they had from the year previous, The venue is bigger and they were working really hard to fill the space they had. Some shows just have console gaming for you to take a break and play, Ani-Me Con had that and Gaming Tournaments. Everything was very current Street Fighter 5 tournaments, They were having smashed brothers too. also they had retro-gaming going on.
They have made so many changes from last year’s show to this one, they seem to have a really good handle on what was going on. Now not soon of that there weren’t any mistakes or anything like that of the wasn’t something that’s up to the cracks, but I never heard anyone complaining about anything that wasn’t happening like they thought it should. It kind of feels that Ani-Me Con has really come into its own this year. They moved into a big your area and they filled it with more vendors and vendors, that have a variety of things. There have been some shows in this area. That move into a big your venue but they didn’t have any more vendors to add to their show. So they had a bigger space, but they were filling it with anything. That was not a problem at this show. From what I saw you got a lot for what you paid for to get into the event. I think that if they can keep growing with a lot of thought that they put into this show and they build on it, this show, shall continue to grow and be an amazing show to attend.
See more photos from Ani-Me Con at:
J!-ENT Interview with Rei by Dennis A. Amith
Inspired by blues music in the United States at the age of five, Rei, a singer-guitarist from Hyogo, Japan will be performing at SXSW and live performances slated for March in Austin, Texas and San Francisco, California.
J!-ENT recently had the chance to interview Rei about her music before her US live debut at Japan Nite at SXSW on March 18th.
J!-ENT: You learned how to play the guitar at the age of four, but I’m curious how you became fascinated with blues music at a young age. Was it through your parents? And what was the first blues song you ever learned to sing and play on you guitar completely?
REI: I met blues music through joining the school’s big band when I was living in New York during kindergarten. I had started classical guitar, but did not know how to improvise. My music teacher who recognized me playing guitar, invited me into playing contemporary music styles through classic jazz blues tunes such as “Freddie Freeloader” by Miles Davis, which answers the question to my first blues song that I learned how to play. Making up the melody at the very moment, was exciting since I had only known how to read pre-written music.
J!-ENT: Having grown up in New York, before moving back to Japan, because of your interest in blues music, did you try to inspire friends in Japan to listen to blues music? Or did you feel your interest in blues music made you a bit different in terms of your musical tastes with Japanese you grew up with?
REI: Because I went to an international school with kids from various cultures, it was natural for us to embrace the differences we had in musical tastes. Everyone was weird in his or her own little way, as I recall. Either way, I was a shy kid and didn’t like forcing things on people, so I’d be happy talking about 2000’s Pop Punk bands at school with my peers while enjoying my time at home alone with Blind Blake.
J!-ENT: You released your first mini album “BLU” and several months ago, released “UNO”. What is the primary difference between both albums musically and production-wise?
REI: “BLU” was my debut album, so it was important for me to introduce who I was; as a person, and as a musician. It’s more like “the country where I’m from” type of thing, whereas “UNO” is more adventurous. A kid from the countryside glittering her eyes to the night lights of the city. I tried to express a more humorous, quirky side of myself through the instrumentation and the lyrics.
J!-ENT: Having grown up in America, is it a dream come true to perform at such a major event such as SXSW and also at a well-known music store such as Amoeba San Francisco?
REI: I haven’t lived long enough to say, “I’ve grown up in America”… but was heavily influenced by the western culture and of course the music. It is an honor to have the opportunity to join in such an event and I’d like to make it a meaningful experience.
J!-ENT: You are sure to have new fans of your musical work after this performance in America. What words would you like to leave with your new American fans?
REI: I’m excited to see you at the shows in America! Please listen to my music and share it! Blues on!
Rei’s Live Performance US Schedule (March 2016):
Rei @ Elephant Room
WHEN: Wednesday, 16 March, 2016 Show: 18:00 (CST)
WHERE: Elephant Room 315 CONGRESS AVE. AUSTIN TEXAS 78701
Japan Preview Day Show
WHEN: Thursday, 17 March, 2016 Show: TBA
WHERE: Valhalla 710 RED RIVER AUSTIN TEXAS 78701
SXSW Japan Nite @SXSW
WHEN: Friday, 18 March, 2016 Show: 23:00 (CST)
WHERE: Elysium 705 RED RIVER AUSTIN TEXAS 78705
Amoeba Music in-store @ Amoeba San Francisco
WHEN: Sunday, 20 March, 2016 Show: 14:00
WHERE: Amoeba Music 1855 HAIGHT ST SAN FRANCISCO CA 94117