Japan’s Fav Virtual Reality Pop Star Comes to America With Anamanaguchi
Anamanaguchi has collaborated with Japan’s favorite virtual pop star, and hologram, Hatsune Miku for a new song called “Miku.”
Pictured as a 16-year-old girl, the digital artwork behind Hatsune Miku is made possible by a program called Vocaloid, and “Miku” — which was created mainly via Skype between the band and Crypton Future Media in Japan, is a catchy, and somehow adorable song that explores the non-existent pop star’s understanding of her own existence. Miku’s virtual identity becomes of a vehicle to play with concepts that become relatable to any human being.
Anamanaguchi is a band from New York City, made up of Peter Berkman, Ary Warnaar, and Luke Silas, and James DeVito, that fuses much of their musical work with digital media. They’ve spent the past couple of months touring with Miku, which involved a projection alongside the band’s live show. Still confused?
The band took a break from touring to answer questions about the song, and their views on the landscape of music and digital artwork.
You guys are bridging video games with pop with your music and style, how do you think music is imperative to video games?
Ary Warnaar: All art mediums depend on each other to form culture, and video games are finally being seen as part of the art ecosystem. And though we are definitely actively merging those worlds, it also feels like a welcomed inevitability.
How did you guys get into bitpop style and “chiptune?”
We all came into it in different ways… I grew up liking the rebellious ethos of punk music, but also the “futuristic” side of electronic music. When I first discovered chip music, it in many ways bridged a gap for me where I could see many of my childhood influences coexisting.
Do you think eventually music may be interactive, much like video games?
I think music and all other art forms will have more capability of being interactive as time goes on. I think it’s something artists will consider more and more, but it will never be a requirement.
Is digital art becoming more prominent in the music industry and the art world?
Yes, and it’s great. It opens up many new doors. It’s funny how many people see it as a threat when it’s simply an expansion.
What are some of your inspirations outside of video games and electronic music?
I find cars — design and modification — to be really inspirational. It’s really easy to pick apart a car, and analyze its performance stats and function, but it’s quite hard to explain why you’re attracted to certain cars. Trends are hyper-apparent and feel more arbitrary in cars than in the arts, which can be nice to think about when you’re working on music. For instance: I might see a lowered car and think, “Oh, that looks sick.” Next thing you know, there’s a trend of people lowering their cars to the point of them being completely un-drive-able and broken looking, simply to be the “lowest.” It then suddenly all seems ridiculous. Then I might listen to a track and hear this stupidly over-compressed snare drum simply to feel more aggressive than the last track — like lowering a car for no reason other than being the lowest, I might immediately know not to waste my time trying to make my snare louder simply to “beat” my peers. On the flip side — when I look at cars and think, I have no idea why I like this car so much, I just know that I do, that can also be a healthy approach for music. It’s so easy to overanalyze. Sometimes it’s nice to simply like something and not know why.
What’s it been like opening up for Hatsune Miku’s crowd?
It’s been amazing, there are so many new and exciting elements to it — getting to play for her fan base is just a fraction of how amazing it’s been working with her. The shows have been insane; it’s truly an honor and inspiration to be involved in something as important for the music world as she is. Every day on this tour I think, in 30 years, you’re gonna be so hyped that you did this at that time.
Do you think America will ever catch up to Japan in having holographic pop stars?
Not to be cocky again, but I know that the rest of the world will eventually embrace virtual pop stars. There are so many factors as to when and how it will be completely accepted, but for now I’m just focusing on sharing and contributing to the concept. I know it will be an important part of pop music, just as much as digital art has fully become part of the art world.
This is a project no one has ever done before. What’s next for you guys?
At the moment, our focus is entirely on Miku and our forthcoming single with her!