Natsuko Aso certainly likes to keep her J-Pop energetic. Songs such as More More Lovers and Perfect Area Complete (which also is the theme to the series Baka to Test to Shokanju) are frenetic slices of infectious pop.
Natsuko’s early history features acting roles, including the part of Chisame in the live action version of Negima. That in turn led to 3-part outfit pRythme before Natsuko embarked on a solo career. Her debut single Brand New World arrived in 2009 and also featured as the end theme to Shin Mazinger Shougeki! Z-Hen. Natsuko also works as a presenter for the series Japan In Motion for French TV and was a guest at the French Japan Expo in 2010.
Her appearance at Hyper Japan marks her UK debut and she kindly took time out of her busy schedule to chat about her career, music and fish and chips!
What are your thoughts on performing in the UK?
I’m really glad to be invited to the UK as a performer in Hyper Japan. I was not expecting to come here.
What sorts of things are you looking forward to in the UK?
I would like to see Baker Street, because I like Sherlock Holmes, and also I would like to go to Westminster Abbey. I haven’t tasted fish and chips so I would like to try it!
Were you very happy with the success of Brand New World?
Brand New World was my debut single, but actually I have to get more experience to be more popular I’d like to make much more effort from now.
How do you approach writing songs for anime?
My single is based on anime so basically these songs were made according to the story. First we have to think about the story or the background of the anime and then make the songs for it.
Have you got any further anime themes planned for the future?
It’s unconfirmed. Actually I don’t have any plans!
We can’t talk about it then! (laughs)
(laughs) There is a possibility that I will sing another anime song.
Was Negima fun to do?
Very fun! (laughs) Chisame’s personality is a little bit unique and also she likes cosplay and so I had fun. She’s transforming many times. It is really a unique point and I like her and I like to play her.
Are there any character traits that you share with Chisame?
A lot of things! (laughs) I think I have many in common, especially my personality is a little bit strange like her I think! (laughs) and also I like cosplay as well, so I can relate to her very much!
pRythme was of course the 3-person band that was an offshoot of Negima, did you enjoy performing as a band?
This is the music we had about 5 years ago. It was a long time ago. I was surprised that you know about our band! Those 3 people were all selected from auditions. They could sing and dance, so they were selected.
How do you find performing on your own?
Actually I was in another band in a TV programme in Japan, but that one disbanded as well. After that I started working as a singer and then after that I was scouted by the record company and then up to now.
You’ve worked as a musician, presenter and actor – which job was hardest?
All of them are hard for me, but depending on the job in each category…. every time it feels hard.
As a singer, I only have one chance. I don’t have any practice time, only one take. If I perform on the stage like in Hyper Japan, so in terms of this point I think singer is the hardest one.
You did look like you were working very hard on stage. I was wondering how you kept up that energy on stage!
I always enjoy all the time! (laughs)
What are your musical plans for 2012?
If I have a chance I would like to release a single or album, but I hasn’t decided yet. But one thing already decided is I have my birthday event in Summer this year. Next March I have a live event in Japan, so I have a chance to meet more audiences.
You’ll have to come back and perform in the UK again
Of course! This time was a really short time so if it’s possible next time I would like to have a performance for a much longer time.
Are there other countries that you would like to visit?
Shangai, China. At university I studied Chinese. Spain – because I like food! Paella!
Spain can be very hot. Would you enjoy hot weather?
It’s fine for me! Tokyo is also very, very hot!
Interview and photos by Paul Browne
10th March 2012