Hailing from Sapporo, Eir Aoi got off to an early music career interest by forming her own band while in school. Since then, the powerful singer has clocked up an impressive resume of releases since her debut single ‘MEMORIA’ in 2011. She’s provided theme music for a number of classic anime titles, including Sword Art Online, Mobile Suit Gundam AGE, Fate/Zero and also the opening theme to the absurdly popular Kill la Kill. She took time out at Hyper Japan to chat to J-Pop Go about her music…
You formed a band while at school. Can you tell me a little bit about the type of music you were doing then?
We were doing copies of Shakalabbits songs. We also had original songs, but they were mainly punk music.
What other artists were you influenced by in your early days?
When I was in secondary school there was a band called Do As Infinity and another called Dai Nagao, which both featured a vocalist called Tomiko. She was quite energetic and I was influenced by her style of singing. I still like them!
You’ve swiftly adopted to using the internet for promotion and one of the early avenues you used was Nico Nico. How important do you think this is for artists?
I think without the internet, I would never have been able to become a singer. I see the internet as the tool to connect the world as well as the tool to make your dream come true.
You’ve also adopted digital downloads as a method of releasing music. What are your thoughts on downloads versus physical CDs?
I use digital downloads for my own songs; also I download music for myself. As for CD, I think it has got value. You can actually study the lyrics more, also the pictures come with it. It’s important; it shows the artist’s colour. Whereas the digital download, it’s very easy, very handy.
When you’re buying music for yourself, which do you prefer: Download or CD?
I think both have got benefits and advantages both ways, but I suppose CD. As I said, you can actually touch the artist’s personal tastes and thoughts behind it, so that’s quite nice. But also for digital download, it’s easier, it’s a convenience so that probably fits modern life. So like vinyl or MD players, that have a good ‘old time’ quality to it, I do feel that CD has got similar value.
Your ‘Rock The World’ schedule sees you performing in China, America, Taiwan and Singapore. Do you think it’s important for Japanese artists to perform on a global stage?
Shortly after I debuted, I opened an account with Facebook from which I could interact with the people across the world. So it’s nice that I can actually go around those places physically and interact and meet those people who have been supportive. I feel really grateful for that.
Are you very nervous when performing in a new country for the first time?
I’m nervous at first, yes. It’s because I felt the language barrier was quite big. But now, come to think about it, we like the same things and we share the same space. So actually that feeling is the most important thing that we can communicate.
Watching you on stage here on Hyper Japan, you certainly didn’t look nervous. You looked both energetic and confident.
I was a bit nervous at the beginning, but then if I looked nervous then obviously the audience wouldn’t feel comfortable with the performance. So I try not to look nervous!
Going back to the language barrier issue, I had an opportunity to do the handshake sessions and sign autographs earlier and managed to speak to people. Without even understanding the same language, as soon as they started talking about their favourite anime, games and the characters, somehow we understood perfectly fine. So then that’s when I realized that actually language isn’t a barrier.
So thanks to the internet, these days we can play games together online. I used to think the world was so big and it was harder to reach out. But then I realised that you can play games online together at the same time, so actually I feel that the world is closer.
Almost as if culture is replacing the language?
I’ve met people that have learned Japanese through anime and through games, so I do believe that culture has actually changed people.
You’ve worked on many anime titles, including Sword Art Online and Kill la Kill, do you have a favourite?
I can’t really choose! Each one is good, has got its own goodness to it, and I have really got hooked onto each one of them and recorded it for each episode. I like action and I like fighting, I find those things quite stimulating and I’ve done lots of music for those anime and I feel really grateful actually.
You’re very fond of the colour ‘Blue’. Is there some significance to this?
Blue has always been my favourite colour, that’s why I always use it – in my stage name as well – I feel the colour blue is something that changed my life.
J-Pop Go extends its thanks to Eir Aoi, Sony Music and to the staff at Hyper Japan.