Otakon 2013 – Ishikawa Chiaki Q&A

When I got to the panel room, I asked the staff about the photo policy for Ishikawa-san. (For singers, you can never tell.) At first, the manager stated that there’ll be a specific photo time at the end, but since it was such a small crowd, Ishikawa-san allowed everyone to take photos. *audience applauds*

    Ishikawa: I look like this, but if you want to take my photo, go ahead!
    Fans: Thank you!

    Ishikawa: I’m Ishikawa Chiaki. Konnichiwa! Are you have fun here? Thank you for asking me to come for Otakon’s 20th Anniversary. I’m so happy to be here. I’m having a great time. This is 20th for me too so I’m really happy to be here. *fans applauds*

We jumped right in to the Q&A.

    Q: I’m a fan of See-Saw so it is great to meet you. What do you think of your music right now in comparison to when you started?
    Ishikawa: Thank you! I had fun creating music with See-Saw and Kajiura Yuki. However, now that I’m by myself, I can create my own vision and to be able to do that is so much easier on me.
    MC: Does everyone know See-Saw? *audience cheers*

    Q: You have themes for many anime. Have you watched any of those shows? Which is your favorite?
    Ishikawa: I actually try to watch all the anime that I sung for. I enjoy that. A favorite for me is Bokurano. But I also like Majestic Prince.

    Q: You worked with Kajiura Yuki in See-Saw. How did you end up collaborating?
    Ishikawa: How it started was that my sister was in a band with Kajiura-san. In that band, the vocalist suddenly quit. I understand that there was some sort of trouble. There was a date when they had a live. I was the last minute replacement. Most bands sang songs that are by other people. In this band, I was singing songs that Kajiura-san created. We started the band and at the beginning, there were alot of J-pop songs. I started performing and I was singing J-pop songs with See-Saw and the type of voices that Kajiura-san and I had did not go so well. We didn’t sell that well. We tried our best to create new songs and we gave it a shot. Before, we weren’t very successful and we decided to suspend the group. We were doing different work for awhile. There were songs that she was singing and approached me saying that there may be songs that I should sing. That’s how See-Saw changed their direction and we started signing anime songs. It seems to be a better match for both of us and our voices. Anime seems to match the kind of tone that we have.

    Q: About the uniqueness of ‘Namida’….
    Ishikawa: The song that you mentioned, ‘Namida’ can be done with just the piano. Usually when you think of anime songs, you would think of songs with a fast tempo, rock-types. My songs aren’t like that. Usually I would just stand straight and move my feet.

    Q: Is there a singer who you always want to collaborate with
    Ishikawa: There is an event in Japan called Anime Summer. It is a large anime song event and I recorded with several different musicians there including [Minori] Chihara. I had a chance to work with various female artists, but now there are some good looking male artists. *audience laughs*

    Q: Work that she is doing recently….
    Ishikawa: Recently, the new thing that I’m trying to get into more is to work with new artists and producing them. There are many new artists that want singing anime songs. My specialty is working with multiple voices.

    Q: You have scored alot of anime songs. Have you ever thought about scoring soundtracks? If you did, would you become Kajiura’s rival?
    Ishikawa: I don’t think I can be the rival of Kajiura-san. I actually started to do a bit of soundtrack work. One of recent works that I have done is an anime called Kamisama Dolls. I was asked to express a sound with my voice. I did that as part of the soundtrack. Perhaps this is my entryway into the world of soundtracks.

    Q: Alot of people on youtube and Nico nico douga has done covers of your songs. Have you ever listened to a cover of your own songs? How do you feel about it?
    Ishikawa: I have heard and seen the songs. I heard them and alot of times, I just go ‘wow….’ Alot of them I watch and say, ‘if you keep on singing the melody, you’ll do really well….’

    Q: Which artists or musicians do you listen to?
    Ishikawa: It is not very difficult to find songs that I can listen to or relax to. One of kind of music that I do listen to is the Irish fiddle.

    Q: Have you met with any other artists after a concert for a drinking party? Do you have any stories to share from those experiences?
    Ishikawa: There was a 2, 3 day event with 28,000 people. It was a very large event and people stayed [to hang out]. We do getogether for a short while for kanpai, but than we go our separate ways.

    Q: You were a vocalist with See-Saw. But before you were a vocalist, were you making songs? How did you start composing songs?
    Ishikawa: I started out in the church choir and that led me to a chorus group. At that time, I imagined this is where I’ll end up. I met Kajiura-san and we made the band at first. As mentioned, it didn’t turn out so well. In order to try to sell our band, we made alot of songs. At that point, Kajiura-san was so exhausted that she couldn’t create any new songs. At that time, she was asked to compose a song for an actress. She said that she couldn’t do it so I said, ‘Maybe I can do it.’ So I bought a computer and started composing. The song is in the single cd with that singer. That was how I started composing.

    Q: What did you want to be when you were growing up?
    Ishikawa: To be honest, I don’t remember when I as young. There wasn’t anything that I really wanted to do as a child. However, I felt that I always had this passion inside of me. I would do something…if it wasn’t music, than it would be a painter. Something that I could spend on my energy on to work with my passion. *audience applauds*

    Q: You have a favorite character of an anime series that you worked on?
    Ishikawa: Characters hm….perhaps it would be the kids in Bokurano. Very interesting, it is a series with a character who is the hero that wants to save the whole world, but he actually dies in the first episode. So I really like the series.

    Q: Have you seen the anime Simoun? What do you think of it?
    Ishikawa: I have seen it as I have worked on it. Of course I like it!

    Q: What do you think of wotagei, people dancing with glowsticks at your concerts?
    Ishikawa: What I see more often in comparison to other artists, is that when I come out, everyone stops. Most people aren’t dancing…they’re just standing there. Kind of like their rest period. Sometimes they are standing for five hours, jumping very actively, drinking 2 liter bottles to stay hydrated. I don’t mind people dancing my songs. As long as they enjoy my music. If that is how they enjoy my music, that is fine.

    Q: Ishikawa-san, your lyrics are very deep. There are alot of meaning to it. It feels like you overcome the barrier of language since your songs are sung here too. How do you feel about that?
    Ishikawa: I seem to be doing alot of series with boys in anime like Gundam Seed. I feel like I am creating songs about the feelings of the characters. I am sensitive about that and of course, characters have different feelings with themselves and I want to express them. I think when people create songs, they try to put feelings into it to express themselves. That puts the soul into the lyrics, and that may be why it overcomes the barrier of language. *audience applauds*

    Q: You do a lot of amazing anime songs. How are you picking songs for your concert tomorrow?
    Ishikawa: Before I sing, I try to find out what is popular there. I sing alot of Gundam songs, but in China Sengoku Basara is very popular. I try to put that into my performance. I had a hard time deciding on what is popular here. I didn’t put alot of Gundam Seed songs in…I wonder if that is okay. *audience laughs*

    Q: As a result of your success, have you ever gotten recognize by fans?
    Ishikawa: I don’t seem to be recognized on the street. Its not that I wear anything fancy. I usually don’t want to be recognized, I look just like a regular woman.

    Q: Have you ever considered working with someone like Gackt or other artists?
    Ishikawa: Gackt does fantastic work. But for collaborations…maybe younger guys. *audience laughs*

    Q: As a Gundam otaku, I am disappointed that you didn’t include Gundam songs. But do you do anything, have a hobby to relieve stress?
    Ishikawa: I don’t do alot, but I like to do lacework…and drinking to relieve my stress.

    Q: You write your own music, but has there been a time when the director ask you to change your music?
    Ishikawa: With works like Gundam, the director has alot of ideas that he wants to accomplish. He would look at my ideas and suggest ‘maybe a piano here,’ or ‘do this another way’. Of course, there are times I don’t want to compromise and it is something that I do bring up. It’s a process where we go in discussion. It was never that I create one thing and I’m okay from the start.
    Fan: I’m young…would you collaborate with me? *audience laughs*

    Q: What is the composing process for you?
    Ishikawa: The process is a collaboration work between me and the director. He presents me with a scenario and some images, sometimes it’s one picture that I can work off of. Based on what I’m presented with, I try to imagine the story plays out at the end. And than I work with that, imagining how it would be on tv. Animation has a progressive creative process. *audience applauds*

My question (at the end) closed out the Q&A.

    Ishikawa: I’ll be performing tomorrow. I would love for you to be there. After Otakon, it may be awhile before I return. Since you are here, you must like anime and anime songs. Lots of people in Japan, the directors who are working with the animators, seiyuu work very hard at it. I want you all to learn more about each of those works and be more of a fan of those works. Thank you very much for being here!