Birthday: August 25, 1987
Birthplace: Tokyo, Japan
Blood type: B
Shinobi Yoru Koi Ha Kusemono song sample
Merry! Night Live
NOX ARCANA - Yoru no Megami (10-26-2007)
21th Happy Birthday To Me? (12-13-2008)
20th BIRTHDAY LIVE (2-21-2008)
Where to buy
Order from CD Japan
Bobby Watson on Madoka:
"I have watched Madoka grow from just starting to sing at 17 years old to a great Rock Singer. She has matured very quickly in her 4 or 5 album projects. I especially love her sound now with Casey Grillo on Drums, and Michael Thompson on Guitar... My favorite song is "Hymn Amour." - Bobby Watson
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"I went to Mr. Bobby Watson's studio, and to the studio of Mr. Ray Parker Jr. as well. Everyday was fun to visit the studios; it was like a great picnic." - Madoka
For most Japanese high school students the idea of flying to the US to record with the likes of Bobby Watson and Ray Parker Jr. is the stuff of dreams. For Madoka, it was a reality. Gifted with an elegant voice and a passion to succeed, Madoka released her first CD, "Muses-Trap," in 2005 at the age of 17, a moment she describes as "the joy of having two holidays at the same time!"
It doesn't take long listening to Madoka's music or hearing her talk about her craft to realize what these international producers saw in this rising talent from Tokyo. With her annual birthday special on the horizon what better time could there be to learn the story of a passionate heart who believes that "Recording is a process where miracles happen. Those miracles give birth to a splendid new art piece. It's just amazing!"On August 20, 2009 Madoka was kind enough to give an interview to Andrew from J-Pop World. All photos courtesy of Madoka with credits to Hiroya Fukuda and Masanori Kato.
Tell us about the "Madoka Birthday Live" event on August 25th.
It's my real 22nd birthday. I have been performing on this day every year since my debut. For this live, I always challenge myself to do something new and special. (For example, this year I will be performing a song choreographed with belly dancing.) Many of my musician friends will be supporting me on stage.
The show will consist of two parts: The first half will be acoustic band version. The second half will be rock band version.
What songs can fans expect to hear?
I will be performing 20 songs in total. One unreleased song, six cover songs on acoustic and 14 songs on rock band including encore.
As your fans no doubt know, the birthday specials you did in 2007 and 2008 are now available on DVD. What are your lasting memories of those shows?
On 2007, I attempted to arrange chanson songs into rock. I turned 20, which is considered becoming an adult in Japan. By becoming an adult, I wore a bunny girl costume and created an original rose cocktail. I enjoyed it very much.
On 2008, I wore an Oiran (Japanese courtesan) costume and performed songs which became the album "Obai Tori" later. I got into lyrical songs even more and got interested in ballads which have stories, allegorical meanings and narratives.
You released "Obai Tori" on March 3rd. Can you tell us more about the songs?
I had a selection of tracks so I listened to them, then sang the ones that appealed and linked to me the most.
House of the Rising Sun is based on a true story of a young woman who arrives at a brothel in New Orleans. Mr. Ken Wakabayashi, a chanson singer who debuted at age 62, has been guiding my singing. When I first met him, we came to know that both of us liked this song. Mr. Wakabayashi owns a bar where he performs and allows me to practice. Since I cover this song at lives, I decided to include it in this album.
A Million Roses. This song is about a poor painter who falls in love with a dancer. Since he can't express his affection with his own words, he decides to send a million roses to show his love to her. It's a sad love story written from a man's perspective. I like this type of tragic vibe. lol The original song has a quite simple melody but I interpreted it to a melodious rock arrangement.
HYMNE A L'AMOUR. This is a masterpiece of Edith Piaf. I'm singing a version in which the lyrics have been translated accurately. The song is regarding Piaf's boyfriend, Marco, who was a boxer and died in an airplane crash. The feeling expressed in this song is the "unconditional love" of Piaf. In current times, loving unconditionally isn't that easy… Don't you think most people love each other but expect something in return?
Having that in mind, when I sing this song I try to think how wonderful it could be to love or be loved the way Piaf did. Since many talented musicians have covered this song it was a big pressure, but I tried my best to sing it with my touch.
ANCOLA, ANCOLA, ANCOLA. This is an Italian Canzone. Another of my favorite songs that Mr. Ken Wakabayashi sings, and it made me want to cover it myself. It's a hard song so I didn't have the confidence to sing it, but once I turned 21, I realized I had many experiences that grew me up, including romantic ones (LOL), and that realization pushed me to the challenge.
Since it's a passionate love song of an Italian lady, Mr. Bobby Watson, my producer, suggested me to sing this song in a range where I would struggle a little bit. We chose the take in which I sounded much more emotional, rather than clean and pretty.
Shinobi yoru koi ha kusemono. Madoka wrote the lyrics to a classical music. The original music is a classical "Rent" by Erik Satie. In my lives, this music was used as SE and made me want to sing it with a Japanese color. I got the hint to write lyrics from a Kabuki number named "Shinobiyoru Koi wa Kusemono" (Creeping Love is Sly). The story is about Takiyasha Hime, the daughter of a famous samurai Taira no Masakado, who used sorcery to deceive men in order to avenge for his father. The picture on the booklet of this CD is themed on Takiyasha Hime. (Although I modeled for the picture.) I dedicated this song as a requiem for her.
Regarding these 5 songs, it turned out to be a composition which speaks for many forms of love, and hopefully it touches both men and women who had many romantic experiences. It's like... men, please sustain women's feelings. (LOL) There are endless forms to love and there is no right answer. Regardless of how people love each other, I think loving someone is fabulous.
About the meaning of Oubaitori... In Japanese, "Oubaitori" is spelled like an idiom composed of 4 Kanji characters: Ou (cherry blossom), Bai (Japanese Apricot), To (peach), Ri (plum). The name represents four flowers which each have their own character and beauty. Each person has different qualities that composes them, making everyone interesting as flowers can be. This is the core idea of this album. I covered songs that display multiple ways of loving, and I wanted to express how wonderful the feelings are in each song.
The single features the talents of Kamelot drummer Casey Grillo and bassist Bobby Watson. How happy were you to have them play for you?
I felt pure happiness, joy and delight! It's a great honor to have support from such talented musicians. I really appreciate their kindness for playing for me. To me, recording is a process where miracles happen. Those miracles give birth to a splendid new art piece. It's just amazing!
Can you tell us about the artwork on the single?
The artwork of this album is a woman who has a katana (Japanese sword). It's a piece by Mr. Tooru Nogawa (Fantastic Art Creator and Member of IFAA. He also drew the Takiyasha Hime on the CD's booklet.) This picture was inspired by a Kabuki number called "Kagotsurubesa to Eizame". I was asked to model for this picture and I loved how it turned out, so I asked for permission to put it as the cover of my CD.
The photos came up to be having a real "licensed quarter" look because they were taken along the imagery of the lyrics and air of the cover's artwork. The comb, perfume, and all the other details in the picture are real original notions that geisha used. We had this shoot in a tempura restaurant that has history back from the Meiji era, and every notion we used is part of the collection from the owner of this place. The kimono I wore is also a rare antique which I borrowed from Mr. Ken Wakabayashi.
The video for La lune is very impressive. Can you tell us about shooting it and where you got your hand motions from?
Thank you for saying that! I took flamenco lessons for 3 months and learned the hand movements, which weren't easy. In order to create an accurate image of a dancer, I also tried to move my torso like a real one.
Tell us the story behind the song Freyja. What does the song mean? What the story behind writing and recording it?
Freyja is a Scandinavian goddess of beauty, love, and magic. "Freyday" (which is Friday) also has its etymology from her because Freyja had an unrestrained character who acted freely for her libido. In order to express a sexy woman's image in the song, we decided in the recording process to put the sound of me sighing.
Do you have a favorite song to perform live?
Merry! Night is always the last song at my lives because its a danceable number. I love when people dance, sing, and enjoy the time with me.
Can you describe the feeling you get when you are performing and everything is going perfectly?
I just feel very happy! Time always flies when I'm on stage.
Aside from the birthday special, what do you have planned for the rest of the year?
Let's take a trip to the past and learn more about your background. Can you describe the neighborhood you grew up in?
Area: Downtown Tokyo. I was fortunate enough to have the option to go to lives and plays. Many oversea artists came to Tokyo and I went to see many of them.
My father is a comedian. My mother loves music. I have 2 younger brothers and 1 younger sister. I have lived in a very cheerful environment.
How did you first get into music?
When I was a child, I went to many plays and concerts. I went to a live of Penicillin (a famous Visual Kei band) when I was 10, and after that I started going to their shows every month. At that time something sparked in my mind and made me want to get on stage. At age 12 I was writing some lyrics.
You took voice lessons when you were 14? What was that like?
Through various singing techniques I discovered what quality of voice I had. By continuing the lessons, the pitch and power of my voice became much more rich. I still take lessons under the same teacher.
What type of student were you in high school? Did you have a favorite class?
I used to talk a lot with my teacher. I think I appeared earnest in her eyes. My classmates called me "Nesan" (which means elder sister). I wasn't a student who romps around a lot. My favorite subject was music due to the teacher's interesting stories.
In 2005 you released the single, "Muses-Trap." Tell us about the songs and how they were recorded.
It was recorded on four private studios in L.A. (Since I was in high school, it was only a week stay.) I went to Mr. Bobby Watson's studio, and to the studio of Mr. Ray Parker Jr. as well. Everyday was fun to visit the studios; it was like a great picnic. Every night we had delicious dinners made by Mr. Watson's wife. I had a wonderful time.
About the title... "Muses" is regarding the Greek Goddesses of music, poem, history, art and wisdom. I was attracted to Greek mythology from before, so I added the "trap" to make a word meaning "Goddesses' Trap."
Guilty or not Guilty? The original version sounded brighter but somehow the lyrics I came up with had the imagery of the deep and dark side of humans. It was Mr. Watson's first rock taste song he ever composed so it made him struggle. This track might sound hopeless and decadent, but the lyrics are looking for salvation and the powerful drums by Mr. Nick Menza (ex. Megadeath) make this song quite interesting. Since Mr. Menza is a good friend of Mr. Watson, he was kind enough to cameo appear on this track.
Miracle ~reincarnation~. This track was co-produced by Mr. Ray and Mr. Watson. It sounds bright and beautiful so my lyrics turned out to be romantic. I chose the subtitle "reincarnation" to give the image of "when we get reborn, we meet the same people and repeat life again." All the encounters, not only the romantic ones, are miracles.
Red Heat Heaven. When I first heard the music, the image of the tropics came up. The image of a couple that enjoys a love affair under the openness near the ocean was put in the lyrics. It's the total opposite compared to the 6th song, I can't stop loving you. It was my first time to write and sing this type of song.
Sweet Dreams. The big hit from the Eurhythmics. I didn't really know this song until I saw the Grammy video of it, and since then I love it. Annie Lennox, the vocal of Eurhythmics, had a costume of Elvis Presley at the awarding ceremony and that appeared so cool! I love her sense of doing that at that era. Mr. Steve Harvey did the arrangment.
Hella Good. A song from No doubt. I love Gwen Stefani's sexy yet powerful style so I decided to cover it. Mr. Steve Harvey arranged it.
I can't stop loving you. The phrase "I can't stop loving you" was already in the demo from Mr. Ray and it perfectly fit the image I had from when I heard the original track. The lyrics I wrote are regarding the springing love in one's heart. As we arranged, the tune began to have a much sexier mood, and Mr. Ray suggested to put in my sighs. I was a little bit hesitant, but I tried. The king of sexy voices, Mr. Ray, and Mr. Watson were so into it, when I sighed there were saying "Oh, Sexy!" The "Fu~!" in the song is by Mr. Ray and Mr. Watson. If you listen to this track I think you will understand how much fun they were having at the time.
Serene ~Goddess of Moon~. The original music is "First Gymnopédies" by a French classical composer named Satie. I've heard this tune in commercials and many other occasions, and it always gave me the impression of the moon, so I decided to write some lyrics for it based on the Greek Goddess of the Moon, Selene. I did some research on the meaning of "Gymnopédies" and found out that it was the holy day to praise the Greek God of the Sun, Apollo. The lyrics were written based on a classic Japanese image of an unattainable love.
Due to the song's soul music's rhythm, sounds of Koto and Shakuhachi (both Japanese instruments), illusive imageries, oriental arrangements and the lyrics about the moon might remind some people about Kaguya Hime (a famous Japanese myth). The original tune is widely used for relaxation therapies and music for the unborn. Sometimes I think I heard it when I was a fetus... In fact, I got so relaxed that it got me sleepy at the recording. LOL
You were 17 at the time of the album's release? How big of a moment was that for you?
Just amazing! Like the joy of having two holidays at the same time! I was worried if we could finish recording everything on such a short period of time, but after all it was a relaxing trip.
What type of places did you perform at those first couple of years?
I participated in many live events. Since I was underage, mainly at Harajuku.
Your next single, "Merry! Night" came out in October of 2006. Tell us about the songs and how you picked them.
Merry! Night is a dance number that wants to make you move. Diosa de amor is an emotional tune that goes well with flamenco. Baroque ~contorted pearl~ is a song with a glamorous sexy image.
I dared to choose 3 songs that had totally different moods.
Tell us about "NOX ARCANA - Yoru no Megami." Had your musical style changed from your earlier songs?
The music and lyrics changed to a much more deep decadent ambiance than before. The ballad element got stronger as well.
How did you get hooked up with the label 9muses-trap?
It's a label that my mother and I started.
After graduating from high school what did you do?
I enrolled to an art college, and did my musical activities at the same time.
Are you still a student there?
I still belong there, but due to my increase in musical activities, TV and radio appearances, I have been absent.
How would you describe your fashion style?
The collaboration of Western and Oriental culture. (The beauty of traditional Japanese clothing and the brilliance of the Western clothing really attract me.) I love the feminine look of them.
Your website also sells some clothes and other items. Were you a part in designing them?
Yes, I did. I like roses so that became the main motif.
What was the "Baby SKULL Present's [Queen SKULL]" event?
It was a show collaborating a live music and a gothic fashion show. At this show, I attended as a model. The models, both men and women, were mainly musicians.
Can we get a peak at the romantic life of Madoka? What type of places do you like to go to on a date?
If I go out with the person I like, anywhere is fun, but I might not be able to fully enjoy going fishing, mountain climbing and sea bathing...
What type of a person do you like to date?
Someone wonderful who I can really go along. (I don't go on dates in which the person doesn't really attract me.)
Any thoughts on marriage or kids in the future?
Right now, I can't really think about it. (Maybe I'll be single for the rest of my life.)
Aside from music what do you do for fun and relaxation?
Watching DVDs. (Especially Johnny Depp's works!) Other than that, I enjoy talking with my friends.
Do you have anything else you want to bring up or comment on?
I think it's wonderful meeting many people and having new experiences through music. I mean, being interviewed from outside Japan, like this, is one of the great experiences I can have because of my music career. I really appreciate having this occasion.
Do you have a final message to all your fans?
Thank you for listening to my music and for your great support. I will continue to pursue my style, which hopefully will entertain you, and at the same time I will enjoy my job to deliver wonderful music to you. I hope that beautiful miracles will happen to everyone!
For more info checkout Madoka's official site and MySpace page. Leave your comments about this interview and read what others had to say at the following link: Interview Comments