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Rockfield Willow (2008)
tamuranaomi AKA sho-ta sho-ta AKA tamuranaomi (2007)
CRISIS (2005)
10th anniversary SPECIAL LIVES (2005)
Golden Best (2004)
New Vintage (2003)
Yuragu kotonai Ai (2002)
LIVE A GO GO! 001 ~every part of me~ (2002)
Realize (2001)

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Naomi Tamura Interview

Naomi Tamura - click for full size

"The whole production scene was "magic" for me. Everything seems to fit perfect in writing and production. With this great "magic flow" of this production, I've learned to enjoy creating anime music." - Naomi Tamura

For many fans of Japanese music it was Naomi Tamura's rousing theme songs to the anime series "Magic Knights Rayearth" that first let them experience that "magic" she so eloquently describes. From her signature hit Yuzurenai Negai to the many albums she has created over the years, Tamura has maintained a level of musical composition and singing prowess that helped to lend respectability to anime soundtracks.

Discovered by Sony Music at a young age, it took some coaxing of her conservative father to let her venture to Tokyo to start her career. As a member of the group Pearl and as a solo artist, her music has gained her a following in Japan and earlier this year, a debut appearance in the US at Otakon 2009.

On October 13, 2009 Naomi Tamura was kind enough to give an interview to Andrew from J-Pop World. All photos courtesy of Naomi Tamura with credits to David Wujcik (© 2009 Otakorp Inc).

In July you made your first performance in the US at Otakon 2009. What were your expectations about coming to a major American anime convention?

I've heard that they are many anime fans around the world, and most of all, I am overwhelmed by the crowd who actually knew my song through anime. I always had an interest in performing outside of Japan!

What are your lasting memories of the event?

I was surprised to see the "Mega size" of Otakon, and the energetic staff involved with this event. This huge convention center and hotels (I've heard that the size of the convention facilities have increased!) I actually felt as if I was getting a good workout moving between the different sites within the convention center and the hotel! I will never forget that!

After seeing the number of anime fans, I was also surprised to see the staff who were involved, were also serious anime fans by seeing their excitement when they received anime goods at the party's door prizes after the convention. They are serious fans who love anime!

What else surprised you about the event?

The crowds were fully dressed in their favorite characters! They are serious lovers of anime -- we say "Hanpa-nai" in Japanese!

Hearing a song in an anime show is often how overseas people first encounter Japanese music. Why do you think Japanese anime and manga publications have achieved such a universal appeal?

In my personal opinion, Japanese anime is very individualistic and high quality graphics. And the stories bridges the generation gap. There are those who may not like animation, but there are adults who often read comic books. Animation and comic books are one way that parents and children could communicate since the children read and watch what the parents read and watched when they were younger.

Naomi Tamura - - photo by David Wujcik © 2009 Otakorp Inc - click for full size

As your career was starting out what did you think about the possibilities of making music for those type of shows?

When I received the offer to sing an anime song (it was rare to have pop/rock singer to sing anime songs at that time) I first was hesitant to sing. But I remembered listening to anime songs from my childhood, I felt that it would be a great opportunity if I could get involved in making anime music and to have the children enjoy listening to my music.

Before we get into specific songs you've done, let's find out where your love of music came from. First, what kind of kid were you growing up?

I grew up in a very strict home, and I was a very conservative child! On the other hand, I was outgoing in school. I used to read a lot and listened to records at home. Basically I was "a loner."

Can you tell us about your hometown and what it was like growing up there?

My hometown Nagoya in Aichi prefecture is about a 2-hour bullet train ride, south of Tokyo. It is kind of well known for having underground seafood stores, and we are often commented as "undergrounders"!! Unlike Tokyo, Nagoya has lots of green and good food!

I do have many memories here and there! I grew up in a family with grandparents, mom, dad, younger and older brother. My father (still?!) is very strict, and it is very common in Japan to have this type of (strict and stubborn!) father. We call it NIPPON DANJI!

Because of growing up in such a strict household, I began to write my feelings of anger and stress in my notebooks... this may have been my starting point of writing music! Yet, I'm very outgoing, and I had many friends to hang out with throughout my teenage years. We all used to hang out around Nagoya!! I have such good memories with my friends.

As I've mentioned in an interview, I discovered my interest in music from a senior student. One thing that I may have been different from others was that I first started with writing lyrics rather than music. I'm now able to compose and write lyrics, yet my head was always full of lots of things to say, and I had to spit them out! And that's how I formed my very first group called "Step"(before forming Pearl!)

How did you first get into playing music?

As I've mentioned, the record player was my first electric devise. When I first saw a senior student playing his electric guitar, I thought "This is It!!!"

When you were still in high school what kind of career did you imagine you would have?

While everyone in high school was thinking of college or employment, unfortunately I was the only one thinking of becoming a musician. Again, I was "a loner" in high school, leaving a mysterious message in a yearbook saying "I will become a queen of Rock!! (Ha ha ha...)"

What did you do to pursue your music dreams prior to joining the group Pearl?

After graduating high school, I formed a girls band in my hometown (Nagoya). We were able to perform as an opening act. We've entered many auditions, and we were able to debut from Sony Music. We moved and formed a 2 female, 2 male band. The band was named "Pearl," which I've taken the name from my favorite Janis Joplin's last album "Pearl."

Naomi Tamura - - photo by David Wujcik © 2009 Otakorp Inc - click for full size

How did you hook up with Sony Music?

People from Sony came to my house and spoke to my father to let me become a musician. But it actually took almost a year to convince my father in letting me perform in Tokyo. After making my contract with Sony, I was treated as a member of the "Sony family."

What were those first few years in the music industry like?

Daily routine of recording and touring, I was having fun and yet I was very stressed at the same time.

Are there one or two songs from those early days that you are most proud of, or that you still perform most often today?

The song One Step from my first album. It's the first love ballad that I wrote.

Your song Eien no Ichibyo brought you added attention when it appeared in a TV commercial for Kameria Diamonds. Could you tell us about writing and recording that song?

For this song, the melody line of the chorus section had been composed when the band was disbanded. The band Pearl performed during 87'-89'. Although I couldn't come up with my melody for the verse. After the band disbanded, I met a person whom I've worked with for 10 years. And the song Eien no Ichibyo became our first song. Because of my capability in singing high pitch, we recorded in such a way so as to emphasized my strength in singing.

How do you prepare to write a song specifically for an anime show?

I'd read the script several times and I also listen to the writer's point of view. And I'd imagine the anime scene in my head and listen to the soundtrack.

You are famous for singing the opening theme Yuzurenai Negai (Unyielding Wish) for "Magic Knights Rayearth Volume 1." Can you tell us more about this song and how it was created?

For writing the lyrics, including words which relate to the ocean, the wind, and the lights was a very exciting and fun experience that I had.

You also did Hikari to Kage o dakishimeta mama (Still Embracing Light and Darkness) for "Magic Knights Rayearth Volume 2." What was the atmosphere like working on those projects?

Regards to writing songs for Magic Knights and Rayearth, the whole production scene was "magic" for me. Everything seems to fit perfect in writing and production. With this great "magic flow" of this production, I've learned to enjoy creating anime music.

I was enjoying writing songs at that time. Until I wrote a song called Hikari to Kage o dakishimetamama I've remembered writing several similar type to this songs.

"Get Backers" is another anime show you provided the theme song for. What are your memories of creating the song Yuragu koto nai ai and your involvement with the show?

It starts with Rock n' Roll style and we wanted to make this song exciting by picking up its tempo from the middle section of the song. And the writer created the animation after completion of my song. I remember that I was very excited to see the finish product on the screen!

Aside from anime theme music you also of course released several albums over the years. Can you tell us about your 2008 album, "Rockfield Willow"?

I've titled my album "Rockfield Willow" which relates as "shinaru" -- broaden my horizon in music. I've asked my favorite guitarist, Keiji Kitamura from my 2nd term of Pearl from 97' in producing. That was very enjoyable. This was a rare album which I've asked several people to compose the music for me.

In 2007 you released "PEARL BEST ~Diamonds of pearl~". Can you tell us more about the recent activities of Pearl and how important it has been to your musical career?

My debut was in 1987, and 2007 was my 20th anniversary (I've released CD and DVD). This 2nd term of Pearl, I'm very fortunate to have as members: Drummer - Carmine Appice, Bass - Tony Franklin, Guitar - Keiji Kitamura, and myself! I contacted them and we had a revival live show in Japan. Singing with this band gives me a lot more freedom in singing.

Can you put into words how you actually create music? Do you have a process you go through or is each song different?

In the beginning, I usually come up with a simple melody line along with lyrics. However, depending on the musician, I've learned to write music and lyrics separately or add melody lines over a continuous rhythm pattern. I recently recognized that I need to study depth of chord structure, and I also would like to experiment writing less words to the music.

How do you think your music has changed or evolved since you first started out?

I'm currently more involved with writing and producing music. Even though I'm not smart enough to manage many things all at once yet, I'm taking one step at a time. "Still gotta long way to go!!"

If you were to pick one of your songs for new listeners to hear first, which would you pick, and why?

I would appreciate if you could take time in listening to ALL OF MY SONGS!! But if I had to choose one... That would be... Yuzurenai Negai (this is the most well-known song!)

What advice would you give someone just starting out who wants to become a professional musician?

Keep imagining who you want to be, believe in yourself and keep chasing your dream. Once you stop, that's it!! This is not only for "want to be musician" but for everyone! Yeah...!!!

Outside of music what do you like to do for fun and relaxation?

Reading, going to movies, and hot spring!

What are your plans for the rest of the year?

This year, I'll be producing an album, I will do my best in performing approximately 20 shows. I would like to make time for writing songs for next year's album. OH!! I'm going to Sedona in November!! (hooray!!)

Do you have a final message to all your fans?

I'm full of curiosity and ambition!! I would like to perform a lot overseas. I would like to write songs that people would say "Hey! that's a cool song!!!" I would also like to keep meeting new people too!! Thank you for your support and hope to see you soon!!

For more info checkout Naomi Tamura'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