J-POP singer Chii Sakurabi was the guest of honour at the first edition of Moshi Moshi and that for me the reason to interview her. Before her performance, I sat down with Chii to talk about The Netherlands, her live in the United States and her newest album Moon Princess.
AVO: Could you introduce yourself?
Chii Sakurabi: Hallo-lo! I’m Chii Sakurabi, a J-POP singer and recording artist from Tokyo, Japan now living in the U.S.
AVO: What attracted you to your musical career? Is it making the music or concerts or something else?
Chii Sakurabi: I think it’s mostly a passion for story-telling. It’s how I can express my fantasy world and the music brings the story to life. Of course, the energy I get from the concerts is what keeps me so motivated to do even more!
AVO: Why did you want to become a singer?
Chii Sakurabi: I’ve always really loved singing since I was a kid. My grandmother who I used to live with growing up was a teacher of traditional Japanese enka singing, so I have her blood in me! When I was in college, I met a musician from a famous band in Japan, and we talked a lot about the music industry. I was inspired by his passion to produce music, and since I had a passion for singing, I decided to try and make it a career. Then I met Nucky, a keyboardist and composer who was looking for a J-POP singer and we hit it off.
AVO: You are from Tokyo, Japan, but you moved to the US in 2010 to expand your music internationally. How have you experienced the change of country and culture? Are you satisfied with your choice to go to the US?
Chii Sakurabi: Obviously, the U.S. is a very different world than Japan. But I feel like I was always meant to live in the U.S. because my personality is more fit for the American way of life. I love Japan, its culture and of course its food, but living in LA there are so many Japanese people that I sometimes feel like I have the best of both worlds! I am very satisfied that I moved to the U.S. I don’t know if I would still be doing music if I was still in Japan. In the U.S., J-POP is still pretty new and I think I’ve found my niche with performing at anime conventions and pop-culture festivals. I am really eager to see what other opportunities will come!
AVO: This is your first time visiting the Netherlands. What was your first impression of the country? Have you tried out some Dutch treats? And have you learned some Dutch words?
Chii Sakurabi: My first impression of the Netherlands was the architecture of the buildings. I love the mixture of new and old buildings in Amsterdam. I did try some Dutch treats, which were amazing! I loved the chocolates, croquettes, fries with mayo, Old Amsterdam cheese, and pancakes! I didn’t get a chance to learn very many Dutch words, but I did learn “Dank u”!
AVO: You make happy Japanese pop music and your music is mainly oriented around fantasy. What song of your own making is your favourite?
Chii Sakurabi: Yes, I try to make positive music that brings people happiness. My favourite song is Veil, which is actually my newest single off of Moon Princess. I love the intensity of the music because it always gets me excited!
AVO: You just released your second album, titled Moon Princess, can you tell us something about it?
Chii Sakurabi: Moon Princess is an album I had been wanting to do for a long time because I connect so strongly with the Japanese fairytale character Princess Kaguya who is the inspiration to this album. Most of the songs tell my interpretation of the story of Princess Kaguya, a princess from the moon who is raised on Earth and later returns to the moon. I think the songs are even more energetic and dynamic than my first album Mirage and the sound quality definitely improved for this release. I am really excited to share this album with many people around the world!
AVO: What is your favourite music? Do you like to listen to another kind of genres?
Chii Sakurabi: Obviously, I love J-POP, but I also enjoy listening to rock and electronic music as well. That’s why you can find some of those elements in my songs.
AVO: You design your own lolita clothing, have you ever thought of having your own clothing brand?
Chii Sakurabi: Hmm… I hadn’t really thought about that, but you never know!
AVO: If you would start your own clothing brand, who would be the first person that you would like to dress?
Chii Sakurabi: Well, I don’t know about others, but I would probably start by just dressing myself!
AVO: What kind of influence do your fans have on you and what kind of influence do you think you have on your fans?
Chii Sakurabi: I adore my fans. They are really the ones that keep me so energized and enthusiastic about making music and performing concerts. As an independent artist, I really need their support and they are always happy to offer it. I really don’t know what kind of influence I have on my fans, but if I can make their day a little happier through my music than that’s good enough for me!
AVO: You are working hard as a musician, but if you hadn’t chosen this path in life, what would you be doing for a living?
Chii Sakurabi: Chii: Hmm… Who knows? I imagine that because I am a creative person, I would be doing something in the arts, like designing things or even going into film!
AVO: What is your biggest achievement yet?
Chii Sakurabi: Well, I’m still something of a new artist, but I think my biggest achievement up until now is releasing this new album Moon Princess. I spent a long time working on it and put all my heart into it. It’s really my best work yet and I hope many people will enjoy it!
AVO: You have been travelling through the US, but also to other countries. And now you are in the Netherlands! Do you have a country on your wishlist where you want to go?
Chii Sakurabi: Well, this year I had the chance to perform in New Zealand, which was amazing! Unfortunately, I didn’t get a chance to go to Australia at that time, even though it was nearby and was a dream destination of mine. Hopefully, someday soon I will get a chance to perform in Australia!
AVO: I haven’t been to Japan before, so I need some tips. And you are coming from Tokyo, so you must know interesting places that we should visit if we go to Tokyo. Do you have any pieces of advice?
Chii Sakurabi: I recommend visiting Harajuku, Akihabara, and Shibuya! There are so many things to do and see in these areas of Tokyo. Also, you should try doing karaoke! Nowadays, karaoke places are pretty amazing! You can order food and drinks, record your singing and make a CD, you can play games, you can watch some artist’s message or music video, or even share your singing video through Nico Nico Live, and so on!
AVO: Do you have any last comments for the viewers/readers of AVO?
Chii Sakurabi: It was nice to have this time together! Thank you all for your constant support. I just released a new music video for the song “Veil” from my new album Moon Princess. Please check it out! Also, please follow me on Facebook and Twitter so that we can be in touch! Bye Nyan!
I want to thank Chii Sakurabi for her time, the organization behind Moshi Moshi (Nippon Project) for the possibility to interview Chii and Miyako Studio for the very nice interview photo’s!