Time for a new interview, this time with Haruka (遼花 -haruka-). AVO talked with her about being a soloartist, her new release and the Netherlands and Belgium.
AVO Blog: Firstly, please introduce yourself.
Haruka: I am Haruka, a Japanese singer and songwriter. I released my first single in 2008 under a major label called Pony Canyon. After releasing 2 singles, I left the label and I took a break of 5 years. In 2013, I finally came back to the music industry with an EP released under my own indie label. I hope to be successful overseas and would really like to share my music with the world!
AVO Blog: Please tell us when you first got in touch with music. Since when are you interested in it?
Haruka: I started to learn the piano at the age of 4, as my mom has a background in classical music and she decided to teach it to me too. However, as a child, I didn’t think I would pursue my career in classical music. When I was in junior high school, I started to listen to rock music and I knew that it was the kind of music I wanted to create. I decided to become a musician and that’s how it started.
AVO Blog: What is your concept as a solo artist?
Haruka: My concept as a solo artist is to convey encouraging messages through rock music. The messages I would like to convey are to be yourself, to pursue your dreams and to fight against difficulties. I guess this is so rare for a female songwriter, but there’s no single love song in my albums so far! (laughs)
AVO Blog: What’s your greatest source of inspiration?
Haruka: My own experiences, definitely. Anything I have been through in my life can be a source of inspiration. That’s why there is a lot of storytelling in my songs. For example, “Raise Your Voice” is a song I wrote about the period of time where I was making music under the major label. They tried to turn me into someone they wanted me to be and I felt so much frustration. I decided to write a song about this experience and the core message for this song is to have courage to speak up, like I needed to.
AVO Blog: Your first European show was at MondoCon in Hungary in 2014, in the meantime you have been in a few countries and soon you will play at ExpoManga in Spain. These are just separate shows, but can we expect a European tour? Or do you only want to play at conventions?
Haruka: I would really like to have a tour sometime! However, for the time being, I will probably be performing only at conventions, since having a tour is financially more complicated when you are working under your own label. Another reason is that I really like performing at conventions. I can reach many people this way. It’s such a pleasure when someone talks to you and says “I didn’t really know much of Japanese music, but I liked your performance. I will check on you on the Internet and also look for more Japanese music.” It’s really great when people become interested in our music through those events and my performances. That’s one of the things I like about performing at conventions.
AVO Blog: You write your own music, do you also write songs for other artists? If yes, can you tell us who?
Haruka: Yes, I wrote lyrics for a Japanese singer Aina when I was 16. One of the songs was used as the ending theme of anime Glass Mask. It was the first time that I wrote lyrics for someone. I was also asked to write about love, which I do not generally write about in my songs. But anyway, it was a great experience and I learned a lot while I was working on her songs.
AVO Blog: What is your favourite part of being a solo artist? Making new music, performing on stage or something else?
Haruka: I enjoy every process of making music, performing and promoting, but I especially like recording and going overseas for shows. Being a solo artist, I can and have to do everything on my own. I do programming, play the guitar and sing. So I can make sure that my songs sound exactly the way I want them to sound – I mean, the way they sound in my head. Going abroad for shows is always an amazing experience. I love to share my music with people. And I really enjoy meeting my fans face to face!
AVO Blog: Are there songs of yourself that have a special meaning for you? If yes, which song is it and why?
Haruka: In my album “Anthems,” there is a song called “The Sound More Silent Than Silence [Gloria In Excelsis Deo].” This song is special for me because it’s a song I wrote for victims of the earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan in 2011. In 2013, I visited the city where the damage was the most severe. By then, 2 years had already passed since the earthquake, but it was so shocking to see that there was still nothing in most areas. Many people were traumatized and they still are. I would like to keep singing this song and also keep praying, and taking actions to support them.
AVO Blog: Do you hope to have your own songs being sung by you used for opening / ending songs of anime/drama series, like Glass Mask, sang by Aina?
Haruka: Yes, if I can get the opportunities I would be very glad! When I wrote for Aina, I didn’t expect the song would be used for an anime. I was glad that the anime creators liked the song and chose it for their ending song.
AVO Blog: After you left PONY CANYON, you started your own label (Club Disorder). What was the biggest challenge for you after you had started the label?
Haruka: In the beginning, it was quite a challenge for me to have to do everything on my own, from finances to promotion. Concerning budget management and taxes, I had absolutely no idea! But having to do everything on your own is fun at the same time. For example, when I was in the major label, me and my staff never thought we would be able to promote my music to overseas. Now, thanks to the Internet and SNS’s, promotion has become much easier than before. Running a label is still challenging for me but it’s great that I can put all my ideas into actions right away.
AVO Blog: This Summer you released a new single. Can you tell us something about it?
Haruka: Its title is “The Song of Smartphones.” I had always wanted to write about smartphones, because I thought that in a way, they are depriving us of opportunities to enjoy our real life to the fullest. But on the other hand, there is also a good side: we can connect to the world through them. I can also communicate with my fans all over the world thanks to the smartphone. In this song, I described their good side and bad side. I guess there are not many artists singing about this kind of topic, so I thought it would sound new and interesting. Anyway, it’s a fun song and I hope you will like it!
AVO Blog: What do you know about the Netherlands and Belgium? You have been in Belgium before, but what did you know and what have you seen in Belgium?
Haruka: Actually, I have been to both countries! I have only been to Amsterdam and Brussels though. I visited Brussels when I was a student and enjoyed my stay for 2 days. I was amazed by the Grand Place. It was absolutely breathtaking. Of course I tried Belgian beer and waffles too! They were very good. In Amsterdam, though I had only a couple of hours, I visited a HEMA shop and bought a bunch of postcards and chocolate! I really wish I had time to visit Utrecht as well…I have a friend who studies there and I heard about the Miffy (Nijntje) Museum. I would really like to go there sometime.
AVO Blog: To finish the interview, please send a message to our readers from the Netherlands and Belgium. Thank you so much for the interview!
Haruka: Thank you very much for being fans of Japanese music! I really love the Netherlands and Belgium, so I hope I can get the opportunity to perform in your country in the near future. I love to communicate with my overseas fans, so please do not hesitate to talk to me on Twitter or Facebook. I will try to reply to you as much as possible. See you very soon!
I want to thank Haruka for her time for this interview. Also I want to thank the crew of AVO with helping out and their support. You can follow Haruka’s activities on her official blog, Facebook and Twitter!