Anime Expo 2016: Interview with singer LIA

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Anime opening and ending music often become a major selling point to an anime’s popularity. These anisons (short for anime songs) have been a staple since the beginning of the anime genre. The power of an anime song can launch careers and success instantly. Lia is no stranger to the anime song scene, having launched her singing career back in 2000 with the song “Tori no Uta” (The Bird’s Song) in the video game, Air. Lia was kind enough to lend us some of her time during Anime Expo. Check our interview to learn more about her!

Nerd Reactor: Hey Lia, Just wanted to start off by welcoming you to the States.

Lia: Thanks!

NRr: You just had a performance at the opening ceremony on Day 1. How did you feel about it?

Lia: It was a great experience for me.

NR: Did you enjoy your American fan cheering you on? 

Lia: Yeah, it was awesome. It was a great feeling going up there.

NR: Were you surprised at the amount of fans you had overseas? 

Lia: Yes, like I was so surprised that they were singing along with the song. I was really surprised.

NR: You’ve managed a long relationship with Key/Visual Art’s (a longstanding Japanese video game company). How did that begin?

Lia: Okay first, I was recording my demo in Los Angeles to bring back to Japan. That was right after I graduated from Berklee College of Music. I was living in Los Angeles and recording in my friend’s home studio. And you know, he didn’t speak any Japanese, but Visual Arts actually contacted his recording studio and that they wanted to use it. They were going to bring an artist record just the vocal. I was there and he didn’t speak any Japanese, and he came to me, “Can you kinda like translate between us?” Okay, I can do that. So I just talked to Visual Arts.

A week or two later, they called and said, “You know we were supposed to bring an artist, but actually the vocalist can’t come now. Actually, can you sing for us?”

I was like, “Are you sure? Because you’ve never heard me sing,” and I just told them that I’m a vocalist that said the studio was great, and the engineers were great… promoting for them. But since they didn’t have anyone coming, I said, “Okay, I’ll send you my recording and you can decide if you like it or not.”

Then they just called me right away. “We love you! The president of Visual Arts loves you. So can you sing for us?”

I was like, “Sure!”

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NR: Was that when you were signed to I’ve Sounds?

Lia: I think that was later on when I recorded the song “Shift”. Actually, the person who called that studio was Takase-san from I’ve Sounds. I was contacting with him and he was the one who was arranging all the logistics.

NR: So it was a series of interesting coincidences.

Lia: Yeah, but at the end. They decided to record at the Paramount Recording studios instead of my friend’s studio. I got the job, but my friend didn’t get the recording gig so I was like, “Oh I’m sorry!” It wasn’t actually too expensive so when they found out about Paramount, they just chose to record there. They chose it because it was a famous studio.

NR: You never imagined that you would launch your career right then and there?

Lia: Never! They told me it’s for this video game. I was like, “Okay, sure.” I didn’t know that it became so popular until like years later. Even my cousin knew who Lia was.

He was like, “You?! You’re Lia?”

I was like, “How do you know?” He was so surprised to find out that I was Lia. I had no idea how big it became.

NR: Besides working with Visual Arts, you’ve also collaborated with various DJs to remix your songs. Can you talk to us a little about that process and how you work with them?

Lia: The President of my management, she was looking for an artist, so before she knew I was singing as Lia, she heard my demo. She was like, “Oh, this is it. I have to see her” She called me up and asked, “Can you sing for us?” She was working with these producers who work in a genre called “Happy Hardcore”. I actually started with her with that genre first later on, and only later did she found out that I was singing for games. She didn’t know that I was popular among anime fans. That’s kind of how we started a new management; she’s managing me now. It was a weird coincidence for sure. We were really surprised when we made the first album; it sold very well. She said, “Wow, you got a lot of fans.”

NR: So then you produced a couple more.

Lia: Yeah!

NR: If you were not a singer, what other profession would you have considered?

Lia: I love cooking, so I would love to be a chef.

NR: If you had the chance to collaborate with any artists, regardless of if they work in anime or not, who would you wish to work with?

Lia: I mean I don’t really have a particular person, but you know I love trying out new things, so if anyone was interested in collaborating with me. Singing by myself, there’s a limit, I think. If I collaborate with someone else, with Maeda-san, or even with IA, it expands the potential and the expression. So I think it’s great to collaborate with other artists.

NR: So for IA, how do you feel about the wide popularity of the software? Do you see her as an extension of yourself?

Lia: Mmhmm. I mean, at first I thought she could be my enemy, you know. She’s almost like a copy of me, so I didn’t want anyone else to be me.  But you know, she’s really different and a different character, even her look is beautiful. I think of her as my daughter. It’s really good to see her go all over the world.

NR: You’ve been around the anison scene for a long time now. What kind of changes have you seen from when you started to today?

Lia: When I started singing these anime songs, there was actually a line that separated pop and anison. And now it’s kind of like that the line is erased and it’s all mashed together. I think it’s great because we have more opportunities. It opens up the gate; we can go into any music scene before it was divided in all these different kinds of music. I believe that music is just one; it’s something that you enjoy and gets you emotional. What I think is all the music I sing is “Lia”. I’m glad that many people enjoy their life with my voice so I’m really grateful so that I can keep singing.

NR: Final question that we often like to ask our guests, what is your nerdiest hobby?

Lia: Nerdy hobbies! [Thinks about it for a while]

NR: Could be anything you’re especially passionate about. 

Lia: [Looks at her manager] What am I nerdy about?

Manager: Cooking.

Lia: Oh yeah, I love cooking and eating. I love eating out so I can try out things and see what’s inside of each dish so I can create my own dish at home and try it out. So I’m maybe really “otaku” about tasting. Tasting good stuff!

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Thank you to Erick Rossi of 1st Place for setting up the interview and Anime Expo.

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Hokan Lo
Hokan Lo 324 posts

Hokan Lo is a contributing writer and photographer for Nerd Reactor. He likes Pizza Butts and Mello Yellow. You can contact him on twitter @colorinlive. <a href="http://nerdreactor.com/about/">Meet the Nerd Reactor Team</a>

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