Interview with American Jpop Singer, Stephanie Yanez

California’s Jpop singer, Stephanie Yanez, has been in the local scene since 2004. She has been performing all over the US and Japan, bringing fans cute and catchy Jpop tunes with her adorable singing voice. She has sung covers from different anime at many events like Rurouni Kenshin, Sailor Moon, Buzzer Beat, and Gundam, just to name a few.

To celebrate Stephanie Yanez’s latest original album, “Sakura Wonderland”, John Spartan from Nerd Reactor and Stephanie Yanez chatted about her favorite events, why Japan rules everything, and why Joxer the Mighty (Xena: Warrior Princess) is such a cutey.

Nerd Reactor: You’ve been singing at a really young age. When did you decide that singing in Japanese would be a cool thing to do?

Stephanie Yanez: I started singing in Japanese when I would go to the Karaoke box with my friends who were Japanese foreign exchange students that I randomly met through college when I use to take music and film classes. They knew I was an indie singer and would ask me to sing in Japanese, even though I did not know any Japanese at the time!

Fast forward a couple of years and a new singing competition came around at Anime Expo called AX Idol. I was approached by Geneon to be featured on their CD Anime Karaoke Collection with I’VE Japanese record label. And both companies were impressed with how I sing in Japanese and wanted me to continue to sing in Japanese for the CD. And then Japanese just started to stick with me and my music.

Even I get excited when you sing in Japanese. Please tell me there are others out there who get just as excited in person.

I get emails everyday from people who say I inspire them. People who thought that because they are NOT Japanese, that they can’t sing in Japanese. So because I am American and sing in Japanese, it really does inspire people.

One of your highlights has got to be performing at Anime Expo for AX Idol in 2004. Tell us what AX Idol is, and how cool it was?

AX Idol is a singing competition that gave contestants a chance to perform on the main stage at Anime Expo. I remembered choosing my song “Ningyo Hime” after watching the anime Chobits. I was competing in the karaoke contests at Anime Expo before AX Idol. So during AX Idol, I remembered knowing every contestant because we use to all be in the karaoke contests together. One of those contestants was the anime singer HIMEKA, who recently did the theme for the anime Senkō no Night Raid. I have to say I was very honored when they called my name as the winner of AX Idol, especially since there were so many great singers in the competition. But I really did feel that I gave my all that night! I was really happy being able to perform up on the stage to over 5,000 people.

The prize for winning AX Idol was 100 Jpop CDS! Yes, many people thought that the prize was me winning a recording contract. No, it was just 100 Jpop CDS. With that being said, I was approached one day after the contest by Geneon. They told me they wanted to work with me but didn’t know how or when. Then a couple of months went by and they contacted me again and asked if I would like to go record at Paramount Studios and be on their CD Anime Karaoke Collection singing “Ningyo Hime” and a couple of other songs by I’VE!, a Japanese label known for their most famous singer, Kotoko! Once I recorded the CD, Anime Karaoke Collection was available at Best Buy among other major record stores.

At Anime Expo 2005, I was introduced by Kotoko, made my professional debut and performed the I’VE song “SHIFT”.

I’m so jealous of you. You get to travel all over the nation performing at different conventions and events and visiting Japan to perform there also. How do you do it? Who’s your travel agent?

Ha! Travel agent? Not quite? I have just been blessed with many awesome opportunities that came my way. I call them gifts from heaven! 🙂

I know that all conventions are cool, but if you had to pick one, which one would be your favorite convention/event?

I have way too many precious memories at Anime Expo! So Anime Expo is a convention I hold very close to my heart. I mean, that is where everything began for me! And each year I always get to do something really awesome, like performing at the Masquerade, making appearances at the TinierMe booth, interviewing Shokotan, or having my own concert at the summer festival stage! So Anime Expo will always be my favorite!

If I had to choose between just visiting Japan vs. all of Europe, would I be crazy for saying just Japan?

Not crazy at all! Japan is quite the wonderland and has many things for everyone! Great food, fashion, and technology galore! I travel a lot and I could choose to travel somewhere else like Europe. But I always want to play more in Japan! I can’t help it! Ha! Tokyo is a city that has music vibrating through its streets with lights and life! Tokyo is a city where you can lose yourself very easily. And the UFO Catchers will get you everytime! ;p

Ok, so you’re on this site called TinierMe. I’m trying to look for your avatar on that site. Ok, I just looked at the home page, but please let us know where we can find you so that I don’t have to search [laughs].

You can find me under the Community tab. Just look to your left and you will see TinierMe Staff. Just click that and you will see me under Sponsors. My name on TinierMe is StephanieYanez of course!

I’d like to say you lived a pretty exciting life, traveling around the world, performing, and working with different companies. Is there a bad side to this?

With good there has to be some bad… But I really don’t see anything bad! Ha! Maybe it’s my positive upbringing… But I feel so blessed and I believe that to be an artist it takes a certain kind of a person. You have to be strong and know who you are. Only then you can truly enjoy what you are doing. Every so often I do receive very offensive comments. But those comments get lost in all the positive and supportive comments I receive on a daily basis from all my supporters, who have been there for me since I made my debut in 2005 as well as my new supporters. Each and every one of them lifted me up. I am truly blessed!

Since our site’s called Nerd Reactor, I have to ask you, what’s your nerdiest, geekiest hobby that even you’re afraid to share with the world?

I am really obsessed with the TV show Xena Warrior Princess. When Xena was on TV, I would go to all of the conventions. And I met most of the characters of the show. My favorite character was Joxer! I really had quite the crush on him! Ha! And on my birthday, my present was to go see Joxer (Ted Raimi) at a comic book store! HAAAAAAAAA! What a way to spend my birthday huh?

OMG, you love Joxer too? I thought I was the only one that liked him. Ted Raimi was so likable. I actually had a chance to interview him about his recent project at Anaheim Comic Con (unrelated to San Diego Comic-Con). But my favorite character in Xena would have to be Autolycus (Bruce Campbell), the king of thieves. Wouldn’t you say he’s dashing? [laughs]

Wow that is so awesome that you like Joxer as well? I love goofy guys though! You can say that is my weakness! Lol! I was a guest at Florida Super Con and Ted Raimi was also a guest! I told him I was performing but I don’t know if he took me seriously or not! Ha! He was like you are performing? Almost like and who are you? Haaaaaa! I also love Autolycus! He was very dashing but a bit of a perv sometimes! Lol! ;p

What’s your recent favorite anime to watch?

My recent favorite anime I have watched is K-ON! I can really relate to Yui a lot! I relate actually way too much! It’s quite scary! Ha! I love the fun of the anime and the music!

If you were stuck on an island with a copy of your favorite anime and Jpop singer, what and who would it be?

To pick a favorite anime overall is a very hard thing for me to do. But if I was stuck on an island, even though I love Evangelion, that anime might get me down a little. So I would choose Sailor Moon! Good fun and a lot of episodes to keep me busy! My Jpop singer would be Yuki. Her music is fun and I can imagine myself dancing on the island to her music!

If you were on the island with just me, will you promise not to undress me with your eyes?

Well I won’t do that! But I can’t promise you other things…

Lastly, do you have any tips for other aspiring Japanese-loving musicians out there?

Live the genki, kawaii, Jpop life my friends! Don’t give up and keep on going! People will try to put you down with a frown, but just stand tall because you know yourself best! Remember, sitting around waiting for something to happen just won’t do! You need to get up and tell the world about what you do! Shout it if you can! ;p

Check out Stephanie’s site and buy her album at StephanieYanez.com! And here’s a music video of her addicting song, “Sakura Wonderland”.

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