On Jan. 13 and 14, 2024, <KAMITSUBAKI STUDIO>, the creative label that is pioneering Internet culture, will be holding Kamitsubaki Yoyogi Wars 2024. This event, the label’s biggest ever, will be held in Tokyo’s Japan National Stadium, Yoyogi 1st Gymnasium, which has a capacity of roughly 12,000. V.W.P, the virtual artist group made up of KAF, RIM, Harusaruhi, Isekaijoucho and KOKO, will be playing on the first day. On the second day, virtual singer KAF, just 20 years old, will be putting on a solo show titled Kaika.
The event will be a special feature in the ongoing SINKA LIVE series of live shows put on by virtual artists on the Kamitsubaki label. With the first day of the event approaching, Billboard Japan talked to the performers about their ambitions for the show.
KAF, how have you been preparing for the event?
KAF: I can’t go into a lot of detail yet, but I can present myself in different ways in my performances, so I’ve been talking a lot to my team about what approach to take to make the show the most fun for the audience. I’m also practicing singing a lot!
KOKO, what are you looking forward to the most about playing at the Yoyogi 1st Gymnasium?
KOKO: Needless to say, I’m excited about playing in a venue as big as the Yoyogi 1st Gymnasium, and I’m looking forward to seeing what it looks like from the stage. In the virtual world, I have a lot of opportunities to connect to fans through the screen and the net. This time, though, people will be taking time out of their schedules to come to see V.W.P in person, gathering together in one place, so I’m looking forward to seeing everyone face-to-face at the venue.
Could you talk a little about the “Versus” artist collaboration stage performance?
KOKO: My opponent in the “Versus” stage will be CIEL. Normally, we stream together in the Kamitsubaki Diplomacy Division. So usually, she feels like a colleague, not an opponent. We’re both former brass band members, and when it comes to music, we both have our own strong preferences and musical expertise. I’ve got no idea what kind of positive chemistry it’s going to produce when we perform together. Maybe it’ll turn into a tense musical battle? I guess people will just have to come and see.
RIM, how are you feeling as the show approaches?
RIM: For now, what I need to do is to get Haru (Harusaruhi) to unwind. Recently, I’ve been practicing the choreography for “Resonance” so I won’t make any mistakes (laughs). Everybody’s all hyped for the event, and we’re already giving it our all, starting with the rehearsals!! I’m also looking forward to my part as a guest performer.
Isekaijoucho, what do you think about the SINKA LIVE show series?
Isekaijoucho: Everything about SINKA LIVE is innovative. It’s a whole new type of live show. Everything, from the virtual space to the connected stories, is majestic and beautiful, but at the heart of all of it is our own music. To share our songs, we need to have a place to serves as our starting point, along with a certain spirit. SINKA LIVE shows allow us to dive deep inside ourselves. We’re setting out to discover our true selves, which are the same in both the virtual and real worlds. What will we find through this exploration? How deep will we go? I think each of us has found our own answers to these questions. At V.W.P 2nd ONE-MAN LIVE “Phenomena II – Witch Expansion”, we’re going to be giving it our all, singing true-to-life songs with all our heart, as only the five of us can.
Harusaruhi, could you share a little about the unique qualities of the members that make up V.W.P?
Harusaruhi: KAF’s voice is wonderful, clearly delivering her message straight to listeners. It stands out for its almost spoken feel, a really natural mode of expression. RIM has a stylish, relaxed, soft singing voice. I find it really catchy, and it makes mid-tempo songs truly shine. Isekaijoucho isn’t just a singer, but also a creator, and I find her originality to be enthralling. I also love her unique voice. KOKO has a wide singing range. She can sing songs from any genre. She also puts on wonderful live shows, making a lasting impression on anyone who watches her perform.
How has V.W.P evolved since it was initially formed?
RIM: All of us members have grown even closer, and the way we combine our voices has evolved!!! At some point we lost our initial awkwardness. We still have our five distinctive voices, but now they mesh smoothly in our songs. Each of us brings our own unique strengths and we combine them into a unified whole. The process was so steady I didn’t even notice it at the time, but looking back, we’ve evolved a lot.
KAF, your previous main composer, Iori Kanzaki, was part of your process of deepening your sound. When he parted ways with the label, you also ended your Fukakai series of live shows, which you began in 2019. Your solo show, Kaika, on the second day of Kamitsubaki Yoyogi Wars 2024, could almost be seen as chapter two of Fukakai. What do you think the highlights will be?
KAF: In this new show series, I’m of course preparing performances that will go above and beyond what everyone is imagining. I think I’ll be able to put on a show that highlights both the changes I’ve made and the parts I’m keeping the same. At last year’s Nippon Budokan performance, I called on various guests to sing together with me on stage. This time, as well, there will be an exclusive, one-time collaboration that people will only be able to see at Kamitsubaki Yoyogi Wars 2024. I hope a lot of people come to see it.
Is there anything you try to do when collaborating with guest performers?
KAF: When I sing a song by an artist I like, the first thing that comes to mind is their singing style. When I think about how I want to sing the song, I find myself setting the original artist’s own style as the standard. But it’s important that I sing in my own way. The question is how best to combine the two. I’m really looking forward to trying out different approaches in the show.
KAMITSUBAKI STUDIO has changed immensely while constantly progressing. It now has quite a few creators.
KAF: When I first started my creative work, I didn’t know much about the virtual world. However, over time, I’ve gone beyond just songs. Now, there are a lot of different elements that make up the artist known as KAF. A lot of people’s efforts combine to make me what I am, but I’m the one who speaks. Since realizing that, I’ve started to think deeply about just what I am.
I feel like that question ties into the title Fukakai, which is Japanese for “inexplicable.”
KAF: The title Fukakai also contains a sense of “unknown.” There are a lot of times in my artistic activities where I find myself confronting the unknown. For example, with the upcoming show at Yoyogi 1st Gymnasium, just how big will it be? How many people will come? I know the numbers, but they don’t really give me a visceral sense of what it will actually be like. Sometimes, on stage, I don’t know exactly how the performance is going. But the fact that I don’t know means that I simply have to have faith. I can move forward, trusting my own predictions and hopes. I think this is something I’ve discovered through this series of shows. It’s really strengthened my belief in myself.
Streaming tickets can be purchased here.
—This interview by Mio Komachi first appeared on Billboard Japan
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