As we enter March, I will be continuing to do these mini interviews both online and at in-person events! These MINI KAWAII INTERVIEWS features clothing brands, artists, musicians, and creatives that I would like to feature here for people to get to know a little better! Perhaps you'll discover someone you didn't know much about and learn something interesting about them~ I think it's also a great way for me to bring the creative community together and highlight everyone's success, as it's better to support others than just try to gain for your own!
Did you know that I love idol culture? I'm not full force into it, but I loved attending local idol performances! They don't really happen as much as they used to as many of our local idols moved on to other things. (but I still know the Toronto idol community is loving strong when there are performances at anime conventions!) I even had a chance to work with some local idols designing costumes and even was a background dancer! You can read more about those in this blog entry with MIKURO MIKA and this blog entry with Pastel Toronto.
This mini interview is with a talented singer from the US, who's produced a broad range of content, from silly Toad song covers (Toad from Super Mario) to producing their own music and music videos!
Melancholiaah! - J-Pop Idol/Singer
I believe the first time I met melancholiaah! was during an online idol event in 2020 called AniBrave Idol Fest. (Sometimes its hard for me to remember where I met all the lovely people I do interviews with or meet at conventions, ect. But there are always little memories that spark the bigger picture haha!) For some reason, I also feel like I heard about him during my time at Tekko in 2019. But we got to properly introduce ourselves in person and get to know each other at A-Kon 2022, after being presently surprised that they applied to be a model! I was graced with his presence during our GHOST GiRL GOODS fashion show!
Melancholiaah! gave us some JUICY details about how he started his musical singing journey and what made him want to start. Please enjoy his story!
"I’m about to age myself pretty badly, but I began to sing at anime conventions back in 2005. My mom tells me before I was even talking, I was singing. Whether it was humming around or singing the Teletubbies theme song, I was singing before anything else. I carried on performing at conventions throughout my whole life, entering “Anime Idol” contests, hopping in karaoke rooms, and even entering cosplay contests and singing as a skit at conventions for the longest time alongside doing online covers on Youtube when the platform first started up. I joined in a maid cafe when I was young and their stages gave me room to perform as well. I was always drawn to music, but the pressure of being “seen” for my whole life on a stage gave me this weird perception of being seen and even made me grow to have major anxiety attacks following every performance I started to do. That’s the short version of a longer story and list of various reasons why I began to fear performing.
I moved across the world to Denmark to study for a year and stopped performing a bit before that time. I think that year was one of the most depressing of my life, truly. I spent it in solitude and could hardly eat even, I only ever recall eating grapes, feta cheese blocks, and on occasion soup with bread. I couldn’t ever eat with people around because there was no one to sit and laugh with. During this time, alternative idols were on a rise. I was always a fan of idols as I grew up with Japanese music being a prominent part of my life, but the depressing, crass, and unsettling sounds of alternative idols began to speak to me. Spending so much time by myself, I wanted to try to revisit music once more through inspiration of these idols that were keeping me, truly, sane during this time.
It was a whole mixture of the past hardships growing up on a stage that had boiled up when I looked at my life through the lens of becoming an “adult” and the loneliness I found home in, I created melancholiaah as a place to show my true feelings without regard to people around me and as a way to live for myself. Through this, I found love for music again and shortly after that, humanity. I am beyond grateful to have worked with so many people who inspired me growing up and that while mental disorders still have a tight grip on how I live my life through the day to day cycles, my music no matter how depressing or raw it is, provides hope for people who listen to it. Even for me, writing the lyrics in the lowest points of my life inspires me to capture those feelings through music and by the time it’s done, I’ve found, sometimes even just the smallest about, hope through it.
I believe an idol is someone who can provide hope for someone. While my music isn’t what a typical person may consider to be “idol music”, maybe it isn’t supposed to be. If I was performing in a room of one, if my words and melodies can reach them in any way, even if they remember it for just that one night, that’s what makes me an idol. I want to continue writing music for those who desperately yearn for hope no matter how ugly their worlds may be, myself included. The me who shines through my music, I idolize him. I want to continue connecting the world through these feelings and continue to work hard as an idol for people like me."
A huge part of idol culture is the beautiful costumes~! I've worked at a dance costume company in the past where I truly saw the importance of how a costume can make you feel on stage. Cosplay also has a similar effect! I then asked melancholiaah! what he likes most about styling himself for performances and what an important aspect to fashoin is to him.
"I have always been inspired by idol culture and costuming is no different. When I first began performing, a lot of my costumes had different themes but usually had the similar branding element of my “eyeball” logo, which has represented the way I feel my whole life has been a show for others to see via the stage. Since I began seriously working on original music in 2019, I have had all my seasonal stage costumes all tied together. I am a transman, so my first was a ripped up sailor color dress in a white x green fashion with my logo, then to follow was a skirt and short combo with the same fabric and color ways. I considered it a little gateway to announce my coming out, a blending of who people knew me as and who was to come. A few costumes had followed, but for an idol having a similar but different feeling is always important for me. An idol’s “image color” is a really great way to bring this in to still create a different vibe through costuming. I have done all my costume designing and I take a lot of inspiration from idols I love, but also Japanese street fashions. Outside of stage costuming, I wear a lot of mori and cult party styles, so texturally I really love to look at fabrics and choices common in these while designing. If you aren’t comfortable in what you are wearing, both in design and fabrication, I truly believe you won’t be able to give your all in a show!"
Melancholiaah! tells us that its hard to pinpoint a specific performance that would be the most memorable!
"It’s really hard to say, I have done so many and met so many wonderful people at each show, it’s difficult to pinpoint one. Just thinking back on everything, it makes me a little emotional. After most of my shows, I hold a meet and greet where people can buy goods and chat with me for a while and something that happens so often is people will pour their hearts out to me. It’s absolutely beautiful. Sometimes I wonder what I’d done to see so many raw and genuine emotions from everyone after, but then remember I just spent an hour pouring my own deepest feelings on stage. Because of this, every performance has felt revolutionary for me.
Visually, one of my performances just before I announced my very first E.P. comes to mind. Texas has quite a large “overseas idol” community space, people who perform as idols here in the west. We have a traveling festival called “Texas Idol Festival” and I was chosen to perform at Ikkicon 2018. The audience there was incredible and I performed an incredibly fun set. It was during Haruko Momoi’s song “Mail Me”, which was used as an insert song for the Japanese horror film “Suicide Club” when the bridge picked up and the audience all came up to the front to do a wotagei move called “Kecha”. This is when the audience all sweeps their hands or penlights towards the performer to “give them their energy” or show affection or worship, kind of like someone on their knees presenting a rose to their loved ones. It was a massive sea of green all throughout my recording, swiping up towards me in sync. The feeling was unmatched to anything I’d ever felt before. The image of that moment is burned into my memories. Although I hadn’t started making original music at that time, a feeling that helped me decide I wanted to continue doing this as long as I can."
During A-Kon 2022, melancholiaah! had a performance during Idol Fest! Here is a video of the performance:
Sometimes it can be intimidating to put your own original content online. For GHOST GiRL GOODS, we created a family of mascots that we hope people will love and putting them on our clothing designs! For idols/performers, its creating original music! However, we always find that people LOVE to share their criticism, good or bad. We asked melancholiaah! what keeps him motivated when people are trying to discourage him.
"It is a bit hard, hm? In 2019, I grew a bit of recognition for these silly videos I made. If you’re familiar with “Toad Sings Chandelier, Let it Go, All I Want for Christmas is You”, those are all me. With these, a lot of eyes were on me, much more than my little curated base of idol fans. A lot of subscriptions and support did come with that, but now anytime I do anything related to music and post it on my Youtube, it’s always met with some rather distasteful comments. “You quit doing Toad stuff for…this?”, “Nah. Unsubscribed.”, and even an unhealthy amount of transphobic statements are posted on nearly anything I do, although I had always been pretty clear that I was always to follow my creative and/or professional endeavors on that platform. It can be a bit discouraging, especially when I really am putting my hot blooded feelings into everything I do. At the end of the day, I have to remind myself I am on a journey to be happy with myself, my work, happy in who I am becoming, everything. I am doing that for myself, so ultimately why should someone I will never meet’s negative opinion on me or my work halt this journey? Remember who you create for, that’s the best advice I can give."
What is something melancholiaah! is most proud of?
"I am really proud of so much, everything really. If you can’t be proud of your creative work, even if you don’t feel confident about every little piece of the puzzle, you might germinate some harsh feeling towards your own efforts. It’s important to think fondly about your efforts, no matter the outcome. Personally, something that baffles me even now is some of the producers I have been able to work with. My favorite genre of music is Shoegaze, although I enjoy so many genres. Since middle school, I have been especially fond of the shoegaze scene in Japan. It’s not really a “mainstream” thing, but I was always a little fanboy and would listen to the “Total Feedback” albums on my Ipod Touch, haha. The band “NUIT” is one of my favorite and when I began my transition, doing my injections alone became difficult. Their song “Nightbirds” became my hype song and made me calm after sometimes even an hour of trying hard to get the needle through my skin. Singing along to O-TA-san’s vocals and breathing in sync with the instruments became a comfort, not only through my medical journey but my social transition as well. Anytime I was low, I revisited their E.P. “In My Nature”.
I had started work on my first album “The Diary of Our Years Together” in December of 2020 and had the crazy idea to email NUIT asking if they were available to produce me a song. Their response was a very quick and easy “Okay!” to sum it up. It definitely threw me by surprise. Although I’d never had a producer I reach out to say no, I was still stunned. Although they are also a smaller artist, I felt like I had been recognized by a God, haha! They produced the track “GOODBYE, I’LL SEE YOU TOMORROW!!”, which remains to be one of my favorite tracks I’ve released. I was feeling a little gutsy and a bit of a confidence boost during this time and emailed NatsuBot of the soon disbanding “For Tracy Hyde” and the band “April Blue”, both bands I have on loop pretty often. Somehow, he’d also agreed and was a dream to work with, helping write the track “Nanairo Love Story”, a track I’d written about queer love.
It was at Anime Weekend Atlanta after my set at the Starlight Idol Festival and I was having a great gig! Late at night, I’d gotten a message from O-TA-san saying that Yusuke Hata, the legend behind the band “Cruyff in the Bedroom” would like to get in contact to produce for me as well in the near future. For me, this was really the icing on the cake. Yusuke-san had been the one to help with the “Total Feedback” albums that introduced me to the genre when I was just in middle school and I had been a massive fan of Cruyff in the Bedroom for years. If NUIT was God, then this was beyond that, whatever that may be. Yusuke-san is such a fun and amazing creator, it was an honor to even catch his eye. He helped write the title track for my 2022 E.P. “IN MY SUNET” and Michael of the J-shoegaze band “Lune” wrote the track “Mado ni Kaeru”, who is another artist Yusuke-san has in a way put under his wing. Getting to work with artists from a scene that I’d admired for so long and that helped shape me as not even a musician but as a person, it has truly been a dream. Even now, Yusuke-san sends me news and shows that he helps produce in Japan and it is always a joy to catch the online streaming when I have a chance. I hope one day I can share the stage with these musicians and properly thank them all for helping me create the sound I have always wanted."
IN MY SUNSET, co-written by Yusuke Hata.
Apart from singing, in the last year, melancholiaah! created a little shop of his own creating magical girl themed merchandise with his art! "It’s been a bit of an outlet to get out some creative juices without myself as a person being the focal point, which has created a good balance in my life. Besides, it is fun to connect with others through our love of the genre!" You can check out his shop here!
(A screenshot of melancholiaah!'s Etsy shop Mellosoda, featuring cute trinkets with his art!)
What is melancholiaah!'s biggest dream in life?
Truly, I believe it is just to be happy. I like to tell myself I am happy but I know it’s not really true. I must keep telling myself that though because one day, I will get to keep that feeling forever, not just while screaming on a stage with everyone screaming back or sharing our hearts with one another after a show. Ultimately, I want to die knowing I did my best. I want to die knowing I am happy with the outcome of everything.
Lastly, I asked if melancholiaah! had any sneak peeks into upcoming projects he'd like to share with the readers!
"My performance schedule is forever changing and being added to, but something big is that my new idol group “see.ker” is performing at A-Kon in Dallas, Texas at their official idol festival. We are a group with the idea we are all seeking for something important in life to keep us going on, each member representing a different thing they picked specially for themselves. The festival will be our debut performance, but we have already began work on our first few original releases. The group is made of all transmasculine and trans male performers, so I am really excited to bring this energy to the idol world in the west as the first physical “men’s idol unit” but also represent LGBT+ creators so heavily. Everyone is amazing and so fun to be around and I hope under my direction, we can create a moment in time just as special to all of us as my solo work has been to me. (check out see.ker's instagram here)
For my solo activities, I have a few songs in the works, but nothing too strict currently. Without getting into too much detail, I have a few rhythm game works for the upcoming year that I cannot wait to share, but due to contracts, I can’t spill anymore than that! I promise it will be worth the wait though, haha! I normally start working on my independent music more seriously when I kind of hit a breaking point mentally. Not to be too intense, but I’m feeling like I’m getting there recently. Writing new music is like therapy for me, so when I need it the most, it’ll come and become a paradise for me to heal and put my anxieties and pains into something meaningful for me and in turn, others as well. If I know myself at all, this means I will surely begin working hard on new music without even realizing it. I hope to release my fourth single at some point through the year, so please support me when that time comes."
Thanks for your responses melancholiaah! And thank you all for reading. Be sure to check out melancholiaah's social networks and like/follow, and check out our other blog posts on events we've attended, KAWAII INTERVIEWS, and more!