Creator Interview: Zanio

The popularity of the Vocaloid Hatsune Miku is spreading throughout the world, and in August, an English version of Hatsune Miku was finally released. There are countless new Miku-songs uploaded to the Internet every day, and even among those, there is a certain Vocalo-P whose songs are especially well-liked. That Vocalo-P is none other than Zanio, who composes songs in all kinds of genres ranging from club music, such as house and techno, to rock. We interviewed Zanio, who gave birth to many famous songs including “Peyang Daba” and asked him about his thoughts on music and Vocaloids.

Creator Introduction
Name: Zanio
TOM Portfolio Page:

Zanio’s mascot character. Illustration by Chan×Co.

TOM: When did you start your music activities?

Zanio: I started DJing and composition when I was about 20. Which means I’ve been doing this for say, maybe 10 years now? Before that, I was in a L'Arc-en-Ciel 2 cover band. I played the guitar, and even though I wasn’t using them so much, I kept a lot of picks in my pockets. Before long, I started listening to jazz, deep house, and R&B, and I gradually moved toward those genres...and that was when I genuinely started my music activities.

TOM: What was your motivation for playing the guitar?

Zanio: This is very common, but I thought, “Maybe I’ll be more popular with girls this way” (everyone laughs). I had this image that band members are popular, but in reality, it wasn’t like that at all. I was even told that I was gross and stuff like that.

TOM: That’s one surprising gap. So then, what made you move your scene of activity from live houses to clubs?

Zanio: When I first came to Tokyo, a friend took me to a club called Velfarre 3, and I was shocked, like, “This music, it’s awesome!!” Then, I thought, “Hey, if I was a DJ, I could become popular!” That was my first encounter with club music. I fell in love with the coolness of the deep house I heard at that time.

TOM: Wait, so you decided based on the promise of popularity…? Anyway, please tell us about your first DJ experience.

Zanio: One day, my friends told me, “Let’s make an event in Shibuya! You can play the guitar, so surely you can DJ too, right?” I thought it was a weird reasoning, but I still said I’d do it because being a DJ sounded cool. I can say that now, but I was barely in the age range for DJing. About clubs and DJing, now that I think back, my friends had a lot of influence on me. Well, anyway, that’s how my DJ debut went.

TOM: I see. And after that, you moved from DJ to Vocaloid?

Zanio: As I was experiencing various things, I started working a job of making songs. But I reached my limits with that job and I couldn’t keep up with it. I felt that I couldn’t go on like that anymore. That’s when I heard about Hatsune Miku. When I listened to her closely, I found that there were a lot of nice songs, so I immediately thought, “Wow, this is interesting!”

Creating songs for work was a bad period for me, and I felt drawn to an environment where I could freely make music. I looked around the Internet and realized there is a lot of music I’ve never heard and a lot of lyrics that would be hard for an actual person to sing. So, I decided that if there are people who do what they want to do then I could do it too, and I would make Miku sing a lot of stuff!

TOM: It seems that your feelings toward women affected many of your crossroads in life. Is it okay to write that your motivation for making music was being unpopular?

Zanio: It’s okay! (Everyone bursts into laughter again.)

TOM: Do you have any problems with being a 2channeler 4 and a Nico-chuu 5 at the same time?

Zanio: Yes. Hatsune Miku was flamed a lot on 2channel. But since I’m also a Nico-chuu and Miku is cute, I was very torn between these two feelings. That’s why even now when I’m on 2channel, I flame Miku, and when I’m on Nico Nico Douga, I take a “Miku is awesome!” stance. I guess that’s called a double standard.

TOM: Do you like the songs of other Vocalo-Ps?
zanio: Lately, the quality of Vocalo-Ps has been rising steadily. Maybe it’s because everyone is doing what they want? There are a lot of nice tunes.

“Kimi ga Kimi ga” by Baker
“Gemini” by Dixie Flatline
“Chocolate Train” by Penguins Project

I become moved every time I listen to one of those.

TOM: Who is your favorite anime character?

Zanio: I think Nadia, the protagonist of Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water might’ve been my first love. I also can’t leave out Sakura from Cardcaptor Sakura and Hazuki from Ojamajo Doremi.

TOM: Is your music influenced by the anime and other works you like?

Zanio: Although I love anime and game music, I’m not influenced by them.

Zanio’s music has been mentioned in overseas magazines.

TOM: Okay, so here is a Vocalo-P question. About how much time does it take to make a short tune?

Zanio: If I’m in high spirits, 1-2 hours, if I’m not in the mood, it can take as much as 2-3 days maybe. By the way, I completed “Peyang Daba” in a matter of 1-2 hours, and I was drinking beer too. Since I was already drunk at the time of uploading it on Nico Nico Douga, I went to sleep right after. By the time I woke up, the number of repeats had grown vast. I remember that I was surprised.

The popular “Peyang Daba” has even made it onto goods.

TOM: I didn’t know there was such a story behind “Peyang Daba”! Which of your songs is memorable to you?

Zanio: Maybe “Showered.” I spent a lot of time composing this one. I re-recorded the piano over and over, and I had the PV made from a storyboard. I put all my might into it and it took three months for me to complete. In the end, it didn’t become very popular, but it’s a song that I think is okay.

TOM: You just released a new song the other day, right?

Zanio: Yes. I uploaded the song “Worlds.”. I made it for everyone in the world to hear. I want to spread it through Nico Nico Douga, YouTube, and Tokyo Otaku Mode.

The jacket for the new song “Worlds.” Illustration by Haruichi.

TOM: What feelings did you put into this song?

Zanio: The current Hatsune Miku music scene is wonderful and pretty. But, and this is both in a good and a bad sense, it feels like you can’t really deviate from a set of fixed rules and forms. It can’t go on like this. I’ve always thought, “Isn’t Hatsune Miku a platform with which everyone can freely express themselves?” so I created this song from my feelings of destroying those rules! I would definitely like you all to listen to it.

TOM: Please tell us about your plans for the future.

Zanio: I want to get involved with various people. I want to collaborate with illustrators, dancers, designers, filmmakers, and photographers and destroy this barrier called common practice. I want to spread Hatsune Miku more into the world not only as a character, but as a kind of culture.

TOM: And lastly, a message, please.

Zanio: If you have a job related to planes, contact me!!

Zanio loves Hatsune Miku (and airplanes) from the bottom of his heart. What kind of common practice and rules will he destroy and what kind of new world will he show us with his next song? We tremble from excitement when we think about his upcoming activities!

Keep it here for even more interviews with some of the most prominent creators in the otaku world!

Zanio’s TOM Portfolio Page

^1^ refers to people who compose Vocaloid songs.
^2^ a Japanese rock band. They are one of Japan’s representative bands that are energetically expanding their activities overseas.
^3^ a former disco club in Roppongi that closed in 2007. A new club called Nicofarre has opened in its place and is currently in business.
^4^ refers to the users of 2channel.
^5^ refers to the users of Nico Nico Douga.

This is a Tokyo Otaku Mode original article.

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