Nene – ElupiA (ENG Version)

Interview by Alessandra Cognetta
Translation by  Yoshiaki Miyasaka & Alessandra Cognetta

ElupiA is a very unusual band. From the mysterious and evocative name, to the line-up, with two keyboardists, this Japanese band provides a unique musical experience, mixing elements from symphonic metal, orchestral pieces, and avant-garde music. They published their first mini-album, “WILDERNESS”, last year, and the new single “Departure” is about to be released in these days. We had the chance to interview Nene, the lead vocalist of the band and a soprano with a very distinctive and original singing style. She told us a lot about ElupiA, her own experience as a singer and her opinions on the situation of theatres, both in Japan (I’m sure some of you are familiar with the words “Nō” and “Kabuki”) and in Europe (Opera). This is the first interview (of a series, hopefully) we are proud to present in two versions: English and Japanese!
 
Hello and welcome to Femme Metal Webzine, Nene! We’re grateful for this opportunity to interview once again a Japanese band. First of all, how are you and ElupiA?

The pleasure is mine. We’re so grateful to be featured by Femme Metal Webzine. Thank you very much. The band and me had a little break since the end of last year, although the new single will be released soon and we’ll be back on stage from Feburary.

Since ElupiA has a very peculiar line-up, could you introduce the band members for our readers?

The official members are Yuvica, who also is the leader, on organ; then we have Hisa on piano, Louisca on guitar, Mats on bass and me on vocals. And then we have Suo who’s always supporting us as the drummer on stage.

You have two keyboard players and no drums, so how does this affect your music in live concerts and during songwriting?

We have a drummer supporting us on stage. Since we have two keyboardists, the band’s sound gained much variety and that sometimes feels like I’m singing with an orchestra on stage. I think that’s one of ElupiA‘s appealing points. For the songwriting, our leader Yuvica is in charge so I’ll quote his words that say: “The advantage of having two keyboardists is that, without relying on the sync, we can express, using the inspiration of the moment, colorful and different layers sound of keyboards and manage to keep the groove of live performance! That could also bring some ideas of compositions and arrangements later.”

I think your vocal style is quite unique, Nene, you use your soprano voice in a very original way. How did you develop this style? What were your influences from other artists?

I have studied vocal techniques, but at first I struggled very much when I was singing with the band. After many attempts and errors, changing the way I sang to fit the impression of each song, I reached this style. Of course I was influenced by Tarja and Sharon. Outside of Metal music, I love Lara Fabian and I think she influenced my style, too.

ElupiA‘s first mini album “WILDERNESS” has been published in May 2013. It is an excellent mix of symphonic and avant-garde elements, in my opinion. What were the main sources of inspiration for music and lyrics?

Thank you so much. Yuvica, who writes the songs, said: “Sometimes melodies suddenly come up in my mind, and sometimes a small phrase inspires the follow-ups. In any case, most of the inspiration come from sparks. And the lyrics always come forth almost at the same time with the musical phrases. Sometimes I draw inspiration from imaginary scenes of my daily life.

You also sing Nightwish and Within Temptation covers during concerts. What are other bands you admire and would like to sing covers of?

There are plenty of bands that I’d like to sing covers of, because this world has so many cool songs! Requests are always welcome!

As we said before, your soprano voice is one of the peculiar elements of ElupiA‘s music. I’d like to ask: do you have any favorite opera pieces or composers?

I have plenty. As for the composers, Puccini and Richard Strauss in particular are my favorite ones. For opera pieces, as a college student I sang “Octavian” from “Der Rosenkavalier” and I had fallen in love with its beautiful melody.

There are huge differences between Japanese theater and European theatre (opera included). What do you think of this two beautiful (and complex) forms of art and how, in your opinion, is opera perceived in Japan in general?

Generally in Japan, theaters are – even for my own country’s traditional arts – very special places that most people rarely go to, I think. Especially the younger population, many people say they never have been there even a single time. As for Opera, most people do know the word but don’t understand what it is. In the past, though for a short period, I stayed in Wien to study Opera. When I was there, I remember hearing a melody by Mozart while I was downtown, and a store clerk humming the Opera piece along. Moreover, in theaters the tickets’ fees were way cheaper than Japan so I felt they were very familiar places that we could visit every day. I hope that, also in Japan, theaters will get closer to us and more people will be interested in Opera.

What’s the meaning behind the band’s name? Why did you choose it?

The band name was chosen by the leader, Yuvica, who says: “Actually, the word “ElupiA” itself is an invented word and it has no particular meaning so I’d like to let you imagine it freely. Some say the word reminds them of “Utopia” and some say it’s “Euphoria”. I think both ideas are interesting and that each one describes the concept of ideal worlds.”

All the band members have their own blog (and twitter accounts). You write about new releases and post setlists and photos from your live concerts. What do you think is the role of social media in the relationship between a band and its fans?

I think it’s very important. Through social media, I always feel our supporters by our side and I am grateful for that. That’s the force that drives us to do our best in our musical activities.

Unfortunately we have reached the end of our interview, Nene. Thank you once again for this opportunity! We wish ElupiA the best for your future projects and we’re looking forward to whatever you have in store for your fans. If you want to leave a message to fans and readers, this is the right place.

Thank you very much for reading until the end. I also thank all of you who are always supporting us! We will continue to create better songs so please keep supporting us!!

 

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