Tomiko Van Interview - JaME U.S.A.
(March 4, 2008 - by Laurent, Sarah, Yosab. Original article from this site.)

Known as the former singer of one of Japan's popular pop/rock groups, Tomiko Van has been pursuing a solo career since 2005. Last year she released her first cover album and on the 5th of March she will release the follow-up Voice 2 ~cover lovers rock~. We took this opportunity to have an interview with her.

JaME U.S.A.: First of all, we would like to ask you to introduce yourself to readers who may not know you yet.

Tomiko Van: Hello, I'm Tomiko Van, 29 years old. My blood type is A. This year is the 9th year since I debuted. I'm a normal girl who is curious, shy and has many hobbies. I'll ride my Harley Davidson when it becomes warmer.

JU: You will release a new cover album in March, can you tell us more about it? How did you select the songs on it: are they your favorite songs or did they simply fit well with your voice?

Tomiko Van: Last year, Voice ~cover you with love~ was released, and this is the next part of that. This time, with Voice 2 ~cover lovers rock~, I wanted to take a different approach, so I did it with a rock taste. I chose pieces from an array of songs, mainly songs from singer-song writers, which most Japanese people know because of their impressive tunes and lyrics. I also made it a challenge to sing male artists' songs in this work. It was difficult but also fun to arrange using my own instruments and voice to get different colors or feelings from the original songs.

JU: Did you work with the same team as before (producer, arrangers, musicians, and so on) on this new cover album?

Tomiko Van: Yes. There are some members who have worked with me from before, and some who I got to work with for the first time. In this work, I asked five guitarists for arrangements. I saw a lot of new talent, and we really stimulated one another musically, so I was able to work concentrating on each and every song solidly.

JU: Some of your fans are pretty surprised that you will release another cover album instead of a new album with original songs. Can you explain the reasons behind this choice?

Tomiko Van: Actually, I've been waiting a long time for this release. Last year was a good time to reflect on myself. During that, I heard the cover album Voice 〜cover you with love〜 had very good reputation, so we decided to release another cover album this time. I want to make good use of these experiences when I produce my original work, so I am very eager to start creating and imagining my original works yet to come. I haven't done a live since I became a solo artist, and I really want to change that!! Please wait and look forward to it!

JU: Which song from your solo career do you like the most? Why?

Tomiko Van: I like Hold me... the most, because I sympathize with the melody and the honest, pretty lyrics. It's heartwarming.

JU: What artists have inspired and influenced you the most? Who are your current favorite artists?

Tomiko Van: I'm influenced by various artists at any time (everyday!), so it's difficult to name anyone in particular. I usually listen to various genres like an omnivore, such as classical, metal or club music. I really listen to anything. Recently my favorite artists are Coldplay and Alicia Keys. And I have liked U2 for a long time.

JU: What are your thoughts about the J-Pop scene currently?

Tomiko Van: I think it is becoming very global. Now we are in a time where we can listen to various music more and more through using a PC, so young people are becoming more discerning in what they listen to. Pure and straight forward songs are increasing, I think. Music should be like this, actually, and I want to be a singer who sings like that. It gives me a reason for living, or something to work towards. I think the kinds of music we see in the future will increase even more.

JU: How was it performing live with Mika Nakashima and Chikuzen Sato?

Tomiko Van: I'm very nervous working with other artists. Both of them have very nice voices, and I got goose pimples when I listened to their real voices. I was really happy to be able to work with them.

JU: During your career as a artist, what are your best memories so far?

Tomiko Van: To be able to meet many people through music. Music is very important in my life, so it's wonderful!! In Japan, we have a karaoke culture, and I'm happy to see people sing my songs and I feel like I want to hug them. (laughs)

JU: In 2004, you performed live in the USA with Do As Infinity. Did you feel the American audience was different from the Japanese one? Would you like to perform again in the US, as a solo artist?

Tomiko Van: I couldn't believe it when the live in USA was finally determined! I was so excited. I think the reason was because lives overseas have a very free feeing about them, people enjoy the live freely and respectively, and I like that. When I saw fans singing together with me, I really felt music has no borders. I want to do a live again!!

JU: And how about Europe, would you like to perform there?

Tomiko Van: I love Europe, I travel there in private, and it's an attractive place. Last year, I went to Paris, Cannes, Nice, Monaco, Napoli and Capri Island in Italy. Now I'm interested in Spain and London. Of course, if I have a chance I want to do a European tour. Please invite me!!

JU: What was it like to work on the movie Heat Island?

Tomiko Van: It was the first time for me to act professionally, and a good experience for me. The director advised me on how to act naturally so that helped a lot. It was an attractive work containing scenes of Tokyo and Shibuya with an active story. It was good.

JU: You have participated in the Japanese version of the American musical, Brooklyn. What first attracted you to this project?

Tomiko Van: Honestly speaking, when I was given this project at first, I was confused. After that, I read the scenario, listened to the music, and I decided to give it a go. The most conclusive factor was the music. Of course, it was quite hard because the way of singing was different to what I was used to, but I did it through the support of co-stars and many other people.

JU: A few years ago, you were a voice actor for Inuyasha, a popular anime series. Could you tell us more about this experience? Did you enjoy it? Do you like watching animation films and series?

Tomiko Van: I was the voice of Akana in Inuyasha. This anime is very popular in Japan, so I'm very honored to do the theme song. What's more, I was able to play a part too, so I was very lucky. I was very impressed seeing the professional voice actors being recorded. I also I love the works of Hayao Miyazaki, and I'm a collector of his works.

JU: How was it growing up in the Kumamoto prefecture? Is it very different from Tokyo?

Tomiko Van: My local area is country. I was surrounded by a lot of nature and animals, and I grew up freely like the wildlife. I played basketball and I was an active child. What I was surprised with most when I started living in Tokyo was having to buy water.

JU: When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

Tomiko Van: My family had many animals, so I longed for jobs concerning animals for a while. After I grew up, my interest changed from animals to music, and now I'm like this.

JU: Finally, please give a message for fans overseas.

Tomiko Van: Hello! Thank you for reading this interview! I'm looking forward to seeing you someday. Love & Peace!!

JU: Thank you very much for the interview!

Tomiko Van: You're welcome!!

JaME would like to thank Tomiko Van, her management and avex Entertainment Inc. for this interview.