So I had the privilege of being able to attend an anime music concert recently, titled “Attack On Piano”. (https://www.facebook.com/attackonpiano)
At this concert, majority of the songs were performed by two popular pianists, theishter and Animenz, flown all the way across the world from Canada and Germany respectively!
Surrounded by fans post-concert, I decided to contact them for an online interview instead; they were gracious enough to accept my request almost immediately.
For both fans who enjoyed their concert as well as overseas supporters who really wanted to be here, do take the time to read their thoughts and reflections below :)
[Q: Question asked by me , AN = Animenz, TH = TheIshTer]
Q: To start off, any favourite foods that you guys encountered in Singapore while you were here? I noticed the post about the durian ;)
CHICKEN RICE!! Boy, this was really tasty. But other than restaurants, Animenz and I went to the local food court as well; and the food there was absolutely delicious. I really loved the atmosphere of local food stands in other places (very much like the Halal food stands in New York, for those who are familiar)
Oh man, where do I begin? This is because I generally adore Asian food, especially noodles and soy bean products. I think there were absolutely no dish I didn’t like during my stay in singapore. Well, except for the Durian. I immediately vomited when I tasted it the first time. But I assume this is a “normal” reaction, if an “ignorant” westener tastes something exotic like this for the first time. Seriously, I never would have imagined that a fruit can have a taste that strong. One drop of durian juice could probably flavor a bathtub of water, lol.
Q: This is something that many people instinctively remarked when they first heard about the concert: One German, one Canadian, and a concert in Singapore, why the strange combination, Wow!
Of course I can ask the organisers about their perspective, but many of us are also interested in your point of view: How did this charity collaboration come about, and why did you choose the first collaboration to be in Singapore instead of being in Europe or North America?
Actually, the coordinator contacted us to perform for a charity, so that was the reason for the Singapore venue. In fact, Singapore is a GREAT place to have collaboration concerts due to the fact that it’s such a small country and anime fans are merely at best, just hours away from the concert.
In fact, I would even fly to Alaska if the concert was held there, because I thought this is a BIG chance for me to finally meet up with some fans and of course Ishter himself!
^ That’s true, it really is a special meeting. A pianist from Germany and Canada is a very strange combination as you said. It doesn’t happen, and it wont happen often so from both our perspectives as well as the audience, we’re really glad that the event actually happened!
Q: How did you find the Singapore audience’s reaction/participation during the concert, as well as any post-thoughts after the meeting with your music fans?
It was mind-blowing. I never expected an audience of this scale. And their enthusiasm and participation (especially that Shingeki No Kyojin salute when i appeared), it was the best audience I could ever wish for. I felt like a Rockstar in the Budokan, lol.
As for the post-thoughts, I really thought about how lucky we are to have these kinds of fans. All the support… it’s incredibly inspiring. For some reason, instead of being egotistic, this realization of our fame actually made us more humble in retrospect because of how surprised we are of the audience reaction. We couldn’t believe that people are this passionate about our arrangements and transcriptions, and thus it motivates us to work harder in the future.
As for me, I saw my love for performing for the first time. I realized how much joy it brings the painstaking process of arranging and transcribing, and sharing it to the world. To think that the ideas, the emotion and the passion I put into the music is actually being appreciated by others… it’s the greatest feeling a musician could ever experience.
Q: How did you get to know about anime/manga, what was the first series and first song that interested you (That you can remember)?
The usual Dragonball, Pokemon, etc. mainstream anime is how I knew about anime, but I think it was when I watched Evangelion with my older cousin was when I truly wanted to know more about this type of animation. Obviously I was a kid at the time so the DEEPNESS that is Neon Genesis Evangelion went completely over my head. Like wtf is happening lol.
After that, I started watching anime on TV when I was in the US. I still remember vividly the dubbed anime that was shown on TechTV like Serial Experiments Lain and Gatekeepers 21.
As for the song, the farthest I could remember was arranging the Chobits OP – “Let Me Be With You” long ago, and To Aru Kagaku no Railgun’s OP for my first ever sheet music transcription about 3 years ago.
I have a really similar story like Theisther:
I also watched mainstream anime series like Digimon and Dragonball Z on the German television and when i watched Elfenlied, the first “real” anime besides the mainstream stuff, I was immeditely hooked. I think Elfenlied gained a lot of fame when it aired, I used to be a hardcore PC gamer and it was mentioned on a gamer forum. After watching Elfenlied, my interest began to change from PC gaming to anime watching; and I began to actively searching for anime series on the internet and streaming on Youtube.
Q: What has kept you going strong in creating all these musical pieces[maybe I can have a better term for ‘musical pieces’] for these few years? Any specific memorable moment(s)?
I received piano lessons when I was 6 years old and therefore my interest for classical music began very early. This is the reason why my sheets occasionally has elements of classical piano pieces. My two main inspirations were either piano Sonatas from Beethoven or the piano pieces from Liszt. But one of my goals was also to incorporate as many elements as possible from the original track in my transcriptions. Therefore I experimented a lot and use unique rhythms for the left hands, or including “three hand techniques” which basically means, you play three independent voices with only two hands. I actually didn’t know the concept of “three hand technique” beforehand, it was just derived one day from my countless experimentation on my piano. Many people don’t know, but I spend a lot of time for every single one of my sheet. Sometimes, I even struggle hours and hours for a single bar of the sheet, because I wanted to achieve the “perfect sheet, where every written down note is absolute”, same as Beethoven has intended with his works.
As for me, for 9 years of piano experience, I’m completely self-study with absolutely no classical training or music theory whatsoever, so literally everything I learned is “monkey see monkey do”. The first person who inspired me was Kyle Landry which is how I learned about octave melodies and arpeggio left hands. After that, I also admired classical pianists like Yundi Li and Lang Lang as I discovered how much they love performing in front of people (and actually the pianists who inspired me to have my signature big left hand jumps style~)
But all in all, the absolute person that inspires me to keep going is Pianeet. He is literally the anime piano god pianist, and my ultimate wish is to genuflect in front of him and touch his holy hands (no homo).
Q: Is there any specific genre/theme of anime series that interests you the most? As well as the type of anime music that is to your preference?
For anime shows, I have the two extremes from awesome fun to really serious and dark shows. Slice of Life is one genre I really love watching, but at the same time I also love watching Psychological anime with dark themes as Psychology is what I’m actually studying in university and I’m really interested in similar topics like that.
For anime music, I really like ones that incorporate orchestral strings. There’s something about a fusion of j-pop style with drums and electric guitars and paired with a full size orchestra that’s really fascinating.
In another note: I’m a massive fanboy of Haruna Luna, Kotoko and Minori Chihaya. Iyaaaa~~~
Oh wow, I can’t believe how similiar both mine and Ishters tastes are.
Yes, I also like all kind of anime series, from comedy to drama, and I also especially love slice of life and thought-provoking animes. But I think I have a weakness for trainwreck series aka “so bad it’s good again”-anime. It’s just too much fun making fun of them. As for music, I love every kind of orchestral soundtracks, especially those that include a choir to create a “epic” feeling. Asides from that, I generally like all kind of anime music, I think the only pieces I don’t like are the ones with extremely high pitched voices and a very fast tempo. Oh, and a massive fanboy of Kalafina and FLOW here. I think many fans will kill me for saying this but I don’t like Vocaloid music at all, lol. Mainly because I dislike artificially generated voices since I am grown up with classical music….
Q: A few fans mentioned that both of you got to travel to Singapore’s STGCC convention this year, and they were wondering if you guys happened to meet TAMUSIC, another amazing musician invited from Japan? (http://www.youtube.com/user/violinpiano2)
I’ll also ask something linked to that: Do you think that anime music collaborations with musicians of other musical instruments/vocalists would be something that you may want to try out in the future? Or do you already have any individuals/groups in mind : )
: Yes we both met him there, he was just sitting in the booth with his trademark sunglasses, like a boss. I hesitated a bit before I approached him, but in the end, I even took a picture of him.
He also seemed to be a bit tired when we saw him at his booth, but he was still nice enough to allow us to get a picture~
I think it’s inspiring to see him grow in fame as it shows that it’s possible for Animenz and I to be successful also. Anime cover musicians aren’t really that mainstream yet, so the accomplishment of TAMUSIC and Marasy is something to marvel at.
As for collaborations, I think they are very healthy for musicians. For me, I’m more of a solo performer so once in a blue moon, a piano duet collab or a piano + viola collab is refreshing and allows us to experience a workplace with someone else than ourselves. It also seems like a “special event” to the audience, and really makes it exciting that way.
Yeah, I can definitely see that the trend for collaborations on Youtube is already rising! Many anime pianists are collaborating with either a singer or strings already, and I definitely believe this is a really cool opportunity to strengthen the relationships between different Youtubers. I usually upload piano solo pieces, but I can tell that the duets with Theishter are definitely more fun! Especially our latest Jiyuu No Tsubasa duet.
Q: Last question folks. Any message you would like to give to the fans who attended your concert, as well as those from around the world?
Thank you so much for coming to our concert in Singapore! We wouldn’t have made it so far without your support and we will definitely make another live performance happen in the future! Stay tuned!
I’d like to say that we owe our success to you, the audience. Without you, we would have only been closet anime fans who occasionally play the piano, but you all have allowed us to combine our best hobbies: anime and piano.
We’re still young in our musical career and we hope that you’ll stay with us through this journey, through exciting times but through tough times as well. In the end, it’s the love for anime and piano that will keep us together, so let’s enjoy that connection as much as possible~ Until next time!
And that’s it for the interview! I really hope you enjoyed their answers; and I sincerely hope they’d grace us with their presence again in the future ^.^ Do support them on their youtube and facebook pages if you love their music!