With a small stature and large eyes, Japanese singer and songwriter Aimi looks like a cutesy anime character straight out of Bandori. But in reality, she’s a powerhouse in a petite package and an extremely talented musician.
Aimi, whose full name is Aimi Haraguni, was originally the lead singer of Stereopony, a popular Japanese rock band. Recently, she began a solo career, releasing her own music that she plays and writes herself.
In June, Aimi showed off her skills at AnimeNEXT in Atlantic City, NJ, where she held a concert for both new and returning fans. With nothing but her guitar, strong vocals, and backup DJ, she showed off her exuberance while on stage. Put simply, she was amazing.
The day before the concert, I was able to sit down with Aimi for an interview and ask her some questions about her upcoming performance.
Welcome to AnimeNEXT! You’ve been to the States a couple times before thanks to your music career. How do you feel about the US from the times you’ve been here?
America is a very free country, so every time I come to visit, I feel like I can be free too. I feel I can do my best and challenge myself.
Tomorrow is your concert! How are feeling? Excited, nervous?
“Excited!” (In English.)
I’m very happy and excited to be performing, and I’m looking forward to it.
Do you ever get nervous before shows?
It’s my second time performing at AnimeNEXT, so rather than being nervous, I’m just really excited about having a good time with everyone who is attending.
How do you usually prepare for a live show?
I take my own songs from the solo album (Aimilion) and songs from Stereopony. I mix them together to make a set list that will get everyone really hyped up.
During your shows, you usually play guitar live. How did you learn to play?
My hometown is Okinawa, and when I was in high school, there was a company called Music Village. I went there and learned how to play and practice making songs for all three years of high school.
You’re performing at an anime convention – are you a big fan of anime or manga?
Like many Japanese people, I have been watching anime from a young age. I am quite a fan.
Do you have any favorites?
It varies from time to time, but right now I am really into One Piece.
There are some recent anime about high school girls who start a band, like K-On or Bandori. I was wondering if you’ve seen either one, and if you have, what your opinion is of them.
I have seen K-On but not Bandori. As a music fan, I love to see high school girls playing music or instruments and in being in a band. I really want to watch Bandori.
Bandori is really good! Are there any anime you’d love to perform a song for? Whether’s it’s a past, current, or future anime.
Haruhi Suzumiya is one of my favorite anime. I often sing songs from it at karaoke. Cardcaptor Sakura is also a favorite of mine. So, I’d love to create a song for those two if ever given the opportunity.
You’re also obviously also a big fan of rock n’ roll – I see that you’re wearing a Metallica shirt right now! What are some of your influences for your music?
I really love rock, but I like other genres as well. I’m influenced by all of them, so it’s hard to say which is the #1 influence. I kind of take from all of them.
In the past, you were in Stereopony, and now you are performing solo. How is being in a group different from being solo?
When you’re a solo artist, the stage is very big. I need to use the space and move around a lot to fill all the gaps when performing by myself.
As a solo artist, do you have more creative freedom to write your own songs and lyrics?
Particularly, when I was in Stereopony, we were doing mostly rock. But now I am able to perform pop and other kinds of genres. That’s one great freedom that comes with being a solo artist.
When the interview ended, I asked for a picture with Aimi. Afterward, she grabbed my hand and sincerely thanked me, which has never happened to me at an interview before. It showed how passionate she is about her music; this passion showed at the concert as well.
Aimi in incredibly gifted. I look forward to whatever she has planned next and for yet another visit to the States. In the US, you can buy Aimi’s music on Google Play or Itunes, and it’s also available for streaming on Spotify.
Thank you to AnimeNEXT and Aimi’s team for the opportunity.
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